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How to prepare for your Appian Engineering interview

Appian App Icon Anissa Pierson, Adam Goetz, and Christopher Moon

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If you’re interviewing for a role in Engineering at Appian, we want to see your curiosity, drive, and problem solving skills. We also want to set you up for success by laying out what you can expect during the interview process with us, and sharing advice from the interviewers themselves!

We talked with three Appian Engineering team members who have been part of countless hiring interviews.


Meet the experts

Left to Right:

  • Anissa Pierson, Principal Technical Talent Acquisition Partner
  • Adam Goetz, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner, Engineering 
  • Chris Moon, Senior Software Engineer & Lead of the Hiring Committee for Engineering  

They shared how the Engineering interviewing process works, and top tips for how to succeed. 

The first interview

After a screening phone call with a recruiter, you may be invited to your first interview. This will be a 45-minute meeting over Google Meet with an engineer.

This interview is about getting to know you through behavioral questions and what motivates you in your work. Think about what you’ve personally worked on and contributed to, and speak to your experiences from your resume directly and succinctly. 

To prepare, we encourage you, as the candidate, to do research on Appian, the people you'll be interviewing with, and ask the recruiter any questions you have ahead of time. Here are few questions to think about as you review your resume in preparation:

  • Were there any difficult scenarios or pain points while at your previous employment, and did you do anything to improve or address them? 
  • In what specific ways were you a good teammate or mentor? 
  • Did you make any bad decisions in your work in the past that manifested themselves later, and what did you learn from them? 
  • In what ways did you push your team and product to be even better?

After the interview, you’ll hear from your recruiter on whether you’ll move onto the on-site interview or not.

The virtual “onsite” technical assessment 

This is a four-hour assessment where you’ll participate in technical testing, learn about the Appian product, and meet others on the Engineering team. It’s virtual, but don’t worry! We know screen fatigue is real and schedule breaks throughout the day!

A brand ambassador will walk you through a product demo and share customer stories so you can see how it works and hear about the tangible impact our product has with helping our customers solve their business problems. You’ll also meet with four engineers and an executive, depending on the role.

We understand you have a full-time job and a full-time life, and we’re flexible around booking this assessment for when it works for you. 

Before the technical assessment, you’ll receive additional information from your recruiter on what to prepare.

 

We send out this infographic to candidates before their technical interview with tips on
how to prepare and what to brush up on beforehand. 

Additional Resources:

Tips to ace your technical test 

Our experts Adam, Anissa, and Chris have seen it all over the numerous interviews they’ve conducted in their time, and shared what stands out to them. Here are their top tips for the technical day:

Adam: The technical evaluations at Appian are designed to assess your approach to problem solving. You might consider brushing up on things like data structures, linked lists, recursion, arrays, trees, algorithmic and memory complexity analysis, and sorting and search algorithms in preparation for your interview. We also encourage engineers to think out loud as it creates a more collaborative experience. 

Anissa: It can be pretty intense but in a good way — we know interviewing is a two-way street and this is also a chance for you to get to know our product, meet their potential teammates, and get a taste of what working at Appian is actually like. We avoid “gotcha” questions, and we’re more interested in how you think. If you get stuck, walk us through your process and how you approach problem solving, that’s really what we’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the interviewers can also give you hints! 

Chris: The engineering department as a whole does their best to ensure that the coding exercises we ask people to work on during the interview are simplified versions of something that engineers actually did during their work at Appian. I like to think the department prides itself in the originality, applicability, and extensibility of their coding exercises. So while any given candidate will probably not get any exact problems from leetcode.com or hackerrank.com, it would help to practice on these sites. This is not to memorize solutions, but rather to remind themselves of the various algorithms and data structures that often go into implementing complex code. The technical exercise I ask experienced candidates to work on has a lot of up-front context they must understand in order to start writing code. While there is an onus on me to explain it well, candidates who are able to ask good, clarifying questions and start forming what their code will look like in their head while we discuss it always impress me.

What we’re looking for in our future engineers

Adam: It’s exciting when engineers want to “pop the hood” on Appian and have genuine curiosity about how Appian works. Engineers who proactively seek out technical information are often able to draw symmetry to their own experience during an interview. 

Anissa: We’re looking for people who ask a lot of questions and want to know the why and how things work. They’re excited about new and complex challenges and are able to talk through their problem solving so we can see what it would be like to work with them on the team. Storytelling is also an underrated talent, and we’re looking for people who are able to articulate their skills and experience.

Chris: We’re evaluating whether someone would be a strong addition to the team from a technical standpoint, but also from a collaboration and responsibility standpoint. In general, we are not looking for more of the status quo, but for someone who will raise the bar within the teams, groups, and department.

The Appian Engineering culture 

We are technology-loving developers, designers, and product experts that bring our platform to life. One of the most common questions our recruiters get is: what is the work environment and team culture like?  

Adam: We’re committed to delivering an exceptional product which means solving difficult, often out-of-the-box engineering problems. We’re passionate about our mission but also believe work-life balance is critical to our success. Our teams are highly collaborative and we’re invested in your growth and success

Anissa: Engineers at Appian are incredibly curious, and eager to take on new challenges. There’s even learning time set aside for engineers called “Learning Time” dedicated for employees to learn new processes or languages they’re interested in and then there’s knowledge-sharing sessions with the whole team. A lot of innovative ideas have come from them. I always direct candidates to our AppianLife blog to read the inside stories from employees on what it’s like to work here and groups you can get involved in, like our Women in Engineering Guild

Chris: Appian has a culture of not settling for just finishing, but rather working to make sure what we do is impactful. It has a culture of getting to the best answer through thoughtful and respectful debate. It carries with it a collaborative spirit that manifests itself in daily interactions. To be honest, I've never worked in an engineering department where the people were more collaborative and supportive than engineering at Appian. 

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The Engineering interview process total takes about 2-3 weeks to complete, depending on how quickly candidates want the process to move. We hope this helps alleviate some nerves and gives you a sense of what it means to be an Engineering candidate with Appian!

Anissa said part of her role is giving candidates a pep talk beforehand — reminding them she’s sending all her positive energy their way, and the Appian team is rooting for them to succeed. She also adds “if you’re nervous, it shows you care!” 

Learn more about working in Engineering at Appian on our blog

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Written by

Anissa Pierson, Adam Goetz, and Christopher Moon

Talent Acquisition team members.