Talent is one of the most important factors in the success of a new business, and Synctera has been using Replit to run a technical interview process that effectively uncovers the best engineers, whether they have a stellar resume or a nontraditional background.
Synctera is a new startup that connects FinTech companies to community banks. When a company wants to offer a new financial product, like a debit card or loan, to their customers, Synctera's marketplace and APIs make it easy for them to find the right bank with the right offering. As a result, Synctera's customers can move faster and build better products.
Based on this vision, Synctera raised a $12 million dollar seed round in December 2020 from high profile investors, including the CEOs of Plaid, Affirm, and Carta. Now they're expanding (planning to go from 30 to 120 people) and already seeing strong early growth.
We spoke to Kris Hansen, Synctera CTO, about how he's using Replit to build a world class engineering team.
First Kris told us about some of the unique engineering challenges at Synctera. Security is always priority number one in banking & finance, so their systems must be safe and secure. Because of the volume of transactions on their multi-tenant platform and through their APIs, everything must be built to scale. And they must balance industry-specific requirements like ledgering while still presenting a "beautiful and useful UI" to their customers.
Kris, like many other engineering leaders, does not find the "old school" algorithm and data structure questions valuable for hiring. For him, the technical challenge is not a basic hurdle but rather a way to understand a candidate's potential. He prefers to give challenges that let candidates solve real problems and show their development style. This allows Synctera to find "incredible nontraditional candidates." After all, engineers "aren't writing resumes for their day job."
Here are a few of the things Kris uses Replit to evaluate in a candidate:
- How do they build and collaborate?
- How do they incorporate feedback?
- Can they work at a startup?
How do they build?
Because Synctera's problems are open-ended (yet consistent across candidates), candidates approach them in very different ways. Kris evaluates how candidates approach the problems in Replit to get a sense of their working style. Different candidates use the repl environment in creative ways, which can show signs of curiosity and exploration. The repl history can show too if an engineer prefers to work in chunks over a few days or one long sprint just before the deadline. He also gets a sense of style and communication during collaborative coding sessions, using Replit's multiplayer editing feature.
How do they incorporate feedback?
In a well-functioning team, it's critical that teammates can give and receive effective feedback. The open-ended nature of Synctera's challenges provide the perfect opportunity to give actionable feedback and see if the candidate is stubborn or open to change. A lot of this communication happens on calls and over email, but Synctera also uses Replit's threads (just like comments in Google Docs) for synchronous and asynchronous conversations right on top of the code.
Can they work at a startup?
One of the most important things to be successful at a startup is how someone handles uncertainty. Because most candidates are not familiar with Replit, Kris can get a sense of their "adaptability and curiosity." When a candidate gets excited to try out a new tool, it really shows their natural curiosity, which is a great trait in a developer.
Why Replit Teams Pro?
While a lot of these features, like the online IDE, support for 50+ languages, multiplayer coding, hosting for web development, etc., are available in the free version of Replit, Synctera uses Teams Pro for the extra privacy and collaboration benefits. Teams Pro repls can be kept private and only shared with candidates when they are ready to start a challenge. And all the team repls can be shared across the Synctera engineering team so they can collaborate, evaluate candidates, and iteratively improve the interiew process.
Additionally Kris uses Replit as a place to quickly test ideas and new frameworks and languages. Replit is the easiest place to code something up quickly and run it without needing to configure a local environment. Kris even plays around with some of the obscure esolangs on Replit from time to time, just to satisfy his own curiosity.
Take it from Kris directly: "I love Replit and am very happy to be partnering with you!"
Interested in using Replit for your interview process?