I have been working at Avaloq full-time (Less than a year)
Growing, Flexible and friendly. Overall a great place to work
Early stages, but no negatives
I applied through a recruiter. The process took 6 weeks. I interviewed at Avaloq (Edinburgh, Scotland) in April 2012.
I was contacted by Eden Scott, a recruitment agency who found my CV online. They wanted to represent me for a role as a Software Engineer at Avaloq Innovation Ltd in Edinburgh. There were 2 interviews; one at Eden Scott, and an assessment day at Avaloq's Edinburgh office.
The initial interview was with Eden Scott, and consisted of 3 tests, each just under an hour long. I was wary at first, as they didn't sound too professional on the phone, and their office reminded me of something from 'The Real Hustle', particularly because they asked for my Passport up front. However, I got to know my recruiter over the following weeks, and they've offered an exceptional service (despite giving a poor first impression). Don't be put off by them!
The first test was a multiple choice skills test with 'basic' computing questions, and some mathematics ones too. The questions ranged from simple boolean satisfiability problems, to algorithm complexity/efficiency. You have to get 6/10 to progress with the interview, and they expect 8/10 from good candidates.
The next test is a bit harder. You are given some concepts, and asked to write a paragraph on each of the topics. They include passing by value/reference, multi-threading, databases, and OO principles. They also give you a sheet which asks you to rate your competency in each of these fields. Tip: this competency sheet actually gives a short description of each concept, which can help you when filling out the concepts sheet.
The last test is a competency based interview with a non-technical recruitment officer. They ask you to describe 4 things you've done such as "Describe a time when you contributed effectively in a team". It's quite vague, but they help you answer the questions by following the STAR format (which you can Google beforehand). Just remember to talk about things you've done as an individual, and use real life examples of things you've done.
They got back to me within a week. I was successful, and we arranged a date for the assessment day.
The next stage was a 4-hour assessment day at the Avaloq offices in Edinburgh. If you get to this stage, you will be going through the assessment with 3 other candidates. You get a presentation at the beginning and meet the people assessing you; 6 senior members of staff (as well as the receptionist, who was very welcoming). You will do four 45-min tests, and they revolve the candidates round each test in a round robin fashion. There will be a final presentation at the end. (You will only be with the other candidates during the briefing, break, and debriefing).
One test is a presentation. You will have 15 minutes to prepare a presentation on a project you've worked on, and 30 minutes to 'present' it. It's nothing major, you will just sit at a table and explain a project to 2 of the managers. A good tip is to give an overview of your project first, don't dive right into the technical details. They're looking for clarity, and to see if you can communicate ideas effectively. I don't think they're too interested in the technicalities of the project.
Another test is technical. You will be given 15 minutes to look over 3 coding questions, and 30 minutes to explain your answers to 2 managers. Speak your thoughts out loud. They're interested in how you solve problems, and will guide you if you get stuck. There will be a simple problem like "Write a function that examines an array of integers, and checks they're all even". There will be a more complicated problem solving style question, and a final question which requires you to know about databases and 3-value logic. Remember coding basics like primitive data types and modulo/integer arithmetic, and look over 3-value logic.
One phase is less of a test, and more an HR interview. You will be interviewed by an HR manager and your potential line manager. They will ask what your strengths are, and ask you questions like "How would you cope if you were stressed and someone was annoying you?". They will try to pick weaknesses out, and turn your positives against you. I would advise you to be up front with your weaknesses; don't pretend you have none! Make sure the conversation focuses on your strengths and how you plan on dealing with your weaknesses. They will allow you to ask questions at the end. Ask a couple of HR questions (training, support), but make sure you ask a couple of technical questions. For example, what languages they work with, version control, tools, etc.
The last test will be a design test. You will be given a scenario such as "A system needs to deliver messages between two offices. Messages can be payments or receipts... etc." You will need to propose a software solution, and create class diagrams and sequence diagrams to illustrate your solution. It's quite straight forward, but there's nobody to ask for help or guidance, so you just need to try your best and hope it's what they're looking for.
(I ran out of space in the above field!)
The offices were immaculate! The equipment was brand new, and the facilities were really impressive. They had a pool table in the communal area for staff (which they really try to sell you on). The people are genuinely very nice. No middle management; we were interviewed by several members of the senior management team. They are enthusiastic, and mostly Swiss, which gives the workplace a very European feel. They contacted me within an hour, and offered me a position (which I accepted).
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