Part A is understandable in that the standard hiring process is optimized for the common case: scarce jobs and abundant, interchangeable workers. That gets you bulk resume submission, minimal human interaction, and indifferent, slipshod processes. Part B is just jackassery, but it gets you things like brainteaser interview questions, high-stress interviews, and a lot of biases smuggled in under things like "culture fit".
That makes very little sense for software jobs, where it's the workers that are scarce. A few years back, I said, "Wait, we spend all this time optimizing our software for user experience; why don't we do the same for job applications?" I ended up with a significantly different process, one that was a little more work for us, but a way better applicant experience. I also shifted focus from finding flaws to looking to see people at their best, which is not only a better experience, but I think gets better people. I encourage everybody to apply their design thinking and user empathy skills to their own hiring process. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
The thing that is not scarce from the recruiters' view is applicants or maybe even resumes. This is because anyone looking for a job can easily, due to the magic of the internet, apply at dozens or even hundreds of jobs. And applicants don't even have to apply for jobs any more. If you're on LinkedIn, they can come looking for you, and again, due to the magic of the internet, there are plenty of possible people to consider for a job.
So instead of artificial scarcity we have artificial abundance.
This problem seems to be analogous to the online dating problem. Technology has made one part of the problem far too easy and this causes big problems in other parts of the pipeline.
But by the time a candidate is past a phone screen that’s a validated lead. A company that was really desperate to hire wouldn’t treat validated leads so poorly. That they do means that they aren’t and we should disregard self-serving claims to the contrary.
They certainly shouldn't treat validated leads poorly, but we've seen ample evidence that they often do. Part of the problem may be (I'm less sure about this part) is that it is essentially the same people -- and same organization -- managing the overall hiring process through all stages of the funnel. They start with a shotgun process and they keep using a shotgun process in later stages when they absolutely shouldn't be.
It's better if you've got a prospective hiring manager inside the company that wants to hire you and is keeping an eye on the overall process -- this is what often happens whey you're recruited by employee referral. However, this just isn't an option at places like Google (and I think Facebook and Amazon as well) where you get hired into a global pool rather than hired into a specific team.
A few years back when I was hiring at Code for America, I redid things so that it was harder for the lazy applicant but easier for the serious one. I asked people to send me something resume-like (LinkedIn was fine), but to skip the cover letter and instead write a short answer to 1 of 5 questions: http://williampietri.com/writing/2015/slightly-less-awful-hi...
It was great. Anybody who did that got a call back from me, usually within 24 hours, just to chat a bit about what we each were looking for. Starting from that made it much easier for me to treat each person like an actual person.
Does anyone claim that? I thought "high tech companies" have just enough candidates even with this kind of bad practices.
That's a red flag too - a professional interviewer, once you had explained that you weren't expecting the call until the agreed time, would have apologised and called you back later. Done it a bunch of times myself. Everyone in the industry who's been around the block knows that recruiters are generally pretty flaky and wouldn't have held it against you. You probably wouldn't have enjoyed working with that individual anyway.
Goldman's seems to have become the pantomime villain of Wall Street. Some of it's justified, most of it's not.
> I'm about to accept an offer next week
Speaking as someone who has never worked at GS, congratulations.
* How about MDB1?
Sorry you had a bad experience and I'm bummed we lost you :(
Off-topic side question - is web robots scraping forums for parseable email addresses still a thing? I'm pretty free with my gmail address, and I haven't had a problem with spam making it to my inbox, but maybe I'm an edge case...
Hunter does indeed search the entire public web for professional email addresses, following search engines specifications like robots.txt.
However, we do not try to reverse obfuscations as it is a clear sign the owner doesn't want the email address to be collected by automatic means. So even basic obfuscations like [dot] are enough to prevent the collection.
We also let the email addresses owners modify or delete the data we index about them: https://hunter.io/claim.
This can be helpful if you're interested in tracking the origins of where your received emails come from. For instance, if you sign up your address at a website and start recieving sketchy emails with a destination for myemail+thatwebsite[at]gmail, you can easily find out where the leakage occurred.
The GMail specific feature is adding dots as you want in your mail localpart so (foobar, f.oo.bar, f.o.o.b.a.r etc @gmail are the very same mailbox).
So apparently my email address is email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org was already taken) and this guy has email@example.com.
How cool that GMail ignores dots in the middle, right ?
