How to Ace a Phone Interview

The Basics

The tips in this section may seem trivial, but you’d be surprised at how many candidates mess up the basics. It’ll be much harder for you to show us how awesome you are if you don’t do these things:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place.. You should be in a quiet environment where you feel comfortable interviewing. If you’re in a busy or noisy area, it’s going to be hard for you to concentrate and difficult for your interviewer to understand you.
  • Make sure your phone works. This should be self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised at how many dropped calls we get. Ideally, you’d find a landline, although these are increasingly hard to come by these days. Another tip from one of our developers: use a headset that allows you to talk comfortably while typing or writing–the earbuds that come with the iPhone work perfectly for this use case. Similarly, if we’ve asked you to use HackerRank or Google Docs for the phone interview, make sure you have a stable Internet connection.
  • Be prepared. Do your research—check out our website, read some of the interviewing tips, discover our company culture, and perhaps watch a demo! This shows interest in Palantir, and it will also help you form questions for the phone interviewer so that you can learn more about us. A good place to get started is with the Palantir Library.
  • Have a pen and paper ready. It’ll be much easier to think through questions or problems if you have something to sketch or write on.

The Interview

As we mentioned in the Getting Hired intro, our interview process begins with one or two phone interviews, typically lasting 20 to 45 minutes each. These calls are conversational, allowing us to get to know each other. You should be prepared to to talk about your background, experiences, and interest in Palantir.

If you’re interviewing for one of our engineering roles, you may also be asked to participate in a developer phone interview. You’ll want to review “The Developer Interview” section below for additional tips on how to prepare.

At the end of the call, your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. Don’t worry about asking the right questions or the wrong questions—this is your chance to find out about what interests you. We often get asked about what Palantir does, what we work on individually, what it’s like to be a new Palantirian, and how our internship program is structured, but don’t limit yourself to these topics!

The Developer Interview

You’ll be asked a technical question that focuses on your coding abilities. Every engineer is different – some specialize in backend systems, others specialize in UX design, but we expect every engineer at Palantir to be able to work through a coding question. For more information on preparing for one of our coding interviews, check out The Coding Interview guide.

Here are some tips specific to developer phone interviews:

  • Think out loud. While this is useful for on-site interviews as well, it’s critical for phone interviews. Since we can’t see you, the only way we can understand your thought process is to hear you talk.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If anything is unclear about the problem, ask your interviewer—that’s what they’re there for.
  • Start simple and then expand. While you do want to think about the high-level design before you write any code, it’s good to come up with a simple solution first and then go from there.

After the Phone Interview

After you’re done with the interview, we typically get back to you very quickly—a week or two at the latest. We may ask you to do another phone interview, or we’ll bring you on-site. If you don’t hear from us, don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck and happy interviewing!