A month or so ago I was contacted by one of the hiring managers at Toptal. I had heard of Toptal before; it is a “network comprised of the most thoroughly screened, talented freelance engineers in the world”. As freelance web developer I have worked on elance.com and oDesk.com (now called upwork.com). Though rewarding most of the times, the experience of having to go through all the nitty-gritties of looking for jobs, sending through proposals, sending sample work, waiting for responses, answering to questions as part of “interviews” etc has not generally been great. This is primarily because so much time goes into all those processes before landing into the actual work.
Come Toptal into picture and learning about the noble idea of giving the right platform to top developers as well as to clients who look for quality work, I was simply fascinated and immediately aspired to become one of the coveted “top 3% developers”. Basically it was everything I was looking for as a freelancer.
So when I got a call from the Toptal hiring manager I was pleasantly surprised (he first connected me on LinkedIn). Somebody heard me!
Becoming a Toptal developer was not easy. There was four-step interview process.
This part was the hiring manager calling me over telephone, inviting me to join Toptal as front-end developer, to which I was completely like why not? He also explained to me about the company, the interview process and we went through some other chit-chat. It was basically to test my English speaking proficiency, which he said I passed right away!
Next I was given coding exercise to be completed within next 48 hours (they were flexible to extend the time if I wanted). There were three questions (and a sample question for practice) from codility.com to be completed in 90 minutes. You can choose whichever programming language you are comfortable with (I did in PHP).
Then after few days I was scheduled a technical interview with one of their senior engineers. This I thought was like a real face-to-face interview over Skype, so I got my face shaved (one of the beauties of working as freelancer is you never care when you last shaved), wore by best shirt and was ready to impress. But it was all voice-only interview. He asked me about my previous work experience, my level of expertise in CMSs like WordPress, Magento, Concrete5 and Shopify and my availability for work. He also asked me to send links to websites I did in these CMSs.
Then finally I was given a test project. They sent me git repository to version every step as I work. The duration of the project was two weeks.
My project was to develop a plugin for any CMS I am comfortable with (I chose WordPress). The plugin will add Facebook like button on posts and pages. Users have to hit like in order to read the full content of posts and pages. Only certain number of characters will be shown initially, the number of characters to be set by admin.
I completed the project within two days. The final part was to demonstrate the plugin to another senior developer over Skype. He was happy with my work and at the end, he said “welcome to Toptal”!
So that’s how I got in, a pleasant and enriching journey. I am now looking forward to getting my first client.
Note: I will be submitting the plugin I developed to WordPress. I have called it “Like and Read”.