Engineering interviews can be stressful. Interviewees dread 60-minute in-person exercises that involve pseudocoding obscure algorithms on a whiteboard. That doesn’t help evaluate how a candidate would do in real-world situations. We sat down with our VP of Engineering, Ashu Agte, to discuss building a better interview experience, what makes BuildingConnected’s engineering culture so special, and how to promote diversity and inclusion.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Ashu Agte, and I’m the Vice President of Engineering at BuildingConnected. I was born in Pune, India. I got my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Pune before receiving a master’s degree from Kansas State University. I am a science and technology geek and a huge fan of sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows. I’m an amateur astronomer and also the proud dad of an 8-year-old daughter.
What brought you to BuildingConnected?
When I was searching for my next exciting opportunity, I was looking for two key things. First and foremost, I wanted to work for a technology company that is making a huge difference for an underserved market segment by introducing amazing technology solutions.
Secondly, I was looking for an empathetic work culture where everyone helps each other and we all collectively grow and win. A roundabout way of saying “no jerks.” BuildingConnected stood out by miles on both criteria, so it was an easy decision.
Tell us about the engineering team at BuildingConnected.
Many technology companies take pride in keeping the technical bar high, which we do as well, but our uniqueness comes from a combination of different aspects. This is the most “growth mindset” engineering organization I have been part of. Empathy, collaboration, and helping each other grow are what makes us unique.
The engineering organization is made up of complete, autonomous, and empowered teams that self-manage by aligning to the company goals like ships aligning to a lighthouse. Empowerment has become a buzzword in technology circles, but we are proactively working on nurturing that environment.
Most importantly, we are collectively on a mission to provide amazing products to people in the construction space who are craving technical innovation and solutions. Solving problems for general contractors and subcontractors — and making them efficient as well as effective — is our collective goal. This mission and goal binds us together and creates amazing team chemistry where the whole engineering organization is greater than the sum of its parts.
What is the engineering interview process like at BuildingConnected?
Our interview process involves four steps. The first step is a phone conversation to help us understand the candidate’s perspective. Then, the candidate completes a take-home assignment. After that, they come in person for a code review of the take-home assignment. The last step consists of a full day on-site to simulate a “real day at BuildingConnected.”
How is it different from interview processes at other companies?
Our hiring process is different in a variety of ways. Unlike many companies, we ask candidates to do what they would be every day at BuildingConnected, instead of asking them to pseudocode obscure algorithms on a whiteboard. We also put a hefty amount of focus on understanding a candidate’s passion, drivers, and personality traits.
It’s also a chance for the candidate to interview us, so we try to put as many people as possible in front of them so they can ask questions and vet our skills and culture. Candidates always mention to us that our interview process is pleasantly different from other companies. You can also read about it firsthand from Karen Rose, our Software Engineering Manager.
Why does this kind of interview process resonate well with top talent?
Our interview process is designed to let candidates showcase their work through coding assignments. Writing code, architecture, and design are what an engineer excels at, and sending a message through their body of work is the best way to express their talent.
During the interview, candidates get a lot of transparency around our culture, people, and work environment. This helps them imagine what working at BuildingConnected would be like firsthand. Candidates are expected to do what they do every day — code and discuss their solution. We also give candidates material to prepare ahead of time so there are no surprises and they can come ready. This puts candidates at ease.
What is the engineering team doing to promote diversity and inclusion in the hiring process?
This topic is very close to my heart. We are relentlessly working on making our interview experience and process better. We have made a lot of progress internally around diversity and inclusion. We have better gender and race representation in engineering leadership, we developed an internal first-time manager training, we have an internal mentoring program, and I run quarterly salary reviews to make sure there isn’t a gender pay gap.
We also do a lot of things about diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, and that starts with a diverse candidate funnel that is at least 40% women. That means sourcing candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and ensuring that we’re not only considering candidates with one type of resume. Throughout the interview process, candidates get to meet a diverse set of BuildingConnected employees. We want them to meet 10-12 people on the team, but we also want to see how they operate in a diverse team environment.
Last, but most importantly, during offer conversations, I personally make sure that there is no gender pay gap discrepancy. Diversity is not just a company value, but something that can be seen in action.
What advice do you have for prospective candidates?
Showcase your talent in the technical, hands-on assignment and let your work speak for itself. Share your dreams, passions, and whole self in the interview, and you will do just fine.