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Ask HN: Failed interview, feeling unemployable and depressed – what do I do?
377 points by deathbysw123 on Aug 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 234 comments
I work at one of the "Big 4" tech companies and haven't been satisfied for a while. Did an interview with another "Big 4" company and failed hard.

I've been feeling extremely anxious about work. I don't feel well in my current team because everyone is smarter than me and I think no one likes me (people forget to invite me to meetings, I'm not invited to outside events, etc.). Every pull request I submit gets a load of criticism. I don't feel valuable to the team.

The first thing I thought is that my attitude is bad. But this can't be - I've heard from multiple people that I'm the nicest and most patient person they've ever met. In fact, my manager has criticized me more than once for being "too nice" i.e. that I should stand my ground more, or push people for things I depend on from them.

I wanted to jump ship and find an opportunity I might feel more passionate about. Found said opportunity but failed hard in most of the interview puzzles.

I'm feeling lost. I feel that 1) I'll be forever with the current company and 2) if I'm ever laid off, I'll never get a job again because I can't solve the puzzles.

Interview puzzles are so hit-or-miss. No matter how many of them I solve, I always stutter when I'm faced with a new one. If the problem is new, it either "clicks" right away or I bomb the interview. No middle ground.

My thoughts are descending into the darkest reaches. Death doesn't seem so bad anymore. Then I don't have to think about all this.

I don't know where I went wrong. I used to be intelligent. I used to be liked by my teams. I used to be good at puzzles.

Now I'm dumb and worthless.

I don't have the option to stop working for a while. I have the savings for it, but it's unacceptable to my wife.

I don't know what to do.

I worked for a "big 4" (Google) for many years, and now I lead the engineering team at a startup. I've interviewed many hundreds of people. And I've "been there" in anxiety about interviewing for something new.

Let me make you a deal: call me up and I'll interview you, no "puzzles". Except instead of this being about a job with me, I'll give you feedback from the interview and any advice I can. You can reach me at mikey@ (domain in my profile).

(Depression signs are another matter; others have given some good advice there.)

Happy to do the same. Been through similar feelings, including the spiral of self-doubt and constant failure.

Maybe my experience can give you another point of view or some ideas on figuring out what's next.

Happy to be a sounding board if you're looking more for that.

My email is in my profile.

I've taken and given a fair number of engineering interviews myself (though not quite hundreds) and am willing to echo this offer. My email is in my profile. I'm happy to lend an ear on other issues if you want, I've been to some dark places myself and could offer some perspective.

Just want to acknowledge how productive/awesome this response is to a very vulnerable HN post.

Thanks! Can't edit my post, but didn't expect such a positive response, really cool to see others offering an ear as well.

OP's got a _lot_ going on here: fear of being stuck at a prestigious company; team/interpersonal struggles; the feeling of vulnerability from bombing an interview (which was also "the one" opportunity); possibly burnout; and the potentially very serious signs of depression. Thought I'd try to take a chance at demystifying some of the demons I know better, I'd probably learn a bit too.

Whether or not he or she reaches out, there are a lot of other great responses here, and I hope OP can at least feel less alone.

This is awesome! I too have been there, feeling unemployable, anxious, etc.

That said, I got past it, just as OP will.

I'm willing to do the same. Email in profile.

When I pull it up, your profile looks blank.

Weird! nik DOT harris0 AT gmail.com

Excellent gesture, excellent thought, worth replicating like others have.

OP - I'm also happy to do a mock interview for free. Feel free to reach out (info in the profile), whenever you feel ready. [Disclaimer: I run a for-profit in the space, but we're all humans first]

This is, aside from a great gesture, a super pragmatic and efficient way to help someone (engineer style). You've made my morning happier.

What a lovely gesture!

You're a good man. A very, very good man.

Hey, OP.

Impostor syndrome sucks. Everyone has it. This industry is a bunch of nerds (and this part is not pejorative, I am one) who spent most of their lives being identified by how smart they were and they are culturally incentivized (and this one is pejorative, because tech culture is trash, but it's not your fault unless you perpetuate it, so don't!) to be desperate to win the approval of their peers by how bulging their foreheads are. You will not, statistically, win enough of these nerd fights to be Lord High Nerd Of All You Survey. You will feel dumb, you will feel clueless. And so does every person around you, including the prick who's sneering so you feel worse than he does. I am not intending to be dismissive of how you feel, because I've been there. But I have learned that there are much more important things to worry about than "oh noes, not all of the biggest tech companies don't think I'm A-1 and the stunted people around me kinda suck." You will, I promise, be fine.

You can change the game. I embrace not knowing stuff, and I'm a consultant so I'm supposed to be all-knowing. Clients blink in surprise (and appreciate) when I say "I have no idea about that." I just go find the answer. Because I'm not dumb. Neither are you.

I have a 33% offer rate (3 for 9) when talking to GooAppFaceTwitrosoft. I rejected those three offers. And it's funny, right? When I wanted them, they didn't want me. When they wanted me, I realized I didn't want them. But you're inside, at one of the big companies, right? I would hope that you know the game: if you keep applying to these places, if you keep trying, you will eventually get an offer. And if you know the game, you should be able to find the perspective to laugh it off. But I'd bet money you probably don't really want one, at least for the reasons you state.

(edit: So I skated over the "death doesn't seem so bad" thing on first read, and that's red-flaggish. I am not going to flap my hands about depression, because I not a head doctor and don't even pretend to be one. But you should talk to someone, 'cause if your brain chemistry tends toward dark places it's worth getting checked out, and the advice regarding the Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you're feeling really bad is great advice. But, for serious: you will be okay if you give yourself a chance to be. Nothing in tech is worth breaking yourself over.)

This is excellent advice, I'd like to emphasize one point that gets missed a lot, change the game.

The basis for the negativity here is a "score" which you, the OP, have scored in a way that makes you feel like a loser. Try not to get suckered into that. It is really hard to do but write down all of the things you aspire to. It can be trivia knowledge it can be computer languages known, it can be chemical constants memorized it can be states capitals. Doesn't matter what but it has to be honest and come from inside you.

You might say, "I want to be a valued employee." (a bit self serving but its an example). Now you need want to find out an objective way to evaluate your value. Talk to your boss, talk to your peers, talk to others. Ask them what do they consider valuable in employees. Collect all of that data and write it down, now rank it based on your internal values. What do you consider makes you a valuable employee. If there are things that aren't on the list write those down. Do one last checked with your boss and peers about what you think the top 10 things are that make someone valuable to see how close you are to consensus. Now for each of the things on your list, write down three things; first a way that value is demonstrated, second a way that value is diminished, and third an activity that you can practice that will contribute positively to that value.

It may seem like a crazy thing to spend your time on but the key is that you will have turned a fuzzy thing into something that can guide your actions. And if you ever want to know if you're valuable you can go through the list and see the things you've done to contribute to your value. And when you're thinking about what to get done you can prioritize by your value structure. This is basically a away for you to convert an implicit (and ever changing) score, into an explicit and measurable thing.

> Talk to your boss, talk to your peers, talk to others. Ask them what do they consider valuable in employees.

What they will answer though is likely not going to be what they respond to - the answer might be 'diligent and focused' (which is already completely hollow and ambiguous to begin with) while the truth is 'similarity to myself'.

Absolutely brilliant advice. Sort off in the same boat as OP (though not so much on the depression front), but I am going to give this a shot; write down things that specifically make me feel valuable in a company and see if the list aligns with what my company/boss thinks.


are culturally incentivized (...) to be desperate to win the approval of their peers by how bulging their foreheads are

While I largely agree with your main thrust, I must take issue with this. Many of us (older generation perhaps?) were culturally incentivized to not exhibit any of our nerdiness, and were ostracized or worse for doing so. Many of us developed a "dumber" external persona and explicitly avoided demonstrating cognitive excellence specifically because of negative social incentives regarding being a nerd.

Amongst non-nerds, I totally agree; lots of people slow-play it (and so do I) in polite company. But nerd among nerds? This may be true for you specifically, but early in my career I regularly got stomped by the old heads for reasons that in retrospect really do seem like "this might be different and I don't know it therefore CHARGE!". And today I am often constrained to shave a graybeard when I go talk to a new prospective client or whatever when said graybeard wants to you-don't-know-Jack me.

Me, I'd think we would be better than moose, butting heads to prove our dominance, but...not always?

Things are changing a bit in the industry, but programming teams have historically been wolf packs. You have the alpha dominant one that withstands the challenges of the young up and coming pups. Sometimes the alpha needs to nip their heels to get them in line.

This shape can work well if you have a good alpha. It provides direction and confidence in the team. It can be a great antidote to team staffed entirely with prima donnas. When done well, it actually provides a safe place for people to learn and experiment because the alpha is the only one that takes political risks. On more democratic teams I've seen many junior/intermediate developers absolutely melt down when they suddenly discover that they aren't as good as they thought they were.

I thought this was an interesting set of anecdotes about dog roles: http://www.massachusettsdogtrainer.com/page11.php

Even amongst your peers? In the inner circle? You don't have the urge to stomp-a-nerd that encroaches on your territory?

Maybe you don't personally, but I'm positive this sentiment exists from others in your generation.

I certainly don't, although I'm but a single datapoint.

I'll fight hard for my ideas, but not at the cost of missing what other people have to say. I'm reasonably old (nearing 50), I've been coding professionally since before college, and have a reasonably good head on my shoulders.

But so do other people, and ignoring what they're saying, or dismissing it because I'm not saying it, is a lost opportunity. Even if that opportunity ends up cementing my owb belief. I owe it to them, and more selfishly, to myself, to consider the possibility I'm wrong.

(A verrrrrrry remote possibility, but ya' never know ;)

This is some seriously amazing advice and you're an excellent writer. Thanks for sharing - you gave the OP a perfect answer!!

Not everyone has it (I don't)

If you can't get out of your dark thoughts, seek help, talk to a friend, find a mentor. There is no shame in asking for help. Don't struggle alone. If you need someone to talk to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or see http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Check out the book Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller, it helped me out and put the importance of my day job into perspective, in the big picture of life. There are so many reasons besides work to be alive.

You may face the same doubts in your new job. You may be on a toxic team, or your judgement may be clouded by depression. If it is really a toxic team, keep interviewing quietly, you will get better each time. Interviewing is a skill and like any other you can get better at it. Be realistic though that the new job may not immediately fix your problems, but still some change might help you get you out of your rut.

This will pass. You are worthy of all the goodness that life has to offer.

>>I don't know where I went wrong. I used to be >>intelligent. I used to be liked by my teams. I >>used to be good at puzzles.

>>Now I'm dumb and worthless.

I would like to address this part only.

I used to work for a startup where conditions got worse and bosses got greedy to the point of increasing our commute time by 1.5 hours and reducing our paychecks using new tax cuts as an excuse.

During the time I was there, I was the "rockstar programmer", the "super-committer", the "feynmann of scheduling algorithms" and as soon as I quit, I was the shameful person of broken promises and worst coder ever in history.

Months later I was still told that former employers were saying things like "fixing code he wrote" and "cleaning up his mess" from a few collegues and friends. Since I know for a fact that I was a valued employee one day and worse than dirt the next day, I don't blame myself for this change. Neither should you.

You are the constant. Your intelligence did not change. Your character did not change. You are just responding to a new environment. It seems your surroundings changed considerably and some adaptation is required. I suggest you figure out what changed and how to adapt. It requires some work, some persistence, some challenges may lie ahead, but it is nothing to despair about.

Your image among others is a fleeting social construct prone to change with just a few words, just a few jobs completed, just a few successes.

You have classic signs of depression. Perhaps major depression.

The worst part of depression is that it clouds normal thought processes. That's probably why you can't perform as you once did.

Find a way to see a psychiatrist you feel comfortable around. Go with a family or friend if that helps get you over the hump.

So many high achievers I know go through this. You're not alone, and with proper help you'll get through it, and be stronger too.

Go see your doctor. If you have to, have a friend take you. Personally, I called my pastor and he threatened to come pick me up and drive me down there personally (he meant it in a good way). Do whatever it takes to get in there.

Get the meds. Take them, if prescribed. They won't fix the problem, but they can help you thru the worst of it until things become a bit easier to deal with. I wound up weaning myself off of them (I don't recommend that, btw). For some people, they are long-term, but personally, I found it to be a bit too long-term.

The biggest thing, and the hardest, is to be honest with your friends about it. I've told friends I have problems with depression. Turns out, another friend of mine does, too, and we try to help keep the other on an even-er keel. I told my boss and my relatives. They know that if they don't hear from me in a while, to come over and kick in the door or do what's necessary to drag me out into the light.

Know this: you're going to have bad days and worse days and some good days. Pay attention and you'll be able to recognize them for what they are and when you need help.

But get help. I've had to deal with everything from being unable to leave the house or turn on a light to irrational exuberance, on top of a couple of other medical issues. I'm nowhere near cured, but I'm not down in a hole anymore.

It's survivable and your life doesn't have to suck.

All great advice. I'm guessing that was some damn hard won wisdom that took years to acquire. Hopefully it will be easier for the OP.

That was three years ago. It ain't over yet. It's better - I'm making some changes to my life that will go a ways toward fixing some of the enabling issues. But it's still a long haul to being free of depression, and I suspect I may never be totally free, just better able to deal with it.

> The worst part of depression is that it clouds normal thought processes. That's probably why you can't perform as you once did.

Can attest. Can absolutely attest to this.

