The Engineering Interview at Wealthfront

April 27, 2021 ,

Our mission at Wealthfront is to build a financial system that favors people, not institutions. Core to achieving this mission is our engineering-driven culture:

  • Data-driven decisions: We use metrics and models to drive our decisions at Wealthfront. We regularly review metrics, SLAs, and SLOs to provide insight for product development and infrastructure investments. When data is lacking, we design A/B tests and experiments to gather the required data. We are transparent about how decisions are made and the results of those decisions, both good and bad. Company transparency acts to enable those who are closest to the work to make the decisions, regardless of title or seniority.
  • Automation of features and products: We are committed to automating our products as much as possible to provide a simple, speedy, and transparent experience to our clients. Our systems facilitate the timely and accurate transfers of each clients’ cash – whether the purpose is to move incoming cash to our FDIC-insured partner banks, transfer cash to a Wealthfront long-term investment account, or to be spent with the Wealthfront debit card. Likewise, rigorously researched, peer reviewed, rules-based investment strategies drive the day-to-day investment decisions of our software systems, not discretionary forecasts or ad hoc human decisions.
  • Automated software development methodology: We invest in our continuous deployment and automated test infrastructure, from servers to backend services to web & mobile apps. Engineers ship code to production whenever it is ready without being bound to release cycles. Every process is optimized for iterating quickly and safely. The principle of “proportional investment” applies and drives teams’ allocation of time and resources. When someone is forced to fix something unexpectedly, proportional investment calls for an equal amount of time investment to fix it permanently.

High-quality hiring is one of the most important strategies for growing our engineering team and maintaining our engineering-driven culture. Unlike the traditional financial services industry, software engineers represent more than half of Wealthfront employees.

Wealthfront’s Interviewing Goals

The fundamental goal of interviewing is to understand how a candidate thinks, and we want to give every candidate the greatest opportunity to succeed. Our strategy is to use the most repeatable and consistent process possible, optimized for:

  • Differentiation: maximize likelihood that high and low performers are clearly differentiated
  • Consistency: maximize likelihood that two identical candidates will be evaluated identically
  • Calibration: maximize likelihood that different members of the team will evaluate candidates similarly
  • Time: minimize duration of the interview timeline

Engineering Interview Process

  • Pre-onsite
    • Resume review
    • Recruiter/hiring manager phone call(s)
    • Technical phone screen
  • Onsite
    • Technical interview(s)
    • Cross-functional interview
    • Hiring manager interview
    • Company executive interview


The goal of pre-onsite phone calls is to determine if there is mutual interest in moving forward. This is the first opportunity for the candidate to ask questions and understand the open role and Wealthfront. This is also an opportunity for the hiring manager to understand the candidate’s experience, motivations, and how they are approaching their job search.

The technical phone screen is the first technical assessment to evaluate functional skills. The technical phone screen is typically a pair programming exercise with another Wealthfront engineer, who’s a potential teammate or someone in a similar role. This is also an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions and hear the perspective of someone in a similar role.


The goal of the onsite interview is to determine if the candidate is technically and culturally fit for the role, and for the candidate to determine if Wealthfront is the right fit for their next opportunity.

The technical interview modules are of the following types:

  • Functional interview module: the candidate will pair-program with another engineer to understand requirements and produce working, tested software implementations. 
  • Analytic / design interview module: the candidate will be asked to solve well-defined problems and new situations which require drawing on existing knowledge and skills; examples are specific computer science comprehension (e.g. applying algorithms or data structures to real world scenarios) and reasoning methodologies (e.g. deductive or inductive logic). 

The number of technical interviews and which type may differ depending on the role. Candidates will be briefed on what to expect prior to the onsite day.

The cross-functional interview is to assess the candidate’s experience and ability to collaborate outside of engineering. At Wealthfront, all engineers collaborate with various departments (i.e. product managers, designers, client services, and operations) to understand requirements, gather feedback, and make well-informed decisions. This is also an opportunity for the candidate to understand collaboration across the whole organization.

By the completion of the interviews, we hope that candidates not only understand the responsibilities and expectations of the open role, but understand the values and principles of the engineering team and the broader organization. We aim to enable the candidate to determine whether Wealthfront is the right opportunity for them. Likewise the hiring manager should have enough data to determine if the candidate is the right technical and cultural fit for the role.

Preparing for Wealthfront Interviews

Be authentic and ask questions. Let us know what is important to you and ask the questions that matter to you most. Think about your career goals and come prepared to discuss them, especially with the hiring manager. Ask your recruiter or hiring manager what to expect in the specific technical interviews for your role and how to prepare. For example, Java is the de-facto programming language for all the backend teams and interviews for backend engineers at Wealthfront are conducted using the Java programming language. If you are rusty in Java, brush up, and bring it up with your interviewers so that it can be taken into consideration during evaluation. If possible, practice mock interviews with a friend.

For more information about working at Wealthfront, please visit our careers page.


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