General guidance

When you interview with us, we want you to come into the process knowing what to expect and how to prepare, and therefore with every opportunity to succeed.

In what follows, you find a bit of general guidance, as well as detailed information that is specific to the role you are applying for.

Be yourself! Don’t try to guess what we want to hear, or what you think we want you to be. You’re great! Be comfortable with who you are.

Write down questions that arise for you and that you would like to take to one of the interview steps to ask us.

Be yourself! This is so important, we repeat it here.

If something is unclear, please reach out to us.

Read the job description carefully and work with it. Research about our company and the job role. Make sure you have a good idea of what the role involves.

Think about why you want to join Swabian Instruments. We will ask. You may wish to read more about us on our website, LinkedIn, or other relevant sources.

Video interviews

We are currently running most of our interviews remotely. Before your video interview, make sure that the meeting link works and your camera and microphone are functioning properly. You can test your camera and mic with the interview link that we provide. If possible, we recommend using a laptop or desktop PC.

What to wear

We have a relaxed dress code. Most of us put on a business dress only when meeting with customers who expect this. We recommend that you wear for the interview what you are most comfortable in. For customer-facing roles, we suggest keeping to what you would normally wear to work.

What to expect for your specific role

We have a very high technical bar, which is reflected in our thorough interview process. Each interview stage focuses on a different knowledge set or skill. We don’t expect you to do perfectly in every single step. We include them so that we can build up a picture of your existing and potential strengths in order to understand where you can really make a difference.

Giving you a clear picture

We take our time to present the job role and our long-term vision behind it to you. You will have ample time to ask questions, as well as chat independently with your future colleagues. When making an offer, we supplement your working contract with a one-page summary sharing where we see your unique strengths and talents and how we envision your first steps and personal growth at Swabian Instruments.

Timeline

We try to be fast. Each interview step should take no more than five workdays, in some cases less. When needed, we try to align with your personal time and decision constraints.

Feedback

Your experience is important to us, and we are going to give you feedback at each step. We’ll also ask you for feedback about your experience interviewing with us. This will help us improve.

Expand the sections below to find out more about what to expect and how to prepare for each step.

Engineering roles

Initial technical challenge (60 min)

The initial technical challenge should be easy for you. It will give you a good idea about the general technical qualifications that we expect from every member of our engineering team. This is also a good chance for you to show your technical skills. For example, for an FPGA developer position, this could be a set of FPGA coding riddles, while for a software engineering position, this could be a C++ algorithm challenge. We set this up so that you can work on the challenge at home at your preferred time.

Initial conversation (30 min)

This call is usually with a member of our technical team. Here we will get to know each other and understand our mutual expectations. We would like to understand what your passion is and how you can make a difference at Swabian Instruments. We will ask you to give us feedback about the initial technical challenge and we will give you feedback about your results. We will also answer any questions that you may have about us. You will not be asked anything tricky here.

Comprehensive technical challenge (2-8 h home assignment)

You will work on a challenging engineering puzzle at home at the time of your choice, deep diving into a problem that is representative for the job role. These are usually work examples taken from our development roadmap or in-depth challenges around our products and applications. To ensure objectivity, we will prepare for you a detailed written problem statement that you can work on independently. You will receive detailed feedback on your solution from a senior engineer and we will discuss your solution in greater detail as a part of the next step.
We assess READABILITY, consideration of EDGE CASES and RESOURCE TRADE-OFFS.

Technical interview and review (60 min)

This is with one or two senior engineers. We will discuss popular design patterns, their advantages and disadvantages in terms of flexibility, maintenance, and resource usage. We will ask you for concrete estimates of the resource usage that results from specific design choices. As part of this step you will also discuss your solution to the take-home challenge with a senior engineer.
We want to see how you approach complex problems, how you are able to SWITCH PERSPECTIVE from the overall system to its sub problems. We want to see how you break a complex problem into parts and how you ASSESS POSSIBLE DESIGN CHOICES, considering EDGE CASES and RESOURCE TRADE OFFS in terms of memory, power usage, and processing speed.
Prepare:
Recall popular design patterns.
Recall what the compiler does with common high-level code constructs and what resource usage results from this.
Practice concrete estimates in terms of resource usage resulting from your code.

Personal interview (60 min)

You are going to talk to two senior members of the team about your motivations, interests, and learning points throughout your career and share your future career outlook.
The most important point is to be open with us and honest with yourself - we want to see what really makes you tick.
You should be able to
Discuss anything written on your CV in depth.
Provide specific examples about what you did and the resulting impact.
Critique yourself - we actively encourage you to admit past mistakes and what you learned from them.
Talk about what you like about your current or previous roles, and how this has shaped you.
Discuss any changes or areas of improvement you would like to address and why.
Describe the way that you work, what you need to thrive, and how others might perceive you.
Discuss your professional interests - the areas you’d be excited to work in.
Importantly, you should be able to provide an explanation around why you would like to join Swabian Instruments based on what you know about us and how this fits with your own personal motivations.

Scientist roles

Initial technical challenge (3 h)

The initial technical challenge should be easy for you. It will give you a good idea about the general qualifications that we expect from every member of our science team. This is also a great chance for you to show your skills. For example, for an Application Scientist position, this could be a set of problems that you or our customers may encounter in an experimental physics lab. We set this up so that you can start the challenge at your preferred time. Be aware that the time constraint will probably not allow you to provide a perfect solution for every part of the challenge. Prioritizing tasks according to your specific talents is essential.
We assess
CORRECTNESS for simple tasks
SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING and GOOD IDEAS for challenging task
CLEAR DOCUMENTATION of results according to scientific standards
CUSTOMER CENTRICITY in tasks targeting on customer support.