Sometimes I wonder if he is receiving my emails, because I often receive his emails. I tried and forwarded him his email, GMail was stupid enough to deliver them back to my inbox.
The "ignore the dots in the middle" is truly a major google brain fart.
This is to say... Like, Just, be aware of this.
I can only assume there are small differences in the actual addresses and the senders are careless when typing in the "to" field.
I created an account for my daughter that had this issue and it was really messed up; we can see emails sent and received by another person which included a bunch of personal information; job application conversations, flight details, etc...
We ended up just switching our daughter to a new address, but if we had a more malicious nature; this is a big security issue.
Thanks you for understanding.
You should be able to receive emails at firstname.lastname@example.org too
I used think he is a jerk for doing this, wasting everyone's time. After reading how companies treat the candidates, I am not so sure ...
That said, like many similar interview/hiring stories shared here, it reeks of single-sidedness. Specifically, there is not enough detail regarding your interactions with the interviewers to warrant calling this a horror story. The only points of interest in this piece, in my opinion, were that the interviewers were late and there was a clear communication issue (particularly when it came to scheduling the interviews).
Other than that, all we know is that you tripped up during some of your interviews. In those situations, based on your post, it was never really your fault, which is not the best attitude to have.
Finally, them saying that your engineering skills needed more work shouldn’t be insulting. Amazon hires tons of engineers and they are generally very technically competent. However good you think you are, there are millions who are just as good, and there are thousands who are better. Amazon can only hire so many people and this was likely their way of saying they simply had more candidates with more experience.
I know it is frustrating. I can say this because I have absolutely been in your shoes. (Dream job, all the way to the last stage, then no offer.) At the end of the day, we have to acknowledge the competitiveness of our field and use that to drive us to become better.
The keys are not to let it phase you, stay positive and ask clarifying questions to give clear answers. It's often far more about personality than you may think.
Honestly, I just need to know that they can code to the level expected, work together, and aren’t completely looney.
Interviews are mostly (~80%) about evaluating the candidate for fit. They almost always have a time limit. The interviewers job is sometimes made harder by a candidate who answers a question different from the one asked, or who rambles unnecessarily, or who continues talking after the interviewer is satisfied with the answer to a particular question.
In these situations, the interviewer needs to quickly cut off the candidate and move to a different line of enquiry in order to collect enough useful signal during the allotted time.
This can come across as abrasive to some people, particularly if it happens multiple times during a single interview. And the impression can be compounded if they feel the interviewer cut them off as they were saying something which would have increased their odds of success.
Interviews in our industry are the chaotic mutant hybrid of "Guess what I'm thinking!" and fraternal hazing rituals.
I've been interviewed a few times by self-declared bar raisers. Not impressed.
One raiser dismissed outright all my work on grammars, saying the tool (ANTLR) did all the work. Awkward pause. Has he never written a parser? Is he making a joke? Oh. He's serious. Unfortunately, I eventually sarcastically replied "Ya, and the compiler writes all my code for me."
I'm not a CS researcher. Our pithy jobs are client/server CRUD apps with some glue. Cut a string from here, paste it over there. Do some validation. Make sure the concurrency scales.
Not rocket science. Stop treating me like an initiate. I've been doing this longer than most.
I've worked with all types of personalities. The only ones that ever really bugged me were the excessively arrogant. Some types just grate on you. It's how you deal with and interact that is important. Can you get along with people that are different? Different backgrounds, personalities, cold, super-warm, etc. The culture fit is incredibly important for good or bad. One person can make a team very toxic very quickly.
Inability to work with all types here is primary displayed by the "less than typical" personalities through. Not by someone who decides that he does not want to answer insults with "please may I have another one, sir". I understand importance of not being overly sensitive, but so should be valued ability to control yourself and not be abrasive in the first place.
Otherwise being asshole becomes competitive advantage in that company.
I don't mean to say that less then pleasant people should not be in team, but that criticising them and refusing to accept that behavior should be standard and accepted responses by other people. Including leaving the room or directly defending themselves.
> There are times when you've been working 16-18 hour days for a few days and can get cranky.
That is planning and organizational failure. Also self-awarness failure. No one is effective at 18 hours a day and demanding that collegues tiptoe around you or and spend effort on your crankiness instead of work is a.) unfair b.) ineffective.
If others can't tell you about you mistakes or question you or just have to deal with abrasiveness because you are cranky after sleep deprivation, then it is your fault and you are slowing others down.