Ken White is an (arguably) highly successful lawyer(partner in his own firm, happily married with two children, etc), who runs the law blog popehat.com. He has been diagnosed with major depression, and a lot of people have said his posts on it have really helped them re-evaluate their position: https://popehat.com/tag/depression/

> Find a way to see a psychiatrist you feel comfortable around.

For some reason there can be a stigma around that profession but PLEASE don't let that deter you, as it will be tremendously helpful. They can help you see your true self when things seem cloudy.

On top of that, I'd keep trying until you find someone you click with. A lot of people get discouraged when the first doctor or counselor they speak with isn't a good fit.

Definitely. It took me a few. In particular, I needed to find somebody with a good personality match who was also smart enough to keep up with me and experienced enough to spot my bullshit and call me on it in a productive way.

And a note to deathbysw123: I too really recommend finding a therapist. I used to think that if I was smart enough I could figure this stuff out on my own, and that pride kept me from getting help. But a therapist has two advantages: they have seen a zillion people, and so have raw data for pattern-finding that you don't, and they are outside your skull, giving them a perspective you can't have.

This is true. There are a lot of terrible therapists and psychiatrists around, and it's hard to know how to choose. Also they are different. Therapists talk, psychiatrists give pills, and they should both rather have both tools for using either or or both as necessary. And Therapists have lots of different wys of operating too. Ask around of recommendations, and don't give up. Get a best friend to help you ehre, in case you feel it's too much. Good luck, there's loads of great advice here.

There can also be a discomfort around psychiatrists and prescriptions. It's also worth mentioning that there are many other mental health professionals and services which do not prescribe pharmaceuticals and provide many other mental health services.

People always say to get help but how specifically do you find a psychiatrist/therapist? Try them at random from yelp/yellow pages?

Go to Castle Connolly and search on Psychiatry in your area. This is a curated service that identifies the best doctors in any specialty; I've used it many times for myself and family members and always been happy with their recommendations.


There is a small fee, although you can still see the doctor's name and location without joining.

I found mine from a referral through an email to the author of an article on Psychology Today about issues similar to what I was going through, describing the kind of qualities I was looking for (specifically, I asked if they knew someone who'd be able to understand when I use movie and TV analogies to describe how I'm feeling).

The author must have forwarded my email to a colleague (who may have, in turn, forwarded it to further links in a chain - all the intermediary addresses were duly absent from the final referral I got, as should be expected from professionals), because soon after, I got a response from a new contact, referring me to a therapist who turned out to be a good fit.

Looking for a therapist can really suck (I'd had somewhere around eight months of trying at least five different bad-fit therapists before I tried the random-midnight-email approach above), so I figured I'd mention the approach that actually ended up working for me.

My health insurance had a list of people in the network but yeah. For a therapist you both need to be on the same page so you need to see who you click with. i saw one that just made me feel worst about my self. I just stopped going and tried someone different,eventually gave up on therapists... Psychiatrist is a little easier since they're all legit doctors, mds,or I got lucky. Although people like to talk about how mental health related drugs are over prescribed so i guess there's enough crappy ones. they're their to prescribe and make sure you don't get worse. its a simpler relationship, like the doctor you see when your leg breaks or a dentist.

I went through similar experiences and my ultimate conclusion was that the problem was those sorts of cultures, not me. There are many, many other employers than the "Big 4" and a correspondingly large variety of cultures. It is not a sign of strength or brilliance to be able to pass arbitrary (and they are arbitrary) hazing rituals.

You are not dumb or worthless for being unable to snap solve BS programming or algorithm puzzles.

Find a place, a team and role that is deserving of you.

Keep in mind too, that despite the propaganda, none of the "Big 4" does anything really to better the world.

"My thoughts are descending into the darkest reaches. Death doesn't seem so bad anymore. Then I don't have to think about all this."

First of all, get some help if you need it. Your number one priority is your mental health. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Therapists can help with depression, as can medication. I've had chronic issues with depression and the number one thing that helps me is making sure I walk 2 miles a day on the treadmill. Makes a world of difference.

Secondly, and I can say this because I've been on both sides of the interview process many times - interviews are a crapshoot to a large degree. If you take enough of them, then you will definitely get a job. If you take just one, any number of insane reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you could have prevented them from giving you an offer.

I've never worked at a "Big 4" company but if your expectation is that you will pass every interview you ever take for one of these companies, then you definitely have extremely high(unrealistic? maybe impossible?) standards for yourself.

Please be safe, take a little time off, do some exercise, talk to a professional, and try to reset. hugs

So the way you feel about interview puzzles is how most people feel about them. It's -stupidly- rare for people to 'figure out' the question in an interview; even those who appear to are just dredging it up from having seen it somewhere. A lot of those style questions are things that took someone weeks to figure out originally, and while we may be better equipped than they were, and so able to figure them out faster now, they were doing it in the comfort of their own homes, not in an interview. You're not dumb, you're just being compared against people who handle interviews better, and those who have seen the problem before.

Keep looking. Seriously. There are a LOT of jobs out there for technical people. You found -one- opportunity; maybe it would have panned out, maybe it wouldn't have. But it sounds like you're limiting where you look, if you were going to go from one Big 4 company to another. Talk with your wife; maybe you want to go to another state? Maybe take something remote? There are a lot of possibilities to explore. Many interviews may lead to failure, but others may lead to an offer.

Talk to your wife about how you're feeling, too.

> It's -stupidly- rare for people to 'figure out' the question in an interview

...really? I've heard of people failing interviews at the Big4 because they solved the problem, but did it sub optimally.

Generally people are looking for a preferred solution, solving the problem, but not in the preferred way is usually not enough.

This isn't good or anything (though, sometimes there's the really obvious super slow way, and its appropriate to ask for something better), its just the way it is.

This is especially pronounced with junior interviewers, I've gotten dinged for missing capitalization on one variable in an otherwise flawless exercise.

Most interviewers at these company, especially those with little empathy or training, are looking to rule you out, and are looking to find a problem with whatever it is you do. Sometimes they tell themselves that its because they want to keep a high bar, but its usually just so they can feel better than someone else, they aren't good at judging problem solving ability, only that you arrived at the solution that they had in mind.

I've had offers from the Big 4, and I've totally bombed interviews with them too. I prepared a lot before hand, and its mostly just luck of the draw, if I get a set of coding questions I've seen before, or is similar to what I've seen, I pass, if I don't, I don't. I'm the same engineer either way.

I wish a lot of people in our industry would quit with the alpha nerd crap, you aren't that important, and you're pissing on people that could help you build your project. I think its egged on by the "A players all the time" mantra at large tech organizations, so when you take insecure nerds, and puff their egos up, this is what you get.

> so when you take insecure nerds, and puff their egos up, this is what you get.

Gold right there.

Strawmen are yellow, not gold.

>Most interviewers at these company, especially those with little empathy or training, are looking to rule you out, and are looking to find a problem with whatever it is you do

I disagree with this. Although technically there is an infinite list of wrong moves, interviewers have a list of "right" moves that people do that they keep track of that demonstrate the interviewee's abilitie

Amen. I would give you gold if we were on Reddit.


Beware of attempting to extract patterns from self-reported in-person interview failures. Most people who fail at the BigCo interviews I'm familiar with are getting bad reviews for:

poor communication, not making sure they understand the problem, not testing their solution, not being willing or able to explain their thought process, being unable to answer "I don't know" when pressed.

Occasionally there's someone who claims to know something and very clearly doesn't.

Phone screens generally filter out most of the people who know no data structures or algorithms.

Of course, every hiring process is different, so there's some variation within and across companies, but I think a lot of geeks think they screwed up the tech when they really screwed up the communication.

'Poor communication' is even more code word for arbitrary bs, just HR type bs instead of aplha nerd type bs.

And I'm not bitter honest! I just resent having to communicate with idiots.

not making sure they understand the problem

What time is there to "understand the problem" when someone (or perhaps a group of people) you've never met are starting you, and expecting nothing short of a lightening-quick flash of brilliance?

I really wish that there was some statistics out there that supported your claim. It would make the interview process seem a lot more sane.

I don't think your anecdotal 2nd hand experience is at odds with lostcolony's point at all.

As much as people say they don't care about the answer and suboptimal is okay, generally it isn't, there's very often a very specific answer they want you to arrive at or you are some version of wrong; so the interview is either failed or succeeds on whether or not the interviewee has seen this problem (or one close enough to be virtually indistinguishable from it) before and can remember how to monkey dance through the steps of it again. So a suboptimal answer ends up being approximately the same as a wrong answer which fits into lostcolony's narrative perfectly well.

So basically you have a few different types of possible interview outcomes with these puzzle-interviews:

#1 Candidate who isn't a good fit (lacks experience, maybe just plain not that bright) fails because he or she is just not a good logical thinker and thus not a very good programmer.

#2 Candidate who is a good fit (has plenty of experience and practical programming knowledge) fails because social anxiety kicks in when confronted with a puzzle they don't recognize at first glance, making it difficult to figure out a solution that they may very well be able to knock out in 15 minutes if they were sitting at home with Google, some books, and nobody (who has important fate deciding power over them) looking over their shoulder.

#3 Candidate who is a good fit who recognizes the problem from having seen it and worked through it before, "solves" it, maybe even solves it in a suboptimal way at first in order to avoid looking like they knew the solution all along because they saw it yesterday on some interview quiz website, then busts out the optimal solution as if it came fully formed from their glorious brain box.

I've been both #2 and #3 plenty of times each and know lots of others in the field who will admit to being both of those people at different times and different places in different interviews. Occasionally you can be a partial #2 and still make it through and get an offer because you already had a bias working in your favor (recommended by someone the interviewer trusts), so the interviewer can start to believe the claptrap that the process is important and not the answer. But with no such bias working in your favor, you're done for!

I'll accept there may be a #4, super genius who can really figure all of these puzzles out on the fly from first principles, but that's like a 0.001%er and even if they exist, it is ridiculous that people are looking for that person to write code for their relatively straightforward CRUD app or social media webwhozit thing.

Ultimately, IMO, the whole system is fucking stupid and everyone who isn't a complete jackass realizes it but nothing ever really gets done to fix it on a systemic level.

As much as people say they don't care about the answer and suboptimal is okay, generally it isn't, there's very often a very specific answer they want you to arrive at or you are some version of wrong; so the interview is either failed or succeeds on whether or not the interviewee has seen this problem (or one close enough to be virtually indistinguishable from it) before and can remember how to monkey dance through the steps of it again.

Which is ironic, because most (if not nearly all) real-world problems are never solved optimally on the first go -- but rather via a succession of approximations (many of them wrong, and requiring partial or full retreats).

> It's -stupidly- rare for people to 'figure out' the question in an interview; even those who appear to are just dredging it up from having seen it somewhere.

Isn't the point of those questions more to evaluate your problem solving skills (coming from someone who has never been up against those questions), and not to determine if you can actually solve the problem, but how you're able to justify your answer?

Allegedly, yes. But the person who has seen it before is able to arrive at an answer, have it be ideal, and justify it, a lot more readily than someone who has never seen it before. That's what the OP was even saying; if he's seen it before he does fine, if he hasn't he struggles and freezes up. That describes a LOT of people. It's also why I tend to interview with trivial questions, things that algorithmically have no trick at all to them (or we give them the algorithm).

In theory, but many if not most interviewers will ding you for getting them wrong anyways.

Just want to chime in and say you're not alone. I am miserable at Google and have found the biggest lie Google recruiters tell people is that internal transfers are easy. I got "exceeds expectations" and still find the transfer process to be mountains of red tape. And for as much as everyone makes it seem like you can walk into a new job, my few attempts at exploring have run into people getting hung up on "So why do you want to leave Google?" Bay Area is also terrifyingly expensive to be unemployed.

Ultimately, I know I won't go hungry and it's just a job/career. Doing my best to focus on things that make me happy outside of work. Tech is a stressful career and job searching sucks, so don't feel alone, just focus on the positives.

So true yet painfully ironic that success and misery can coexist so easily.

How hard is it? Do you also know the process of rejoining Google after leaving (it seems like you're considering that option)?

I'm also discontent with my team, although I can tough it out until the 1.5 year mark which is apparently when transfers are supposed to be easy from what recruiters told me.

Hey, I'm a Googler who left and came back. If either of you (PP or GP) want to ask me about it in a less public forum, you can find me by searching teams for my 100% real job title, "Super Ridiculous Engineer".

This is an extremely common situation. No doubt you are not alone at your company, but no one will admit it.

This is just a temporary down cycle in your life. It's hard to see now but things will get better again in time. While you're waiting it out you must see a pdoc to get treatment.

You are not a loser, less capable, or less intelligent. It's all an illusion created by your brain and it's fixable.

Also you must realize a lot of big 4 interviews are bullshit and don't mean anything. Don't believe me? Read about how Google realized its own interviews were bullshit: https://blog.stackoverflow.com/2016/02/the-stack-overflow-in...

So from a scientific perspective, you actually have no right to criticize yourself based on admittedly invalid criteria.

So maybe you want to believe me, but are not sure if I truly understand your "big 4" level of difficulty. Well surprise! Been there done that, worked with PhDs in math/cs, people from Stanford, Harvard and the rest, people claiming an IQ of 180, etc. My conclusion? Everything above applies no matter whar company you're at.

Again, your abilities are not the problem. You are suffering from insecurities and depression which are fixable.

Here's an experiment for you: When you go to see your local pdoc, ask her how many people she knows like you at the same damn "big 4" company you work at, suffering silently together on the same campus.

Hang tough - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_too_shall_pass

Remember that the Big 4 are some of the most selective in the industry and that even they admit that their puzzles have zero predictive power about a person's intelligence or abilities.

