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6, Feb 2020 .

Backend Engineering — How to prepare for the interview

Backend Engineering — How to prepare for the interview

by Camila Scatolini

9 min read

The Backend Team’s goal is to provide a platform that leverages the best of our talent when creating, operating and distributing our games.

Written by Camila Scatolini in collaboration with Marina Soubhia.

Wildlife Studios is a tech unicorn and one of the ten largest mobile game developers and publishers in the world. We have a solid international presence and our more than 60 games have been played by billions of people around the globe. Imagine working in a company that engages so many people!

In order to create games that entertain and delight so many, there must be a robust and scalable technological infrastructure, so that the magic can happen for the player.

For this reason, we have talented and dedicated professionals with us, including many with relevant previous experience, such as Mick Hocking, former Sony vice president for Europe, and Luis Darío Simonassi, former MercadoLibre VP in Argentina.

Despite such a global influence, we haven’t yet completed our mission. We aspire to develop games that will be remembered for generations. To achieve this goal, we need to keep attracting even more talented people, as we create innovative solutions that put us at the forefront of the industry.

BACKEND ENGINEERING AT WILDLIFE

The engineering area at Wildlife is composed of different domains, such as Data Engineering, Graphics Engineering, Game Engineering, Infrastructure/Site Reliability Engineering, Mobile Engineering and, of course, our focus in this text: Backend Engineering.

The Backend Team’s goal is to provide a platform that leverages the best of our talent when creating, operating and distributing our games. Their role is fundamental to the company as it puts together the building blocks that will support the development of all other technologies, including not only the games but anything from marketing operations to personalizing the content we offer to our players.

Our backend engineers are spread over several multidisciplinary squads, also comprised of mobile engineers, data scientists, and data engineers, depending on the focus of the squad.

WHO DO WE WANT TO ATTRACT TO OUR BACKEND TEAM

Wildlife's Backend Team is divided into small squads that operate in a lean and autonomous manner. From a technical point of view, we look for people who have experience designing systems, who know what it’s like to build things from scratch. We also love people who love to code, who have side projects and/or different interests and bring that into our day-to-day work. We look for a wide variety of points of view in solving our problems.

In order to be part of this team, you must have good working knowledge in computer science, because we deal with large volumes of data and requests, and many of our systems have requirements of very low latency. Given the level of autonomy provided, good planning and organization skills are also fundamental.

When it comes to programming languages, we don’t evaluate any specific knowledge. That’s because we use a very broad stack, choosing the best tool to solve each problem. We have enough flexibility to use different technologies whenever necessary, but always keeping in mind the cost associated with the introduction of any new tool, whether it’s a learning or operational cost.

Finally, as important as having the technical skills, it’s crucial that you’re aligned with our values. After all, we’ll be working together on an extraordinarily ambitious mission.

STEP BY STEP OF OUR SELECTION PROCESS

Wildlife_office_hallway

So now that you know a bit about Wildlife and what we need for our Backend Team, here’s the way forward to join us:

1. Recruitment Strategy
Once we’ve defined a vacancy, we advertise it on our page and on other job boards that we consider relevant. Of course, we also actively look for professionals in different networks. Once we find someone that we wish to bring to the team, we get in touch and invite them to learn more about us and go through the recruiting process. This usually takes place on LinkedIn, GitHub, or StackOverflow, but other sources such as referrals from our employees or candidates are also practice.

2. Sourcing and/or screening
This is the first part of the selection process itself. The sourcing consists of us actively searching for ideal candidates for our positions, while the screening basically is a selection of all the applications/resumes received. Those who are selected (or who we’ve previously contacted) are asked to have an initial phone conversation with us.

3. Pre onsite
This is what we call this first conversation, which takes place over the phone or through videoconference, with a recruiter or a team member (or both, depending on the seniority of the position). This chat not only explains the position, the company and the selection process in more detail but also evaluates the candidate’s motivation, their passion for what they do and some soft skills. This call usually lasts about 40 to 60 minutes.

4. Onsite interviews
After the initial conversation, the selected candidates are called in for the onsite interviews, which take place at Wildlife. There are at most three interviews, lasting approximately one and a half hours each — sometimes all of them done on the same day. As each stage has the potential to rule a candidate out, some candidates may only participate in one or two of them. What we evaluate in each interview:

Team Interview. The first interview is done with a potential future teammate. You will solve a number of problems on system architecture, high availability, and basic concepts of algorithms and data structure, with help from the interviewer.

Manager Interview. In the second interview, with the team manager, you will talk a little about your career and solve some of the company’s day-to-day system design problems with the interviewer.

Director Interview. The third interview takes place with the head of Backend Engineering. This is the opportunity to better describe your career, your side projects, and your professional goals. Usually, there’s a third round of system design problems, and your alignment with the company’s values will be evaluated.

5. Offer
After the interviews, all people involved meet to discuss the performance of the candidate and decide if we’ll extend a job offer. If approved, you will be informed quickly — often on the same day as the interview. If you cannot respond immediately, we give you some time to take the offer home and think about it, hoping you’ll decide to join our team.

6. You’ve become a Wilder
And that’s it! Candidates who accept the offer become new Wilders and are welcomed with open arms by our team. In this final stage, we’ll arrange all the details for the starting date, and once you’ve started, the onboarding phase will provide you all the tools and context necessary to begin helping tackle our biggest challenges!

PREPARATION

The best tip we can give for you to do well in the process is to prepare for each step. You won’t adapt your personality to what we are looking for, but you can hone your technical and communication skills. Throughout the process, it is very important that you clearly communicate your line of reasoning.

Our GitHub is a great source for understanding the kind of systems we build here. It is a good idea to review concepts such as system design, algorithms, and database manipulation. Books like “Cracking the Coding Interview” can be helpful, but since most of our process is focused on system design, you may prefer to study or watch videos about the subject on YouTube.

Choose whichever method you feel most comfortable with (or maybe give yourself a challenge!) and go ahead. Oh, and don’t forget to familiarize yourself with our games too. Look for them in the App Store, Google Play Store, and on our website. Try downloading Zooba, Sniper 3D, and Tennis Clash to get started.

Another tip is to try to relax during the onsite interviews. Make sure to ask questions whenever something is not quite clear. Be yourself. An interview works both ways: you select the company as much as we select candidates.

So, did we manage to give you the information you were looking for regarding our selection process for the Wildlife's Backend Team? We hope this has helped you to better understand the process and see how you can get started.

We hope you can soon become a Wilder!

Find all of our open roles here


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