Ever since they launched their commercial service in 2011, BlueJeans has emerged as a growing and sophisticated cloud-based video-conferencing service that connects many users across different platforms, devices, and conference programs. The platform offers collaborative video, audio, and web conferencing as well as allows users to host live streams and other interactive events. The COO Stu Aron explained that-
"Ultimately, what we're trying to do is make video conferencing as comfortable and as casual as your pair of jeans.”
In May 2020, Verizon acquired BlueJeans which expanded its market and business portfolio offerings. This service is known for its simplicity, user interface, and superior quality video conferences utilizing HD video and Dolby voice audio.
Working at BlueJeans:
At present, there are more than 400 top companies that use BlueJeans all over the world. Global brands like Facebook, Illumina, LinkedIn, and ADP rely on their service for large-scale events and meetings. Including the 180 employees that run the service from Silicon Valley, they employ 500 employees worldwide and yet, rank 5th among their competitors (who have an average strength of 17,000 employees)
The job profiles range from Software Development Engineers (SDEs), Data Analysts, and Product Managers to Accounting and administrative positions. This company emphasizes quality over quantity and hence, all these job roles are taken by some of the best talents in the industry. With the employee count low, the interview process becomes that much trickier.
Recently, we reached out to Sharath BS, a Principal Engineer at BlueJeans by Verizon, Bangalore who shared with us some insightful details about landing a job as a Principal Engineer at BlueJeans. He lays out the complete interview process and mentions some strategies you can employ to get through the said interviews.
First, let’s understand,
What is the role of a Principal Engineer?
A Principal Engineer (PE) is tasked with monitoring the overall software design, manage or initiate research and development (R&D) of new products. They are also responsible for mentoring and training other engineers, improving existing software performance, managing system upgrades, and designing and building large scalable web services.
A PE can be tasked with managing entire teams and projects and investigating software-related complaints and making necessary adjustments to ensure optimal software performance. They are also a critical part of the “think-tank” at the company and will occasionally delve into ideation, strategy, and intense market research about a potential new product.
A recent change of trends has seen Principal Engineers at this company take up roles where they have to work closely with product managers and translate market requirements into design ideation. Further, they are also team representatives in front of the stakeholders at the company for communicating project status regularly.
The Prerequisites for applying as a Principal Engineer at BlueJeans by Verizon:
- A Bachelor’s degree
- 7 or more years of relevant work experience.
- 6 or more years of software engineering experience building SaaS or consumer web applications.
- Three or more years of experience designing and architecting scalable web applications.
- Knowledge of network and communication protocols.
What do recruiters look for in a resume for the Principal Engineer role?
- Your educational background (helps to be a graduate of STEM subjects).
- Experience in at least one Server Side Language such as Java or Node.js.
- Previous knowledge of cloud infrastructure, monitoring, and orchestration tools.
- Knowledge of database technologies (SQL and NoSQL) as well as API cache design and caching technologies.
- Experience in building RESTful APIs and have a good knowledge of RESTful design patterns.
- Experience in real-time communication products.
- Projects involving UI/UX and Web development.
- Experience in scaling large high transaction volume web services.
- Your contributions to open source projects.
However, Sharath explains the most important thing noticed in a resume is the quantitative data.
Something like- “I improved the page loading speed from 8 seconds to 4 seconds i.e. a 50% change page speed time”
These kinds of statements describe what you exactly achieved and validates your initial impression in the eyes of the interviewers.
Do not use terms from general templates and make an effort with your resume. It does not bode well for your interviews. Consider going through these 8 powerful resume tips for starting on your resume right away.
The BlueJeans Interview Process:
Sharath explains that since BlueJeans is geared towards hiring the best talents in the industry, the interviews can be quite challenging. The interview processes change from time to time. Based on your resume fulfilling the aforementioned criteria, you will be selected for the interview rounds which consist of at least 4 rounds (it may get to around 5-6 rounds for Principal Engineer interviews)
However, in some cases, there can be a Phone screening round where basic questions about your resume will be asked to ensure you are in fact, a perfect fit for the organization to go for the further rounds. They will go over the requirements of your desired position and may ask some questions testing your knowledge of the company, and the company credo. The phone interview usually lasts about 20 minutes
The Technical Round- 3 days, 3 Interviewers:
In case of a team or project-specific hiring or even placement hiring, candidates usually have to sit for a Test of 75 questions divided into Verbal, Analytical, Attention to Detail, and Technical sections.
You get about 80-90 minutes to solve the questions. Based on your test, you proceed directly to a one-off technical round followed closely by an HR interview. However, for most candidates applying through the official website or referral, the following process is the standard:
1st section- Logical Reasoning:
This section is designed to test your non-verbal reasoning skills. You are likely to be given shapes, numbers, or patterns to interpret and analyze. Every logical reasoning question is different and might get increasingly tough along the line. You should be able to recognize patterns after a while however, there are no shortcuts or one-size-fits-all responses to these questions. Here’s a compilation that can help you prepare for Logical Reasoning Questions
2nd Section- Programming:
Sharath adds that, in this section, you will be asked basic programming questions. Your skill level/experience in front-end languages like HTML, JS, and CSS as well as back-end languages like PHP, Java, Rust, and Python will be tested.