I hope not. If so management need to be replaced
For example, a company may practice test driven development (TDD), and may evaluate for a candidates ability and desire to use TDD as part of their engineering culture fit. TDD is not necessarily better than alternatives, and a candidate may not necessarily be better because they can do it. It might mean passing on better candidates who don’t prefer TDD.
Culture fit can cover many different aspects, and most are not about being past a “good enough” bar, but rather valuing the same things as the company. To “fail” a culture fit interview is arguably a good thing as otherwise the candidate may have found working at the company unfulfilling, uninteresting or difficult.
Some engineers have strong feelings and would prefer not to work in some ways. There are ways to do great engineering without TDD, they may be great engineers, but for a company that practices TDD they may be a poor fit.
To take it to a bit more of an extreme: I like code review. I believe it's a good thing. I want to have my code reviewed and to learn from that, and I want to be able to review my colleagues' code and know that they will take the feedback seriously. I would not work somewhere that did not do code review as I believe it correlates with good engineering practices. In this way, I would be a poor culture fit at somewhere that did not do code review, as I would be pushing to have code reviewed, or wanting to.
No more startups for me, thank you very much.
If you had been asked a bunch of questions in your interview that boiled down to "do you like surfing", then you may have "failed" that interview, but that would have been good for you and the company as you ultimately did not have the culture fit they were looking for.
Obviously desire and ability to surf does not correlate with software engineering ability (I assume that's what you applied for?) but things like communication, learning practices, candour, empathy, etc, can correlate highly.
I was informed that they liked to go surfing together during the interviews. It just turned out that bobbing around in freezing water with surfboards shooting at me from every angle just wasn't my thing at all.
Of course that's not the real why, my team lead was an arrogant and ignorant asshole who liked to throw developers under the bus to cover his own ass. Which doesn't work that well on people with a tiny bit of experience and integrity.
But cultural fit, like codes of conduct is a fine tool when you want to get rid of someone.
Yes, it is, because no one wants to work with jerks and weirdos. It is jerk and weirdo discrimination, which is fine.
Assuming they have roughly equivalent experience and backgrounds. It comes down to how well you might get along working with someone. Every office has a culture, and working where you and the company are a bad fit sucks a lot. It usually means sticking it out for a few months just to see if it settles down, or that things get better. Then starting the whole interview process all over again. I'd much rather self-eliminate or be eliminated quickly. Hell it's often after several interviews that you just get a bad feeling, or are dropped from the other side.
It's ALL descrimination. That doesn't mean they are descriminating by a protected class (gender, sexuality, race, etc). If everyone in the office went out for drinks every night at the end of the day, working into the evening, I wouldn't be comfortable with that. Once in a while, sure. It really depends on specifics, that doesn't mean it's inherently bad.
> Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.
The whole process outlined in the post was needlessly disrespectful of the candidate and his time.
I wouldn't excuse a Godless megacorp like Amazon with this awful scarcity mindset. It is poison.
Cosmic justice would probably be better served if we just kept our mouths shut, and let them make their own beds.
In the end, I do feel it's often more about personality and culture than anything technical, once you get past the pre-screen technical interviews.
Many companies just drop all contact at any given point.
A couple weeks go by and I'm in the interview. It's all MySQL questions. And really specific questions too.
I ask them flat out what the position was for and they said "MySQL Engineer" ...
I replied with "I'm actually more of an Elasticsearch guy" and was told that they're ditching Elasticsearch.
So not only did they decide it was a good idea to slot me into a position from ES to MySQL but they also decided to bring me down from Engineering Manager to individual contributor...
Over the summer I interviewed for a large bank and was told they were modernizing their apps from HTML5 PhoneGap/Cordova to native code, maybe React Native. I was told point-blank by the recruiting company exclusively contracted to fill roles for this project that my profile would be a perfect fit, and I agreed.
Then I get into the interview, and it turns out I would be working on middleware to connect one set of APIs to another, entirely backend, and in a completely siloed department structure.. The interviewers were not sure how any of my front-end skills would be applicable. It was a waste of time on both sides.
I have to wonder why more places, when scheduling interviews, don't email prospective candidates directly before the interview and repeat again, verbatim, what job positions they're looking for and the titles of those positions and descriptions/expectations.