You really sound like you're just suffering from burnout.

Take a break. Cut loose. Go tell your wife to go fuck herself if she can't understand that how your burnout is effecting your mental health (But do tell her about your burnout first. Hopefully, your wife will be your strongest pillar of support while you recuperate. If not, find a different support network.)

Remember that you did make it into one of the Big 4 and that that's more than enough to impress a lot of people. Also, remember that when it comes to criticism, there's at least as much B.S. and power-plays as there is constructive consideration, especially in more competitive environments.

Mate, you self-worth is being jeopardised by (may I say) your own deluded thoughts and your reliance on external validation.

When I first joined IBM research right out of school I thought that everyone would be some Einstein and I would be blown away. And at first I was, with everyone talking acronyms and things that just flew over my head. But over time, I realised the place was run by only a few truly smart people and the rest were just regular 9-5'rs. Don't ever compare yourself to anyone. Another memory: I played pro tennis years ago and I would watch some player and think "OMG, this guy is amazing", but I never knew that this guy was probably looking at me and saying the same things. I learned not to care about appearances or be intimidated by someone off court. I learned that the only thing that matters is when I'm on the court, playing against him and trying to kick his ass. Nothing else mattered.

And jumping ship is not the answer. My mother said a great thing: "when you move, you take yourself with you". If you have deluded thoughts and rely on external validation, then why do you think moving will solve this?

IBM research and pro tennis. Has to be trolling!

I was on a tennis scholarship and played a season of pro tournaments until it was apparent that tennis was not my future. Joined IBM upon graduation. Why is this not plausible?

>>Why is this not plausible?

Because your probably the only person in history to have played professional tennis and worked at IBM research? I await your counterexample to disprove this reasoning. :)

Seriously, I think the trolling comment was sarcasism, and your post was actually good advice for the OP.

I get reactions of surprise or even disbelief when people I work with find out that I also enjoy painting and martial arts. This gives the signal that there is something wrong it.

I really dislike this sort of comments and thinking. It perpetuates the idea that people who want to work in tech must always be focussed on tech and cannot diverge from that. Not all people want to be that one-dimensional.

Sorry it's just funny. 99% of people reading your post telling the other poster not to feel inadequate would feel inadequate. Reminds me of the film Meet the Parents where Owen Wilson is the ex boyfriend who trades commodities and does carpentry in his spare time!


Apologies, but I did just find it funny. You can't help being good at things and nice enough to post encouraging replies!

Yeah, I can see your point. I am on the autism spectrum somewhere and I am very fortunate that I do not have the crippling anxiety and self-doubt that the OP and others are grappling with. I quit IBM after 6 years because I wanted to have my own business and had only a couple of business meetings lined-up (it failed), I built a software business in mortgage processing only due to some conversation I had with a mortgage broker, I built my present house while I was unemployed, I'm 56 and started my latest software project in a mature industry which I feel is ripe for a change. I just don't feel anxiety or worry and I thank my version of asperger's for this. I try and get rid of all the onion layers surrounding my 'gut' and allow it to speak to me.

My favourite saying to my kids (and one that the OP should heed) is: "It's Ok to be afraid, but you can't let being afraid stop you". And I wish that someone had told me that when I was young because it's absolutely true; you will be afraid, count on it, and that's fine but you need to plow through it. The OP seems very afraid and he is allowing this to debilitate him and his life.

I think it also comes with age. I'm nearly 40 and frankly I don't care what others think about my programming prowess, for better or worse.

Agree on your advice to your kids. Was telling mine something similar over dinner tonight, though my eldest is only 7.

I think the biggest liberation is not keeping up with others. But it's also generational as well. This guy is likely under 40, has a big mortgage etc. The game has (sadly) changed now in that failure is not an option due to crippling debt. At 56 you won't have had to face the same challenges the next generation face. It truly does suck. I think this is crippling productivity as people just cannot take risks as easily any more unless they are fresh out of school.

Sigh! Anyhow have a good weekend and I agree we should not let the above stop us no matter how tough it gets!

I think the guy is hinting that you are a "Unicorn" too-good-to-be-true type of guy.

Raw intelligence at the IBM research is exceedingly rare. Raw athleticism to the point of professional tennis is exceedingly rare. The work ethic and dedication to accomplish either is exceedingly rare.

You're a genuinely accomplished person who has lived up to your potential in two disparate fields. This is so rare.

There have been a couple points in my life where I felt like you describe. I felt worthless and was experiencing suicidal ideation. The way out for me was challenging assumptions I had been living under.

One thing I suggest for you is to challenge the assumption that working for a Big 4 company equals success. There are a lot of alternatives out there. A lot of people find success and value working for companies that produces things they are into, that may not be traditional tech companies. These places tend to have a lot of trouble finding technologists, because everyone wants to work Big 4, at an established unicorn, or at a hot, rising pre-unicorn. There are companies out there that don't do puzzles. As a hiring manager, I think they're worthless.

When I was in a dark place, I didn't seek professional help, but I'd recommend it to anybody who is depressed. I think I was playing with fire struggling to fix myself. I got lucky that I found my way out. I don't suggest taking that chance.

I also suggest seeking couples' counseling to help you and your wife get on the same page. It truly sounds like some time off to regroup could make a massive difference. Having someone help you two unpack your underlying goals and help you think outside of the box could be very helpful.

It's not an accident that you got your job. You are smart. Hang in there. Take it from somebody who's been there, there is light down the tunnel, and there's so much joy to be had on the other side.

First sort out the emotional issues. Please please please seek help ASAP. If you work as an engineer at a Big 4 company, you have no business feeling even remotely inadequate.

But know also that you're far from alone in how you feel. I've worked at two of the big 4 and still occasionally feel this way. The problem for people such as myself, a lot of others in the HN community, and perhaps even you is that we have a flawed perception of what it means to create value.

You have to expand your thinking. Who you are and what you're worth goes well beyond what you do for a living. Do you make people laugh? Smile? Do you do kind things for others? Do you contribute valuable ideas and thoughts? Do you maybe even have a creative hobby? Are you a good husband? A good friend? It's great (and important too) to be an economically productive agent in society, but that's only a statistic that's as truly bland as it sounds.

We have so much opportunity to add value to this world that feeling miserable about it is silly. Get out there and be a better you. Focus on impacting the lives of others (doesn't even have to be a lot of people or 'scale up') in as positive a way as you can and you'll discover existential clarity, as opposed to the myopia in which you presently find yourself mired.

> If you work as an engineer at a Big 4 company, you have no business feeling even remotely inadequate.

I know you meant well by this, but you might want to consider how the wording can be received. Someone feeling vulnerable might perceive this as suggesting that their feelings are invalid, and may respond by retreating from seeking help for fear of judgment.

I can totally see how that may be the case and I agree. Unfortunately I can't edit the original, but hopefully my intention was clear enough in the following sentences - that these feelings do arise but are not warranted on the basis of even a cursory inspection of the facts. We judge ourselves relative to our usual context and environment (which in SV means knowledge work with a lot of super smart people) so it's easy to miss the macro view. But my point in addition to that was that intelligence shouldn't be how we measure ourselves anyway.

I just went through my first interview after 2 and half months of being unemployed. I did have some anxiety initially, but I learnt to work through it. My telephone interview with a hot startup didn't go as planned and I was turned down. It felt like I wouldn't get a job anymore.

It's important to look back to see where you started and what you've achieved. Not doing good at an interview doesn't mean you are worthless! It just means that that isn't the right place for you. But thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities and we just have to keep looking.

Its also important to remember to be yourself. EVERYONE feels like they are an imposter at some point or the other. Just accept the fact that there will be smarter people, and that is okay. Take it easy on yourself, and give yourself credit for all that you've done.

And I wouldn't worry about interview puzzles too much. I politely decline an interview if I don't agree with the process. There is a place for everyone, and if you don't feel comfortable during an interview, chances are you won't fit in the company. And that is okay. Just move on to another place where you feel you can fit in.

And please, NEVER say to yourself that you're worthless! Its very inviting to go down the dark path. Trust me, I've been there. But it serves absolutely no purpose and drains away your life. If you think its serious, talking to people you trust might help.

And remember, you aren't alone. There are lots of people who have faced a similar situation and have worked through it. All the best!

I totally agree with everything you said, but often one doesn't really know what the process will be like until you're in it. I know it sounds weird, but it takes superhuman effort to back out when you're on site and being subjected to this stuff.

I've done this before. It is hard.

It is easier if you start off with a questioning attitude. For example - in a recent interview with a CTO, I asked why their glassdoor reviews are so bad. Then mentioned that as part of MY process to find a job - if we both choose to go further, "I'll want to meet with your lead dev, marketing person, and a customer of yours". Now, you have set your expectations of them. You are putting them on notice: You care, you are experienced, you want to learn, you are ballsy (fun ballsy!).

When you find yourself "Why the fuck is this interviewer asking me the same bullshit question" or "This guy is a douche - I don't want to keep talking to him, never mind work with him" or "I don't want to waste anyone else's time...I hate their cafeteria.." Whatever. Say something simple and honest like " look, this has been informative - but I'm getting the vibe that we won't be a great fit for each other" or "I think I can help you guys out - but it seems like many challenges you face would need X or Y skill to do it really well, right?" or "I appreciate your time too much to keep going - you have a nice team but, {insert true reason here}, what do you think?".

I've had this approach turn things around where they have asked me why I want to stop the process and ask for feedback. This also makes you stand out as knowing yourself well and being able to make tough decisions. Interviewers remember how you make them feel, not the right answer to a question they already knew.

I worked for two big-4 in the 2000s and think these puzzles are bad and often serve to make the interviewer look smarter. I never had to do one when I got hired and I doubt I'd pass one now. Don't question your intelligence based on those. See discussion in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11001259 and maybe https://medium.com/@RobertYau/why-phone-screens-for-hiring-a...

When was the last time you had holiday? This might include days away from your family to get in an extra calm environment. I'm asking because I had US-collegues who didn't take a day of holiday in 5 years. And collegues who quit because they were burned out. All in the name of meeting deadlines or pleasing the next manager. Time off is important.

It sounds like you are not a good personality match for the other people on the team (and vice versa). Some people are very facts / decision driven and will push their opinions a lot more, whereas you sound like someone who is more receptive / consensus driven. If one team accumulates people who work in one way, anyone who doesn't fit that mold could struggle on the team since the behavior expected of them does not come naturally.

How would you feel about being more pushy with your methods / opinions? You can always push back on feedback in pull requests if you feel your contributions are being suppressed. It sounds like your manager might approve of you being "less nice" this way.

The most important thing to remember is that the intelligence you feel you had is still there in exactly the same place. Just because you cannot show your ability on your current team, it doesn't mean the next team won't think you're amazing.

Have you tried moving within your current company?

I very much recommend trying to move within your current company, in addition to other strategies.

The Big 4 are, by definition, Big. They are filled with many different teams with many different personalities and team functioning.

If you have non-bad performance, changing teams may be much easier than going through interviews at another company.

I think you are placing too much weight on your employment. It's good to have a job, but it shouldn't be your sole focus. Technology can be horrible because conferences and communities glamourise these big technology companies. You are buying into that hype, yet the reality is different.

I suggest maybe looking for work with an interesting business that isn't as well known - one that doesn't have weird, abstract puzzles during the interview process. A place where you can build your confidence, rather than be a cog in a multinational machine.

As for the depression/anxiety. You sound like you are over thinking things. Criticising elements of your life, rather than accepting them. The lack of confidence from your job will be making it worse. Read about mindfulness, it's a collection of techniques that teaches you to look at your surroundings in vivid detail without making judgements, and to just sit down without thoughts running through your head. The depression and anxiety will slowly fade away as you get used to thinking in a standard fashion.

Please don't feel so bad. I'm an old timer ... in the old days (prior to 2004), we'd get programming jobs after a 30 minute conversation. Despite official inflation numbers, salaries 10-15 years ago are the same as the glorious 100K+ job of today. What started as something Microsoft would only do (full-day interviews and puzzles ... the latter they stopped because it was pointless), was adopted by Google (because they want to raise the collective IQ ... snicker), and now done by most tech companies. This is a trend, and like other stupid trends of today (e.g. scrum/agile, microservices, devops), these will go away.

I have two suggestions:

1) Don't equate your sense of self-worth to your tech employment. This requires making friends outside of tech, and pursuing hobbies. If you need medical help, get it sooner rather than later (anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. are a lot more common than you would think).

2) There are thousands of tech companies out there. It is BS to say smaller companies are worse than the big 4 tech companies. You seem to be someone who cares about making a meaningful contribution. I respect that and share that with you. I strive to earn my pay every day. In truth, I fail many days, and some days I feel I earned my pay 100 times over. So it evens out.

One final note ... some interviewers are assholes. They make you feel like shit. A youngin will take it, but older folks know how to spot it. My last Google interview, I had 4 interviewers who were professionals and one complete ass-hat. I considered making the HR person know about said ass-hat but decided against it. If I encounter such an ass-hat in the future, I think I will tell HR so the person's damage may be contained. For my part, I'm not interviewing at Google any more (this was my n'th interview with them and frankly, I'm tired of it even though it seems they are not).

Anyways ... be happy my friend ... life is a precious gift; tech moves constantly - it is brutal but it is fun.. check out the stories of people like John Bardeen, Robert Noyce, the Whatsapp founder, John Carmack, etc. Even the great achievers have had to go through tons of crap.

I've been through a sort of same situation. I became lead product manager of the #1 brazil's startup, 1 month after that, I was fired because I was too depressed and couldn't handle what I achieved.

