How We Hire At Elevate Security

Changing jobs is tough! It’s a high-pressure situation with lots of ambiguity and expectations of the candidate, yet hardly any transparency about what the candidate can expect.

I’ve been there, too. I’ve been verbally offered roles right after I interview, and then three weeks later the company hasn’t given me paperwork yet. I’ve had cases where I need to send the recruiter weekly emails asking for follow up, and only months later hear back. I’ve even had the dreaded “we’d like you to come back onsite for another day” requests after already spending eight hours with the hiring team.

These are all horrible experiences for candidates. Why companies feel that opaque and ill-defined recruiting processes are ok is beyond me. Candidates should revolt! ???


What Happens When You Apply

In keeping with our company values, we’d like to help candidates understand our process. All great interviews should be a two-way street, and we know you are evaluating what we are like as a company even as we are evaluating you as a candidate.

First off, please know that regardless of how the interview process goes, ultimately we want to ensure we are respectful of each candidate’s time, and openly communicative where possible. This mainly means that at each step we strive to respond within one to two days with a decision on whether we are moving forward, and to give actionable feedback wherever we can. You will hear from us, even if we aren’t a good fit!

  1. Application You should apply; we’re a great team 🙂 We are proud of the culture of openness, inclusivity, and constant learning that we are building, and excited to offer opportunities that allow our employees to grow personally and professionally while making hugely impactful contributions to all facets of our company. To start, send over your resume/background to Do your best to position yourself well — we try to match a candidate’s energy, so if you put time and effort into your application, we’ll put similar energy back. Please don’t just send your resume; that’ll get 10 seconds of our time!
  2. Review After you apply, we’ll take a look at your background and get back to you as soon as possible. We may have a few questions for you. Don’t think it’s for nothing! We actually want to see how you write, your thought process, and how responsive you are. We’re still small, so each new hire has a huge impact, and we want to make sure we bring on folks who are excited about our mission.
  3. First Phone Screen We’ll set up a time that works for you. Typically this interview is an exploration of your background to see if there’s a good fit for the position in question. It’s also a chance to see if there’s a “value fit” (check out our values on our careers page). As usual, we’ll get back to you in a day or two, and where possible we try to give feedback on what went well or didn’t.
  4. Second Phone Screen This conversation is a deeper dive into your background and evaluates the fit for the role a little more concretely. For example, for an engineering role, we’d likely ask about technical work you’ve done, ask some deeper technical questions about it, and ask you to solve a 20-30 minute coding challenge (typically using a shared environment like CoderPad).
  5. Onsite Our onsite interview is a chance for you to meet our fantastic team, and for us to meet you! We’re pretty structured in how we run it so we can evaluate candidates fairly. A lot of our hiring now is for engineers, so I’ll detail the specifics of that. It’s five-ish hours — we try to keep to the following schedule (but sometimes things run slightly longer):
      1. Whiteboard (45m) – Oh no! A whiteboard coding question. We’re horrible people. It’s actually not important to us what language you choose or if you get syntax exactly right. It’s really about the depth and creativity of your thought process, as well as your communication and problem solving abilities. Like most good questions, it’s like an onion — it’s got layers.
      2. System Design (30m) – We ask all engineering candidates a complex system design question regardless of how junior you are. We don’t expect you to have all the answers, but we’re looking for your ability to deal with ambiguity, ask questions, and solve problems — all incredibly important things for early startup engineers. We first like to get a sense of how you organize and communicate your thoughts when facing an open-ended problem, and then typically will try to explore the bounds of your knowledge, occasionally expanding the problem with new considerations to see how you adapt.
      3. Behavioral Interview (30m) – This discussion with one of our co-founders helps us to get to know you a little better as a fully fleshed out human rather than just an engineer! We want to understand what you’re looking for and how we might be able to nurture that, and give you more insights into the company, our values, and our vision.
      4. Lunch with the Team (60m) – Get to know everyone on the team over lunch. It’s important to us that you get a chance to see how the team interacts and for you to feel out whether you’d work well with them. Ask as many questions as you’d like!
      5. Hands-On Coding (2h) – Here’s your chance to show us what an awesome engineer you are. We ask pragmatic coding questions aimed at seeing your real-world knowledge. You pick the language and frameworks you want to use and use your own laptop and environment. We stay away from algorithm heavy questions and instead let you take on building something.
      6. Open Q&A – Now it’s your chance to grill us! Ask the hardest questions you want. I prefer to actually defer these questions to have the team. I think that helps demonstrate how consistently transparent and open we are when it’s clear that everyone on the team has a good feel for what we’re doing and where we’re going as a company.
  6. Decision Right after the interview finishes we try to discuss as a team while it’s still fresh in our minds. Everyone shares their feedback and we only make offers to candidates which the team is all-in on. Most of the time we’ll get back to you the next day, and as always, whether it’s a yes or no decision we try our best to share useful feedback. Feel free to do the same with us! ?Typically we’ll do reference checks and have offers out within a couple days.
      1. Your Decision – If we’ve given you an offer, we really want you to feel comfortable with joining the team. We won’t have 48-hour exploding offers or other high-pressure tactics. We will offer you up a variety of opportunities to help make your decision easier though. Want us to give you references? Done. Want to have a deep dive conversation on our future roadmap? Of course. Really interested in technical architecture? Just ask! It’s a difficult decision and we want to support you in any way we can.


Some Helpful Tips For The Onsite

  • If you don’t know something, ask questions!
  • Do talk through your thought process, but try your best to break down your answer using systems thinking.
  • Bring your authentic self — interviews are tough, but we really try to make it comfortable.
  • Along those lines, let us know if there is anything, in particular, we can do to accommodate you or make you more at ease. We’ll do our best!
  • Spend the time to look at our website, values, and team beforehand to pinpoint what further information you’d need from us to be able to make your decision. By the end of the interview, coming up with questions off the top of your head is hard!

That’s it! Keep in mind this may evolve, as we always want to improve on our ability to evaluate great people, but we’ll make sure we continue to be transparent as that happens. After your interview with Elevate Security, if you have recommendations about how to improve our evaluation process, let us know. We always strive to do our best and appreciate your feedback. One thing that I’m quite proud of is that we have a healthy pipeline of candidate referrals from people we’ve previously interviewed, proving that we really do value our candidates before they even come on board.

We want the broadest possible pool of candidates to feel comfortable and excited to apply to us, so that we can find the best mutual fits and new hires! We hope demystifying our hiring process has helped — please take a moment to look at our careers page and see if there’s a dream job waiting for you with Elevate Security.


1 Response
  1. Yalei

    This is an amazing description on your hiring process! No more guess work for the candidates!
    I hope more companies (especially start-ups) can be this clear with the hiring process.

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