I mean, I might be unusual, but if I were to see a job posting before such an interview which very clearly doesn't match what I thought I was applying for, I'd reply and either cancel the interview or see if there were other positions available.
After all, not only am I wasting their time, but I could have been more productively interviewing at other companies during that time! :)
That happens all the time. Chances are if they aren't reaching out to you it's a bait and switch opening.
Easy way to discriminate is whether you'll have your budget or not.
Yep. Though it's usually easier for them to just go with the bullshit line, "We can't afford to pay someone with your level of experience."
Translation: We don't hire people over 30, but we don't want to get hit with a federal lawsuit.
Offering a position lower than the one advertised, in that situation, seems okay to me, provided it's not a step down from where they are now.
I find it a useful experience though. Next time I'm talking with a recruiter and they mention Citadel I'll know they don't do their homework on checking how candidates are treated and I won't work with them.
If you're feeling particularly bold, the ideal is to report that bad group to Citadel. Then, after sufficient time for an internal review, follow up and ask if anything has been done, and if not, then conclude your generalization.
With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if our bayesian priors about the morality of financial institutions are correct, but it helps to empirically validate this and publish findings so that, over time, these institutions are validly, publicly shamed.
I feel like this is an actual interview tactic in some book somewhere although I can't imagine why.
In your case, it's probably not that. It's more likely that the second interviewer thought that it wasn't worth their time carrying on with the interview. For example, if their expectations of your experience/knowledge were way off reality. Very rude of them not to just say so if that is the case though.
I sympathise with feeling anxious about it but I suppose the only thing to do about that is to hope you won’t get long waiting times or to go to a lot of interviews and come to expect it.
I doubt it is a tactic as it doesn’t reflect well on the company. Are they looking for someone who won’t mind if their colleagues are late for a meeting?
WHAT? I should send him an email in case he forgot about me?
Anyway, he forgot. Obviously. After some time (2 weeks or so) I send him an email. Auto-response comes back "I am on vacation, contact Alice instead." Well, so I'm emailing Alice and asking what's going on, etc. Another auto-response "I am on vacation, contact Bob instead." I got really irritated by that point. So I contact Bob, and auto-response comes back "I have too many meetings today, I can't respond today." And that was it.
Now, the funny part. After couple of weeks I got an automated email asking me to participate in interview survey to share my experience. Oh, boy! I'm glad you've asked, guys! So I describe the situation, ask them did they got a bad day or they treat all their candidates like that, and was it a joke or they just disregard people on a daily basis? After I submitted, the next day email comes. "Sorry, we've already have someone else for the job, bla bla bla."
Some of their recruiters were beyond ridiculous when it comes to persistent. My "favourite" interaction with them, only marginally paraphrased:
Recruiter: "Hi, I saw your impressive work history on LinkedIn and would like to talk to you about a job opportunity at Facebook" (probably the only thing "impressive" in my work history at the time was AWS?)
Me: "Thank you for contacting me, but I'm not interested in working at Facebook"
Note: This was sent direct to my personal email address, not through LinkedIn. It happens to be an email address associated with both my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, presumably something Facebook recruiters could get at? Most of their recruitment attempts have come via email instead of LinkedIn, and reference my work history on LinkedIn.
< a few days pass >
R: "Hi, just reaching out to you again to see if you've had a chance to rethink about the role at Facebook"
M: "I'm not changing my mind. I'm not interested in working at Facebook"
R: "Hi, we have a recruitment open day coming up on $date, there will be food and drinks and a chance to speak with people who already work at Facebook. It's an ideal chance to see if there is any work you might find interesting here"
M: "I'm really, really not interested. Stop contacting me"
< $day-2 >
R: "Just thought I'd send a quick reminder that the open day is coming up in a couple of days. Hope to see you there"
M: "No, you won't. I'm not attending. Please stop contacting me"
< $day >
R: "Hi, I'm looking forward to meeting you today at the open day"
By this stage I'm half tempted to turn up just so I could punch the recruiter.
M: "You won't. I'm not attending. STOP CONTACTING ME"
< $day+1 >
R: "I'm sorry, I appear to have missed you at the open day. I was wondering if maybe I could schedule a time to speak to you about engineering opportunities here at Facebook"
M: "STOP CONTACTING ME"
At which point I went through my email backlog, marked every email as spam, and put in an auto-junk rule for any further communication from that recruiter.