It's because I got burned-out (due to the trash tech culture).

I felt like not recognizing myself as the guy who achieved the most vertical growth curve in the company. And I was sure I couldn't do it anymore in any place else.

I was sad thinking about the past, "how good I was" and much more sad thinking about "how good I will never be again".

Depressed people forget to live the present, they just think about past and future, it generates a lot of fear, avoidance, procrastination... you are simply putting all your energy where it can't help you.

The present time is your life, live it! The Sun rises everyday. I remember what liberates me about fear was read the phrase:

"Until now, you survived the worst days of your life."

You are strong enough to keep surviving. And think, I know you really don't wanna die, it just seems the only way to reach peace, but it's not.

I like to think the Ironborns:

"What is dead, may never die!"

You have only one life, you can always give up and try again every day. (you're already dead, huh?)

This death thing I'm talking about it's like a germans like to think:

"Don't take life so serious, you will not escape alive".

Talk to your wife, be open, don't be afraid. If she doesn't understand your situation, what you suffering and doesn't support you, leave her. You deserve better.

Try to remove fear from your life. Fear are ruining your career, your dreams, your relationship.

Life is a miracle, don't waste your time, follow your dreams. It's real, you can believe you will succeed, you can believe you will fail, know what? What you believe will become true.

Seems like some guru shit but it's true, I know, you will know.

Live the now, fuck the rest.

(sorry my bad english)

Hey OP. Just wanted to say I know how you feel and I am going through the exact same thing (also at a "big 4"). Been interviewing for nearly 6 months now and I always get caught off guard by those technical puzzles.

I've basically accepted that I'm a terrible programmer and come to terms with mediocrity but that said I'm just going to keep learning and making stuff.

The other thing I've noted is that San Francisco is this weird and overly competitive bubble. For instance, my experience applying to Seattle startups has been phenomenal. Most of them don't make me do the scrutinizing live code thing but rather give me a day or even a week to finish a very simple but realistic project. (I know there bad examples of this practice out there but usually these projects have been very small and take at most 2-3 hours).

Anyway, keep trying and don't forget that you're not the only one struggling. Also, the fact that you actually get to write code and submit pull requests already makes your job sound better than mine haha.

> I'm dumb and worthless.

No you are not. You passed the interview and you are working at one of the "Big 4" tech. It's a great achievement there.

> I'll never get a job again because I can't solve the puzzles.

Don't worry those skills are trainable. There are several online resources to improve your puzzle solving skills[0],[1],[2]. It takes time but it's definitely doable. Beside having the current company name on your resume is a really big plus.

If you are too stressful, go our with your wife do something fun with her, visit your friends or your family members. Don't forget to LIVE YOUR LIFE.

[0] - https://www.careercup.com/ [1] - http://www.geeksforgeeks.org/ [2] - https://leetcode.com/

> Don't worry those skills are trainable.

They are, but I'll go the other way: you shouldn't bother with training them. Companies that put on this three-ring circus bullshit are telling you what they think of you.

Working at a place that wants you to work for them is so, so much better than working for a company that wants you to feel privileged to work for them. It's a job. You're (probably) not curing cancer.

My problem is it feels worse if I can't do the leetcode problems in reasonable time. And I haven't started interviewing for next summer yet (still a student).

At every company, for any given candidate, there exists a set of interviewers who will always fail you for an interview. There is no company with >1000 employees at which you could interview with a 100% success rate.

I think you will really appreciate this blog post http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2008/03/get-that-job-at-goog... by Steve Yegge about getting a job at Google.

I disagree. What do you see so different in that blog post ? OP is struggling with interview puzzles not concepts of data structure, common algorithms. I think it is far too easy to devise a problem that even most current interviewers would fail. I'm saying this after being hired and seeing the level of knowledge most interviewers possess.

You still are intelligent. You still can be liked by your teams. The way you feel is just clouding the way you see yourself right now.

When you go for interviews people often dont see your potential. They often dont want to take a gamble on you turning the boat around soon enough for their liking. Very often people pick up on how you feel about yourself and use it to form an opinion of you. One that often agrees with how you feel about yourself. The good thing about this is things change when you take control of your feelings and change. The situation is more in your hands than you realise. You have control.

The biggest thing you need right now is time. With time your feelings change and you see yourself differently. You will be able to remember the postive times and show yourself you are still capable. Dont give up if things don't change in a week or a month or several months. The improvements are so small that it is hard to notice every day. However as the months pass, the change adds up and you notice it.

I know it feels like leaving the current job is the only option. But unemployment can make you feel bad, even worse. That is something you need to avoid. What I did was find a differnet job that gives headspace to think and keeps the bills mostly paid.

"I've heard from multiple people that I'm the nicest and most patient person they've ever met. I don't know where I went wrong. I used to be intelligent."

I can certainly identify with those feelings. So much of my self-worth early in my career was based on how I felt about my intelligence / ability, etc.

Here is the thing, though, most software is extremely ephemeral. What you write today is gone tomorrow, either because technology shifts, user interest shifts or simply for no damn good reason at all. Here is another thing: your intelligence is also ephemeral. Eventually, you will slow down with age.

What doesn't disappear is the impact you make on the people around you. For every instance I've felt of stupidity and worthlessness from a failed interview or a problem that was just too much for me to grasp, I can take a step back and temper those feelings with a mere handful of comments of appreciation from the past. "That project we worked on 5 years ago was a pile of sh*t but man I enjoyed working with you, we worked as a team you weren't an insufferable a$$hole like that lead we had." "When we worked on project xyz and you were the architect and let me research and develop new approaches and gave me a safe place to fail without really failing; that really helped me in my career." Those comments when you get them are golden.

Again, none of this is to say that your ability isn't part of your worth; it's just that it does not comprise the entirety of who you are. Most certainly you did not get married because your wife thought you were Stephen Hawking. Most certainly you are valued to me as you remind me of what I continue to go through. Most certainly you are of value in many ways.

It sounds like you are suffering from imposter syndrome. Definitely look it up if you haven't heard of it as it is extremely common among engineers and developers.

Find someone that knows you to talk about this. It's very hard to give specific advice with out knowing your personality or the full story.

Try and remember that your life is much more than your work. There are so many other things worth living for.

I can understand the depression. I was unemployed for 4 months in 2014, and went through a major depression.

I couldn't even muster the energy to look for a new job, just the thought of looking into my Vim editor made me feel miserable.

That said, I came out of it. You will too. I'm now coding like crazy :) Please go see a doctor. I did, and stayed in hospital for 4 days so that the doctors could conduct all kinds of tests on me. I was diagnosed with major depression. I took some meds (still taking them), started walking daily, and soon got out of it.

Also try meditation. Its wonderful. And some Yoga.

It's helpful to place yourself in context you are not the only person who's felt brutalized by this industry. I doubt you suck you wouldn't have ever made any team if you were really terrible this industry can be very hard on self esteem, it can get very lonely. I've survived 25 years in web development some days I wanted to cut my wrists but you soldier on. I haven't even had more than 1 day off since 1995. Keep a stiff upper lip it's a tough industry don't take things personally .

> I've survived 25 years in web development some days I wanted to cut my wrists but you soldier on.

I do no soldiering. When I feel mistreated, I quit.

So far I have been rewarded with nontrivial bumps in income for doing so.

(edit: to not tangle this subthread, moved my reply to the OP to a top-level post!)

I would love to work with you. This is exactly the attitude to have. Well said.

> I haven't even had more than 1 day off since 1995.

You might be in the wrong industry after all.

Just assume you have depression and seek external professional help. You can afford it!

When you're depressed you won't perform well. Depressed people have darkness following them around and people will avoid you. So you're caged in with your thoughts, but they just get darker, because you're depressed.

All signs point to depression.

> Death doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Healthy minds never see this as an option. Suicidal thoughts are a sickness, never a forgone conclusion. How else would it end up under "side effects" on a label?

Healthy minds never see this as an option. Suicidal thoughts are a sickness, never a forgone conclusion.

That's a bit too broad of a statement. This kind of thinking is hurtful to the Right to Die movement. There are people in situations such that suicide is absolutely an option to a healthy mind.

First of all OP is not dying. But there is a crucial distinction to be made between suicidal thoughts being a forgone conclusion in one's mind, and someone sanely exercising the right to die peacefully. The inability to distinguish these two would be far more harmful.

> suicide is absolutely an option

You said it yourself. Option, not forgone conclusion. But I would go as far as to say exercising one's right to choose one's death should not even be called suicide. You're already dying. You did not choose death, so it's not suicide. The word "suicide" has immense negative implications in many cultures and religions. If by simply changing the term we can exonerating their soul from the sin they themselves believe in, and assist them in a more beautiful death, we should be all for it.

Having thoughts of dying better are not suicidal thoughts.

You said it yourself. Option, not forgone conclusion.

What are you arguing against, exactly? You said a bunch of absolutes.

Healthy minds never see this as an option. Suicidal thoughts are a sickness

You apparently realize they're not actually absolutes. End of thread.

But I would go as far as to say exercising one's right to choose one's death should not even be called suicide

Pedantry isn't very helpful here, nor is ex post facto modifying the definition of the words you used to match your intention. You may not think it should be called suicide, but that's not how language works. When you use the word "suicide" what matters is how others understand it, not yourself. You're not leaving comments for yourself to read, presumably.

Choosing how to die is not choosing to die. Your inability to make this distinction and to use one word to describe both is not something you can blame definitions for.

> that's not how language works

It is. If we need another word, we make one up or adjust our expressions. Words are not absolute. Our expressions are not the result of absolute words. Our words are always an approximation of what we wish to absolutely express. Language then evolves with us.

A middle ground would be to say suicide could mean both "choosing death" and "choosing how to die faced with death". Well, the former is absolutely a sickness, and that is the suicide I was talking about.

Since you dislike how and what I write I won't bother, but you'll continue to miss many valid points by forcing intentions to be tied to words and not with the speaker. You need to be more permissive and flexible than that. Just saying.

There's a lot of money to be made in companies other than the big 4 or 5. Those companies tend to have crazy programming puzzles because everyone is bought into the value. Smaller companies don't have time for that crap - they need to solve problems, not validate their CS degrees. It's a damned power trip, and you'll only be solving those kinds of problems in your job 5% of the time. If you can move past the idea that you need to work at a big 4 to be valuable, there are some really amazing opportunities out there.

I'd recommend doing some mentoring on a site like CodeMentor. Working with some young blood and re-experiencing the pure joy of writing code to do things is quite invigorating.

Please sit down and discuss things with your wife. "it's unacceptable" is a very concerning statement to me, and sound more like a business partner than a loving partner.

At the end of the day, you are intelligent. You are valuable.

I was where you are, but not in as good of a position.

You will be ok.

If your current team is smarter than you and you helped hire them, then that should be a feather in your cap. Even if you are on such a smart team, that is a sign that you did something right at some point, right?

Some things you could do:

* Go to a recommended psychiatrist. There are many new variations of drugs, and they should be familiar with them. Don't just go with something because they mention it and don't try too much at once. Make sure they have all the info they need to help you solve things.

* Reduce intake of bread, chips, and bagged snacks. Eat less.

* Go on walks. Get exercise. If you are overweight, decide that you are going to get healthy, and don't diet. Just regularly exercise and eat well in a way that you can sustain.

* Be your best even if that's not good enough for your team. Be a great parent, be a great friend, and be good to yourself.

* Get help from a technical friend you trust with your resume to make sure that it looks great. Do the same with your Linkedin profile, and get a professional photo with you smiling and looking good and put it on there.

* Practice interviewing before you start your job search. Right down every question and answer you can think of. Practice interview problems and puzzles you find online.

* Read whatever you can that will help increase your knowledge in the areas that are relevant to your position.

You will get through it. Don't just quit without another job and use up your savings. First do everything above to get in top shape, then go on vacation, if you can before you get your next job! When you come back, talk with recruiters some more, do some interviews, choose your job carefully- don't take a job unless you and your family are both 100% on it. Usually your company won't fight hard to keep you, because they know you've checked out already- don't take it personally. Don't burn the bridge back by telling them how you really feel, because you might need to go back. Accept the new job. Take a week or two in between jobs to relax some more.

Your life will be awesome. Just don't give up and remember- you have to focus on being the best you can be given what you are and can be, realistically. When you're expectation far exceeds what you can do, you're going to be unhappy.

Having worked for another one of the Big 5 and departed, I'm somewhat sympathetic. My advice would be:

-Consider that you might be experiencing the early symptoms of burnout, depression, some form of anxiety disorder, etc. Checklists of symptoms are available on the internet; if you feel you match those symptoms, consider professional help. As as aside, the stigma is not as great as it used to be and, being employed by the Big 5, you should have access to relatively generous medical benefits and a HR department that is conscientious about giving accommodations for health issues (if for no other reason than avoiding bad publicity and an aversion to lawsuits). If you do go this route, I recommend seeking out a teaching hospital, if there's one nearby; you have an improved chance of getting good care there.

-It's time to start leaning on your professional network. Start contacting past co-workers and friends outside your current employer and get advice, do practice sessions, and job leads.

-Technical interviewing is a learnable skill and, as often noted on HN, often has little to do with your day-to-day job, even if you're at a top company. There are books and sites for both the behavorial side and the technical side of interviews. Start drilling an hour every other day until you have your behavioral answers and your techniques down pat.

-Lastly, remember that passing an interview is mostly a matter of luck. Sometimes you just get some git whose favorite interview question happens to be something you didn't study (see Yegge's description of the interview anti-loop [1]). Sometimes you get someone who got up on the wrong side of the bed. Keep trying, learn from your mistakes, and you're bound to find a position.

