Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
Interviews for Top Jobs at Wolfram Research
- Software Engineer (3)
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- Software Engineering, Customer Applications Support (1)
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Software Engineering, Customer Applications Support Interview
I applied online. The process took 3 weeks – interviewed at Wolfram Research in September 2009.
Wolfram has a very interesting online application with a variety of non-standard and non-trivial questions (used for all job openings); it encourages creative thinking by applicants and does a great job giving a picture of the company and scope of the work they do. In particular, the application encourages applicants to submit responses to questions related to a variety of job functions (not just the applicant's own area of interest), which suggests the company is fairly well integrated and avoids the myopic compartmentalization common in many organizations.
Other companies should seriously consider copying the style of Wolfram's online application because, lets face it, applying for jobs online is no fun! Any company who can actually make this process enjoyable will attract more candidates and cultivate a more interesting and sophisticated corporate image.
I was invited for 1 day of on-site interviews following a single phone interview. The recruiting staff was very professional and efficient in planning my trip to the company's headquarters in Champaign, and I was welcomed to my hotel room with a care package containing snacks, which I really appreciated after a day of flights!
I had about 6 one-on-one interviews with people at various levels, which included technical questions related to programming concepts in addition to standard behavioral questions. I was also asked to walk through some Mathematica code I had written (submitted with the application) to prove my knowledge of Mathematica (the company's flagship product); this was very refreshing since it was more collaborative and interesting than standard interviews (and probably more useful to hiring managers).
I also had lunch with a more senior manager who helped me understand the company's overall strategy and the relationships between different internal groups; we also discussed strategies for developing business in different customer segments. This suggests to me that Wolfram wants employees to take an interest in the company's overall success and understand how their individual work contributes to the whole.
My suggestions for improving the recruiting process:
--> Help candidates understand what position(s) they are interviewing for before the interview. This will help them prepare better and is something I should have asked about beforehand.
--> Give suggestions on topics that might be covered in the technical interviews. I had to break out several concepts and skills I had not used in several years, which I might have done better if I had known about them and studied more in advance.
Overall this was an excellent interview experience despite my not receiving an offer--I really learned a lot and appreciate the opportunity.
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