Cheat codes: 3 interview tips for devs at CognitiveScale

Colin Morris

We love helping people out with advice on how to interview for a job at a startup. There are even panel events devoted to the issue fairly often. It’s not easy, but we’ve got a few tips to help.

If you’re a technical type hoping to work on groundbreaking projects, you should expect to up the ante even more.

To give you a leg up, we’re tracking down the people who do the interviewing at some of Austin's best tech companies, and asking them outright what’s going to be on the exam.

Here’s what we learned when we interviewed CognitiveScaleCognitiveScaleVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert Director of Engineering Peter Nuernberg (pictured right).

Connect to a network

Nuernberg’s team prefers recruiting by word of mouth, through quality referrals.

“We tend to find them a better fit both technically and culturally,” he said. “We get close to 65 percent of hires through internal referrals.”


Don’t put the “ass” in assessment

CognitiveScale follows resume screenings and phone interviews with take-home assessments. Nuernberg said it really thins the applicant pool.

“Many drop off at this point, either because they don’t want to bother completing the exercise, or because they don’t take the exercise seriously and just slap something together,” he said. “This is a very telling step for us, and if all goes well here, we bring them on site for a four-hour interview.”


Relax and be yourself. (And brilliant and charming if possible)

About that four-hour interview — it’s long for a reason. Tech companies who are choosy about hiring increasingly want to know what it’s like spending a day working with you on cracking a problem, so plan to impress them with more than your new J. Crew outfit.

“During that interview, they will meet with several members of the team, work through hypothetical problems, shadow at one of the desks to see how we work together, have lunch, and then close with the hiring manager,” Nuernberg said. “Ninety percent of the time, we make a hiring decision at this point with an offer.”


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