My first six months as a Frontend Engineer at Zopa

I’m Tien, and I’ve spent the past six months working as a Frontend Engineer at Zopa. I’m here to give you a glimpse of my background, the interview process, and some highlights of my experience so far. Let’s jump right in!

My background

After working at a digital agency for about three years, I knew that a career change was vital in helping me grow and become better at doing the things I love. As a Frontend Engineer, I’ve always been fascinated with products and the technology behind them. That’s why I was determined to join a product-focused and technologically driven company.

I had never fully explored the fintech industry, but the amount of innovation and opportunities at Zopa caught my eye. So naturally, I chose Zopa as the place to explore my next career adventure.

The interview process

The interview process itself was a great representation of the culture at Zopa. It was straightforward, and the recruitment team did everything in their power to make my experience as convenient and smooth as possible.

In my first round, I had a friendly chat with a Senior Frontend Engineer. This round's goal is to get to know you better and give you more details about Zopa and the potential role. Before assessing your technical skills, what is important to the company is who you are and how well you resonate with the company values. Zopa puts people at its centre, and this is reflected both internally and externally.

After the initial conversation, I progressed to the next round which involved a technical task. I found the instructions very straightforward and open-ended – they weren’t designed to trick you or catch you out. The main purpose of this test is to see how comfortable you are with programming and translating requirements into code.

After passing the technical task, I moved on to a series of final interviews. Zopa did their best to accommodate my schedule – I could choose to have all the interviews in one afternoon or each interview on a different day. In the first interview of this round, I had another informal chat with a Senior Frontend Engineer and a few members of the design team. This chat is to see how well you can integrate into and collaborate with different teams. Since every project here involves multiple stakeholders, being able to work effectively with others is crucial.

I then had a pair programming interview, where the interviewer asked me to solve a technical problem to get a better sense of my technical capabilities. I explained my understanding of the problem, the approach I’d take and why, their pros and cons, and the trade-offs I made.

Pair programming might seem stressful, but try to think of it as a collaborative exercise and your interviewer as a coworker. Communicate the thought process behind your decisions. Voice your concerns and ask clarifying questions. Don't hesitate to push back on things you disagree with, but do it with logical reasoning and empathy. Accept constructive criticism gracefully. Learn and adapt as you go.

The last step was a chat with the VP of Engineering. This helped me gain insights into Zopa from a leadership perspective.

One important thing that I did throughout the whole interview process was to ask all of my interviewers if Zopa is more like a traditional bank or a tech company. Everyone said the culture here mirrors a tech company that focuses on technical excellence and nurturing an environment where talented engineers can thrive. It was also one of the reasons why I decided to join Zopa.

Highlights of my first six months at Zopa

Learning by doing

The great thing about Zopa is that even though the company has been around for more than 16 years, the culture still resembles more of a startup. In fact, we’re a new digital bank, with over 16 years worth of experience as a peer-to-peer lender.

The old-fashioned approach that involves lengthy, passive, and borderline boring onboarding sessions is not what you’d experience here. In contrast, Zopa embraces the “learn as you go” mindset and is also committed to fostering a developer-centric environment that encourages learning and growth.

I was embedded within my team and was able to jump right into a project from day one. I found this hands-on, hit-the-ground-running approach refreshing and stimulating. That being said, this doesn’t mean that people expect you to be good at everything from the start. Every Zopian I’ve met is supportive and eager to help me get up to speed with my role.

As things move fast and constantly change around here, there are always new projects to tackle and opportunities to learn and excel. I got to deploy my first changes to production during my first week here! If you embrace new challenges, enjoy thinking on your feet, and are comfortable adapting to changes, I’m confident you’ll thrive here.

Cross-functional teams

The product teams at Zopa are cross-functional teams consisting of product managers, UX designers, frontend and backend engineers. Each team is responsible for a specific product. In addition, there are functional teams formed of members with the same role. For example, I’m part of the Auto team that builds our car finance products and the wider frontend engineering community, which contributes to defining the FE Engineering chapter adopted across the whole company.

This team structure is actually a sensible arrangement that offers several key benefits:

  • You’re involved in the ideation, creation, and launch of a product and can see its evolution over time.

  • You get to work closely with different stakeholders across the company, which helps broaden your perspective and encourages creative problem-solving.

  • We have a central design system that serves as a standard guideline for designing and implementing our products. As part of the frontend engineering team, we work together to improve our tech stack, maintain our component library, and enhance accessibility across our products. This design system promotes knowledge sharing and provides the necessary resources to ensure consistent and quality work.

  • You have the opportunity to contribute to initiatives that impact the entire engineering community at Zopa.

Ownership & growth opportunity

As you progress in your career, it’s natural to expect that your next role will give you something that your old job didn’t offer and open new doors and opportunities to take your skills to the next level.

As a frontend engineer on our car finance products, I get to own and drive (pun intended!) many projects and initiatives, which has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Besides solving interesting technical problems and learning new technologies to keep up with the fast pace of innovation, I’ve also been able to explore and grow in other areas such as product planning.

Want to join us?

We are always on the lookout for talented people to join Zopa and help us build financial products that work better for our customers. If what I’ve shared here resonates with you, check out our open roles and come work with us!

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