Applying for a Ruby developer role at FutureLearn

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Steve Brewer
Over 1 year ago
I've had some questions lately about the Ruby developer vacancies at FutureLearn, so I thought I'd share my advice about applying.

Are we a match?

How well you match culturally with a company is one of the first things anyone should look at when deciding whether to apply to work there. The three paragraphs at the top of my CV were really important in the decision to Skype interview me. I wrote them before I'd heard of FutureLearn and they're a culmination of my experience studying child development and working with children with challenging behaviour in primary schools.

I actually sent FutureLearn a second CV a couple of weeks after applying without those paragraphs that was more focused on programming. I thought I was making it more ‘developer related’, but had actually self-censored my authentic self right out of my CV! My colleague told me that was her favourite part of my CV.

People first

By coincidence, what I wrote aligns well with FutureLearn's culture. FutureLearn is highly patient, positive and nurturing of its people, and adopts an employee focussed approach to self-development and CPD, as well as to product ideas and workflow. Management more often signal their intent, then let us decide how we'll get there, offering support if we ask for it. We don't get things signed off, we ask for support if we have doubts about what we're doing.

This creates such an engaging environment for working and learning that really does allow us to shine as individuals, and the level of autonomy is so motivating.

In terms of goals, our line managers support us to choose our own goals and they're about being the best version of ourselves rather than aligning with corporate goals.

My advice to anyone applying would be to figure out what resonates with you about FutureLearn. If it doesn't resonate, obviously this isn't the place for you, but if it does then identify why it does. Match aspects of our culture to your own values, life experience, goals and passions using concrete examples where possible, and you'll stand out for authentically aligning with our values.

What's it like working at FutureLearn?

It's a fantastic place for all developers, but it shines for the way it treats juniors. The first three months are considered on-boarding, you're given a mentor and there's no pressure on you to get product work done, the most important thing is your learning and understanding of the platform. Most of your first three months will be pairing with a supportive developer. We’re excellent at doing this, my time here has been an absolute dream.

Enthusiasm to learn matters more than experience, as well as open-mindedness and honesty about what you know and don't know, as being comfortable when you don't know something makes it so much easier to learn.

Test/behaviour driven development, agile, user-led UX, telling stories with your commits, the desire to keep bugs to a minimum and progressive enhancement to maximise accessibility are all things we prioritise.

In terms of diversity, this is absolutely the loveliest place to work and we’re one of the fairest recruiters I've ever seen. We redact CVs to reduce bias. My colleage Mal has written an excellent post on her role as a Ruby developer at FutureLearn.

The Interview

The interview process itself is relaxed, I felt completely at ease and as a result, they got to see my authentic, happy self. My interview was a half-day, but it went by super fast, and it came in three parts.


I paired with a developer for an hour and was asked to build a page. I was free to ask questions, Google anything I needed to. I was open, explained clearly and concisely what I was doing and made sure he agreed and if he had doubts I asked and remained open-minded throughout.

Technical Interview

This was a 20 minute interview with two more devs. Having a portfolio to show them so they could ask questions helped as it allowed them to tailor their questions more and find out more about me. They let me run through three simple projects I'd made and my best Code Wars challenges I'd solved in the past. They had questions throughout and I answered them honestly, including one I didn't know the answer to. When asked what would happen if Javascript wasn't enabled on my site, I said it wouldn't work and hadn't thought of that but I'd look into it.

Product Interview

Finally there was a 20 minute non-technical interview with a product manager and a designer. This is where I swapped my developer hat for my social hat. The questions were more about things I'd seen or read recently I found interesting and questions relating to my past work experience they found interesting, like my work with children. I talked about some books I’d read and loved, like Power of Habit, Presence and Creativity Inc, two of those turned out to be on our bookshelf and Creativity inc is popular at FutureLearn. 

If you have any questions, get in touch 🙂





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