How I was interviewed at VMWare

In quest of inspiration I decided to go though interview process for Chief Software Architect at VMWare UK. I had never been interviewed at corporations because the process is formal, standardised and cumbersome. Besides, corporate environments generally suck. But it’s not about VMWare UK.

Interview was 1 to 1. A smart R&D director and me. Because I had no clue about the project they are hunting people for, we started with problem definition. VMWare’s goal is porting one of their solutions to the cloud. While R&D man was talking about the project, his blazing eyes revealed inspiration he’s driven by. I was actively asking questions.

When both of us were confident that the problem is well-defined and it makes sense to start looking for solution, he asked me: “how would you start”?

Then we had hour-long discussion on bringing everyone on the same bus from the early on, understanding MVP, building MVP, validated learning, team organisation, resilience and even micro-services.

We touched a bit of Java, a bit of REST, a bit of messaging and some data storing aspects.

I didn't even notice how quickly time passed by. There were other people waiting for the meeting room, so we were forced to stop. Otherwise we'd talk until midnight.

We left whiteboard really dirty. Sorry for that.

That’s it. Nothing more than real problem solving in front of whiteboard with a bunch of markers. No stupid CV scanning and skill matching, no “a-ha” questions (why hatches have rounded form), no incompetent developers-hyenas with rutted questions a-la “what is volatile”, “is SimpleDateFormat thread-safe” and other bullshit. Just problem solving.

I'd interview for CSA position in the same way. Followed by a coding assignment☺

Some funny, curious facts that I took away from interview:

  • VMWare guys are proud of their great office in central London (the last floor of Blue Fin Building)
  • VMWare guys are proud of staying flexible regardless of the size of the corporation (they consider themselves more flexible than HQ in Palo Alto)
  • If software works flawlessly on N nodes it doesn’t make it horizontally scalable. Chances are software has been designed to work only on N nodes
  • Desktop Virtualisation is of high demand and has a plenty of interesting challenges
  • Companies do not want contractors for senior positions — keeping knowledge in-house is vital. Some companies see contractors unreliable (leaving in the mid of project, make crap and leave just before maintenance period etc.)

I wish everyone leave interview with the same excitement whatever interview outcome is. I wish interviewers do everything to excite candidate.

+1, VMWare!

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