How to Become a Go Jek Engineer
By Kylee McIntyre31-Jul-2017Views 7946

Go Jek

Go Jek's Singapore-based data science team.

As far as exciting job opportunities go, Go Jek has plenty to say for itself. The Indonesian startup was founded in 2010 but picked up speed in the past couple of years, becoming a unicorn last year in August, with the largest recorded round of funding in Indonesia to date. Its main service is transportation - an "Uber with bikes," if you will. But it's the company's myriad of services - spanning from food delivery to event tickets to at-home massages - that provide the most opportunity for developers.

Now with teams in Singapore, Bangalore, and the unicorn's home base of Jakarta, Go Jek CTO Ajey Gore says the company's ready to catch its team up to its growth.

The startup got its beginnings with a call center and 20 bike riders in October 2010. From Ajey's perspective, though, Go Jek has a long way to go. "We're really big, but we are like a big baby," he jokes. "Like a big baby who actually just started walking."

Currently a team of roughly 140 to 150 engineers - around 20 in Singapore, 60 in Bangalore, and 60 in Jakarta - keeps the unicorn churning along. Of that number, only five or six people are working on the business' food delivery service, which is "just wrong," Ajey remarks.

Go Jek wants to grow its engineering team to 400 to 500 people by the end of next year, more than doubling its current numbers.

Go Jek wants to grow its engineering team to 400 to 500 people by the end of next year, more than doubling its current numbers. The startup is certainly open to hire, so how do you make the cut?

Ajey begins simply. All Go Jek engineers have two qualities, he declares: they know their stuff, and they're hands-on.

Of course, that's just the beginning, which Ajey acknowledges; 90 percent of the company's engineers come to them via referral or through a close examination.

The call

Go Jek

Ajey Gore, Go Jek's CTO, speaks at Agile Indonesia 2017.

If you want to be hired for Go Jek, expect to speak to Ajey himself. "Whoever gets hired has to talk to me before he gets offered it," he reveals. "And wherever I am - Singapore, Jakarta, Bangalore - I do the call." Ajey shuttles between the three cities; during any one week, he's in at least two of them. If necessary, he'll cancel other plans in his schedule to call candidates, believing one can't replace a personal presence in these matters.

If you want to be hired for Go Jek, expect to speak to Ajey himself.

Ajey joined Go Jek as CTO in January last year - an accomplishment for someone only 40 years old - but his journey has been intertwined with Go-Jek's for a while. Hailing from India, his inner entrepreneur and techie emerged as early as his childhood, when he took an interest in learning how his older brother's computer worked. His first company made business cards. He then moved on to Thoughtworks and Hoppr (now part of Hike).

Along with two colleagues he met there, he and his wife founded Codeignition, a startup that did consultation and other services for other startups, including Go Jek. When Go Jek acquired Codeignition, Ajey went over to the new team.

"At that time, we had an office in Delhi and Bangalore," Ajey remembers. The offices were consolidated - along with another acquisition made in Pune - to Bangalore.

Ajey has also founded Bangalore-based Innovation and Technology Trust, which works to bring RubyConf to India, organizes DevOpsDays, and sponsors RubyRails events in India.

Want a taste of what happens when you're invited into the Go Jek office for evaluation? Look no further. Ajey takes us through Go Jek's engineer hiring process, step by step.

1. Ready, set, timeshare

While it's possible for candidates with time constraints to have their interview processes stretched out over a number of days, the preferred method ("the people who are courageous enough," Ajey points out jovially) is to have the entirety of a candidate evaluation take place in one day - a more likely prospect for the candidates in Jakarta or Bangalore, where most of the hiring is concentrated. Tuesdays and Thursdays are Go Jek's designated interview days. Candidates are invited to Go-Jek's office and perform the necessary steps. By the end of the day, Go Jek's made a decision.

The preferred method is to have the entirety of a candidate evaluation take place in one day.

Engineers report around 9 to 10am and begin with an assignment suited to their position - writing some code, for example. "So you do that for the next two, three, four hours," explains Ajey. "However much is up to you." Ideally, the candidate is balancing time with the quality of the work.

"What we want to do at the end of the day - somebody is spending one day of their life with us. It has to be worthwhile for them as much as it is for us," he says. "Whether the sale is done or not, it should be a good experience."

The one day process means that candidates are evaluating Go Jek just as much as Go Jek evaluates them. "It's more important for candidates to choose us than it is for us to choose them," says Ajey. So, while the engineer's work is being evaluated (more on that later), Go Jek treats the candidate to lunch.

2. Believe that the world is flat

"We do not hire managers, so we don't have managers," explains Ajey. Go Jek's vice presidents and senior management are coding experts and still write code. Though the startup's staff has differing roles, Go Jek makes an effort to keep organization flat.

So, it's really important that candidates gel well with the team. "We look at how curious you are, how eager you are to learn, and how adaptable you are to the environment," says Ajey. That, combined with how candidates portray their thought processes, is a huge evaluation criteria.

We look at how curious you are, how eager you are to learn, and how adaptable you are to the environment.

At the end of the day, after the candidate leaves, everyone on the evaluation team gets some say about the candidate. Meanwhile, Ajey asks only one question: If this person is sitting next to you for the next one year and working with you, would you be able to work with him?

The answer from the team has to be yes for the candidate to move on.

Go Jek

3. Just say no

When you've returned from lunch, someone will have stuck around at the office and evaluated your code. Now, you have to defend what you've done and answer questions about your work. This helps Go Jek learn your thought process.

One of the most important pieces of advice here is to know when to say no - and do it. "We want to know what you don't know," reveals Ajey. "The more you say no to our questions, the better it is." What that means is not trying to talk circles around the questions. If you don't know the answer to a question, state it simply. That won't hurt your chances of getting the job, because it shows that you're honest and open to learning.

The more you say no to our questions, the better it is.

"Sit with us, tell us why you did what you did, and defend it," advises Ajey. That process takes about an hour, and during that time, it becomes relatively clear if the company is going to hire you or not.

By then, it's about 3pm, but don't expect to get told right then and there if you got the job or not. If you're spending the whole day with Go Jek, the company wants it to be a good experience. You'll head home after spending a little more time in the office environment. Expect your call the next day or the day after, after the evaluation team's discussion about you.

4. The hiring process - a variation

The alternate done for this process, if developers' schedules don't line up with Go Jek's, works like this: the candidate undergoes an initial session - usually a call - to manage expections. This is not an interview. Then, the engineer gets a coding test. If he or she passes the test, there are one or two interviews with members of Go Jek's tech team. Go Jek will then decide on whether or not to offer.

5. The road to seniority is paved with responsibility and ambiguity

First, not everyone is meant for a senior position, and that's okay. But here's how Go Jek evaluates people for senior positions or tracks.

"So, the way I see seniority is how much responsibility you can take on and how much ambiguity you can deal with," explains Ajey. That, combined with the hands-on quality, works well within a startup, which brings along big chunks of responsibility as well as plenty of uncertainty.

"If you don't want those things - responsibility and ambiguity - that's okay," Ajey reassures. "You're still a contributor. You're still important to us." To help emphasize this structure, Go Jek combines its product and engineering teams into one, but at the end of the day, the most important quality is the ability to be hands-on and to work well with others.


Want to be the next addition to the Go Jek team? Go Jek is one of several leading tech companies hiring tech talent on 100offer's marketplace platform. Sign up for 100offer to find your next opportunity right now:

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Kylee McIntyre
American tech, science, health, and environmental writer. Lover of scifi, fantasy, travel, and coffee. Find her on Twitter @ejkyleem.
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