Good luck!

[1] http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2008/03/get-that-job-at-goog...

You work in a Big 4? There are probably other opportunities elsewhere in your current company, and it might be much easier to move within than out.

You should talk to a mental health professional. "I used to be ... Now I'm ..." means something's changed, and it's not likely that you aren't smart anymore.

You might also talk to that same professional about how to ask your wife for support.

Agreed. Way back when, when I was young and stupid and knew everything, my head was full of logic puzzles and programming tricks. So it was easy to solve them in an interview. But today, there are so many things in my head that I cannot keep them all there at the ready...so I usually dump less important things (like puzzles) out of my brain's fast-retrieval cache, and store them in long term memory.

Also, I work on multiple problems at once so I have to do a slow context-switch, and fill my brain's cache with the working-set of the problem (usually by googling stackoverflow etc.) and then solve it quickly, before dumping the cache.

As I developed more wisdom, I usually don't keep small details in my long-term memory, but only repeated patterns and useful details.

Interview questions are more appropriate for a simpler time when programmers were more single-threaded in their heads. They are also heavily biased towards the programming issues of the 1970s and 1980s...doing all of the things which were left out of the standard libraries...recursion, dynamic programming, sorting algorithms, string parsing, set theory, data structures etc. In my humble opinion interviews should focus on questions of style--take this code, refactor it. Refactor it again given new constraints. Multithread it. Make it secure. Refactor it given that you cannot touch this non-optimal code that someone checked in in a hurry and cannot be removed in a short time frame. Etc.

OP- it sounds like you are experiencing a high level of anxiety & depression. Speaking from similar experience, the world can look very bleak at times. And interviews can be very stressful.

Definitely counseling & medication can help. Please know that your worthiness is not defined by your job, or your position. Try to imagine yourself talking to a son/daughter and what you might say to them if they shared the same thoughts with you. sometimes we are hardest on ourselves.

Please listen to the other good advice in this thread.

> Try to imagine yourself talking to a son/daughter and what you might say to them if they shared the same thoughts with you.

Holy Shit. This is so simple but resonated very strongly with me. This is definitely a new "mindful moment" trigger whenever I'm too tough on myself. Little learnings like this make my day. Thanks!

You are working for the Big 4. That's an enviable position for many already. It means even if you may not be the best rockstar, you are not a bozo.

Other people have given a lot of advices on job finding or finding a doctor for depression.

In the long run, I think you should save up and use invest the capital. Slowing switch from generating your income from your labor to generating money from your capital. That should be the ultimate freedom. We should code for passion not code for money.

>The first thing I thought is that my attitude is bad. But this can't be - I've heard from multiple people that I'm the nicest and most patient person they've ever met. In fact, my manager has criticized me more than once for being "too nice" i.e. that I should stand my ground more, or push people for things I depend on from them.

Who said being "nice" and having a good attitude where the same thing? Sounds like you do have a bad attitude not in the Hell's Angels way but in the "I don't actually give a shit any more so lets do whatever" sort of way. An engineer with a good attitude will actually give a shit about the quality and type work they do.

>Death doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Sounds like the start of a bout of burn out or depression, you should look into that.

For things to do:

Get a non-technical hobby that can take your mind of work Judo, Yoga, Meditation anything that takes a lot of focus to do right but won't kill you if you do it wrong aka no chainsaw juggling.

Exercise more try to hit an hour a day, it will help calm your mind and improve your mood. Swing by /r/bodyweightfitness learn how to do cool gymnastics stuff.

See a shrink. Even if you aren't crazy it can help to have a neutral third party to talk to especially one with skills.

Take a break, watch Bachelor in Paradise. You think people are crazy? You ain't see nothing yet.

Plan B? Go to India, take off a few weeks. Your mind will be blown.

Then come back to planet earth. The internet thing is getting a bit old, farming is hot, maybe a career change is due.

Actually, theres some truth to this. Visiting another country can make you realize lots of things about the place where you live, good and bad. You'll recognize things that you have at your disposal that we usually take for granted.

Just choose the right country, if you want the "mind blown" experience the poster is talking about travelling to somewhere like Canada isn't going to do it.

I'm sorry I took this long to come back here, but I decided to take some time to calm down and think about things before writing any replies or follow ups.

I'm immensely grateful for everyone's support here! :) I probably don't know any of you and yet it feels amazing that so many people care.

I've figured that my work environment is the biggest issue in my life right now. The interview experience was just the trigger to my reaction. But I've realized that I work in an environment where there's as much of a daily dick swinging contest as in those interviews, so I didn't just feel inadequate for failing an interview, I feel inadequate daily when I let the nerd lording get to me.

I see two options: either quit or try to be stronger where I am right now. I decided to give the second option a try before quitting. For the past few days I've been more vocal and trying to stand my ground a little more. It's going to be hard, but I want to give this a shot.

And to everyone who recommended that I get professional help: yes, this is past due. Working on it!

> Now I'm dumb and worthless.

My thoughts are that to even have the job that you have now, your programming/coding skills are years above mine. You may feel dumb and worthless, but someone like me would be sitting there going "Wow, I wish that i could do that."

It's all about perspective.

> Death doesn't seem so bad anymore. Then I don't have to think about all this.

I used to be a full time tech support guy, then desktop support, then sysadmin. I felt dumb and worthless at that job most of the time. I made a complete career change into healthcare and made my sysadmin stuff more of a hobby. 10 years later, i make way less but overall I'm happier. perhaps some new hobbies will help? one of them might even lead to a new career.

along those lines, i'm a paramedic, and we see death from a way different perspective. I've been there just after someone pulled the trigger and have seen just how heart wrenching it can be for the friends and family.

Please talk to someone. I'm not sure where you are, but there are resources available. :/

Interviewing is like dating and there is a certain amount of randomness to it. For every interview you might as well roll some dice. A certain percentage will reject you NO MATTER WHAT. It happens. Especially at large companies like Google/Facebook/Twitter/etc.

I've done a fair share of interviews as well and would be glad to give you a bit of feedback as well.

Definitely look around beyond the Big4 hype, find a funded startup where you could be a larger fish in a smaller pond. You should be able to find a better culture fit - nice work, nice people, value life after work etc.

Don't believe that crap about IQ being fixed - the more you work the brain muscle the better it gets. Do puzzles you enjoy that are hard ... if that's whats between you and your ideal place of work, you can improve that with practice.

You can try reverse psychology too - Jeez, Im an idiot, but how would a non-idiot do this puzzle ?? A lot of problem solving is not about raw IQ .. theres practice and skills, and having a big bag of tricks, and creativity.. and persistence. People aren't born doing puzzles..they learn it. None of us are Einstein or Feynman .. but we do what we can, work at our craft. Perhaps just measure your effort going in, not the results coming out, at least for a while ?

You seem like a decent human being. Things will come around.

Sounds like you're dealing with some tough stuff. Everyone has times like these, so just know that you're not alone. I'd really encourage you to talk to a professional.

One of the things that helped me get through a pretty dark rough patch was just time away from responsibility. Then, when I jumped back in, being in a supporting/safe environment.

Why are you defining yourself by your job?

First of all, you work at a Big 4. You're already in the top <5% of engineers in terms of prestige. You can probably easily get an interview at >90% of companies that are hiring.

Second, even if you're only able to get an offer at some "unprestigious" company - who cares? You're more than a job. You're a unique individual with a unique perspective and a ton to offer to this world.

You got into a Big 4. That is not an easy feat, and clearly you are a smart individual.

Recognize that you're in control of your own life. If you want it bad enough, then work for it, and you will achieve it. I don't know what type of work you're doing, but I'd wager it's probably not unsolved cutting edge theoretical physics type work. That's fine. My point is that you can prepare for it. And if you don't want to prepare for it - don't. Who cares, it's your life, live it how you want.

I was in a very similar position as you a while ago and was equally despondent. I thought I was a good engineer, I had a good track record and experience, lots of open source, etc but my interviews were a dice roll. I would either answer the question easily or fumble quite a bit and not get the offer. I would get extremely nervous during these high pressure interviews and the more I was rejected the more nervous I got.

My saving grace was finding a place that didn't haze the shit out of with whiteboard coding but gave me a very involved take home project solving stuff similar to their real world problems (I did do a timed online coding screen and some high level technical discussions as well). Obviously there are some downsides to doing a take home project in terms of the time investment, but see if you can find a more enlightened place that gives you this option. Maybe someone on HN knows of companies who are open to this.

A lot of other posters asked you to seek help for depression, so do that.

As for the interviews, heres a general set of advice thats given to a "average" engineer.

1. accept that you won't pass all of the interviews all the time

2. interviewing is a learnable technique, refer to leetcode, cracking the coding interview, elements of programming interviews, etc, and slowly brush up on them

3. when interviewing, interview with more than one company, preferably putting the companies you're less interested in first so that you get a practice run

the most important above is #1, as stege yegge's blog post mentions, there will always be a set of interviewers that you'll never get an offer with. thats okay though, just accept what happened, analyze what went wrong, and practice similar problems, especially ones that you missed that divine inspiration on.

everyone knows that these technical interviews are a dumb game, don't worry too much about not getting an offer from that one company

You are already at a "Big 4", you should be proud!. Do you know how many developers like myself struggle just to get past a phone screen with a "Big 4"? It's completely demoralizing being considered absolute garbage just because you took too long to solve an algorithm puzzle and even more so as an experienced developer, you start questioning everything you've done until now, you start questioning if you can even call yourself a developer to the point that im seriously considering dropping altogether from tech.

On a side note how long are we developers as a collective willing to put up with this hiring fad? We seriously need to start shutting these stupid practices down, the OP is only one of many developers that are feeling the same way.

Enough is enough time to say a big FUCK YOU to the "big 4" and everyone else who wants to be like them.

You need to step back a little and look at yourself not as a programmer but as a human being.

When you try to value yourself strictly through the feedback from your peers you may lose yourself.

You need to have an internal compass as well, that will allow you to respect yourself for what you are, a human being, a creator in this ocean of possibilites we call life.

You need to shout to yourself : "My life matters, my life has value!" , and it's the value YOU give to it.

Reflect on your values, on what matters to you, what you want from this world, forget the others for a moment. Just stay with yourself, be gentile and compasionate with yourself. You don't have to correspond to what other impose on you. Don't try to live up to a false image.

Just enjoy the things you like for now. You will feel better.

I assure you the "I'll never get a job again" feeling is very common but as a "Big 4" alumnus you have nothing to worry about (:

Many great comments here which hopefully help, and I'm not going to address the anxiety/depressive side of the coin - others have done that better.

One piece of advice I got from a manager around interviewing was to be trying to interview somewhere every 3 to 6 months. He's incredibly happy in his role but he interviews to a) find out about new opportunities/products/technologies but b) so that when he finds that one job he really wants he is well versed and ready to nail the shit out of the interview.

You're clearly a smart guy. Do a little study on interview techniques + up the volume of interviews (plus reduce the stress/emphasis on any one interview) and I think you'll surprise yourself with how great you really are.

I'll echo this. Before I went into consulting I would interview bimonthly or so. Not because I was unhappy (though sometimes I was), but because it was good to keep sharp and because sometimes you'll surprise yourself by finding a gig that really clicks. I was a lousy interview at my first job out of college. I've been a very good one since, and it's helped me get jobs I liked.

It's also helped me seriously expand my network (and Boston's a small town); you meet a lot of people.

So do you just randomly answer job listings that fit the bill or is there some better way?

Not purely randomly, I only interview at places I think I might want to work, but most of it is from inbound requests via LinkedIn. My LinkedIn profile is recruiter catnip, which helps. I've gone from Trendy Area to Trendy Area (and I'm fortunate that doing so brought me into devops/platform engineering, which I really like!) and I still get hits for mobile/Android gigs despite not touching it since before Android Studio was released.

So if a company sounds interesting, sure, I'll go talk to them. I don't actively seek them out, but they tend to find me. (And even if I don't find them particularly compelling, I might be able to sell them on consulting services.)

For me I keep a well updated Linkedin profile and recruiters will drop me a line every now and then.

I think you could apply to roles that look interesting but that's a little disingenuous if you're not seriously considering a move.

Have you considered transferring to a different team with a different project in the same company? Generally this is much easier than moving to a new company, you get to keep any accrued benefits of tenure, and in a big tech company the culture of different projects can be so vastly different that a change like that can feel pretty much like you're working at a new company.

Also - don't worry about failing interviews. Having done hundreds on the other side, and seeing many good candidates be rejected, it's clear the game is stacked against the candidates, erring on the side of caution (no hire), knowing we'd miss out on many.

And finally, if you are depressed, do seek help - others on this thread point to great resources. Use them.

Lots of good advice so far. I'd add two things:

1) You're already at a top company, so you're way ahead of the game already. You could step down to a less stressful / lower pressure culture company and see if that fits you better. They do exist, and they can be fine if you care about the work and environment more than the prestige. Just having a top four on your resume will may it considerably easier for you to get hired.

2) As above, there are plenty of companies that skip brain teaser type tests (advertising and broadly-defined "digital media" companies are two I have experience with.) Hard technology companies aren't the only option out there; now that software is in every industry, so too are the jobs.


Just to address the depression and anxiety issues:

1) Take a shower and do a load of laundry.

2) Go for a run.

3) Take another shower and put on clean clothes.

4) Eat leafy green vegetables like lettuce or spinach.

5) Make an appointment with your doctor.

