Micro-blogging platform Twitter has 353 million monthly active users and churns out close to 500 million tweets daily. According to App Annie, India has about 55 million Twitter users, i.e. 9% of the total internet users in the country.
“As people participate in conversations — they Tweet or engage with Tweets. These actions are associated with a ‘raw event’ that hits our system and needs to be analysed and processed to create insights that our teams can use to improve Twitter. The data science and engineering teams play key roles here, enabling us to understand better and build solutions for people using Twitter,” said a Twitter official.
India is a priority market for Twitter and is one of the fastest-growing markets globally. In the coming months, the microblogging platform is looking to hire and develop local talent. “This is an important part of our journey to become the world’s most diverse, inclusive, and accessible tech company,” said Kusumita Dasgupta, senior engineering manager at Twitter.
Twitter’s engineering team in Bengaluru has expanded rapidly over the past two years. “The vision of our data science and data engineering teams is to build a strong foundation of our product in the region, and so enhancing the capabilities of these teams in India has been an important pillar in this quest,” said the Twitter official.
Twitter’s technology teams stand on three pillars — data science, data engineering and machine learning.
- The data science team focuses on analysis and insights gathered from data sets, where they make sense of data in line with Twitter’s product strategy. For instance, the Bengaluru data science team focuses on data insights around customer journeys in India and emerging markets.
- The data engineering team is responsible for aggregation, storage, and categorisation of core data sets related to users, tweets, trends and more.
- Machine learning team powers recommendation systems at Twitter, and is responsible for building and training machine learning models using the data sets and leveraging these models to suggest personalised and relevant content to its users globally
The interview process for data science and engineering at Twitter is carefully designed to provide the best experience to interviewees. Once the recruiter screening is done for a candidate, the company conducts a technical screening interview, followed by a hiring manager discussion and the final interview rounds.
“Overall, for any data science or data engineering role at Twitter, we are looking for exceptional problem solvers who have a sharp bent towards algorithms and data structures and their application to distributed systems at scale. We are agnostic about programming languages, as long as someone is a strong engineer with excellent software design and coding skills,” said the official.
Domain experience on statistical applications of concepts like distributions, causal inference, experiment, design, etc., is highly preferred for data science roles. Besides these technical rounds, the hiring team also discusses the candidate’s past work experience to gain insights into their learnings on critical areas of collaboration, communication, and conflict resolution aspects.
The hiring team evaluates the technical skills for the defined role, and the cultural fitment of the candidate.
Twitter is looking for candidates with strong problem-solving skills and a collaborative & entrepreneurial mindset. The engineers need to be hands-on technically and demonstrate a strong product mindset. “We are looking for people who like to move fast, experiment and enjoy working in small teams with high impact,” said the official.
Further, the applicants for data science roles should have a broad and deep technical background in data science and analytics. They must be proficient at analysing large structured and unstructured datasets to derive insights. On the other hand, the applicants for data engineering roles should possess strong software engineering skills and experience working with large scale distributed systems.
The engineers should take responsibility for Twitter’s short-term and long-term strategy, success metrics, and priorities in close collaboration with multi-functional partners.
Most importantly, candidates should be aware of the work Twitter is doing. You can check out the latest developments here.
Dos and don’ts
“We treat it as a two-way conversation, where we want to understand what candidates can offer, and also help them understand what they can expect at Twitter,” said the official. As to what Twitter looks for in a candidate, here are few pointer to keep in mind:
- Candidates who are explorers first and problem-solvers next. “Asking clarifying questions around a given problem is important, as it helps us observe a candidate’s ability to fully understand the problem before coming up with solutions,” said Dasgupta.
- Solutions that scale well
- Signals of collaboration
- “It is important for candidates to think of the corner cases that the solution may or may not tackle, how they plan to test a solution as well as the constraints they need to consider,” said the official.
“A candidate must be able to brainstorm and share their thought process with the interviewer, improve as they are given hints, and most importantly take feedback well. We believe the best candidates are those that seek feedback and welcome it to help their ideas and solutions,” the official added.
“The opportunity to effect real change through conversation is what draws people to careers at Twitter, and it’s the people they work with every day that keep them here,” said Dasgupta. The company said it strives to inculcate a culture of trust, respect, and inclusion within its teams.
Further, it gives people the flexibility and choice to work where they feel most productive and creative. “Many of our roles can be done from home even after our offices open,” she said.
In addition to its portfolio of required coursework, Twitter encourages its employees (aka Tweeps) to join its Business Resource Groups (BRGs): Twitter Women, Twitter Open, Twitter Able, Twitter Parents etc.
“As part of the engineering community, it is incredibly encouraging to see Twitter’s vision to have 50% of our global workforce by women by 2025. “In India, we are aligned with this global vision, and as a manager, I hope to continue to help support the team to hire, develop, cultivate and coach women engineering talent in the country,” she added.
Dasgupta said candidates who have done well in interviews have been very open and honest about their strengths. “We are excited to continue to hire strong engineers from across the country,” said Dasgupta.
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Amit Raja Naik is a senior writer at Analytics India Magazine, where he dives deep into the latest technology innovations. He is also a professional bass player.