How to nail the key interview questions that Jeff Bezos-backed self-driving startup Aurora asks job candidates

  • Aurora is bringing its autonomous tech to market with Volvo this year.
  • The startup has a pile of funding and recently absorbed Uber’s self-driving team.
  • Aurora looks for employees from diverse pools and various several industries.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Jeff Bezos-backed, California-based self-driving startup Aurora is not just building the technology needed for autonomous vehicles, but bringing that tech to market in hopes to accelerate adoption of autonomy by the auto industry. 

It’s a challenge that can only be met by candidates who can creatively apply their unique experiences from their fields, according to Aurora’s VP of People, Tara Green. Aurora pulls not only from diverse pools of technical talent, but creates a mosaic of skills within its ranks by pulling together leaders and candidates from outside of the tech industry as well.

“We need a workforce with diverse perspectives,” Green told Insider.

The most important questions that Aurora uses for interviews seek to reveal if the candidate’s goals align with the company’s. According to Green, many of Aurora’s interview panels present a case study or assignment that gauges the candidate’s ability to think through an issue and structure a solution. It also tests whether they ask clarifying questions throughout that process. 

Not asking questions throughout the interview is actually a sure-fire “don’t” in Aurora’s book. Not having insightful questions, or questions that will help the candidate know if Aurora is right for them points to a lack of interest in the company and the industry, said Green.

“We know that not all candidates think and express themselves well while on the spot,” Green told Insider. “So, we also index highly on candidates who provide concrete past examples that demonstrate relevant expertise.”

That matters because Aurora prioritizes teamwork by encouraging their employees to “win together,” which is one of the startup’s core values, according to Green. The intricate issues that come with developing self-driving tech require different teams within the company to work toward a common goal. Aurora’s vehicle operators team up with the perception and simulation teams to create virtual test-drive simulations, while the hardware and design teams work to produce Aurora’s lidar sensors. There are even some teams that are threaded into all company operations, like the safety team.

Outside of teamwork, the startup considers setting “outrageous goals” a priority. “We look for people who like to push themselves, think big, and achieve what others might think is impossible,” Green said.

Aurora sees itself as a place for growth and development, and encourages candidates who seek to problem-solve outside of their direct purview, to help others grow, and simultaneously feed into its values of goal-setting and teamwork.

“We’re solving a complex and uncharted problem at Aurora, and so we don’t expect everyone to have the perfect answer,” Green said. “However, we want to see how candidates think through a problem, ask questions to understand requirements and parameters, and how that process brings them to the optimal solution.”

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