How to Stand Out and Ace the Interview

At WHOOP, the Software team wants not only technically strong engineers but also people who are a culture fit. Having an awesome fit is important for the success of the candidate and the team. In this post, I will walk through the application and interview process with tips. Luckily, the same advice can be applied to other opportunities!

Application

The standard way to apply is to go to the careers website (https://www.whoop.com/careers/). Submit your resume, maybe a cover letter and done, right?

Here’s what is not obvious: there are other avenues to apply. If you ask WHOOP employees how they got an interview, a good portion of them would be wildly different than just applying on the careers page. Other examples range from reaching out on LinkedIn to in-person or virtual career fairs. Another effective example is through a referral; that is, someone who works at WHOOP and vouches for you. The referrer likely knows your skills and believes you would be a fit.

Regardless of how you applied, a succinct resume is a must. Keep it to one or two pages. I highly recommend understanding the company’s mission, the team’s tech stack and what they are doing. Then, you can specifically modify your resume to highlight what you think is a match. Finally, it’s important to indicate accomplishments and the end result. I recommend checking out Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR) for starters.

There’s back and forth on whether cover letters are useful when applying. In my opinion, since alignment with our shared mission, vision, and goals (aka culture fit) is so important to us, I read every cover letter. I want to learn more about you and anticipate how you connect your day-to-day work to our mission. This goes without saying that your cover letter should not be a repeat of your resume. What challenges that you had to overcome to get to where you are now? How do you relate to our mission to Unlock Human Performance?

Interview

Congratulations, you’ve made it this far! The organization wants to learn more about you and the potential match. Likewise, you get to learn about the company too. Engineering interviews are essentially split into two: Technical and Behavioral. There could be multiple sessions to make sure both are adequately covered. Here’s what happens and some tips:

Technical

This role requires technical skills and you need to demonstrate them. To approach this area, we ask Coding Fundamentals and Architecture/Design questions while adjusting the interview based on the level of the role. One thing we avoid is brainteaser / puzzle questions. We find this approach is not a great proxy for simulating our normal day-to-day work. These types of questions also don’t work. Instead, we want to emulate working together as if you were already solving the problem with us.

Here are some tips for Coding Fundamentals and Architecture/Design questions:

  1. Think out loud – We want to understand how you approach problems and solve them so we know you can make good decisions. I recommend practicing with someone you trust on a fresh problem. They can provide meaningful feedback for you.
  2. Ask questions – We want to know if you understand the problem. If there are no questions, you are risking this part of the interview by constructing something that doesn’t solve the problem for the end customer. This is an example of a programming mindset rather than a product mindset.
  3. Take the hints – The interviewer is there to evaluate you. They are also there to help you get through the problem. They will guide you through the problem and if they are giving suggestions or asking questions, you should heavily consider them. This area also helps evaluate whether you can collaborate technically.
  4. Optimize after – If you think you have the best solution that solves the problem and you are confident, then go for it. However, the optimal solution may not come in time. Try going for something basic first then iterate and improve it. Remember, we are looking for strong fundamentals over micro optimizations.
  5. Be honest – Because we want to make sure that you will be successful at WHOOP, it’s important to be truthful in your answers. If you aren’t sure or stuck on a problem, it’s better to let the interviewer know and collaborate with them to move forward together.

Behavioral

Ultimately, we want to know whether you would be a good fit for WHOOP and Software. We do not hire programmers who are jerks. We want to work with someone who will elevate us all. In doing so, we ask questions to gauge emotional intelligence, passion, and humility. Below are some tips:

  1. Prepare the 2 min pitch – Have a clear story of your background, your accomplishments, and why you think you would be great at WHOOP. This pitch can be reused in multiple types of behavioral questions.
  2. Storytelling – Have a few stories in your back pocket to take out as examples. Have you worked with others on a mission critical project? What challenges did you overcome? What have you worked on that you are super proud of and why?
  3. Research the company – This research is important to measure passion and wanting to come help us. Check out the engineering blog, WHOOP Locker, Instagram, etc. to see what we are up to. Having knowledge about the company typically generates more insightful conversation for both you and the interviewer.
  4. Ask questions again – It’s important to have questions about WHOOP, Software, team, etc. This shows interest in us. Even if you already asked it, you can ask them again to get another person’s perspective. Ending the interview with strong questions also provides insight into what is important to you.

Conclusion

Applying and interviewing can be nerve-wracking. I even get nervous but it’s normal. With some creativity and persistence, you can figure out how to stand out from the crowd when applying. Also, the interview itself can be a challenge. Will you get a question that you will be stumped on? Maybe, but if you don’t try, then you cannot find how to improve and land your dream job. We know it takes time out of your day to interview and learn about us. We are grateful for your time to learn more about you. If you are interested in applying, check out https://www.whoop.com/careers/!

Mark F. Flores
Mark F. Flores

Sr. Director of Software