It was interesting to say the least!
Almabase sponsored my entire travel related to the interview. This itself was very nice of them! One I arrived, we had a rushed interview because Kalyan, the CEO had to leave to the US.
So there were 4 rounds of the interview packed in just one day.
I flew into Bangalore on an early morning flight. Reached the office at about 11:40. We started the interactions soon after because there really was no time to waste.
The first round involved a task for me to familiarise Almabase’s events platform. I had to create an event on their platform in 45 minutes for an alumni reunion.
This one was fairly easy. The platform was intuitive and interesting. I also managed to squeeze in time to add a poster to my events page and had a bit of fun with naming the event. I named it AlmaUnion by the University of Almabase.
Overall, I was quite happy with the ideas I tried out for this round. But just that I could have maybe spent more time reading their documentation and understanding the features in slightly more depth.
Post this activity, Kalyan and Sri, the two co-founders joined for a 15-minute discussion. We went over what I had created and had a few followup questions. We also had a role play where I was selling the Almabase events page to Sri and Kalyan who were alumni relations members of a university.
This went fairly well.
After that, we broke for lunch. Had a very homely warm meal with rest of the Almabase team. And I had my very first “Naattil evideya” moment! Incidentally, most of Almabase’s team were malayalis! We bonded in just a matter of seconds and even figured we had common friends! Small world, eh!
I think what I also liked is that the team was diverse and super jovial!
After lunch, we had the second round which was a sales round. I had to sell a product to Almabase and as always, I picked canva. I don’t think I did quite well in this round. I’d give myself a 2.5/5 perhaps. I mean at the beginning of the conversation, I did not even ask “How are you”. I found myself so engrossed in thinking about the product that I’d explain, that I missed bonding well. However, I think I gauged the customers well and tried to be warm as well.
One thing that Kalyan pointed out was that I do feature selling and not solution selling. Which I think is supercritical feedback. I have gone over this with Sijo so many times! That we’ve to always think, “What’s in it for the other person?”. And that we have to put it in those terms. It does come through in my emails when I have the time to review but I still default to all that I have got to say on the surface level when I’ve to be quick to respond.
On second thought, I think a takeaway for me here is to pause, think and then respond. I’m so quick in responding that I sometimes bypass my thinking process. If only I’d listen more closely, read what they’re really looking for, assimilate my thoughts and then respond!
The third interview was with 3 other members at Almabase — 2 from product and 1 from customer success. This one was more candid and more about me. I tried to be as transparent and authentic as possible here and also use those questions for my own self-reflection about what my goals are.
I think in some sense I was answering those questions to myself than to the interviewers.
The final round was with the founders where they laid out the larger vision that Almabase is working towards. I think this really was my favourite part because I’m someone who really latches on to the purpose and strives for it. That’s one thing I loved about my work at Rethink — at every other coffee chat, we’d be discussing where we are, where we’d like to get to and more importantly, why. When Kalyan and Sri spent time talking about their vision, I could instantly feel a connection with their cause.
We then went over some specifics about the role and my goals and wrapped up the interview.
Overall, I found Almabase to be a very warm workplace. Every single member of the team was warm and I did not feel out of place even for a second. I bonded with pepper, their pet dog pretty quicky and loved their cosy office space!
The founders are sharp and laser focussed at what they’re attempting to build and I loved that the most about them. I like how they wanted to do tons of things but have been ruthlessly prioritising what to do when. They were also extremely open to questions from me — I had prepared about 25 questions for them and they took about 45 mins in total to really explain their responses with utmost clarity.
Irrespective of how the interview result turns out, I’ve left gaining something fresh and useful. It is definitely one of the best interview experiences I’ve had so far. As I’m flying back home after the interview, I do not know what the outcome is going to be, but I wish Almabase the very best. They’re doing great and I’ll watch out to hear their success stories soon enough!