I don't know if you're there yet, but these three things (get clean, do some exercise, and eat a healthy diet) actually work fairly immediately in most cases. I've been through years of really bad depression and anxiety (PTSD) after a long time in the infantry and helped many friends with similar issues. Everybody's different, but there's a strong chance at least one of these things will help. And even if they don't help, you've made an appointment to see a doctor.

There are a lot of good comments here.

First things first, the obvious depression/anxiety. I'm gonna guess it has been happening for some time now at a low level. You mentioned being criticized for being "too nice", which is one of those weird low-level depression/anxiety markers. It was tolerable then, and suddenly you have all this stuff happening. You didn't do anything to make things "go wrong", nor did you lose intelligence. It is just that your brain has gone a bit wonky right now. The brain is an organ, a body part, and body parts sometimes have glitches and you are seeing the symptoms.

But it is ok because there is stuff that helps it get back on track so that you can be you again. It is just really getting urgent right now. If it were your leg, heart, gallbladder, or pancreas (diabetes), you'd be at the doctor or ER right now or at least have an appointment with your doctor.

And that is exactly what you need to do. The first step is the hardest. You can take folks this letter so you don't have to explain it. You can go to the local ER, your regular doctor, urgent care, or a psychiatrist. Call the suicide hotline and they'll get you in touch with folks. You can have someone else drive you or make the appointment if you'd like, after telling them or showing them this post. You can email them this if you can't seem to do it in person.

The likely outcome of this is that you'll get some medication, which will help get your mind in a better state to start doing things with these problems and make it so they aren't consuming your mind in the same way. You might wind up in the hospital for a short time - this is generally a safety measure or being in the hospital after a severe injury. You may or may not get some time off work. There might be some therapy. This is more for some help working through all this so that you are better off in the future - much like you get phsycial therapy after an injury.

After this stuff, taking care of the rest of the issues will be much easier. Dealing with work, changing jobs, and those dark thoughts. It may be that you change jobs and things like that, but you can deal with that stuff one at a time once you get your brain in a place that it isn't sabotaging your view of the world.

It happens to all of us, last time I was interviewing I was asked the exact same question two days in a row, the first time I answered it without trouble, but the very next day I choked. It wasn't even a difficult question. After that the interview went downhill.

I was pretty discouraged after that, but all you can do is go on to the next one with an open mind. There are lots of great opportunities out there. A lot of interviewers understand nerves and will take that into account

Been through exactly same phase. Looking back I did this:

1. Keep trying, never stop 2. Be with positive people , friends 3. Engage in somtheing else like sports....takes your mind off... I played cricket and went to gym every day....wasn't easy but it helps slowly 4. Work hard, don't give yourself that free time to think.... You know what Empty mind is capable of.... 5. Don't hesitate to take a step back, you dont have to be genius or do what others are doing..

Best of Luck

> I've been feeling extremely anxious about work. I don't feel well in my current team because everyone is smarter than me and I think no one likes me (people forget to invite me to meetings, I'm not invited to outside events, etc.). Every pull request I submit gets a load of criticism. I don't feel valuable to the team.

> The first thing I thought is that my attitude is bad. But this can't be - I've heard from multiple people that I'm the nicest and most patient person they've ever met. In fact, my manager has criticized me more than once for being "too nice" i.e. that I should stand my ground more, or push people for things I depend on from them.

To be honest, I've found that "highly opinionated" engineers can end up preying on those who don't stand their ground. They can use them to push their own opinions through, devalue the others work, and therefore view the other as less important than themselves.

I would take your manager's criticism to heart. It will take time, but you must push back for your own reputation. My only hope is that your manager can moderate when they see you're drowning.

There are many good suggestions in this thread re: interviewing, exercising, talking to a doctor.

While you are in this interviewing holding pattern figuring out your next long term landing spot, it may be worth exploring if you can transfer internally to another team at your current company. I'm working as a consultant with a consulting company that does a lot of difficult enterprise projects that are 6-12 months in duration, and the novelty of new challenges makes a huge difference in my personal ability to cope with shitty situations. Usually by the end of a large enterprise engagement I am feeling burnt out, but a second wind always comes when the next (shitty but differently shitty) project comes along and I have new people and problems to occupy my mind. It relieves that feeling of being trapped and powerless with the unchangeable aspects of a company's enterprise culture.

I honestly have no idea how anyone maintains their sanity while trundling along on the same stuff for years on end; I think those who do are the exception not the norm. So don't feel bad that you're struggling - You're in good company.

Please do what's best for yourself and your health. One possibility is to take a disability leave for depression, or talking to a mental health professional may help you fight the negative thoughts. Speaking from experience, talking to my therapist helps to ground me and prevent my thoughts from spiraling out of control.

You deserve happiness and to be around those that appreciate you. Don't give up the fight.

Do not let yourself be defined by your job. Even though you spend most of your waking hours at work, you are still more than that job. Any job. Even if you are the weakest link at work (someone has to be), you are still more than that.

Seek validation outside of work. Collect that Big 4 paycheck and remember to enjoy the rest of the day. You are still living a better existence than perhaps 90% of this Earth.

If it was your first interview in a while don't take it so hard. The interview game is broken and devs are rusty on their first couple if they haven't in a while. The real value in engineers/programmers is can you deliver a product and ship? If you can worry little, if you can't, start some on your own, gain some confidence.

If you can deliver, just practice up applying for smaller companies to get your interview game up. Never go to the interview with the company you want to work for first, get some reps in, worst case is you have a bunch of jobs offers to pick from and some leverage.

Look at it this way, you were good enough to get into one Big 4 and you can do it again. But your manager is right, stand your ground, you have to KNOW that you can do it to even start. Nice guys can be pushovers and get steamrolled in developer culture, stand your ground to actually be nice, don't just do as others want, do what is right for ship and the product. Sometimes you have to throw down in the ego driven game of development and ask for forgiveness later.

> I used to be good at puzzles

Was that right after university? Doh, of course! The whole concept of science and tech academia is built on one puzzle after another; you're brainwashed with them as a new graduate. You're still brandishing that newly honed examsmanship when you go into interviews.

You were good because of training; you can't get back into that game without that training.

A lot of people are focusing on the depression and job issues, but it sounds like your marriage could be a big part of the problem. You already know what you want to do--this decision is yours, not your wife's.

I know fighting sucks, but this one is worth the fight. You aren't doing either her or yourself any favors by condemning yourself to misery.

Hey, I'm a software engineer just like you, I was laid off and spent 6 months trying to get a job. It took awhile to get a job offer, and then took awhile to find the right one (I applied to 40+ companies). I went through a deep depression with every rejection. It was very discouraging. As you say, it can feel hit or miss, and it's tough to get the answer right under pressure, and very difficult. So here's my advice from my own experience:

1. Absolutely go find a therapist. No matter the stigma, even if your wife or someone else disapproves. Find a few that seem right, and pick the one that feels best, and they will help ground you in reality.

2. Consider Meditation. Research it online, whether it's literal guided meditation (headspace and calm are good apps for this) or in another form (sport, gardening, hobbies). This can help you get by in some tough spots.

3. Improve yourself. If you had not practiced for interviewing, you can start and apply again in a few months. There are many resources (hackerrank, Cracking the Code interview) etc. Practice over and over, that's what makes good people great. You will fail more times than succeeding and that's fine, there's no reason to be ashamed. Just don't quit. Many of the great people of our day became great through practice. If engineering is what you care improve, or you're passionate about something else, then start practicing and improving in that. It'll help with your self worth when you can see your own progress in things you care about. Be that a cool raspberry pi project, a dinky website, or something else.

If it all sounds rather handwavy and you'd rather stick with a concrete approach consider: Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphins, Cortisol. Begin activities or methods that will regulate/raise the former three, and lower the latter. Finding the motivation to do any or all of these will not be easy, you probably won't want to many days, as that can be the nature of depression, but start with one, or a little bit of one and build. Any of the above can help with that.

Stay the course and remember, you are more than a job, more than what your peers think of you, more than what your manager thinks of you, more than the puzzles you could or could not solve, more than your perceived intelligence, more than your savings, and more than what your wife thinks is OK when it comes to staying or leaving your job. You have all the tools to be happy, you just have to sift through the clutter to find them :).

Yeah, that sucks. You seem to be in a really bad place mentally though, which is going to massively amplify any feelings of rejection, so bear that in mind when you're beating yourself up. You could just be down. I found that getting help, reaching out and realising I had a problem was the biggest step in getting better. I still get depressed from time to time but I can see the signs now so it doesn't ruin my life anymore.

As for the interview, so what? Keep trying. It took multiple interviews for me to find the right fit. Not getting the job doesn't mean you are shit or worthless. Those puzzles are of questionable validity anyway, maybe the interviewer was a bit crap.

Either way, rejection is part of life, you need to pick yourself up and keep trying until you find the place you need to be. That's going to be near impossible if you're depressed though, and it sounds like you are so look for some help.

Good luck

In my experience, big companies tend to have algorithmic "puzzles" for interviews; smaller companies tend to test more your builder skills, actual engineering skills, the ones they'll need (although you find exceptions on both sides).

If you feel that you can build good software, and just suck at puzzles (I'm right there with you), then maybe you should consider targeting smaller companies. Not necessarily young startups, but not a big 4, for sure.

Also, statistically, in a job search, you will fail A LOT. You can totally poorly fail 70% of your interviews, and still be a perfectly great engineer, that's not a crazy rate. You won't find the job of your dreams if you try only once; I don't believe it's likely that you will find the perfect job for you even if you try 5 or 10 times. So don't let ONE failure take the best of you, and improve your odds by trying a lot more.

If I'm wrong, ignore this.

Take a vacation. A scheduled vacation. Partly because you deserve a break, but also because everyone will come scurrying to make sure of a steady transition, and they'll miss when you're gone for a bit, and then you realize people freak out when you're gone, which is a certain sort of value.

Dude, if it's getting to a point whereas you don't have the will to live, I think it's best to ditch the job and look for another. If I were your wife, I would NOT want it to get to that point, where my partner doesn't value his life. Just because one company "doesn't like" you, doesn't mean you should automatically question your worth, this just means they don't believe you fit their company culture, nor do you like theirs! As you say, other teams have liked you before, so find another company that appreciates you, and vice versa. Take a chance, this is what life is living for, struggle, and work hard for something. We are so blessed to be in USA take advantage.

AND look how many people want to help you :)))) it's beautiful, I recommend you take them up on their offer. Very kind, love you guys

Whether or not you pass job interview with company X or company Y says precisely nothing about your value as an employee or as a person.

It's like dating. Either the fit is there or it is not. In most cases not (for most people). Just keep dating till you find there's an easy fit. Same with job searching.

Are there resources you could use inside the company? E.g. a coach/therapist? I think they'd be super-aware of the stresses of working in the business and honestly it's the closest fastest way of getting some support that I can think of.

Just talking it out on a regular basis with someone who knows the pressure. You're not the only one at that company feeling like that.

If you have (in the past) thought yourself smart and capable and liked, then you can find your way back to that with a bit of help.

Once you have a bit of a better emotional/skills platform and more resilience, then you can choose if you want to stay or go, and you'll find you've strengthened your position for new jobs. You might also find that your environment is pretty good, once you're more able to handle the pressure and BS that it comes with.

Just another POV. Be glad you actually have a job in your industry of choice. I've been trying to make a leap to a fulltime programmer for a while now, and failed some interviews. I'm not even doing what I want to anymore and my fear is that I can't even accomplish it at this point in my life. Everyone wants a damn genius or thinks they do, and I'm just a normal guy who enjoys programming.

You have fulltime, real dev experience. You won't have a problem getting another job, but it won't be overnight.

You're already set, you just don't realize it. I'm actually envious of you (in a healthy way). I'd probably spend more of your time watching out for that wife you have honestly, that raised an eyebrow for me. Without kids in the picture you can always easily bail.

Tell me about something you accomplished today. Tell me about something you accomplished last week.

Tell me about something you intend to accomplish next month.

Give us a view of your world from a positive perspective. In doing so, you'll find not everything is bad. This is the first step in the right direction.

While your advice isn't wrong, if I were in your shoes, I would be very careful about dispensing it.

Read over this paragraph:

My thoughts are descending into the darkest reaches. Death doesn't seem so bad anymore. Then I don't have to think about all this.

When a person is in a state like this, his/her brain has difficulty processing things in his/her usual way. Consequently, he/she could easily read your questions and conclude, "I haven't accomplished anything today. I'm an idiot and a complete failure."

If you have to preach the positive, try to frame it in terms of gratitude. Accomplishments are very dangerous, particularly if you're dealing with someone who could be in the throes of a major depression.

There are a couple of things going on here.

First, you are not in a good place mentally. Your self esteem is pretty low and that is the reason you feel like such an outcast at work. Since you're at a big 4 company, odds are good that you have an Employee Assistance Program available to you for free. They can get you set up with a therapist where you can start exploring these issues. The therapist is prohibited from sharing any of this with your employer. Unfortunately, most EAPs only cover a few sessions. In my opinion, though, the benefits of therapy are well worth the cost.

You have to get your emotional issues figured out before you can find the kind of fulfillment you're looking for. Even if you get another job, you will just wind up repeating this same scenario at the next place. I don't doubt that the work culture may be terrible, but the emotional issues you have going on are a core reason you're dealing with this stuff. Your boss is right, you are too nice. Part of being a healthy person is having healthy boundaries. You give and give and give, thinking that it's going to make people like you, but it has the opposite effect because it's just not normal. The end result is that you get excluded.

