The interviewing.io platform has hosted and collected feedback from over 100K technical interviews, split between mock interviews and real ones. It’s generally accepted that to pass a technical interview, you have to not only come up with a solution to the problem (or at least make good headway), but you also have to do a good job of articulating your thoughts, explaining to your interviewer what you’re doing as you’re doing it, and coherently discussing tradeoffs and concepts like time and space complexity. But how important is communication in technical interviews, really? We looked at the data, and it turns out that talk is cheap. Read on to find out how and why.
“Hamtips” stands for “Hiring Manager Technical Phone Screen.” This combines two calls: the Technical Phone Screen (TPS), which is a coding exercise that usually happens before the onsite, and the HMS call, which is a call with the Hiring Manager. By combining these two steps you shorten the intro-to-offer by ~1 week and reduce candidate dropoff by 5-10%. It’s also a lot less work for recruiters playing scheduling battleship. Finally, Hiring Managers will, on average, be better at selling working at the company – it’s kind of their job.
“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.