I am currently involved in the interview process for a Senior Software Engineer (SWE) position at a bank. As I prepare for the upcoming behavioral interview, I've reviewed common questions provided by Alex's blog and completed the behavioral interview track on AlgoExpert, which has equipped me with a set of comprehensive responses. Despite these preparations, I am seeking further advice to optimize my readiness. Given that my background as a Software Engineer has been primarily within a small company, moving into a banking environment presents a new and unique challenge. Are there any specific tips or guidance you could provide to help me navigate this process more effectively?
I don't think the prep for a behavioral interview at a bank will be much different than a behavioral interview at a software company. I generally like to read up on what the company values are, and then adapt my stories to more clearly tie in those elements.
My playbook is to have at least 3 stories ready to go following this STAR template:
And then no matter what question you get asked, you should massage one of your 3 stories into an answer. Practice doing this with multiple friends, across multiple days. The benefit of this approach is that you will almost always be able to sound eloquent and thoughtful since you've rehearsed those 3 stories.
On the topic of transitioning from a small software company into a large finance company, you should tie that into a thoughtful question. Ask every interviewer some variation of this question:
Coming from a small software company, I loved the bias toward shipping and iterating on mistakes. I imagine that's not as possible here, given the importance of stability in a finance company. How do you think about fast iteration speed while also maintaining a quality product?
Remember interviews are a 2-way street!
I worked at Robinhood, which has tremendous regulation around it as it's a broker. Given that a bank will have even more regulation around it, I highly recommend weaving elements of your technical responsibility into your behavioral interview answers.
Working on finance is unique compared to most other software as the cost of failure is extremely high. It is literally high as if you really mess up, you can lose people's money.
This means that an engineering team at a bank will appreciate stories like:
For inspiration, you can check out our code quality masterclass: [Masterclass] How To Stop Writing Messy Code As A Software Engineer