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Exercise-Based Interviewing: Devonaire’s Road to Recruiting

Exercise-Based Interviewing: Devonaire’s Road To Recruiting
Exercise-Based Interviewing is part of our commitment to reducing bias through the hiring process.
Devonaire Ortiz is a Recruiter at Cockroach Labs. Inside the office, you can find him chatting it up with a candidate in one of our phone booths. Outside of the office, you’re more likely to find him writing at a cafe.

When I first heard about Cockroach Labs, I was ten months out of college and working at a small recruiting agency. I heard tell of their many perks— work-life balance, made possible by Flex Fridays, flexible hours and time off for employees, and the opportunity to work from home when needed; learning benefits, including a Udemy account for every member of the team and a Learning is Good budget to use on your professional development; and then add healthcare, parental benefits, and more to the mix, and I was already excited that they had an opening for a Recruiter.

Still, what put me over the line and compelled me to apply was a blog post I read by our Chief People Officer, Lindsay Grenawalt, outlining how the team here reduces bias in its interview process by removing resumes and conducting exercise-based interviews. That commitment to diversity and inclusion at so early-stage a company showed me how lucky I would be to work there myself. I then learned about the company’s Open Sourced Interview Process, which takes this commitment one step further by giving candidates tools to prepare for each stage of the interview process.

A few days after applying, I was on a call with Lindsay in which I learned more about the values that drive how Cockroach Labs hires and operates: excellence, transparency, balance, and respect, all of which deeply resonated with me. I was overjoyed to find out that I’d be moving on to next steps, which I prepared for using our Open Sourced interview guide.

Now I’ll fast forward a bit to the day I came onsite for my final-round interviews— I had four unique exercises with different members of the team, including two mock hiring kick-offs and searches, one campus event planning meeting, and one mock offer-call with a highly sought-after engineer. All of these gave me the opportunity to show the team that I could do what was required of a tech recruiter at a high-growth company. Below is a more detailed overview of those exercises.

Kick-off Meeting for Android Developer

Objective: As part of your take-home exercise, you will prepare a kick-off and search for an Android developer, including criteria and sourcing. Onsite, your interviewer will act as the hiring manager for this role and will review your kick-off materials.

Candidate Prep: We ask that you establish a clear process for the position, including a job requisition, a process overview, and breakdown of responsibilities between recruiter and hiring manager.

Extending an Offer

Objective: You will extend an offer to a candidate with compensation details we provide you with on-site.

Candidate Prep: It is important to ask any questions necessary to begin your offer conversation with enough information. Think about what might motivate a candidate’s job search and how to make the most compelling case possible.

Pipeline Development for a Product Manager

Objective: You will prepare a kick-off and search for a Product Manager, including criteria and sourcing. Your interviewer will act as the hiring manager for this role and will provide you with the details of the search.

Candidate Prep: For this exercise, think about what questions you ask a hiring manager in order to understand their needs and who they would like to target. Consider what tools you’ve found most effective for sourcing.

College Recruiting Event

Objective: You will plan an info session at the University of Waterloo.

Candidate Prep: For this exercise, consider how to effectively engage a college audience, your goals for the event, and what you should do before, during, and after the event.

This background information provided me with insight into how what skills I would need to engage to do well during my interviews– we provide every candidate with these tools to prepare.

Fast-forwarding a bit more, I got hired! (for a more in-depth firsthand account of interviewing with Cockroach Labs, see Amruta Ranada’s post here) As I write this, I have the pleasure of working as a recruiter tasked with building and leading our campus recruiting program, hiring engineers in Seattle and Toronto and Technical Operations staff in New York City, and my first project here was to overhaul our Open Sourced Interview repository. Keep in mind that I’ve been here for just over four months.

Put simply, thanks to an interview process that prizes aptitude over lines on a resume, I was welcomed into a role where I get to have a high impact on Cockroach Labs’ future every single day.

Now that I’m a member of the team, I can say proudly that those values Lindsay shared with me ring true here. We have candid conversations in the spirit of transparency, emphasize respect for one another, put our best foot forward to push the company, our team, and our product in the right direction, and take the time we need to recharge.

With that said, you needn’t take my word for it. Check out our careers page and see if anything catches your eye.


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