Front becomes the 11th woman-founded and led SaaS unicorn.

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How we hire engineering managers at Front

Vrushali Patil,

Head of Platform Engineering at Front

15 March 20220 min read

Hello, We’re excited about the prospect of having you join our fast-growing engineering, product, and design organization at Front.

As we grow our team, we want to make our interview process as transparent as possible. We share this document on our interviewing philosophy with candidates when they start the process, so they can understand what to expect and what we prioritize. We're hiring—join us!

We recognize that interviewing can be stressful, especially while remote. We hope that with more insight into engineering management at Front, our interviewing philosophy, and our interview process, we will set you up to showcase the best version of yourself.

Engineering management at Front

Our interview process reflects our expectations of engineering managers (EMs). So first, I’ll explain what makes an EM thrive at Front; then, I’ll explain how it ties back to interviews. 

Front was founded on the idea that people could be happier at work. Our five core values are Collaboration, Transparency, Care, Low Ego, and High Standards. We believe you collaborate best when you’re transparent, caring, and approach challenges and opportunities with low ego. 

The result is work that reflects our high standards. Our values are the foundation of our company culture and guide our daily interactions and decisions.

When we look for engineering leaders, we start by looking for people who embody our values. Then we evaluate against three criteria: Execution, people Growth, and technical partnership.

Execution

We move quickly and decisively to deliver an impact for customers. We are looking for EMs who can own their teams’ execution—that means collaborating with PMs and Design on product roadmaps, setting ambitious but realistic goals, and guiding the team to achieve them. 

People growth

We want EMs to build strong relationships within and outside of their team. We want them to take the long view of engineers and provide the coaching and mentoring needed to help them grow. As we rapidly scale, we’re looking for EMs who are talent magnets and can attract top talent to join us as the next generation of Fronteers.

Technical partnership 

We don’t expect EMs to play the role of tech leads (TLs) on their teams, but we expect them to own and understand their teams' technical decisions. We want them to collaborate with TLs and make tradeoffs between architecting the right solutions and delivering customer value. 

Our EM interview process

You will meet Fronteers, peers, managers, and future direct reports during the interview process. They will share a different perspective, as they each also help us understand your strengths from various angles and reduce our biases.

Technical partnership and execution 

We measure for skills around leading technical projects. We don’t expect engineering managers to design the technical solution. Still, we want them to participate in technical decisions actively, understand the risks, nudge or influence the team in the right direction, and play a balancing act between tech lead and PM roles.

People skills and team building  

We learn more about your management style and philosophy. We'll discuss your approach on topics like coaching, hiring, performance management, and culture building.

We want to learn how you’ve coached and mentored engineers on your team through past examples. 

Cross-functional collaboration 

In this role, you will collaborate heavily with product managers and designers. The interview is typically conducted by the team's product manager or UI designer. 

We want to get a sense of how you have collaborated with your cross-functional peers through your examples. We want to know what you did to invest in relationships and how you gave each cross-functional lead space to operate while still holding each other accountable.

System design

We know EMs may not be able to get into the nitty-gritty of implementation, but we want them to be able to ask the right questions. EMs should have a high-level understanding of designing products and understand scale and performance challenges. 

We may intentionally give you an open-ended system design problem. We want to see how you can give structure to something ambiguous. We evaluate what questions you ask to get more clarity and direction. 

We want you to lead the conversation. This interview is as much about your communication skills as your technical ability. The interviewer is always there to answer questions, help you get unstuck, and nudge you in the right direction. 

Execution skills

We want to understand your experience managing complex projects end-to-end. These could span multiple months or involve multiple teams. We want to hear how you went about goal-setting, staffing the project, getting alignment, changes you made to overcome challenges, and final outcomes.  

Communication, leadership, coaching, and development 

Engineers typically conduct these interviews on the hiring team or sister teams. We want to learn more about you, your management style, and how you level up your team. We want to know how you work with engineers and personalities at various levels. 

Most importantly, we want to hear about your concrete experiences, your practical struggles, and your wins and losses.

Preparing for your interviews

Tell us about recent projects you have led and show your skills as a manager. 

Don't be shy to share successes and failures. We believe owning and discussing mistakes is a sign of maturity. What matters is your ability to look back, discuss learnings, and share what could have gone better—including project outcomes and your behavior.  

I hope I have given you some helpful information on how we hire for our engineering team. If you are interested in joining our team, check out our open roles!

Written by Vrushali Patil

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