Interview Process and Compensation at Cortex

At Cortex, our mission is to help engineers build better software at scale, with a single platform for organizing and operating their services. Our tools improve visibility and define best practices for engineering teams, and we believe in the power of a well-documented process. That’s why we’re openly sharing how we approach interviews and compensation at Cortex.


Interview Process

Unlike many companies, we don’t place a lot of weight on your resume. Instead, we like to take a holistic approach to the hiring process, allowing you to showcase your skills and personality. The interview process can vary depending on which role you’re applying for, but there are usually four steps:

Step 01

Recruiter Phone Screen

Step 02

Technical Screen

Step 03

Virtual Onsite Interview

Step 04


Recruiter Phone Screen

In the first step, you’ll chat with a member of our Talent team to learn more about Cortex, the team, and the role, as well as answer any questions you might have going into the interview process. This call is a great opportunity for you to highlight your experience, projects, and career aspirations

Technical Screen

The next step is to complete a technical screen, which is an hour-long video call with the hiring manager and a senior team member. In this call, we will evaluate two areas: role-related knowledge and technical skills.

First, you’ll have an opportunity to describe your past projects and work experience, with a focus on the challenges and the impact. Next, you’ll solve a live coding challenge in a programming language of your choice.

Virtual Onsite Interview

The final stage is a virtual onsite interview with our co-founders and the most senior members of the team. There will be two separate interviews, each lasting around one hour. The first interview focuses on product development and coding skills, and the second interview focuses on system design. We’ll also help answer any lingering questions you might have about working at Cortex!


We value you and your experience throughout the interview process. To be mindful of your timeline, we typically share results within 2–5 business days of your interview. Either way, you’ll hear back from us.


This is the most exciting part! A member of our Talent team will be in touch to go over Cortex’s compensation philosophy, perks and benefits, and what to expect in terms of the next steps.

Our three co-founders will personally congratulate and officially extend the offer to you. No startup offer is the same because of the differences in valuation and growth rate. It’s our responsibility to make sure you have a good understanding of the equity package and the company’s growth and trajectory so that you can make an informed decision. Of course, we welcome all of your questions!

After the offer call, you will have access to your offer portal called Complete. It is an interactive offer letter to ensure that every candidate understands the full value of their compensation, including salary, equity and benefits. In this remote-first world, we bring thoughtfulness and human elements to your offer delivery process by including team messages and photos, values, your compensation philosophy, and much more.


Compensation Philosophy

Our compensation philosophy is driven by the respect and appreciation we have for our teammates. Offering you a competitive salary and equity that accurately reflects the value you bring to the team is of the utmost importance to us.

Every company has a different compensation philosophy. It’s important to us to make sure that you thoroughly understand your offer and the thought process that led us to arrive at those numbers.

Principle 01

Market Rate Approach

We take a market rate approach to compensation, which means that our benchmarking is data-driven and relevant.

Data-Driven Benchmarking: Before making an offer, we use specialized compensation tools that are used by over 240 venture firms across the globe to give insights into the market rate for the job category, title, years of experience, and location. We use real-time and relevant benchmarking data to ensure we give you a competitive offer.

What do we mean by real-time data? Compensation is dynamic and can fluctuate quickly; it's not something that we set and forget. The data we rely on is updated every month, and we frequently review it and make adjustments accordingly, while ensuring our current employees receive equal pay.

Relevant Benchmarking: Data is only useful if we also put it into context. In addition to benchmarking across the market as a whole, we perform detailed benchmarking against other startups that are in a similar stage of growth. That way, we can understand what makes for a competitive cash and equity mix for all of the different job categories, given capital raised, revenue, and company valuation.

Principle 02

Top of the market pay

Compensation bands are typically broken up into three ranges: low, mid, and high. There's a misconception that the initial offer often starts at the low end of the band. That might be true at some companies, but it’s a matter of choice, not a rule. Every company gets to decide how they want to land within the compensation band when they present an offer.

We all have been on the other side of the equation where we got a low offer and we know how that feels. That’s why at Cortex, the initial offer starts at the high end of the compensation band. We value your talents and starting the offer on the high end is our way of conveying that message to you.

Compensation bands are also usually influenced by location, and typically broken up into two categories: premium market rate (locations that have a high cost of living) and non-premium market rate (locations that have a lower cost of living). With Cortex being a remote-first company, we don’t take location into account and automatically offer all of our employees and candidates a premium market rate. We believe in paying for your talent and not by cost of living.

Principle 03

Everyone is an owner

Your total compensation consists of two components: base salary and equity. We believe that our employees are also co-owners of the company, which is why equity plays a major role in your package. As our company grows, so does your equity.

Equity, like base salary, is benchmarked using the market rate approach described above. We have to take several factors into consideration such as the capital we’ve raised so far, our revenue, our valuation, and the current fundraising stage. Our New Hire Equity Grant has a four-year vesting schedule with a one-year cliff.

To make the equity even more employee-friendly, we extend your option expiration window if you’ve spent three years at Cortex. Most startup options expire within 90 days of leaving the company if they haven’t been exercised, leading to golden handcuffs for early employees who may want to move to a different company but cannot afford to do so due the value of their equity. At Cortex, once you’ve completed 3 years of tenure, you have 7 years after leaving the company to exercise your options – giving everyone full flexibility and freedom to make career choices that are best for them.

Principle 04

Commitment to Fair Pay

While it’s important to us to pay top of the market, it’s equally important for us to be fair to the current employees. We benchmark not only externally, but also internally to ensure pay parity.

At every round of fundraising, we re-evaluate and re-comp every employee to meet benchmarks for companies at the new stage. For example, when Cortex went from seed stage to Series A, we pulled benchmarks for Series A companies at our stage and every employee’s compensation was recalculated to meet the updated targets. This is extremely rare in the startup world, but we’re committed to building a compensation culture based on transparency, fairness, and respect for the people who make Cortex a success.

Curious about other perks and benefits outside of compensation?

Learn more on our careers page