In this post, I will discuss my experience with Mercari from applying to getting the offer and what came after.
I applied to Mercari in February of this year. I found out about them through a job post emailed to me by ConnectJob (formerly TopCareer). I was on the lookout for a new job, though I was not searching for jobs in Japan specifically. However, what interested me in Mercari was that 1) they were a young and fast-growing company and 2) they appeared to be more progressive than other Japanese companies; they gave me the impression that they were trying to be like a Bay Area company. It didn't hurt that they had good benefits - their pay is significantly higher than the average new grad pay in Tokyo. Hence, I decided to apply to them on a whim.
After I submitted my resume on the TopCareer website, I received a response one day later with a link to a Codility coding test, to be completed before a certain date (about 2 weeks from receiving the email). Codility is a programming platform similar to Leetcode or Hackerrank. The coding test had 2 questions that could be completed in a number of languages (e.g. C++, Java, Python). I chose Python, as I find it the easiest to work with for coding tests. The first question was very simple and seemed like a warmup. The second question was a more difficult geometry question, which I am not a fan of, because I've never had to use geometry in day-to-day software engineering work. Rakuten also had a geometry coding problem when I applied to them; not sure if Japanese companies favor it, or if it was just a coincidence. Regardless, I completed both questions in time, and subsequently received an invitation to an interview.
Before the interview, I was given a 2-question essay assignment to complete, the topics relating to the C2C industry, which Mercari is in. I wrote about 1 page in total, and received positive feedback on it.
The next thing I did was to attend the pre-interview preparation session, which was held a day before the interview at a hotel downtown. A recruiter from TopCareer spoke to us about Mercari, what to expect for the interview, and how to prepare. It was about an hour in total. She specified that there was no dress code, which is pretty unusual for a Japanese company, and which I also took as a positive sign.
The interview itself was held in an office downtown the next day. We first sat through an info session on Mercari, which was presented by a HR staff member. We were told about things like Mercari's office, daily life in the company, and the possible teams we could join. After that, we had the actual interview. It was a 2-part thing where if you passed the first one, you would be invited back for the second one. Both interviews were one-on-one with engineers or engineering managers. My first interview was with an engineer who asked basic CS questions like the properties of a linked list and QuickSort. I was also asked about my existing work experience and what technologies I had worked with. Overall, it was a fairly simple interview.
I was given a call later and invited to do the second interview later in the day. This time, it was with an engineering manager and the interview was architecture-focused. I was asked about the architecture of the products at my existing job, and I was also asked questions like 'how would you improve Google Search?' This interview was harder for me as I did not have much architecture experience, but reading some system design interview primers helped (and I would recommend someone do the same for a tech interview).
I was informed the next day by my recruiter that I had passed the second interview, and was invited to do a third interview via Skype sometime in the next week, which was around the end of March. I told her that I would actually be in Tokyo during that period, and that we could have the interview in Mercari's office if they wanted. I ended up interviewing in Mercari's office with the frontend engineering manager. His first question was, "What did you learn about programming yesterday?", which threw me off because I was expecting something like "Tell me about yourself". I had been reading tech interview primers, so I answered with random factoids after blanking for a while. I then talked about the work I had done at my current job and what I wanted to achieve in terms of career growth. My interviewer was Japanese, so the interview was conducted with a member of Mercari's Global Operations Team, who serve as interpreters and resolve any communication issues. However, based on the 3 people who had interviewed me, Japanese employees at Mercari can speak at least some English, so we would not be totally reliant on interpreters. We ended the interview with me asking him some questions, such as about Mercari's tech stack.
That was the final interview, and about a week later I received an email from my recruiter stating that I had passed the interview. I have to credit Mercari's and my recruiter's quick response time throughout the process, as many companies would take weeks or even months to respond. From there, we moved to discussions about visa issues, when I could move, and so on.
A small note: I suspect the interview process will differ by country, so not everything mentioned above may be applicable to you. For example, I think India has an entirely separate recruitment system.
I hope this post has been useful to anyone applying to Mercari. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below.