Working at Grab will be the “most challenging yet rewarding opportunity” any employee will ever encounter
When was the last time you met someone who was happy with his or her job?
Yeah, me too. Complaining about work is probably one of the greatest Singaporean pastimes yet.
A recent study conducted by JobStreet found that Singaporean workers were the most dissatisfied in the region. Out of the 7 Asian countries surveyed, Singaporean workers had the lowest average job satisfaction rating at 5.09 out of 10.
That’s close to failing –something we don’t take kindly to. Here’s how we measure up:
Simply put, it’s not easy to find a job that you’ll be happy in. Each stage of the hiring process – from attending interviews to negotiating job offers – reveals a bit more information about your future position, but much of it is cloaked in hearsay and secrecy.
We, however, are on your side. We want to make the hiring process as transparent as possible so that you, dear reader, will be able to make a more informed choice. After all, this is the job that you’ll spend a good bulk of your time at.
For this reason, we’re embarking on a series of articles that will uncover the hiring processes of leading technology companies in Singapore. Let us know how we can improve on this – what other information you’d like to see, which companies you’d like to read about here, and so on.
First up, a ride-hailing company that has raised US$1.4 billion in funding (that we know of) to date: Grab.
Interview process at Grab
The first thing that Rachel Lee, Grab’s Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Regional Tech, highlights to us is that Grab is a fast-moving company. “To give you a sense of the speed and growth we’re experiencing, Grab’s user base grew from 10 million at the end of 2015 to over 33 million presently,” she says.
Now, they have a presence in 34 cities, supported by some 630,000 drivers.
Not surprisingly, they experience a high volume of inbound candidates for some of their more popular roles, but few make it to the final stage. “On average, it could be as low as 3 to 5 per cent of candidates who start the interview process to reach to offer stage, as our bar for engineering talent is set really high – for good reason!” Rachel explains.
From start to end, the number of interview rounds highly depends on the role in question, and how senior the position is. A 100offer user who recently joined Grab tells us that his journey took between three to four weeks , during which he went through the following interview rounds: one phone screen interview with a Human Resources representative, one online coding round, and two rounds of technical tests.
The final technical round was conducted with three Grab software engineers in quick succession.
In the first cut, Rachel takes a look at a variety of factors to assess if an engineering candidate is suitable or not.
“[First], we take a look at their demonstrated ability in previous projects as listed on GitHub. The complexity of the projects is of interest to us,” she says. “I will seek out their blogs, slideshow presentations, as well as review peer recommendations to ensure I am able to create a more holistic profile of the individual.”
On the subject of qualifications, she deems them to be secondary, as “many qualified and suitable candidates for us would not have passed a typical CV screen otherwise.”
Technical vs. cultural fit
Beyond technical proficiency and competency, however, they also take special care to evaluate if candidates fit Grab’s culture and values:
“To succeed and thrive in a growing company, we want adaptable people, equally balanced with soft and hard skills, who are driven and eager to make a difference to solving and improving transportation in Southeast Asia.”
Sounds like a tall order? Bear in mind that only 3 to 5 per cent of candidates actually get an offer.
To be part of this select group, Rachel explains that there are some hard and soft skills that she tends to look out for:
- Experience developing software that is highly scalable, distributed service geared for low latency read requests
- Experience building complex distributed systems – helping our systems to be faster, more scalable, more reliable, better!
- Mobile experience – Different from other engineering roles but share a lot of the same attributes, show some interest and knowledge in these areas: applications, data, and mobile UI/UX
- Willingness to collaborate
- Thoughtful communication style with clearly thought through, logical solutions
- Entrepreneurial spirit and a track record of doing whatever it takes to succeed
Between cultural and technical fit, which weighs more heavily in Grab’s hiring process? To Rachel, both are equally important, though cultural fit is critical in sealing the deal.
“No matter how technically capable a candidate is, we will not proceed with a job offer if the team will not enjoy working with the person,” she says. “We are really focused on creating and maintaining a great working culture at Grab!”
Rachel uses the example of one of Grab’s principles, “Your problem is my problem.”
“We want people who will take the initiative to offer help to their fellow colleagues.”
Grab’s interview questions
For Rachel, she’s “laser focused on strategic recruitment for mid- to senior- level hires in engineering, and she “expects all our future Grabbers to come with a high level of technical ability.” The questions she asks candidates in the technical rounds follow accordingly:
“For senior leaders, we ask them about the last, or the best technical decisions they have made recently, that had impact on scalability and high availability performant systems; as well as their thought processes around design for solutions for backend microservices, if not, in areas of their pursuant domain.”
In addition, our 100offer user recalls that he was fielded more algorithm questions than other interviews that he attended previously.
Beyond that, Rachel and her colleagues tend to quiz candidates on their career ambitions, as well as find out whether they have “a good aptitude for learning and collaboration with colleagues from all around the world.” This is necessary as Grab currently has more than 30 nationalities in their ranks.
For senior candidates, Rachel will “often ask them their views on their hiring philosophy – how they would hire a good engineer, as well as how they would build a strong, cohesive and high-performing team.”
“It is critical that we understand a senior candidate’s management style,” she emphasizes.
For junior candidates, she would ask questions that help give a sense of their sense of responsibility and interest in being a team owner and manager, as well as their commitment to building a long and successful career with Grab.
“Questions we ask are focused on assessing future aptitude for leadership roles, and their analytical skills and thought processes when it comes to solving problems.”
According to Rachel, there are many opportunities to relocate and work at Grab’s Research & Development Centres in Beijing, Seattle, and Singapore. When relocating candidates, though, she is careful to assess their ability to adapt to a new environment.
“I recognise that their entire life can change!” she explains. “For those keen to explore an overseas work opportunity with Grab, do take time to consider and research about living in Singapore. Singapore is a great place for tech talent, as it comes with plenty of opportunities in the tech industry.”
Indeed, she’s extremely optimistic about the prospects of those keen on moving to Singapore, where Grab chose to open its US$100 million R&D centre – right in the heart of the Central Business District.
“The city-state hosts a mature tech ecosystem and the abundance of local, regional and global companies is beneficial to tech professionals. What’s more it has been consistently ranked as the top city in the world for technology readiness, transportation, infrastructure, tax and the ease of doing business by PwC’s Cities of Opportunity report.”
Furthermore, she believes that working at Grab will be the “most challenging yet rewarding opportunity” any employee will ever encounter. This is due to the scale and speed at which they operate.
“I personally wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else right now, and it makes it all the most critical to to have teammates who believe in the same – that we are all fighting a battle to bring lasting benefits and improvements to millions in Southeast Asia!”
This article was first published on the 100offer blog.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.
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