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The Business Development Interview Process

Nabeel Qureshi
Written by

Last editedJan 20204 min read

marketing interview

Image courtesy of XKCD, via a Creative Commons license

GoCardless is poised for global success, and we need people to help us achieve our vision of building a payment network that makes it simple to move money across the globe. To help us grow, we're looking for systematic problem-solvers to join our business development team. This post is a guide to the application process for the business development position. Above all, we want you to succeed, which is why we’re going to explain in detail how the process works and what we’re looking for.

At GoCardless, the business development team is responsible for projects that are crucial to the future growth of the company, and that do not fit neatly into the ‘marketing’ or ‘sales’ categories. Recent BD projects have included: developing European launch plans; assessing which geographies to expand into next; working with engineers to prioritise product features for multinational companies; improving the onboarding process for customers; and reaching out to potential partners.

Because the role encompasses so many different possible projects, we’re looking for people who are analytically smart, adaptable, get things done fast, and can come up with creative solutions to problems. You do not have to be technical to apply (none of the team has a technical background). The role is particularly great for people who want to start their own company in the future and want to get hands-on experience of different projects at a startup.

How the process works

  1. Phone Screen

  2. Analytical challenge

  3. Onsite interview - Round One

  4. Onsite interview - Round Two

1. The Phone Screen

This interview lasts 10-15 minutes. You will speak to a member of our business development team. The interview will focus primarily on your motivations for applying to GoCardless, what you’re hoping to get out of the job, and how you make decisions.

To do well in this interview:

  • Find a comfortable place with no background noise. Environments with lots of noise will distract you and make it difficult for your interviewer to understand you.

  • Ensure your phone, or internet connection (for Skype), work. You’d be surprised at how many people get this wrong!

  • Be on time. First impressions matter.

  • Be prepared. Do your research on GoCardless - what problems are we solving for businesses? What have you learned about our company culture? What attracts you to the company?

  • Be structured. Try and give your answers in a structured manner, so that the interviewer can understand your central points easily.

  • Be concise. Don’t ramble; we want to give you the chance to answer as many questions as possible, so spending 10 minutes on introducing yourself won’t work in your favour.

  • Be enthusiastic. We love people who are excited about the mission and are interested in what we do.

After the interview, we will get back to you fairly quickly - within a week at most.

2. Analytical challenge

If you’re successful in the phone round, we will send you an analytical challenge to complete, using real data (sanitised, of course!) from GoCardless. This challenge is intended to assess your ability to draw insights from data, as well as your prioritisation and communication skills. It should take no more than 2.5 hours to complete.

In your first on-site interview with us, we'll discuss your approach to the problem, the reasoning behind your recommendations, and how you would go about prioritising and implementing them.

We’re looking for people who can make sense of lots of data, develop hypotheses and test them, make data-driven recommendations, and be flexible when challenged or confronted with new information.

3. Onsite interview, Round One

You should expect to be on site for about an hour and a half. At this stage, we’ll be looking to dig into your problem solving ability, chat more about your background, and find out more about who you are and what you’re looking for. You’ll get the chance to meet several members of our business development team, ask questions, and get a feel for our office and what it’s like to work with us.

Some tips for your onsite interview:

  • Be honest. People join a startup for a variety of reasons; tell us what you’re really looking for and what you want to do in your career. The purpose of the interview should be to get to a really good understanding of whether the company would be a good fit for you, and vice versa - so feel free to be open with your interviewers.

  • Be concise. We’re keen to get as much information from the interviews as possible so that you have the best chance to show us who you are. Don’t spend too long talking about things that are irrelevant, and answer the questions directly.

  • Give some structure to your answers. Look up the ‘Pyramid Principle’ and similar communication tactics, and use them; being great at communication is an important part of doing well in a non-technical role, so we will be looking for people who can communicate in a compelling, easy-to-understand way.

  • Think through problems aloud. If you get stuck, clarify the question and tell us what you’re thinking about. The discussion should be a collaborative one, and you won’t be penalised for changing your mind or taking the time to think through your solutions.

  • Think hard about what would make you want to work here. Are you interested in the company culture? Our growth? The projects we work on? Be as inquisitive as you want to be - we’re keen to share how GoCardless works with you and make sure that it would be the right fit.

After the interview, we will get back to you fairly quickly - within a week at most.

4. Onsite interview, Round Two

This is the final round of interviews and your opportunity to meet with people across the business. At GoCardless, we tend to work cross-functionally, so it’s important that you meet people from other parts of the business. Every interviewee also gets the chance to interview with our CEO.

The first part of the day consists of a practical exercise with a member of the business development team, which takes around 3 hours. The aim of the exercise is to work with you on a small project and see how far you get, i.e. to test your skills in a real working environment. You’ll also get a sense of what kind of work we do here. We’re looking to test your ability to execute in a real world environment; you should feel free to ask your interviewers as many questions as you want, and aim to make as much progress as you can in the allotted time.

To succeed in this part of the interview:

  • Ask clarifying questions. Be really clear with your interviewer what outputs are expected of you and what problems you are expected to solve during the interview.

  • Think of all the possibilities. In solving a problem, it helps to consider all possibilities first and then choose the one that will accomplish the goal the best. Make sure you don’t prematurely latch onto a single strategy and then pursue it without considering alternatives.

  • Keep the time limit in mind. You want to make as much progress as possible within the time limit; make sure you consider the information to time ratio of each strategy.

  • Stay calm and focussed. Self-explanatory - we solve hard and ambiguous problems in team BD, and this requires the ability to stay focussed under pressure. Don’t worry if something you tried didn’t work - you should take stock and iterate on your strategy to win.

In the second part of the day, you will chat to our CEO and another member of GoCardless, usually someone from the engineering team. The chat will mainly focus on your motivations and we’ll be looking to ensure that you'd thrive here and share the same values as GoCardless.

After you’re done, we will get back to you very quickly; if you don’t hear from us, don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck and we look forward to meeting you!

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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