Disclaimer: The experiences (e.g. BMW software engineer interview experience) mentioned in this blog were submitted by readers anonymously. It is by no means the intention of this blog to smear the companies mentioned. Rather the sole purpose is to give prospective candidates the opportunity to gain insight information on working or interviewing at those companies. Readers must thus form their own opinion.
I have studied computer science at an accredited university in Munich and have over 4 years of working experience in software development. I do lots of side projects on free time and contribute to open source projects.
I have applied several times for various software engineering roles at BMW, Munich with no luck. Usually I ended up getting a standard rejection several months later (7-8) letting me know that my application will no longer be considered.
Then one day I have received an email out of the blue telling me that they are interested in me and would invite me to an interview.
The first interview was just a phone session with HR, just to set up an onsite interview. So I went ahead and setup an onsite interview for the next day because they wanted me for the interview as soon as possible. We had scheduled an onsite interview for 17:00 so I can be there right after work.
The next day I arrived there 10-15 minutes early and waited in the lobby. At 17:05 my interviewer, in a suit, which would also be my project manager picked me up and informed me that two other guys will also join us. One being her boss and another guy who was suppose to be an engineer.
We went up to the 3rd floor and searched for a free meeting room. We sat down and waited a while. She then told me that somehow my resume ended up on her bosses desk and that they were interested in me. Funny because somehow the last time I heard from them it was an email telling me that I am no longer considered as a candidate. Meanwhile none of the other guys was showing up. I could clearly see that she was kinda embarrassed. Maybe because she also just started 6 months earlier and wasn’t used to that, I guess. She tried calling them but none of them was answering their phones.
She then suggested we proceed by letting her tell me a bit about the department, what they are doing and what they are looking for. So the short story was that apparently their department is responsible for maintaining (or even extending) the backend software that is responsible for providing the drivers with information such as weather on the little screen found in the car’s dashboard. Apparently their software doesn’t scale very well and customers are often faced with unavailable service. She told me that they are planning to move their services on to the AWS or OpenShift (but she didn’t quite knew what that is). Buzzwords like DevOps, Cloud and Agile were also mentioned pretty often.
When I finally got the chance to ask a few questions, I quickly realised that I was talking to the wrong person. I mean, she didn’t know what Git or a version control system in general was. Nor what programming languages they were using. I also found out that they are working with non-agile methods (despite agile being mentioned very often) and that they have release calendars maybe once a year or so with tons of paper work and processes in between.
Anyhow, the time was 17:21 and none of those other interviewers had shown up. She left the room in hopes that she would find them, but with no luck. So we started the interview with me introducing myself without them. After about 10 minutes two suits show up not even apologising for being late. So once I introduced myself they started asking me different questions. There was just one question of technical nature at the beginning. The guy drew a diagram that illustrated a chain of systems and I was asked “What could be the reason that the response time at this end of the chain was so slow/long? And what can you suggest in order to make it better.” I answered his question pretty well, introducing caching etc and his reply was “Yeah thats good. But one reason for the long waiting could be the fact that at this end when to many cars connect to the server and the server’s port numbers are all in use it could cause a congestion”. That was it. No other technical questions followed. Bear in mind that this was for an software engineering position. The discussion took about 5 minutes tops. Right after that, the older guy in the suit got up, said quickly goodbye and left. I wasn’t quite sure what his role was since he didn’t introduce himself, but I am guessing he was their boss.
The rest of the questions were just about me being willing to work on weekends when I have to and being willing to be on-call duty after working hours. Questions about my future goals, etc.
Meanwhile the first interviewer also left. It was just me and one of the three suits. We talked some more, mainly administrative stuff and of course salary expectations. He asked me what my salary expectation was and I replied without any hesitance 70,000EUR. This salary is pretty normal, if not even low in Munich considering I have received other offers for 120,000 and 80,000 a few months later. Nonetheless, he just laughed and told me that this was pretty high, while writing it down in his notepad. I didn’t respond. I just wanted to leave after the whole, in my opinion negative, experience. He then asked me if I wanted to work 35h or 40h during the week. I responded I don’t mind working 35h. He then again mentioned that 70k a year are way to much for 40h and for 35h there is no chance I can get 70k.
After that, we wrapped everything up with him letting me know that I will move to the next round, which would also be the final round. It will be an HR interview with questions like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”. He told me that they will contact me and let me know about a date for the final interview.
Well, I never heart from them again, not even an email telling me that they wont proceed after all.
I wasn’t even mad because I now know, thanks to this experience, that BMW is not a company that I want to work for (at least not as a software engineer) and wouldn’t waste my time anymore applying there. I wouldn’t even suggest it to any of my friends. The main reasons are summarised:
- The way they treaded their candidates that are willing to come onsite on such short notice (coming late to the interview and then just leave after 5 minutes without even introducing themselves)
- No technical/algorithmic/programming questions were asked for a role that was supposed to be an engineering role and despite this being the technical interview.
- Most of the interviewers didn’t even know the basics about software development like version control systems, etc
- They were using to many buzzwords such as agile, cloud, saas, paas, etc that it sounded more like a sales meeting held by a bunch of sales people.
- The way they responded (laughing) to my salary expectation and then even tried to lowball me
- Not having the courtesy to even send me a rejection, even after telling me that they are going to move me to the next round
- This could also be No. 1: all of them were wearing suits in the engineering department. As an engineer I don’t want to work for a company where looks are more important than brains.
- Whenever I hear the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” I am out of there!