Initial conversation (30 min)

This is usually with a member of science team. Here we will get to know each other and understand our mutual expectations. We want to learn more about your motivation, your passion, and your scientific background. We will ask you to give us feedback about the initial technical challenge and we will give you feedback about your results. During the call, you will also have the opportunity to ask your questions on the position, the team, and the company. You will not be asked anything tricky here.

Presentation and discussion of your scientific work (60 min)

This session will be joined by 2-5 members of our science team. It will be like a little seminar in a research group with an active discussion. We will ask you to present your previous scientific work. While we are also curious about the scientific discoveries you made, we are typically more focused on the technical problems that you solved in the lab. We want to understand clearly which contributions were made by your predecessors, colleagues, or your supervisor and what was your own unique contribution.
Prepare:
Make sure your presentation is understandable for someone outside your field.
Provide a strong motivation for your work.
Highlight technical problems that you solved.
Explain how you solved them and why you chose that approach.
Go into detail about the code you wrote for experiment control and data analysis.
We expect you to know technical details about the instrumentation that you have used in your scientific work. We will ask. We also expect you to know alternative instrumentation, and why you or your lab has decided to go for this particular solution. Therefore, recall technical details of your instruments before your presentation, especially if your experiments are a few years ago.
We want to see a DEEP SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING and your ability to put your work into a WIDER SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT and compare your technical achievements to the state of the art. We are looking for strong references on how you are CAPABLE TO SOLVE CHALLENGING TECHNICAL PROBLEMS.

Personal interview (60 min)

You are going to talk to two senior members of the team about your motivations, interests, and learning points throughout your career and share your future career outlook.
The most important point is to be open with us and honest with yourself - we want to see what really makes you tick.
You should be able to
Discuss anything written on your CV in depth.
Provide specific examples about what you did and the resulting impact.
Critique yourself - we actively encourage you to admit past mistakes and what you learned from them.
Talk about what you like about your current or previous roles, and how this has shaped you.
Discuss any changes or areas of improvement you would like to address and why.
Describe the way that you work, what you need to thrive, and how others might perceive you.
Discuss your professional interests - the areas you’d be excited to work in.
Importantly, you should be able to provide an explanation around why you would like to join. Swabian Instruments based on what you know about us and how this fits with your own personal motivations.

Sales and business development roles

Initial screening call (30 min)

This call is usually with our internal talent team. Here we will get to know each other and understand mutual expectations. We would like to understand what your passion is and find out how you can make a difference at Swabian Instruments. We will also answer any questions that you may have about us.

Written communication skills (30 min)

This initial communication challenge should be easy for you. We will ask you to answer real customer requests and formulate approaches to prospects. This exercise will give you an impression about our typical customers, their language, and their communication style. This is also a great opportunity for you to show how you are able to comprehend and communicate to the point. We set this up in a way that you can work on this remotely at your preferred time. To ensure objectivity, we prepare for you a detailed written problem statement that you can work on independently.
We will be assessing CORRECTNESS, CLARITY, TONE, and EFFICIENCY.

Prospecting challenge (2-4h home assignment)

This is a take-home assignment supervised by a senior business developer. You will use the internet to find prospects and draft approaches for a product and application area that we will share with you in a detailed written problem statement. The challenge will start with a detailed presentation of the application area. We will ask you to research and summarize the application area from a technical perspective. Going from there, we will ask you to define customer profiles, find matching prospects, and formulate suitable approaches.
We will be assessing your ability to quickly UNDERSTAND A CUSTOMER APPLICATION. We are looking for CREATIVITY and EFFICIENCY in using the internet to find leads, as well as prospecting emails that are to the point.
Prepare:
Get familiar with Swabian Instruments’ customers and application areas.
Recall and get familiar with the various search tools that are available on the internet.
Think about possible starting points that you can take to search for prospects.

Sales conversation role-play (60 min)

This will be with the manager of our sales team. You will lead at least two sales conversations where you will attempt to sell different products to fictional prospects that we will play. Before each role play, we will have a short discussion to establish the product and prospect. After each role play, we will reflect on the conversation with you. We will ask you what went well and what went wrong and how you could do it better.
We want to see you DRIVING the efforts and we want to see your ability to quickly UNDERSTAND THE CUSTOMER'S APPLICATION. Not being honest with a customer is a red flag for us. We will assess your ability to put yourself in the prospect's shoes and achieve MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING with the prospect. GOAL ORIENTATION and EFFICIENCY in your communication are important to us. We want to see your ABILITY TO ANALYZE AND LEARN by reflecting on your conversation.
Prepare:
Get familiar with Swabian Instruments’ products, application areas, and typical customers.
Recall the steps of a modern sales conversation.
Practice active listening, rephrasing, needs analysis, and closing questions.
Practice self-reflection on your sales conversations. What went well? What went wrong? How can you do better?

Personal interview (60 min)

You are going to talk to two senior members of the team about your motivations, interests, and learning points throughout your career and share your future career outlook.
The most important point is to be open with us and honest with yourself - we want to see what really makes you tick.
You should be able to
Discuss anything written on your CV in depth.
Provide specific examples about what you did and the resulting impact.
Critique yourself - we actively encourage you to admit past mistakes and what you learned from them.
Talk about what you like about your current or previous roles, and how this has shaped you.
Discuss any changes or areas of improvement you would like to address and why.
Describe the way that you work, what you need to thrive, and how others might perceive you.
Discuss your professional interests - the areas you’d be excited to work in.
Importantly, you should be able to provide an explanation around why you would like to join Swabian Instruments based on what you know about us and how this fits with your own personal motivations.