This will be followed by a system design round you will be asked questions about certain UI elements and front end languages.
Here’s a compilation of a few of the questions by JavaRevisited on Medium.
3rd Section- Mixed:
On the third day, a senior interviewer (usually a Senior Principal Engineer) will be conducting the session asking you about your previous work experience, your projects, and your experience and knowledge in video-conferencing tools and the mechanisms behind developing them. This could be conversational in nature and you will have to present your case in the best possible way.
2. Group Discussion:
This round can be quite easy to crack provided you have the knowledge and can communicate your thought behind every answer or contribute to an ongoing discussion with a unique outlook. The key is to be bold with your statements and back yourself when you put an opinion out there. This round goes for around 25-30 minutes. The questions can be about something company-specific or skill-specific or some general topics.
3. HR Interview:
This round is all about testing whether you will be a perfect fit for the company in the long run. You will be asked about your projects, your previous job, and what exactly made you apply to BlueJeans. There could be questions of why you want to work at an MNC rather than a start-up and about your time at college.
The key tip here is to keep a conversational tone and lay out everything you have done at your previous jobs like the projects you oversaw or were a part of (what were the goals and how you achieved them), industry experience you have gained from working there and your thoughts about working in teams.
How to prepare for these interviews?
Sharath recommends that candidates can start off their hands-on coding assessment preparation on websites like Hackerrank and Leetcode. Practicing some of the easy and medium-level questions would be enough. For High-level Design (HLD) practice by utilizing YouTube as a resource and Educative.io courses can also help you a great deal.
Giving mock interviews regularly can also help a great deal. In these interviews, you will be interviewed by a mentor of your choosing in your domain (i.e. a Senior Principal Engineer). You will be tested on all the interview aspects specific to BlueJeans. There will be skill assessments, simulated interview processes, and honest feedback that can help you land the job without much effort.
What are some of the common mistakes made by candidates and how they can avoid them?
Lack of attention to detail:
Sharath explains that the root cause of confusion and failure in solving a question is not paying enough attention to the question or not reading it properly. They do not ask any follow-up questions and hints regarding the prompt which usually ends up in a major misunderstanding on the part of the candidate. They end up working on a solution that was not required and it wastes valuable time for the interviewer and does not do well for the candidate’s prospects.
Lying on the resume:
Many candidates list a lot of skills and terms to impress the interviewers. But, when asked in detail about such skills or questioned regarding the said terms, they fail to answer properly and it then becomes apparent that they were just doing this because they had heard it from somewhere. The key tip here is, “if you cannot back it, don’t say it”.
Less use of technical jargon:
When explaining something, most candidates ignore the usage of technical terms. When you use technical terms, it helps portray that you have in-depth knowledge about the subject. This goes for effective communication during coding assessments when you have to explain each step and the thought process backing the same. So, use as many technical terms as you can.
Lack of examples/illustration while answering:
Many candidates avoid using examples or illustrations while explaining their thought process behind an answer or a design. Usually, their ideas are good but unless and there is a visualizing element to an answer, it does not do well for roles at BlueJeans where UI/UX designs are of paramount importance among other things. So, make sure to explain your vision behind a design, provide a visual element to your answers and use relevant examples wherever possible in the interview rounds.
Tips for virtual interviews:
- Make sure you have your setup ready 15-20minutes before the interview in a quiet place with a decent background.
- Make connectivity checks and in case of doubt, have a backup.
- Keep your video on unless you are specifically asked to turn it off.
- Familiarize yourself with the video conferencing interface on which the interview is to be taken. Know the controls and get accustomed to the screen sharing interface as well. It could help minimize a lot of wasted time during your interview.
- Dress appropriately, smile, make use of gestures, and portray a confident posture while communicating through video.
General tips for all candidates:
- Keep giving mock interviews and skill assessments.
- Practice common questions and utilize online resources for expanding your knowledge about this progressing field
- Make sure your fundamentals are clear.
- Don’t be over-confident.
- Take a breather once in a while during your interview preparation. Nothing comes good from being tensed before and during an interview so relax a bit.
Hope this helps, good luck!
Before you go, here are a few highlights from our conversation:
Get to know Sharath BS:
Sharath has been working as a Principal Engineer at BlueJeans Network for the last 2 and a half years with a total 6 years at the company working in different teams and projects. Before joining his current company, he worked at Sling Media (now Sling Blox) for more than 4 years.
He did his graduation from B.M.S College of Engieering in Electronics and Communications Engineering. He completed his Masters in Software Design Engineering from Manipal University in 2014 working on Object Oriented Analysis and Design, Software Development Lifecycle Methodologies, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Software Architecting, Information Retrieval and Design Patterns in his time there.
Reach out to Sharath on LinkedIn or have him as your mentor for your interview preparation by clicking here.