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Living by the Code

Before You Begin

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Getting to Work

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33. An Interview with Israel Ferrer Camacho
Written by Enrique López-Mañas

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_Israel Ferrer Camacho was born in Barcelona and studied Computer Science at Lasalle University Barcelona. The last year of university, he dropped out to co-found with Luis Moreno, where he was in charge of technology. At the same time he and other tech enthusiasts started the GTUG in Barcelona, the Google Technology User Group, which later was renamed to GDG. In 2012, he moved to San Francisco where he started to work for Lookout, a mobile security company, working as an engineer in the security team. From 2014 to 2018, he worked at Twitter as an engineer and contributed in a wide variety of projects in the Fabric team, Twitter for Android and Periscope. In 2018, he moved to Tokyo to work for Mercari as an Android engineer leading the project to scale a five-year-old codebase which would allow for faster development. Currently, he is working at Line corporation in Tokyo. Currently, he is working as a Software Engineer for Dropbox in New York City, US.

Connect with Israel

Twitter: @rallat


What are you reading or listening to these days?

I listen to a lot of podcasts about politics, economics and history. I can recommend several. The New York Times The Daily podcast with Michael Barbaro is in my favorites podcast to listen every morning. The NPR Politics podcast is really good, but really any NPR podcast about any topic is always a pleasure and really valuable to listen. One of my favorite podcasts about history is called Stuff You Missed in History Class; the podcast does research about history and not only from the U.S. For example, one episode was about the Spanish dictator Franco. I learned more in that podcast than I had learned about it in school. Right now, I am temporarily living in Japan, so I’m trying to pick up the language by listening to Japanese podcasts News in Slow Japanese.

You’ve relocated from Spain to the United States to Japan. What were these transitions like?

I’m from Spain, and I lived there for 27 years. Before I left Spain, I started a company as a co-founder with Luis Moreno, @carthesian on Twitter. We were building a modern app store back in 2009. At that time, the App Store was terrible. You needed an expert to help you find the best app. Mostly, you were downloading apps that didn’t work well. We were trying to fix that problem, by recommending the best apps for the type of user profile and location. At the same time, that experience led Luis and me to meet people in Silicon Valley, through those people and after we shut down our company, I landed a job in San Francisco at Lookout.

Of all the interview paradigms, what do you think is the best way to interview software engineers?

It’s difficult to objectively know whether an engineer is good or not. Therefore, the team needs to optimize the process to minimize false positives and investing a fair amount of time for each candidate process. Nowadays, in the industry, there are a few standard ways to determine if a candidate is talented: the whiteboard algorithm or a tech assignment with a real domain-specific problem. In my opinion, the whiteboard algorithm interview will produce many false negatives because it doesn’t weigh the experience of the candidate. However, everyone who has worked with an experienced engineer knows that they are key players that help to avoid making the same mistakes, to be able to scale systems or ship robust products. Personally, I prefer a hybrid model of interviews that have domain-specific problems, behavioral questions and an algorithmic question that don’t require knowing an obscure or specific technique.

Israel’s Recommendations

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