I’ve been hiring engineers in some capacity for the past decade. Five years ago I founded interviewing.io, a technical recruiting marketplace that provides engineers with anonymous mock interviews and then fast-tracks top performers—regardless of who they are or how they look on paper—at top companies. We’ve hosted close to 100K technical interviews on our platform and have helped thousands of engineers find jobs. For the last year or so, we’ve also been running a Fellowship program specifically for engineers from underrepresented backgrounds. That’s all to say that even though I have developed some strong opinions about “diversity hiring” initiatives, my opinions are based not on anecdotes but on cold, hard data. And the data points …
I’ve been hiring engineers in some capacity for the past decade, and five years ago I founded interviewing.io, a technical recruiting marketplace that provides engineers with anonymous mock interviews and then fast-tracks top performers—regardless of who they are or how they look on paper—at top companies. We’ve hosted close to 100K technical interviews on our platform and have helped thousands of engineers find jobs. Since last year, we’ve also been running a Fellowship program specifically for engineers from underrepresented backgrounds. All that is to say that even though I have strong opinions about “diversity hiring” initiatives, I’ve acquired them the honest way, through laboratory experience.
Recently, someone asked us how you know you’re ready to succeed in a Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Netflix/Google (FAANG) interview. It’s an interesting question, and one I’m sure many of you job seekers out there are wondering. Internally, we have our own beliefs, but we wanted to see if we could answer this question more objectively. So we set off on a journey to acquire data to try answering it.
“The new VP wants us to double engineering’s headcount in the next six months. If we have a chance in hell to hit the hiring target, you seriously need to reconsider how fussy you’ve become.”
It’s never good to have a recruiter ask engineers to lower their hiring bar, but he had a point. It can take upwards of 100 engineering hours to hire a single candidate, and we had over 50 engineers to hire. Even with the majority of the team chipping in, engineers would often spend multiple hours a week in interviews. Folks began to complain about interview burnout. Also, fewer people were actually getting offers; the onsite pass rate had fallen by almost a third, from ~40% to under 30%. This meant we needed even more interviews for every hire. Visnu and I were early engineers bothered most by the state of our hiring process. We dug in. Within a few months, the onsite pass rate went back up, and interviewing burnout receded. We didn’t lower the hiring bar, though. There was a better way.
I recently conducted my 600th interview on interviewing.io (IIO). I’d like to share lessons learned, why I approach interviews the way that I do, and shed some light on common problem areas I see happen in technical interviews. Every interviewer on the platform is different, and so your results may vary. We have some excellent folks helping out on the platform, and have a wonderful community working to better ourselves.
What is the one thing you would look out for if you had to join a company? Sometime between January and February 2020, I wanted to change jobs and was looking to join a new company. This, among other reasons, led me to embark on a marathon of technical interviews – 60+ technical interviews in 30 days. Doing that many number of interviews in such a short time meant I had an interesting mix of experiences from the various companies I interviewed with, each with their unique culture and values that often reflected in the way their interviews were conducted, intentionally or not.
I started interviewing.io because I was frustrated with how inefficient and unfair hiring was and how much emphasis employers placed on resumes. But the problem is bigger than resumes. We’ve come to learn that interview practice matters just as much. The resume gets you in the door, and your interview performance is what gets you the offer. But, even though technical interviews are hard and scary for everyone — many of our users are senior engineers from FAANG who are terrified of getting back out there and code up the kinds of problems they don’t usually see at work while someone breathes down their neck — interview prep isn’t equitably distributed. This inequity never really …