Ha! At least you got a lunch. Here is my experience with AWS:
* They forgot to call for the 1st phone interview. I stood around like an idiot for 45 minutes waiting. Had to call them eventually. They apologized and rescheduled. Ok whatever, bigco, mistakes happen.
* Rescheduled phone interview goes awesome. I was excited. Was told about the Leadership Principles and to make sure learn and parrot them back during the onsite interview. Ok, a little strange. Got the "I think might be joining a cult" thought in the back of my head.
* Interview day. Show up. Turns out future manager, that is the main person I should have been talking to, wasn't even there.
* Got questions like "what was the worst thing that happened to you?". They probably wanted me to parrot the leadership principles back at them. But of course, what better question to make the person feel terrible than making them remember all the bad experiences in their life.
* Nobody asked much about my resume. I had successfully shipped products, could talk in detail about Linux kernel internals, distributed systems. But instead I was live-compiling "invert the binary tree" type problems at the whiteboard.
* Lunch comes. I am thinking, well at least I'll get to meet some of the future team members. But nobody shows up. After 30 min I started to walk around the hallways hoping someone would stop me and ask me what am I doing there. I even had a snarky reply ready to go.
* After that I did get a bit snarky and refused to parrot back the leadership principles. Was that the bar-raiser who I was talking back to? Could be. Were they the ones that failed my interview or was it the manager that never showed up that vetoed me? I'll never know.
* But that's not all. There is more. The HR person I talked to before the interview was swearing they'd get back to me within 3 days. They didn't. Three weeks later I called them back, not because I was curious about the result much, I had accepted an offer by then, I just wanted to see what the excuse would be.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Then it seemed like a terrible waste of time then but now it's a story I really enjoy sharing. It's just so fun. It's incredible the amount of dysfunction and awfulness that resulted from interfacing with that company.
What if the answer was about being bullied for sexual orientation (and in the process disclosing information that could bias an interview) or about dealing with a medical condition?
That's such a stupid question for an interview.
"What's the worst thing that ever happened to you?" -> Auto-convert to "What's the worst situation that you had to handle at work?" -> Forget the "I got in a bar fight on the weekend" story, tell the "I had to convince the stubborn holdout on my team to go along with the rest of the team's consensus on how to solve a problem" story.
What do people recommend doing in this situation? Walk away? Reschedule? Insist on explanation? Or is it feasible they would make a decision without the manager interview.
Should you ever have a truly terrible experience in interview, first tell them that you are going to have to call a halt so as to not waste any more time.
Then inform them that you are very sorry, but unfortunately they have managed to fail the interview process and should the chance to employ you come around again, could they please not reapply.
Then walk away.
I have only done this once, while being told about the extra unpaid hours I would have to put in because of 'culture'.
It was more than worth it though, as I got to see a shade of maroon that I was previously unaware was even within the gamut of normal human skin tones.
But if the company has no second thought about wasting time of candidates then I would stop asking myself how to "get in" and instead ask myself if they really need me.
Call me spoiled, but I'm not going to jump through hoops (like more than three interviews) and accept abuse just for the honour to serve. I am not a slave, and if my skills have some value then I will eventually find a company that actually needs them.
In a company the size of Amazon, there is always someone else who can step in. If not, it has serious management issues.
- They asked me to write a four page essay before I was allowed to have an on-site interview. Exactly four pages.
- The interview process was more exhausting than any company I'd interviewed at. They make almost no accommodations to make you feel comfortable.
- I asked for a Macbook. They gave me an old Dell laptop.
- I remember that the VC in the room we were initially in just didn't work. The recruiter spent a good amount of time trying to make it work before giving up and getting another room. I believe they had just switched the office over to Chime, which was not reassuring.
- The editor they had me code in didn't actually run my code, nor did it have syntax highlighting. A big chunk of the top of the screen was covered by a banner ad, because apparently they weren't paying for it.
- The recruiter and first interviewer were both late. I sat in an empty lobby waiting for someone to show up to tell me what to do while the receptionists yelled song requests to the Echo across the room.
- The position was for "special projects," aka "top secret". All of my interviewers made sure to impress upon me how important the project was, but even after I got an offer, they wouldn't tell me what it entailed. I literally wouldn't find out what the project was until I signed the offer.
- The title they offered me was "better" than the other two offers I got. But the compensation (including equity) was the worst: double digit percentage less than the next best offer.
