Engineering hiring info

Setting engineering candidates up for success

Hello, engineer!

If you're reading this, it's probably because you're interested in an engineering role at ExpressVPN. Great! Because we're hiring a broad range of roles, from data engineering to security and front-end development.

This page should help you decide whether to apply, and for what kind of role. It should also prepare you with what to expect during interviews. If you have any questions about the content on this page, please don’t hesitate to ask during the recruiting process.

ExpressVPN's culture as it relates to engineering

Across ExpressVPN, we value integrity.

That starts with honesty, with ourselves and others. It involves radical candor and looks like blameless postmortems and lively debates where we dig deep for multiple layers of root causes, try to learn and improve quickly. We also believe in making decisions for the long term.

To us, high levels of quality and low technical debt mean higher delivery-pace in the long term. It’s very rare for us to cut corners to hit short-term targets.

The next one goes without saying, but we take privacy and security extremely seriously.

Threat modelling, including for threats about the privacy of our customers and our team members, is embedded in all parts of our software development lifecycle.

Our tolerance for risks of harming the security or privacy of our customers or team members is quite low. For example, we generally require that no single compromise may be catastrophic.

As a result, we invest in making many of our build processes reproducible, such that we can detect tampering in the build pipeline. We also have a privacy policy for employees you can read more about.

Lastly, we've built a culture where accountability and authority need to align.

No one should be held responsible for results that they weren’t empowered to impact. This is our golden rule for designing positions.

Who we're looking to hire

We’re open to hiring a very broad range of people. We primarily consider a candidate’s personality and core abilities. Current levels of skill and knowledge are secondary, since we know that we can quickly up-skill people, and we have the luxury of a financially successful business and a long time horizon to make those investments worthwhile.

We’re looking to hire engineers across all specializations and role types: all types of individual contributors, and people managers at all levels.

To fit in well at ExpressVPN, you need to:

  • Value positive relationships. There’s no place for abusive behavior here. Criticize the issue, not the person.

  • Be open to working in teams. While you might be the single most skilled person in one domain, you know that you can still achieve even more by working well with others.

  • Be hungry to learn. No matter how skilled you are already, you bring humility to learn from others and from your own mistakes. You look to constantly improve yourself.

  • Take great pride in the quality of your work. We believe that this attribute manifests itself through effective automated tests.

On the other hand, here are some qualities you’re unlikely to find at ExpressVPN:

  • Unduly motivated by power and status. We don’t use titles much, and we make decisions based on merit, very rarely based on authority. That’s also reflected in the fact that our people managers are responsible for growing people, not necessarily for directing work.

  • Being left alone to your own devices to just write code. See the points above about teamwork and the high value we place on each team member helping their colleagues grow.

Engineering at ExpressVPN

Have you read our tech blog?

Learn more about why ExpressVPN is such an exciting place for devs and engineers to work, and hear from the innovators themselves.

At ExpressVPN, teams and people management are often unrelated

Teams are often cross-functional, containing engineers with various specialties as well as people from other functions, most commonly at least one product manager. The structure of teams is a lot more flexible than reporting lines for people management.

Teams are staffed such that they are reasonably self-contained to accomplish their objectives. Engineers in particular should only be on a single team at one time. Groups of teams are called "tribes." For example, the various teams that deal with our VPN technologies are in the "Privacy and Streaming Technology Tribe."

Read more about our teaming culture.

Employees at a meeting.

These are the following commonly seen types of teams (each team might be a combination of multiple types):

  • Feature teams: For example, to deliver auto-update functionality for our router. This involves specialists for firmware, backend, web UI, etc.

  • Component teams: For example, to maintain Lightway and manage its open-source community.

  • Platform teams: For example, to build and operate our API gateway.

  • Other teams: Teams more related to HR, recruiting, and L&D, such as delivering improvements to our engineering role-leveling system, improving how we hire engineers, sourcing a specific type of candidate, etc.

We keep roles within teams quite flexible and let teams self-organize. Each team has a range of needs, and different members of the team can proactively step up to meet those needs. Teams succeed or fail together—their members are accountable to each other.

Types of Engineering roles at ExpressVPN

There are the following types of roles in Engineering:

Individual Contributor (IC) Engineer

Individual Contributor (IC) Engineer, who builds and operates a technology component, and is accountable for:

  1. The quality of what they build and operate. Quality is defined very broadly—it includes security, reliability, performance, capacity, and many other aspects. A single engineer might not have all the skills to do this well themselves, so they rely on teamwork with specialists for help, but the end-result quality of whatever they then build and operate is a key part of how the company evaluates the performance (and thus also decides compensation) of engineers.

  2. Their pace of delivering sufficient-quality engineering solutions. We use various ways of quantifying this, but none is perfect. They might not always tell us that we are fast, but they can often tell us when we are NOT fast.

  3. The success of the teams they join as described by their OKRs.

ENG hiring info IC

Engineers are expected to test their own work, usually with automation. QA roles are embedded in teams and help those teams deliver even better quality at a higher pace by "shifting left," which means avoiding bugs altogether through clearer thinking on requirements and designs, more refined stories, and helping engineers find their bugs as early as possible.

IC Engineers are often "T-shaped," meaning they are deep experts in one or a few areas, and broadly competent in many others. Some specializations include Security Engineering, Penetration Testing, Network Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Engineering, and more.

Engineering Manager

Engineering Manager, who writes code as an engineer on a single team, and is also the people manager for a few engineers. "People manager" here means they’re responsible for helping people grow their skills and careers, and representing them when the company makes decisions on compensation.

However, this does NOT necessarily involve directing what work they should do; that’s done in teams. This is a hugely important distinction, since it’s different from how many other companies define the role of a people manager. Also, the people manager is NOT necessarily on the same team as the engineers they manage. That’s one of many reasons why we expect feedback to flow peer-to-peer, not only via a manager.

Engineering Director

Engineering Directors are not expected to write code, but are people managers for several engineering managers. They help identify what teams the company needs, what skills those teams need, and find ways to deliver those skills through learning and hiring. They are also heavily involved in hiring, sometimes full-time. They might also be on "leadership teams," such as those that provide direction for "tribes" (aka "sets of teams").

Ping zhu illustration for changing locations.

Liked what you see? Join us.

Our engineering teams are growing rapidly across all our offices. We would love to chat with you and see if there's a career fit for you here. We're looking forward to your #LifeAtExpressVPN.

Click on the link below to view all our available jobs, or head back to our engineering page for more info.

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