If you’ve ever used Rent the Runway, you’ve likely found yourself spending hours browsing gorgeous designer dresses, reading reviews and stylist notes, and flipping through photos of the real-life women who’ve rented them.
Well, meet the woman behind all of those awesome features: Camille Fournier. As the five-year-old company’s chief technology officer, she leads a team of over 60 engineers who are responsible for creating and maintaining the customer-facing technology you know and love.
She’s also responsible for hiring that team, so we sat down with her for a sneak peek into her methods.
If you’ve ever wanted to work for Rent the Runway—or snag any engineering job, really—here’s her advice for rocking the interview and landing the job.
What are three things you look for in every new hire, regardless of role?
An entrepreneurial spirit, an eagerness to find problems, and the desire to solve those problems. We are still a small company, and there’s a ton of work to do, and it is always a pleasure to work with people who go out of their way to make the work better for everyone around them.
This also is an indication of an entrepreneurial spirit, which is something we pride ourselves on at Rent the Runway. We believe great ideas can come from anywhere, and our whole team is encouraged to contribute ideas for products or ways we can make our company great.
What’s a standout application you still remember?
I remember the people who came to my interview full of questions and energy. The people who bubbled over with enthusiasm when I asked them about a technology they loved or a project they had worked on. The people who let themselves be excited.
One recent interview I did, the person came in with some actual work she had done to explain to me (not an expert in her area) what she could bring to us that we might be missing. She spoke about how she was genuinely interested in the opportunity to work for a female-led company and was both very well prepared and very open, which showed me that we would be able to work well together.
What’s one interview question you always ask?
I usually ask people about mistakes. Depending on the candidate, it can be about a bug they have found and how they solved it or the things they wished they had known before they took a prior job or position. I’m always looking for the qualities of self-awareness, curiosity, and thoughtfulness.
What’s a mistake you often see candidates make?
The biggest mistake I often see is not asking questions in the interview. Often I am the last interview, and candidates will get to me and say that they don’t really have any questions that haven’t been answered. I know it’s often a sign of fatigue, but as the CTO I am going to have a different perspective on things than other members of the team, and it comes across as an indication that the candidate lacks the curiosity that we value at Rent the Runway.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work at Rent the Runway?
Spend a little time learning about our product and our team before you come to interview. We’re human, after all—it’s always flattering to have someone indicate that they have taken a little time to get to know you as a company or a person. We have an engineering blog and Twitter handle, which are easy ways for candidates to learn more about us.
What positions are you hiring most aggressively for right now?
Technical operations and systems engineers. Folks that understand the operating system, the network layer, the data center, the file system. There has been a shift lately towards small companies forgoing this role in favor of having developers themselves manage these systems, and a heavy reliance on cloud and virtualized environments that don’t require you to have operations engineers. While I think that breaking down the wall between development and operations is a good thing, that doesn’t remove the need for the operations skill set and depth of experience, especially as companies grow.
The other position that we have been searching for very aggressively is software engineer in test. The testing of complex systems like those we have at Rent the Runway, as well as partnering with development, operations, and product management to create sustainable test automation, is a very valuable skill set that is hard to find.