- 4 Day Week is a blog by Phil McParlane that advocates for jobs that create a better work-life balance for tech employees.
- PayPal was listed as one of the best places to work by the job review site Glassdoor in 2021.
- Here’s a list of the most common questions asked during PayPal job interviews and how the hiring process works.
One of the most well-known online payment platforms, PayPal has become a desirable place to work for both technical and non-technical talent. The company not only has an above-average Glassdoor rating, but was acknowledged by the job review site as one of the best places to work in 2021. So, whether you are hoping to land an interview at PayPal or already have one on the calendar, it’s a good idea to know what to expect.
PayPal’s interview process can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time interviewing with them. However, with proper preparation and knowledge, you’ll be able to ace the interview and get your dream job.
Research PayPal’s history
As with any interview, we suggest you research your future employer. To save you time, we have summarized the basics about PayPal. Essentially, the company is an electronic payment system that allows you to pay other people or merchants without sharing financial information. PayPal was created in 1998, by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin. Its initial vision was that payments could be made across borders without third-party checks.
PayPal is now a global financial business allowing payments and money transfers between individuals and companies through various methods. It has undergone many changes over the years, including an acquisition by eBay in 2008 and a split in 2015. In recent years, most of its growth is attributed to its partnerships with mobile phone providers worldwide.
Here’s a breakdown of the company’s interview process
Before we jump into the PayPal interview questions, let’s summarize the process, so you know what to expect.
The PayPal hiring timeline tends to be quicker than other technology companies. According to Candor, the average time from start to finish is between two days to one week. Reportedly, only a handful of users wait longer than that.
Step 1: Apply or be recruited
There are three ways a candidate can be brought in for an interview: either they apply directly through the website, a recruiter contacts them, or an existing employee refers them. The second and third options are ideal because it increases the likelihood of landing an interview, but you can certainly get a job simply by applying as well.
Step 2: Screening call
If a candidate makes it past the first step, they will get a screening call with PayPal’s HR team. This call has two purposes: 1) To make sure that both parties are interested in moving forward, and; 2) to confirm basic information about the candidate. During a typical screening call, the interviewer will ask basic questions about your experience and previous accomplishments. This is also a good time to ask questions you have.
Step 3: Phone interview
This is where you’ll talk to your hiring manager about the specifics of the role, get more technical questions and learn about what life at PayPal is like. You will be asked more job and experience-specific questions to determine whether or not you are worthy of an onsite interview.
Step 4: Onsite interviews
Once you pass the phone screen, you’ll be invited for an “onsite” interview. While historically, the final step of the process was an in-person interview, PayPal is now conducting these final interviews remotely. This includes five rounds of interviews that incorporate both behavioral and technical questions, which we outline below.
Use the ‘STAR’ method to answer questions
Behavioral questions are designed to gauge how you handled problems in the past so your interviewer can get a feel for how you will handle similar situations in the future. To effectively answer these questions, we suggest following the STAR format, which helps interviewees answer questions to best their ability.
We break it down for you here:
S – Situation: Start by explaining a problem or situation that prompted your actions. For example, “Our engineering team was short-staffed, so our existing engineers were being overworked and missing deadlines.”
T – Task: This section should explain the request, ask, or solution that resulted from the problem. For example, “I wanted to create a solution that would help improve efficiency and take work away from the team.”
A – Action: This section should show what you did to solve the problem. For example, “I developed an internal database for code snippets and definitions and created an automation that would programmatically pull the code into the IDE based on the ticket details.”
- R – Result: Here is where you explain the results of your action. Ideally, this part should be quantitative. For example, “The team’s productivity increased by 30% as a result.”
These are four common interview questions and how you might answer them
As mentioned, you can expect job-specific technical and behavioral interview questions. For instance, if you’re applying for a customer service position at PayPal (or any business, really), expect to be asked about a scenario in which your behavior didn’t live up to a specific expectation — and what you would do differently in that situation. On the contrary, if you are applying for an engineering position, you will likely be asked specific questions such as “What is a Callback Function?”
However, since technical questions vary between roles, we will discuss the common behavioral questions that every candidate can expect. Let’s take a look at some questions you can expect during a PayPal interview and how to answer them correctly:
1. Tell me about yourself
This is a common question at most interviews, so you should already have an answer up your sleeve. Since this is often the first question you will be asked, it’s crucial to spend some time on it to really nail it. Many candidates make the mistake of talking through their entire life story and sharing a bunch of information that your interviewer doesn’t care about. This is especially true with more experienced hires who like to turn back the clock to their first couple of jobs out of school. Your answer to this question should not be longer than two minutes — if you can get the point across in less time, even better.
The key here is to highlight your most impressive experience and end with why you are looking for a new opportunity, or more specifically, why you are considering PayPal.
Example answer: I am currently a senior software engineer at Wells Fargo with over ten years of experience in backend development. I lead a team of four junior engineers, and this past year, I oversaw the development of our brand new mobile product which generated over 12 million dollars in revenue. While I enjoy my job and working in the financial industry, traditional banking has a lot of red tape that makes it difficult to innovate. I am looking to join an organization that will disrupt the industry, and I believe PayPal is on its way to doing that.
2. Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work and how you corrected it
While we always want to put our best foot forward, your potential employer also wants to understand where you struggled in the past and, more importantly, how you handled mistakes. Therefore, you should use this question as an opportunity to demonstrate what corrective actions you took to correct mistakes.
Since this is a behavioral question, we encourage using the STAR method.
Example answer: My team was up against a tight deadline, and we were behind (Situation). We had to push the update before it was ready in order to meet the deadline (Task). I encouraged the team to push the update, although it had not been thoroughly QA (Action). As a result, it caused a bug that caused us to lose users and receive complaints. I stayed late with my team for the next two nights to correct the bug and properly QA the rest of the update before re-deploying it. Since this mistake, I have prioritized product quality over internal timelines and will ask for extensions if things are behind schedule (Result)
3. What do you understand by “Website Payments Standards”
This is a technical question that you should be able to answer in a Paypal interview. In general, you should have a basic understanding of website payments standards before interviewing.
Example answer: Website Payment Standards is a PayPal checkout button you add to your eCommerce site to accept debit, credit and PayPal payments securely.
4. Tell me about a time you had to take initiative on a project
This question is also behavioral and should be answered using the STAR format. Your answer should demonstrate your ability to lead the charge on important projects and drive tangible value.
Example Answer: Wells Fargo has in-app features that make credit card and loan recommendations to users based on their credit and income (Situation). We noticed that loan and credit card applications were declining year-over-year. I tasked my team with resolving this problem and implementing a new recommendation system that would increase application rates (Task). My team and I developed a new machine learning algorithm that used over 200 different variables to determine application propensity for a given line of credit (Action). After implementation, we saw a 15% lift in application rates and have generated an incremental 11 million dollars as a result (Result).
Keep technical answers matter-of-fact use ‘STAR’ for behavioral questions
While it’s impossible to predict all questions that a given PayPal interviewer can ask, we’ve included a few examples so you have an idea of what to expect.
During the PayPal Interview, you should answer using the STAR format for behavioral questions and keep technical responses more matter of fact.
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