I've gotten old enough to not want to re-learn how to put things in order.
The candidate is barely a human being to these mega corps. They freely dispose of the candidates time without any consideration beyond what the hiring team needs.
An interview CAN be as much about helping the candidate find what’s best for them. Heck where I work we actively talk and promote other options where someone might be happier. We make referrals for people. When it’s not a good fit we try to give them feedback and genuinely want them to succeed.
With maybe 1 in 5 on-site interview candidates making it, and the amount of interviewing individuals at Amazon do, it can often get to the point where it's really hard to see interviewees as people. I tried really hard, especially as one of the more limited-pool of systems engineers (I specifically put myself out there for other teams to leverage, so that systems engineers didn't end up with a full dev loop). The number of interview loops done is only exasperated by Amazon's inability to hold on to engineers for more than a few years. One team I dealt with regularly would lose a sizeable chunk of their syseng staff every 9 months or so.
I can't even begin to imagine how hard it gets for the bar-raisers, who might interview 4-5 candidates a week or more.
There is a reason companies refer to employees as “resources” these days. Well at least they’re honest.
You can't beat the corporate system because the corporations are not the cause, only the effect of the slime that gets in and raises to the top.
sometimes the recruiter is miles off. its an indication of serious communications problems, for example i had a job posted for a senior level (ASE type) certified mechanic with trade school completed. Because HR gets in a rush, and because newspapers cost money per character printed, half of the requirements got cut off.
So imagine my surprise when I get a junior level tech walking in on monday morning and I sit down with an hour long interview that starts out with me asking her to diagram the one-thousand pound diesel engine in my office. half an hour in im throwing questions about yanbar piston rings, fluid dynamics in the compression cycle and asking for six fault conditions on a HINO engine during warmup and takeoff. I was getting stonewalled in the interview, and getting a little pissed off that this "senior" level mechanic was blowing smoke up my ass, wasting my company time, or so i thought.
I asked her to "cut the bullshit." She nearly had a panic attack. She was nearly in tears, trying desparately to explain how she was working as best she could to finish school, but that she hadnt any experience with "the bigger" engines yet. Confused, I asked her more about the job offer and she conspicuously forgot half of it. Fetching the newspaper from the waiting room and checking it myself, I saw the problem. I'd spent 30 minutes roasting a trade school kid and felt awful about it.
Anyhow i guess what im saying is, its not always you. Sometimes Shirley doesnt double-check the article before she goes on her margaritaville cruise off the coast of south carolina.
In software, it's often the opposite. You see a fuckton of "requirements" that aren't requirements at all (or the company is looking for unicorns but inevitably end up having to hire a totally average human being), so people just apply whether they have the required skills or not.
I wrote the code to the best of my ability, then submitted it. I got a rejection a few weeks later and when I asked the person who sent it for feedback (I will say, that the company at least had a real, very nice person contact me), they cited a policy of no response.
Granted, I messed up in that I refused to use Rails, since, c'mon, it's a key value store. Instead I decided to just write it in pure Ruby with Rack and the SQLite gem. But I suppose that could have been a mistake since A. Rails is a lot more robust when it comes to input space and B. the testing harness is probably designed for Rails. Second, it's quite likely my code was just not good. But I'd at least like some feedback then, or even a printout of test failures.
This is a company I hold in extremely high regard, so I sincerely hope that this is just a fluke.
It sounds like the test script itself was the spec for it.
I don't remember there being anywhere on the interview app for me to put in feedback. I see lunch buddy's responsibility being to make sure you're well fed and caffeinated, and ready for the afternoon interviews/excited about the team/org.
I interviewed once with a finance company that recorded the entire day, openly, including the break room. I interviewed with another company, where the ride from/and to the airport was part of the interview - I was a little suspicious at the time due to the nature of the "conversation" and had it confirmed through a contact later.
Human creativity exists on both side of the hiring table.
I've heard old stories of interviews where you park the candidate somewhere, and get the janitor to come by and drop something, or ask for a hand - and they see how you respond. Was it like that?
I've never experienced anything like the janitor stories, although I can well believe them, but I did once work for a company in LA, where I struck up some really interesting friendships with a couple of the janitors who were unemployed script writers. They had some stories to tell...
Wow, so much down votes.
I have interviewed and been interviewed at multiple big tech companies. In all cases the lunch has been part of the interview process, in most I’ve even been given an explicit “this is X, they’ll be talking about Y over lunch”, or it’s been called “lunch interview”.
