By Manyu Varma
We at Gojek are ardent believers of the fact that design can build or break a business. During the course of building our Super App, we’ve had innumerable proof points and case studies that have helped us believe in the power of design a little more than the previous day. 🎨
Needless to say, when Gojek hires designers, we look for someone who can positively better the experience for our users and approach design with empathy.
This is the story of how I cracked the interview to become an Interaction Designer and the (many, many!) learnings during the process.
First things first: Portfolio review & phone interview
The initial rounds before the face-to-face interview were the portfolio review and phone interview. There may have been a moment where I lacked confidence in my portfolio review, probably due to traces of imposter syndrome or the extreme need to present a perfect portfolio. (Spoiler: There’s no such thing as a perfect portfolio 😅)
Once I made it through the portfolio review round, a few days later was the phone interview. I had to choose one of my past projects and do an end to end walkthrough. This had to include actual problems that we encountered and how my design solved them. The call happened in a couple of days, and this time, I was prepared better than before.
The interviewers at Gojek are more interested in the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the problem-solving using design, rather than the solutions themselves.
Conveying the real story to the recruiters and helping them understand the knowledge gained from your setbacks will help you cracking the phone interview. The key is to use structured thinking skills to explain how you solved a problem, so the interviewer could understand it clearly.
I remember the first time I stepped into Gojek’s open office. It was mid-December, and I anxiously waited for my interviewers. The AC seemed a little bit colder than usual. In my head, I replayed those “how to crack interviews” videos on repeat mode, maybe because I really wanted to be a part of Gojek’s design team. Contradictory to the busy and bustling Bangalore city, the Gojek office appeared steady and calm.
What I anticipated to be a fierce “interview” with three young designers turned out to be more of an engaging discussion. I was more than encouraged to ask questions and clarify any doubts that I had. I’m no mind reader, but I knew it was going well from both our ends.
What’s more important than your impressive portfolio is your ability to accurately interpret a problem, come up with the best way to solve it, and learn from the mistakes that happened during the journey.
One thing that excited me was the task I had in hand — the end-to-end redesign of one of Gojek’s logistics services, GoBox. I was determined to create a visually better version of the product and improve the user flow so I could give a delightful experience to the users, which brings us to the next round…
The case study
The GoBox case study seemed straightforward and doable, and I was relaxed when I boarded my flight back to Kochi. But oh boy, was I wrong!
The next day, things started moving off-road when I had nothing tangible by the end of the day. I panicked, mostly due to the lack of clarity on where to start.
I tried to understand the actual problem because I knew it’s an inherent part of a design journey.
Eventually, the task gained momentum, and I ended up completing two design variations, though one lacked some finishing touches (yeah, guilty 😝).
I toiled away those three days, and that experience ranks top of some of the most fulfilling days of my career. I felt more accomplished than ever. The path that I took to work on the case study is something that gratifies my mind whenever I think of it. There are two critical things that I learned at that stage.
a. Ask a lot of questions
It was probably the first time I asked as many questions as I could, to myself, to get to the root of the problem and try to perceive it in the best way possible by putting myself in the users’ shoes. It helped me understand the users’ actual pain points, and from there, I could start building the castle.
b. Never settle on a single approach
I created two designs of the product, both of which improved the usability and aesthetics in two different ways. One option took into account the technical limitations and feasibility. The other one was a very wild approach aimed at making the flow as simple as possible, by taking away all the load from the users and putting it on technology. The output was worthy, and I felt satisfied with the results.
Creating two versions of the flow was indeed a wise decision since I was able to meet almost all expectations of the panel through those designs.
The effort to simplify the product flow for the users also acted as a vital contributing factor. The discussion concluded on a buoyant note, and I sat there, smiling at the screen. 😇
One pronounced outcome of the whole hiring process was that it taught me my self-worth. I could track and scrutinise my abilities and weaknesses in a better way.
The final round was one-on-one with Abhinit, who heads design at Gojek. It was more of a casual chat than an interview, unlike what I had presumed. We discussed our mutual expectations, interests, and aspirations, and how it could be aligned to the values of Gojek in my journey ahead.
Things went fast after that. A couple of days later, I was looking at my offer letter with a torrent of emotions and thoughts rushing into my mind, as I wasn’t just switching jobs. I was moving into a different working ecosystem, a different city, and, hopefully, a better life.
Life at Gojek
Fast forward to two months later, I was waiting at the airport with my wife, painting a mental picture of how my first day would be. I did some research and reading on Gojek and its influence on Indonesia in the past two months. The more I got to know about Gojek, the more excited and happy I was to join the company. Two months gave me enough time to dissect the whole experience and evaluate the progress of my intellect. The things that enlivened me the most were the work culture, processes, and, more importantly, the focus on design and how it could improve the lives of millions across Southeast Asia. 🌏
The key learning from the hiring process: The power of commitment could take you to the next level and make you a better version of yourself.
Gojek’s love towards its employees was more than evident even before I set foot in the office. Starting from the flight tickets and cabs to the hotel accommodation for a month, the team made sure I did not have anything to worry about. When I arrived in Bangalore, I even had a couple of days to absorb the new place’s buzz, which I utilised for a high-level home hunt and some relaxed time with my wife.
My first day at Gojek was confined to the necessary paperwork, onboarding sessions, and a warm welcome by the People Partner. I got an entire onboarding kit with a cool black Gojek t-shirt and a spiffy little badge, and a brand new laptop, to name a few. 😍
After the sessions, I met my team, where Vinu, my buddy, was waiting to show me around. Gojek’s way of naming people and processes, among other activities, is very intriguing. Buddy is someone who shows you around as a new team member and explains all the structure and processes in the team and the company to you. A super important task, because a large part of what you feel about a company depends on Day-1, and Vinu left no stone unturned to help me out and answered all my questions in detail.
He took me to lunch, where I got to meet the entire team of interaction designers and had an ice-breaking chat with most of them. The best part was the liberty of time I had to learn more about the team, its activities, the what and why of the work, and Gojek itself as a whole. This ensured that the sync with the team was smooth and gradual. The great thing was that I felt like a part of the team by the very end of Day-1 itself. 🙏
It’s been a little over 6 months now, and the journey has been fab and mellow, even amid the ongoing pandemic. I’ve had opportunities to redesign entire product flows and be part of specific teams inside IxD, with greater responsibilities and challenging objectives.
Some pivotal insights for me at this point are that one should always ask three things.
1️⃣ Ask for help when you need it.
2️⃣ Ask the right questions.
3️⃣ Ask for feedback on your work.
I wasn’t so great at communication at the beginning of my career. I was reluctant and shy to ask for help. I wouldn’t ask as many questions as I should have, thinking it might make me look stupid. Well, I was wrong! 🤷♂️
Asking the right questions is crucial in understanding the root of the problem, especially at the right time. It’ll help you get to the solution much faster.
Asking for feedback is probably the best thing you can do in your journey as a designer. Feedback lets you see the problem and the designs from a different perspective, leading to an improved outcome every time.
I’m sure this will be a beautiful journey of continued learning for me at Gojek. And like we say, it’s hard to get into Gojek, harder to get out. 💚
Click here for more stories on how we build our Gojek #SuperApp!