Jun 29, 20215 min read

Nail your engineering interview.


by Klarna

Eleonora Sacchi, Technical recruiter at Klarna, suggests that preparation can be a distinguishing factor to have a successful interview at Klarna. Here’s her advice on how to nail your engineering interview – depending on your current level of seniority.

– We have certain criteria depending on the level of seniority, and as a candidate, you must demonstrate the right skills and knowledge. Before elaborating more on these, I’d like to emphasize that it’s equally important to have the right mindset. Klarna’s leadership principles serve as a compass for our decision making and these are a great starting point to understand how we work and behave at Klarna. It is important to remember that the interview is also for the candidate to understand the nature of our company and see if it matches your preferences. So take the opportunity to ask all of your questions.

Another way to improve your chances is to understand Klarnas´ business, and the customers being served.

– We’ve evolved to become so much more than an e-payments company. Today, Klarna is an entire ecosystem for shoppers and it’s constantly being iterated by our 1500+ engineers. Get to know the engineering competence and some of the products we develop. Understand Klarna’s mission and why we are organized into hundreds of teams operating like independent startups.

Another thing to bear in mind is that Klarna’s recruitment process is quite untraditional.

– Even though you might apply for a specific role, such as Senior java engineer, your application will enter what we call a pipeline. That means that you can also be considered for other roles if during the interviews we find another role that matches your profile and preferences better. When you have passed the first steps of the process, you’ll be matched with a suitable team depending on your qualifications and personal traits. The more we get to know you, the likelier that we’ll find a matching team and a position you’ll actually like. That’s why it is important to stay true to yourself and try to feel as comfortable as possible during the interviews.

Level: Engineer
To become an engineer at Klarna you should ideally have a few years of experience. However, we have a graduate programme that accept graduates right after achieving their degree.

– Demonstrate that you are comfortable in the technology areas relevant to the role, such as programming languages, platform/infrastructure components, development tools, etc. Describe how you’ve used them and what you’ve learned. At this level, we want you to deliver tasks that provide clear value to our internal and external customers. We also want you to share and ask for advice from other team members within your area of expertise.

Level: Senior Engineer
At this level, you need to demonstrate ownership and the ability to calibrate and lead the team’s work and processes.

– Are you capable of making well-reasoned decisions backed by data? Can you identify potential issues and make trade-offs? In this role, you are comfortable in setting firm deadlines and driving the work from start to finish. You also take ownership of the team’s success and identify where change is needed. It’s not only about solving specific problems, but rather seeing the bigger picture and understanding what brought you there in the first place.

Another aspect that sets this level apart is communication.

– This level requires you to be the go-to expert within the team. How do you help and lead others to succeed? A senior engineer is expected to communicate well with both technical and non-technical audiences and is able to balance the level of detail depending on the situation. You need a better understanding of how your team’s work relates to other parts of the organization.

Level: Lead Engineer/ Engineering Manager:
A Lead Engineer at Klarna is someone who sets a gold standard for others to follow. Positions at this level do often – but not always – include managerial responsibilities.

– Show us that you are capable of identifying, defining, and solving strategic problems. Demonstrate how you have contributed to major architectural decisions and tech specs in previous jobs. At this level, you are leading work that affects complex systems and mission-critical areas. Another key differentiator is that you are able to scale your learnings to the rest of the organization. This is for example done by careful technical documentation and by facilitating meaningful and holistic discussions.

See past experiences through a Klarna filter

– My main message is that you should go down memory lane and see what you’ve accomplished in the past that corresponds with the level you are trying to reach for. Try to see these achievements through the lens of Klarna and our leadership principles. For example, did you demonstrate courage in your team’s last deployment? Did you start small and learn fast when iterating on architectural improvements?

Another important takeaway is to always ask the recruiter for help when in doubt.

– Regularly consult your interviewer for advice and feedback – especially during the tech interviews. We are there to help you.