Questions you might have about working here

By Najaf Ali

Dana Jones has a great blog post about Interview Notes and Questions for when you ‘re looking for your next developer job. These are probably good questions for us to try to answer for any one that might be considering a job here. Here are answers to some of them:

Q: How many people are in the engineering department?

A: We have three senior developers and one apprentice developer. I can also program sometimes so altogether that’s five.

Q: How are the teams structured?

A: We work on separate client projects, so there aren’t really “teams” per se. Sometimes a couple of us will be brought onto a particular project, but so far that’s quite rare.

In a sense we’re just the one team, as we hold company retrospectives, one-to-one meetings, and cross one-to-one meetings. We are also fairly active in asking each other for feedback on PRs, even if the reviewer isn’t doing paid work on the project in question.

Q: What is the ratio of remote workers to local?

A: Everyone is 100% remote all the time, on purpose.

Q: What opportunities are there for mentorship and coaching?

A: At any given moment we usually have an apprentice developer who the entire team is responsible for training. We would also like to at some point experiment with training people outside the company as a paid offering, but that’s quite far out in the distance.

Q: Does the company operate in sprints?

A: When you’re on a client project you’re in charge of how you structure the work. The longest and shortest engagement we have with a client is one week. If you feel it’s appropriate you can schedule stand-up meetings, sprint planning meetings, retrospectives, demo days, and anything else you feel is appropriate. Most of our projects are OK with less overhead than that, but it’s your call to make.

Q: How are deployments handled?

A: Again it depends on the specifics of the project at hand but the vast majority of the time we’re on Heroku.

Q: What is the pull request review process and culture like?

A: We want everyone to do PRs and to give each other constructive feedback on them. We want this because it’s a great way to share knowledge and we’re fairly sure it results in higher quality software.

Q: Does the company have definitive managers? If so, how do they interact with their teams?

A: Yes, I am the manager. With regard to developers, I interact with them as follows:

  • I hire developers
  • I do one-to-one meetings. In those meetings I’m typically doing three things:
    • Open-ended conversation about how things are going
    • Figuring out what to do next in terms of career development
    • Working together to address any problems we’ve identified
  • I help with project management on projects that need it (though I want developers to be doing this themselves for the most part).
  • Brief/onboarding developers onto new projects as we sign papers.

Q: Are daily stand-ups held? If so, when?

No. We use Know Your Company for weekly catch ups about what we’re working on. On a particular project you might have determined with the client that stand ups would be a good idea, in which case the time is between you and the client.

Q: What is the tech stack?

A: Mostly Rails and Postgres on Heroku with a lot of JavaScript, but if a client wants something with strong correctness guarantees and you really like Haskell then I’m not going to get in your way.

Q: How diverse is the team?

A: Not very. As far as I know we’re all able-bodied, cisgendered and neurotypical. The development team is split 60/40 women to men and we do come from a range of countries and socio-economic backgrounds however. We’re happy to hear from candidates from diverse backgrounds and will do whatever we can to make this an inclusive workplace for everyone.

That’s very easy to say, but making it a reality is an ongoing process. We’ll probably make a lot of mistakes on the way to building a company like that. We’ll probably need your help in doing so.

Q: What is the time off policy?

A: 25 days paid time off per year with as much sick leave as you need. In 2017 this isn’t yet obvious but sick leave is for mental health issues as much as it is for physical health. In addition if your partner is the primary carer for e.g. your kids and they get sick, you can use sick leave for that too.

Q: Are the hours for each day fixed?

We expect the mean number of hours you work per weekday to be roughly eight. We don’t want you to work any more than that. For your exact work hours, that’s something for you to determine with the client. So long as the client is aware and happy with your work cadence, you can pick whatever hours you want.

More than specific hours, your job has one high-level goal: make good client stories. If in a years time the client is telling a friend about their experience with us and it’s a good story, we ein. If I can tell a client you’re working on a project and you make them happy with the result, that’s the whole job.

Q: How much travel is required?


Q: What is the conference policy, for both attending and speaking?

If you’re speaking then I will do what I can to put the money together for tickets, travel, and accommodation. If you want to attend a conference I’ll do the same, but you’ll get priority for speaking. So broadly yes, we’re happy for you to go to as many conferences as you like, but it depends a great deal on how much cash/accounts receivable we have at a given moment.

Q: Is the company self-funding? If not, when did they last accept funding, and which round was it?

We’re not self-funded and we’re not VC backed. The company was started with a personal bank loan and a few years ago we took out a larger bank loan to account for long dry-spells and clients taking their time with their invoices. We’re not involved in any “rounds” of funding.

When we’re hiring, you can read more about working with us at our job spec here.