Second, software hiring is TERRIBLE. It's not just you. I just spent three months searching for a programming job. I got rejection after rejection (usually for doing poorly on those fucking logic puzzles) and it really made me start to doubt my level of expertise. I started making changes to what I was looking for. I changed the target seniority level. I started to lower my salary requirements. Then...boom. I landed a job with the right seniority level for my skills and a salary right at my original target. Now I'm working at the type of company I want, and I'm going to be moving forward in my career. I'm incredibly lucky (and thankful) this opportunity came along or the software hiring process would have convinced me that I simply didn't have the level of skill I thought I had.

Your ability to solve a puzzle is (usually) not indicative of your ability to solve real world business problems. The exception, I think, is at those big companies like you're applying to. So, you need to get better. Fortunately there are a ton of resources out there. If it's important to you to keep working at a huge tech company, then this is the only way to get in unless you have a personal connection. Read some books. Study like it's your job. Eventually stuff will start to make sense.

You have to believe in yourself in order to keep the job search going. That ties into your self esteem. Seek out some counseling, and start studying those brain teasers. You'll get to where you want to be.

Working with smarter people in the room who give you valuable feedback on your code (valuable assumes they don't just just tell you what to change, but also why, so you can make better judgements) means you are becoming a better developer. You are lucky to have that.

Oh, a "Big 4" rejected you. Are they the only companies that exist?

Oh you fail their stupid interview process? So what?

The opportunity you seek may be in a "Medium Many". Or in a "Startup Some". But it's harder to hear about them if you don't actively look for it

> I feel that 1) I'll be forever with the current company and 2) if I'm ever laid off, I'll never get a job again because I can't solve the puzzles.

(1) You have an income currently, and that gives you time to explore new opportunities, be that education or employment. Take the time to find something that you will fit your needs, instead of only the other way around.

(2) I might be getting testy in my later years, but if I company wants to interview me with "puzzles" I question their judgement, and thus my interest in working with them. I believe that interviews are two way discussions, and if the hiring team turns them into games where they have the advantage, I would look elsewhere.

Talk to a professional. Don't take those stupid interview puzzles too seriously. Interview with other, smaller companies after taking a break. I did the above three things and couldn't be happier with my current job. Be patient with yourself.

Apart from the depression other people mention, how do you do with problems on sites like HackerRank?

Personally I can not take coding problems in interviews that seriously. Surely, it seems to me, the point is showing off your thought processes, not actually solving the problem. Solving the problem might be a matter of luck - sometimes you happen to try the right approach, sometimes the wrong one. Or even having heard about some particular algorithm is luck, nobody can know them all.

One perhaps slightly more realistic variant I have seen was when they gave me the specs for an algorithm and I had to implement it.

Probably many interviewers see it as a "solve it or bust" thing, but then it is their loss.

Go see a doctor to prescribe you anti-depressants and call the suicide hotline when having dark thoughts. Then, divorce your wife. Clearly you're not in a happy marriage if she cannot see that you're unhappy and will not support you.

OP - A lot of people can say that you'll figure this out. And you will. If you can get into a "Big 4" tech company doing engineering work, there are a lot of other places that will hire you.

But please get professional help first. You can look into your company's Employee Assistance plan, or outside, but what you are going through could be a chemical imbalance in your brain that you just can't control. I've lost folks close to me to this, and there isn't a rational plan to solve this other than to talk to a mental health professional. There is no stigma to this.

Echo that and from a practical side, you're way better off addressing your current [mental] health situation at your current employer than while looking or just after changing jobs.

Many of the best engineers I know (who are also nice people) can't pass a Big 4 puzzles interview to save their lives. It definitely does not make you a lesser engineer to no longer have the toolbox to solve these (after all, they're rather useless on the actual job).

> I used to be liked by my teams.

How is your personal social life outside of your marriage? At least for me, my darkest times were the times when I didn't have close friends to spend time with on the weekends and after work, where I truly felt safe to "be myself" without worrying about my every word and action being judged.

You are not your job. Fuck it.

Just quit. You probably have some savings. Don't continue working for Amazon and receive death by 1000 papercuts. Just quit while you are ahead and start studying mathematics or something that you actually enjoy.


PLEASE POST AN EMAIL ADDRESS. Just make a fake one. You need to know something.

Been down in the deep depression pit of darkness myself. Your career isn't worth losing your life.

There's lots of good advice in these comments. Don't make any final decisions in your current state of mind. Seriously. Seek help out of the darkness. Finding a therapist who is a good fit may take some doing.

For some great perspectives:



Hey, don't be too hard on your self. I failed interviews from Big 4 and a lot of other startups too. There are tons of false negatives as a part of the interview process.

Just focus on yourself and your job.

It sounds like your primary problem here is anxiety. You may want to look into seeing a psychiatrist and getting some medication. It's been very helpful for me, especially in social contexts like pull requests. But without or without medication, it's a problem you need to be mindful of and work towards on a daily basis. It isn't easy, and I frequently find myself feeling a lot like what you're describing, but it has been getting better for me. Don't give up.

First of all, your problem starts before the interview. Before an engineer, you are a human being. Think about the balance in your life. Once you understand how to balance your life, you can proceed to worry about your occupation.

Think to which extent your external and self criticism is factual and fair. Before dealing with opinions, deal with facts. What are the FACTS behind the opinions? are they true? is the opinion proportional to the fact? And work your way through there.

Get actual, immediate help. ASAP.

Unrelated, but the issue w.r.t. your wife is probably something else that should be discussed, but it's secondary to the immediate issue.

As soon as you reach the point that "death doesn't seem so bad anymore" you need to take a step back and put things in their proper perspective. If you cannot do this yourself, or feel that the risk of attempting to is too great, then you need to put your trust in someone else until you're rational again.

For all we know, his wife could be the main issue?

His wife put him in between a rock and a hard place. He didn't get the job, but can't even take the time to reflect on his feelings because of her pressure? Jesus Christ.

The immediate issue is not dying for something not worth dying for. That takes first priority, always.

His wife isn't responsible for his well-being. She affects it, but does not control him or his reactions. It may feel like that, but that's perception, not reality.

I don't have much advice for feeling unemployable, but I can provide a helping hand with feelings of depression. Right before I moved to the Bay Area I was feeling the worst I'd felt in my life with loss of love and passion, as well as desire for life, and I know exactly how that can feel. Please drop me a line at philip at starryexpanse.com. I hope I can help you through this by telling you the things that helped me to make it through.

If you're laid off, I'm pretty sure you'll have an easy time getting into a not-big-4-tech-companies. Big 4s are pretty great resume boosters.

It sounds like you lack assertiveness. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Navigating social situations is hard.

Do you like you? Do you have people around you that like you? If you have those things, having a troubled career can be okay. If you don't, you make yourself a lot more vulnerable to bumps along the way.

If you used to be intelligent and good at puzzles and have difficulties now, it may be caused by sleep apnea (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_apnea). I have moderated sleep apnea and since I take my medic (5 month), I have seen big improvements in memory and a slight improvement in my relationship with other people.

You sound exactly as my wife (who functioned as a R&D engineer and radiation safety officer at a high tech company) over a year ago - I had to drag her to a doctor. She was diagnosed with depression. In the end she finally found sufficient help (psychiatric treatment and a therapist that understood her). Things are slowly lighting up.

Please seek help immediately. I'm sorry I can't help you more - different continent.

> I don't have the option to stop working for a while. I have the savings for it, but it's unacceptable to my wife.

Don't stop working - if you're not careful it can exacerbate depression and you'll find out in 1 year that you're still just as depressed but now you don't have any savings either.

Find a better job. It doesn't have to be Big-4, but you need to be doing something productive with your time.

>> Death doesn't seem so bad anymore. Now I'm dumb and worthless.

It's not a reason. People with down syndrome can live happy lives, why not you?

>> I don't have the option to stop working for a while. I have the savings for it, but it's unacceptable to my wife. >> I don't know what to do.

Don't talk negative about yourself to your wife. That's the only relationship advice I can give you.

Life is more than your day job, and depression is a hole only you can dig yourself out of. Food for thought, maybe it isn't your niceness, it could possibly be that your misery is bleeding out; it could be depressing being around depressing people. Good luck and really think about how temporary your life already is, don't miss out on it cause of the struggles.

Hey, I hope you get your spirits up and you get a job you want more in the future.

For the "not feeling intelligent", I've had that happen to me, but this book called, Mindset the New Psychology of Success, really helped me because it teaches you that hard work, dedication and willingness to learn are what made you smart, not that you were born naturally smart.

Dear OP,

I'd like to share some of my experiences with what you're going through. Bear with me, it might get a little long.

I've been planning to move to SF for since 2 years ago and came here to look for jobs in January 2015. I was hit with a brick when I realised that the interview process is so different to what I have come across.

I have 15 years of website programming as a full stack developer and each time I had an interview in the early stages I would feel useless and inadequate of my skills. I wasn't prepared for all the questions they asked. Overseas it would be asking about my experiences and checking my past work but never puzzles, coding challenges, coding assessments and the likes. I have experienced the full range of coding challenges from your cryptic short ones, matrices, algorithms, data structures and week long real world challenges.

Some of my worst experiences include:

1. a technical interview from a recruitment firm asking me questions about type juggling (http://php.net/manual/en/language.types.type-juggling.php), when I didn't know them asking me 'are you even a programmer?' and then hanging up on me.

2. being cut short at an onsite interview because I didn't know how to whiteboard a solution and them telling me that 'there's no point in continuing the interview'.

3. being treated like shit, given the run around, getting ignored or never getting replies after I did their coding challenges and assessments (seriously it's not that hard to just give a reply if you don't want to continue with the recruitment process). Hey, I took the time to do your coding assessment the least you can do is provide me some professional courtesy.

4. doing a coding challenge with a time limit and the company giving me the run around and finally telling me that they couldn't get the program to run even though I have a live version of it and sent them instructions. They then told me that they would've preferred for me to ask questions rather than take it upon myself to try to solve the problem.

My skill set is quite diverse and isn't just in programming and I normally avoid applying for the 'big 4' because I know that I will never be able to do their coding assessments and challenges. I have failed more interviews that you can think of. I have roughly spent the last 1.5 years trying to get a job here in SF and I have had some of my lowest moments in my professional career.

Being rejected, not knowing how to answer interview coding questions and not being able to whiteboard will hit your confidence hard. I will admit to that. There were lots of times when I questioned myself whether I was a good programmer or not, whether if and when I get a job that I would be able to perform the tasks that were given to me or not.

From some people I have talked to, the interview process has changed dramatically in the US, especially in SF. This wasn't the case a few years back. (correct me if I'm wrong)

I have always thought that the coders in SF and Silicon Valley would be of a higher calibre as this is the mecca of the tech world, just like if you want to be a movie star you would have to go to LA to make it big.

Think of it as your audition, sometimes you pass, sometimes you get a callback but more often than not you fail and won't get a callback. It's just how the game is played. Remember the saying, don't hate the player, hate the game. And these type of interviews aren't going to change anytime soon, so I have learnt to accept it and roll with the punches.

1. Be prepared, but understand that you only know what you know.

2. You can't prepare for every coding challenge (but the ones I have experienced most are matrices, data structures (hash tables, trie, etc), fetch JSON payloads and array/string manipulations.

3. It is just an interview and nothing else.

4. Think of the positive in each failure, what can you learn from it, what you can improve from it and hopefully use it next time.

One thing I have learnt is that just because you don't know how to answer these coding questions does not mean you don't know how to do your job. You have to find a company which is willing to see past that and hope that a company will see you for who you are to the company and not what the company wants you to be.


As for your mental side. I also suffered from mild depression because of an unrelated issue a while ago.

Please, please, please talk to someone. Your family, friends and support network is the best way for you to get over it. When I had my problems, some of my friends stayed with me for 1 week without leaving my side to make sure I was ok. I had my mum and girlfriend then, now wife fly back to see me and make sure I was ok after just leaving the week before (I was living in Japan at the time and they were in Australia).

There are people out there who can help. Hotlines and the such where people will talk to you and help you out. (I'm not too sure of them in the US, but other comments have got numbers for you).

Your wife will understand the situation, talk to her, make sure she knows how you feel. Don't keep it closed and bottled up. My wife supported me trying to find a job in the US for the last few years. I have been back and forth from US to Australia 4x in the last 1.5 years trying to get a job here in SF and yet she still supports me. Even through arguments, I know she still loves me. Your wife will do the same for you. That's why she is with you right now.


Good luck.

Please DM me on HN and I can give you my email address or phone number and we can catch up if you're in SF.

PS. I'm still looking for jobs just in case anyone is wondering.

I'm sorry if this is a bit offtopic, but I wasn't aware that we can DM people on HN

You can't... My mistake... I've added my email in the comment below

I just realised you can't DM on HN. My email is me[ at ]robinjulius.com

Sounds like it may help to practice being more assertive. The way you described how you're treated by your and employer and wife sounds like a doormat. In my experience, not voicing your own needs/desires can really take a toll on your feeling of self worth. Finding a good therapist really helped me in that area. Best of luck.

For me, puzzles are 50/50. I'm not employed by the Big 4, it's not a goal of mine, but with some effort I'm confident I could land a job there.

The issue with puzzles is that they're not relevant to any of the work I do, and if they are it's tangential. I probably lack some insights that people who code day in and day out do, but I doubt it. I was in Austin over the weekend for a tech presentation thing, and I overheard this conversation:

* P1: So what are you working on now?

* P2: Oh, I'm working for a shadow startup

* P1: Nice, what's the stack?

