As far as exciting job opportunities go, Go-Jek has plenty to say for itself. The Indonesian startup was founded in 2010 but picked up speed in the past couple of years, becoming a unicorn last year in August 2016 with the largest recorded round of funding in Indonesia to date.
Its main service is transportation – an “Uber with bikes,” if you will. But it’s the company’s myriad of services – spanning from food delivery to event tickets to at-home massages – that provide the most opportunity for developers.
Now with teams in Singapore, Bangalore, and the unicorn’s home base of Jakarta, Go-Jek CTO Ajey Gore says the company’s ready to catch its team up to its growth.
The startup got its beginnings with a call center and 20 bike riders in October 2010. From Gore’s perspective, though, Go-Jek has a long way to go. “We’re really big, but we are like a big baby,” he jokes. “Like a big baby who actually just started walking.”
Currently a team of roughly 140 to 150 engineers – around 20 in Singapore, 60 in Bangalore, and 60 in Jakarta – keeps the unicorn churning along. Of that number, only five or six people are working on the business’ food delivery service, which is “just wrong,” Gore remarks.
Go-Jek wants to grow its engineering team to 400 to 500 people by the end of next year, more than doubling its current numbers.
Go-Jek wants to grow its engineering team to 400 to 500 people by the end of next year, more than doubling its current numbers. The startup is certainly open to hire, so how do you make the cut?
Gore begins simply. All Go-Jek engineers have two qualities, he declares: they know their stuff, and they’re hands-on.
Of course, that’s just the beginning, which Gore acknowledges; 90 percent of the company’s engineers come to them via referral or through a close examination.
If you want to be hired for Go-Jek, expect to speak to Gore himself.
“Whoever gets hired has to talk to me before he gets offered it,” he reveals. “And wherever I am – Singapore, Jakarta, Bangalore – I do the call.”
Gore shuttles between the three cities; during any one week, he’s in at least two of them. If necessary, he’ll cancel other plans in his schedule to call candidates, believing one can’t replace a personal presence in these matters.
Gore joined Go-Jek as CTO in January last year – an accomplishment for someone only 40 years old – but his journey has been intertwined with Go-Jek’s for a while. Hailing from India, his inner entrepreneur and techie emerged as early as his childhood, when he took an interest in learning how his older brother’s computer worked. His first company made business cards. He then moved on to Thoughtworks and Hoppr (now part of Hike).
Along with two colleagues he met there, he and his wife founded Codeignition, a startup that did consultation and other services for other startups, including Go-Jek. When Go-Jek acquired Codeignition, Gore went over to the new team.
“At that time, we had an office in Delhi and Bangalore,” Gore remembers. The offices were consolidated – along with another acquisition made in Pune – to Bangalore.
Want a taste of what happens when you’re invited into the Go-Jek office for evaluation? Look no further. Gore takes us through Go-Jek’s engineer hiring process, step by step.
Ready, set, timeshare
While it’s possible for candidates with time constraints to have their interview processes stretched out over a number of days, the preferred method (“the people who are courageous enough,” Gore points out jovially) is to have the entirety of a candidate evaluation take place in one day – a more likely prospect for the candidates in Jakarta or Bangalore, where most of the hiring is concentrated.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are Go-Jek’s designated interview days. Candidates are invited to Go-Jek’s office and perform the necessary steps.
By the end of the day, Go-Jek’s made a decision.
Engineers report around 9 to 10am and begin with an assignment suited to their position – writing some code, for example.
“So you do that for the next two, three, four hours,” explains Gore. “However much is up to you.” Ideally, the candidate is balancing time with the quality of the work.
“What we want to do at the end of the day – somebody is spending one day of their life with us. It has to be worthwhile for them as much as it is for us,” he says. “Whether the sale is done or not, it should be a good experience.”
The one day process means that candidates are evaluating Go-Jek just as much as Go-Jek evaluates them.
“It’s more important for candidates to choose us than it is for us to choose them,” says Gore.
So, while the engineer’s work is being evaluated (more on that later), Go-Jek treats the candidate to lunch.
Believe that the world is flat
“We do not hire managers, so we don’t have managers,” explains Gore. Go-Jek’s vice presidents and senior management are coding experts and still write code. Though the startup’s staff has differing roles, Go-Jek makes an effort to keep organization flat.
So, it’s really important that candidates gel well with the team.
“We look at how curious you are, how eager you are to learn, and how adaptable you are to the environment,” says Gore.
That, combined with how candidates portray their thought processes, is a huge evaluation criteria.
At the end of the day, after the candidate leaves, everyone on the evaluation team gets some say about the candidate. Meanwhile, Gore asks only one question: If this person is sitting next to you for the next one year and working with you, would you be able to work with him?
The answer from the team has to be yes for the candidate to move on.
Just say no
When you’ve returned from lunch, someone will have stuck around at the office and evaluated your code. Now, you have to defend what you’ve done and answer questions about your work. This helps Go-Jek learn your thought process.
One of the most important pieces of advice here is to know when to say no – and do it.
“We want to know what you don’t know,” reveals Gore. “The more you say no to our questions, the better it is.”
What that means is not trying to talk circles around the questions. If you don’t know the answer to a question, state it simply. That won’t hurt your chances of getting the job, because it shows that you’re honest and open to learning.
“Sit with us, tell us why you did what you did, and defend it,” advises Gore.
That process takes about an hour, and during that time, it becomes relatively clear if the company is going to hire you or not.
By then, it’s about 3pm, but don’t expect to get told right then and there if you got the job or not. If you’re spending the whole day with Go-Jek, the company wants it to be a good experience. You’ll head home after spending a little more time in the office environment. Expect your call the next day or the day after, after the evaluation team’s discussion about you.
The hiring process – a variation
The alternate done for this process, if developers’ schedules don’t line up with Go-Jek’s, works like this: the candidate undergoes an initial session – usually a call – to manage expections. This is not an interview.
Then, the engineer gets a coding test. If he or she passes the test, there are one or two interviews with members of Go-Jek’s tech team. Go-Jek will then decide on whether or not to offer.
The road to seniority is paved with responsibility and ambiguity
First, not everyone is meant for a senior position, and that’s okay. But here’s how Go-Jek evaluates people for senior positions or tracks.
“So, the way I see seniority is how much responsibility you can take on and how much ambiguity you can deal with,” explains Gore.
That, combined with the hands-on quality, works well within a startup, which brings along big chunks of responsibility as well as plenty of uncertainty.
“If you don’t want those things – responsibility and ambiguity – that’s okay,” Gore reassures. “You’re still a contributor. You’re still important to us.”
To help emphasize this structure, Go-Jek combines its product and engineering teams into one, but at the end of the day, the most important quality is the ability to be hands-on and to work well with others.