I applied through an employee referral. The process took 3 days. I interviewed at Zillow (Seattle, WA) in February 2007.
First, phone screens by HR, then by prospective supervisor. HR phone screen checked to see what my background was, what I knew about the company, why I was interested in working for same, what skills i thought I brought to bear, a little probing to basically see what kind of person I was. Supervisor phone screen was pretty brusque (though not unfriendly) - i got the feeling that the reason I was being hired was because the team was drowning in work, so stopping to interview was tricky. Mostly problem-solving hypotheticals, as well as some checking on previous work history and skills. In person 1:1s (there were no firing-squad or group interviews) were more or less the same. Brief with the supervisor (who didn't seem to really remember what he had and hadn't asked me, but generally seemed ok with me, still seemed crazy busy). Then 1:1s with both of the other team members, one of whom asked problem-solving questions, the other of whom mostly asked about what I had done before and what I knew/didn't know. Then a 1:1 with a member of the DBA team (who are the closest Ops partners to our team, since we support the machines their DBs live on) - which was pretty much a personality-fit-check. Finally, 1:1 with the head of Ops, who was clearly an old-school geek, and who did more skill-and-history probing, largely asking what I had done, what i wanted to do, and trying to find out the limitations of my knowledge, as well as getting me to own those limitation (which I had/have no problem doing, and which he seemed to appreciate/approve of). He also told a couple of old-school-geek war stories, as geeks are wont to do. Throughout the process, i was very candid about what I had and hadn't done, and did and didn't know. I think that this was taken at face value by my interviewers, and may have helped my chances. Also, I'm pretty easy-going, and I get the impression that this netted me more points than if I had been highly-skilled and a jerk. There is definitely a big focus on fit at Zillow, such that having the skills is not sufficient if you don't also have a get-along attitude that coheres with the feel of the company. This is wise, I think, since it cuts down on the cycles that are spent managing interpersonal tensions or repairing problems that arise from bad communciation resulting from those tensions. Good for morale, good for product. The overall feel of the company is, I think, what it should be - a bunch of smart people, all rowing in the same direction, and feeling pretty good about it, while working like maniacs. Plus - the offices (and in particular, the views) are sweet.
Not enough - starting salary was $38k, and I should have pushed harder. The problem was that I really wanted to job, and I knew (or suspected) that my skills set was not nearly as strong as some of the other candidates. I found out later that this was indeed the case, but that my personality, ownership of my ignorance along with clear willingness/ability to learn what I needed to learn quickly, and the skills I did have, ultimately got me in. I DID do the research on what I figured my salary should be (or at least the range), and I think I should have asked for at least $2k more than i did (which was $40k). I was afraid that they would rescind the offer if I did so, but I think that fear was misplaced. Once they make the offer, they have shown that they intend to hire you, that they like what you bring to the table (that is, they aren't doing you a favor that they might think better of). Ask for more than you think you should - you won't get it, but you'll feel better if you don't knuckle under, and you might make more money. They are expecting you to ask for more. Also, do your homework so you know what the range is.
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