* P2: It's redis, NodeJS and (something I don't remember)

* P1: Cool, that's awesome

To me that sounded like brogrammer culture talk. And P2 turned out to be the one giving the presentation. At the end, I wasn't impressed, there were several mistakes, like giving people who are just starting out code that didn't run, and never trying to run the code in the first place. I asked that we run the code before everyone was dismissed and everyone walked out with a working version

I lost my original point, but it's unlikely sucking at puzzles makes you any bad. Take any criticism in stride, it's unlikely to be a personal reflection of you, defend a point if you have it. You are not your job. Find a hobby?

This may help. Think this way: the recruitment process of these companies is designed to acquire neurons, human thinking power in the same way they need electricity, disks or servers, not personas.

They use puzzles as benchmarks. Why do they should care about you as a person or your feelings?

They don't need you, and YOU don't need them!

You are suffering from depression. So all your thoughts should be taken in that context.

PS: I'm also suffering from depression. But I have learnt to take my thoughts relative to my current mental condition. That doesn't make things any easier but gives a solid mindset to see through things.

While most people are giving positive sugar coated advice. I would say do the right thing. Stand up for the right thing. If you submitted the PR, stand up for the correct thing and describe it to criticizers, take the feedback and loop over. Life isn't all sunshine and rainbow...


I won't interview at places with interview puzzles anymore.

A day long interview can cost between $500-$1000. They would get much better results if they paid that money to the prospective employee in exchange for solving a small business task and examine their solution.

I have seen the same and come through it. Skype me at ashishm001 and let me try to help.

If you are in the Bay area, I'm willing to meet you and try to give you some in person advice. Friends tend to highly recommend me as a "career mentor" and hopefully that would work with you too. my HN username @ gmail.

Interview puzzles are so hit-or-miss. No matter how many of them I solve, I always stutter when I'm faced with a new one. If the problem is new, it either "clicks" right away or I bomb the interview. No middle ground.

It may helpful to consider that the current interview system is, literally, designed to make you fail.

That is to say: not with 100% certainty -- and on some level, they want at least some of the candidates to succeed, some of the time -- but on another level, it quite deliberately designed to (1) quickly segregated candidates into easily identifiable "badass 10xer" and "worthless poser" categories, and (2) do so with a high, if queasily acceptable false negative rate; along with an allegedly low false negative rate.

That is: it's known to be noisy in both directions; but it's generally considered to be OK -- and many people say this quite openly -- to flush out a whole lot of potentially good candidates if it minimizes the chances of passing a single bad candidate. So it's not that they want you to fail outright -- just that if you aren't clearly and immediately identifiable as their guy/gal, then they want you to "fail fast", as the saying goes, and to do so in a way that you can be easily labelled as a "failure" and a "washout".

Hence -- the whiteboarding sesions; the logic puzzles; the Fermi problems; the "no matter what answer I give they'l find a way to pick it it apart" style of questioning.

Point being -- yes it's a game; yes the rules have changed significantly in recent years; and yes, it's very much rigged, or more delicately put: cleverly optimized to save time and resources (including attention and emotional costs) on the hiring side, at the expense of the those same resources on the candidate's side.

My thoughts are descending into the darkest reaches. Death doesn't seem so bad anymore. Then I don't have to think about all this.

I don't know where I went wrong. I used to be intelligent. I used to be liked by my teams. I used to be good at puzzles.

Now I'm dumb and worthless.

I don't have the option to stop working for a while. I have the savings for it, but it's unacceptable to my wife.

I don't know what to do.

I'm very sorry to be hearing all of this. The good news is the current fad for puzzles and aggressive grilling session is, after all, just a fad. Not all hiring sessions are run this way; a great many aren't -- just keep rolling the dice, and eventually you'll get a fair shot, and find yourself sitting across from the table from someone who treats you like an equal and an intelligent human being from the get go. Rather than a secretly incompetent poser / washout / has-been / never-was waiting to be exposed.

Because it is after all just a game. And you only need the dice to turn up once for you to get out of the current rut you're in.

Ordinarily I'd just upvote this, but (because it echoes parts of what my own post higher in the thread mentions) I want to call it out. These hiring practices are part of the fuck-you,-I'm-smarter culture that makes tech gross and lame. It is so important to realize that you are not the problem, it is, unless you choose to work to perpetuate that culture.

It literally is not your fault. As a reward for that realization, pay it forward and don't hurt other people.

Oh, I completely agree with you. I wasn't intending to condone or promote this culture at all.

My only point is that it may be helpful to treat it as a (temporarily unavoidable) externality, and deal with as one does with other annoyances in life that one has to (temporarily) slog through from time to time.

I get you--when I said "call it out," I meant that positively. You weren't praising it!

I haven't read the other comments yet.

But all I say is, there are far worse people in life with far worse things happening to them "Death doesn't seem so bad anymore" is exaggeration.

Believe in yourself!

It's probably been said further down, but given how important it is to say, if you're having those kinds of dark thoughts:

Go See A Doctor.

Not next week, not tomorrow, call and get yourself in today.

Go See A Doctor.

Check out the book "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.

The book offers a fascinating study of the way that meaning drives and sustains us.

Read the book Bounce by Matthew Syed. It was pretty entertaining and gave me a whole new perspective on raw intelligence vs learned skill.

Aside: who are the "Big 4" tech companies? I haven't heard it in the tech industry before (only in accounting and banking)

Nike, Bank of America, Game Stop, and Hilton Hotels

Though this is a troll, this is one of the very few answers that takes some heat off the ongoing converstations.

PS: I didn't downvote

One thing to remember is the interview is two ways. It's not a judgement or indictment of you now or in the future capability.

I help my friends do mcok interviews. We always chat about how they think they did. People are terrible at self assassment.

Don't spend your life doing something you don't completely love. Quit and do something you love completely.

Cheer up and speak to someone. I was rejected by one of the big 4, I laughed it off and life went on.

Yes, nothing works as well as saying 'Cheer up' to a person with Depression. </sarcasm>

I can only assume you've not experienced the black dog up close, or had someone close to you suffer. For those of us who live with it, it is a truly terrifying thing, that can cripple you to the extent that mere breathing seems like effort.

I'm not being a dick to you by the way, just highlighting that cavalier responses such as yours is why Depression has the taboo it does.

design software? code it? document it? release it? on GitHub? blog about it, screencast etc? You don't need anybody else's permission to do these things. Fuck puzzles. Fuck challenges. Make things. Solve actual problems. Imagine. And ship. Then iterate.

Feel free to email me. I care.

May I know what is BIG 4 tech companies is ? I only knew big 4 accounting.

I imagine Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook.

Seems a lot like trolling. But the answer is - go to the next interview.

Just go out side, and do something different!!! Go catch Pokémon!!!

major depression, a textbook example. go get professional help. i was in the same boat, bad enough that i was kind of out of work for like 2 years

I wish HN had more of these posts, for the support.

Sounds like something that Carol Dweck's ideas (http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/dweck) could help with for you, when she talks about fixed mindset versus growth mindset. Right now, it seems like you are looking for present-tense validation from the external -- "I used to be intelligent... but now I'm dumb and worthless. [drawing evidence from criticism of pull requests and a failed interview, which are normal and perfectly natural challenges for someone starting out in their career]" Whereas a more effective way to try to frame your conceptions of yourself and human beings in general may be to take a future-tense inclusive view, where your current challenges are considered as opportunities for your future self to become more skilled and intelligent.

It's natural for intelligent, scientifically-minded individuals to tend towards a fixed mindset, where you create hypotheses about yourself, collect evidence based on your performance on objective measurements, and draw durable conclusions from that evidence. But while this may work for physical laws in physics or chemistry, human beings change and grow in response to stimuli -- so in fact that most intelligent version of yourself possible is the one that overcomes all your current challenges, instead of becoming discouraged by your current inability to overcome those challenges in the past.

There is no need to base your own consideration of your own worth as a human being from your ability to solve interview puzzles or submit code requests. Simply take a vow to yourself to forgive yourself for even your most painful failures. Do not view them as evidence against yourself, proving your adequacy or inadequacy -- instead try to come to view your failures and challenges as stepping stones towards a more skilled future version of yourself. And try to understand that when someone criticizes you, it is because they want to help you improve. That was and still is a difficult one for me.

About your social status -- people tend to take unconscious cues in how they think of someone from how that person views themselves. The goal is not to edit your actions until you have convinced them to like you. (See Bill Murray's character from Groundhog Day.) Instead, once you come to like yourself by finding ways you can be of service to others, and view yourself as part of a greater whole -- in the social scale of as a member of your community, as well as the time scale of past, present, and future you -- the friends and social invitations will come. (Dale Carnegie's book helps too.) To borrow an idea from calculus, try to care more about your dx than your x, and approaching the limit of the best self you can be.

:) I'm sure there will be a lot of other helpful advice given in this thread. If this particular line of thinking appeals to you like it did to me when I went through something similar to what you are going through, feel free to let me know as I have infinitely more links on this from that time in my life.

i am at a Leadership level at one of the top 5 retailers. i generally read HN but never write..so this is my first attempt to comment.

i have interviewed about 300 people in 4 years and built at team of 50 or so engineers (full time). i manage about 15$ million in personal budget and about $30mm matrix budget.

first of all, i agree with many who said you are already doing really well being at top 4. many times i have seen folks struggling like you are (as once i did when i was a developer) and that burden can be reduced by two things.

1. your learning to understand your emotional intelligence. 2. your understanding of how your team mates work.

read or listen to John Maxwell's books or read emotional intelligence.

Many of us look past our accomplishments and continue to look at unrealistic expectations. i know i will never be Steve J or Elon M. so i have made peace with myself of setting realistic expectations from my life though i strive to move higher in life and job.

in addition, since you are already are at big 4 and are not yet laid off means you already are valued. perhaps you need to have more 1 on 1s with your coworkers and give them chance to give you feedback.

take them out for lunch and ask for honest feedback but request of them "hey i know i am not perfect, but can you give me honest and constructive feedback without making it a complaint<read bitch> fest so that i can improve myself?"

i was really smart coder but i had one downfall i have pretty shitty memory when it comes to memorizing definition, but i can program like hell. i had very hard time passing interviews in backward places like central USA. then i decided to move to north east and since than i have increased my salary 6 folds in 8-9 years and generally get raises every 6 months. i am the youngest person in my position in the companies history.

what i am pointing out is that may be a change is good for you if you are unhappy.


lets look at the positives:

you are living in the best times in the history (you can fly wherever you would like, you eat and drink whatever you like,...)

life is so beautiful..the world is so beautiful just take a break and time to appreciate it. you should never think about hurting yourself..espeically if its about money because they fucking print money left and right..you just need to go pick it up. its everywhere.

i came to this country with my parents who worked at Albertson's grocery store for $5.15/hr.

my total salary in 2005 was 11,200. today i make quarter million and have good investments. my parents are healthy, as my daughter and wife.

life should be appreciated. money is not everything...job is not everything...if you are intelligent which you MUST be because you are at top 4 tech co. then the piece you are missing is inner peace.

This sounds like a total non sequitur but a simple solution (I've found) is to get some form of hardcore physical exercise! Try lifting some iron, or running on local natural trails. Physical exercise increases mental clarity because it increases neuroplasticity, and releases hormones you can't get from a largely sedentary lifestyle (programming, engineering, brainy-work) like adrenaline, testosterone, epinephrine, etc. All that good stuff. You need this to get more even keel if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer. It will aid you in understanding the nature of your problems, and formulate real plans to conquer those problems.

For lifting weights, google "beginner workout program." Always, always, always focus on "form" over the amount of "weight" you lift. This pays in dividends as you progress.

For running, there's usually a local trail that everyone goes to. Just use that, and start running. Even if you just walk it'll do wonders for your intellectual life, and imaginative powers.

Anyways, ending my new-agey rant. I can relate to you, and found these things helpful for me. Don't hesitate to shoot me a message, and I'd be happy to give you some pointers.

What if you tried exercise and it didn't really... do much?

Not quite sure. Maybe look for different ways to break out of your depression? Usually I find that I'm ignoring really important areas in my life, and just squashing it under my anxiety. For me, the biggest ones are exercise, and relationships. Once those things are dialed in, things usually start to run smooth again.

For me, exercise is one of things that's actually in my control, and the return-on-investment can't really be overstated for how well it's worked out for me. It helped me get outta lot of ruts, and get over some deep internal issues I was grappling with. I know it sounds dubious and unscientific, but it's worked for me and I think intellectual folk tend to write this off for whatever reason.

I would ask what exercise was tried, how regularly it was performed, and how long the effort to exercise was maintained.

Not saying that exercise is always the answer, but different people respond differently to different types of exercise. Consistency and regularity are also important.

Start working on a side project!

With a side project you'll:

1. Create something other people will hopefully enjoy to use. 2. Have an opportunity to flex your skills. 3. Gain feedback from users who want you to improve (much more valuable than feedback from ego-driven team mates!) 4. Show others (users, the community, team mates and companies) how badass you are.


@OP: You should be able to sensibly talk about your problems with your wife, and she should be suggesting and planning measures you can take, not vetoing your plans.

@Mz: Divorce is no joke, maybe he hasn't communicated properly with his wife yet.

Wife could be part of the problem...what kind of spouse is not supportive.

I quit from a bad situation with support from my wife. Best thing I ever did and best thing she ever did for me.

She did what a partner should. OPs partner is a leech if she won't let him quit his job even though he has savings.

Complete all these questions and interview again until you succeed: https://leetcode.com/problemset/algorithms/

Go for a free Vipassana meditation course: https://www.dhamma.org/en/locations/directory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTwaTk26qbE

Take your wife partner dancing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9xxeWRxSbA

Good Luck!

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