If the company isn’t treating the lunch period as an interview you’re wasting your engineer’s (or whatever) time, and the candidates.
The lunch buddy doesn't get the option to enter feedback for a candidate and often doesn't even get invited to the interview debrief. They really are there just for lunch.
Source: have been a lunch buddy several times.
Currently an Amazon employee. 40+ interviews + debriefs. Not once has "what did the lunch buddy think?" ever been uttered.
I've been a lunch buddy myself a handful of times. My goal is to have a good time, answer any questions the candidate has, and squeeze as nice of a meal (+ coffee) outta the process as I can. I've never been asked for feedback
I think it is worth it to the company for me to spend the 5 extra minutes of my time (since I'm going to eat lunch anyway) and $25 on lunch to defuse those concerns and sell them on the team. With the phone screen, the interviews, the feedback forms and the debrief, the company is spending a ton of time on each candidate brought on site. Loosing a candidate you make an offer to is the worst waste of time.
And what do you tell them / what do you think?
Usually they will tell you whether lunch is also an interview or if it's just lunch. From my own experiences, Microsoft typically does a more touchy-feely interview (still a real interview) over lunch, but Google typically doesn't. With the tech giants, you can take this at face value.
That doesn't mean your lunch buddy will be a good conversationalist though. Mine mostly were not (including at AirBnB, but I only point that out for the irony against their stated cultural values). I would sometimes just ask for the last 20 minutes to meditate.
Also that's not an insult or a judgement. Being a good conversationalist in professional settings is hard, and interviews doubly so because interviewees are nervous for good reasons. So I don't judge engineers or even PM's by how good at bantering they are during interviews, because it's not their job to be good at it.
That said, I do think the big tech companies have abysmal hiring processes. It’s not horrifying, but it’s a bit depressing.
Our internal 'recruitment services' dept is all outsourced/contracted. They mask this internally through cheap tricks (don't present the staff in exactly the same manner as contractors in our internal system, etc), but do a little research and you'll figure out what's going on. I'm guessing they have hundreds, possibly thousands of contractors on the payroll running the operation.
They literally don't give a shit how it all goes down. I've escalated situations up the chain multiple hops and get nothing back, just silence. No acknowledgement, nothing. Talk to other Director/VP level friends in HR and they don't even know who to talk to.
I run a small to mid size department (think around 50 FTEs and some contract/consultant staff) and when we get openings posted, we run the recruiting ourselves and just instruct the internal recruitment team when we're ready to write/extend offers. They are usually still working on the initial candidate screen doing who knows what, dicking people around with video interviews and stupid phone screens.
Corporate HR and recruiting is totally broken - avoid at all costs.
Our internal 'recruitment services' dept is all outsourced/contracted
So we rescheduled for two days later. I had the video chat link and was waiting for him to appear. As he didn't appear, of course, I sent an email asking if anything was wrong. This was 3 months ago and I never received any feedback or another reply.
One really easy way to get ghosted during the recruiting process is if your primary handler quits, gets fired, or just doesn't get their contract renewed.
I don't think this is the primary problem with tech hiring, but it might be a quite significant secondary problem.
Perhaps one reason for this Amazon chaos is also that they really don't care about employee turnover. Attrition is the way to weed out less productive folks so you just keep hiring en-mass and keep firing en-mass. Someone might say this would create huge voids in project memory and continuity but its perhaps good because it forces to create documentation and other artifacts with assumption that others won't be around soon. This is very different than Google culture and it seems to have worked at least to some extent.
>>The questions were impossibly difficult without prior exposure
>>I couldn't answer many of the coding questions during this interview because they were focused on specific algorithms that no amount of preparation would be enough
These questions are just becoming very common these days. There are thousands of programmers spending hours every day on online judge sites, and other associated competitive programming contests scattered over the internets. As these things increase there is growing question bank of impossible to answer interview questions. It also turns out most people who hop jobs often are the same people putting in these efforts into competitive programming contests, and these people justify their investments in time to ask these questions and to keep it as an edge over others.
The questions are just impossible to answer unless you spend hours every day on these competitive programming sites for years.
It also turns out these people move companies in an year always. If your greatest skill is interviewing, working for one company for years seems like a waste of your skills.
I emailed the recruiter and the interviewer to ask what's up and eventually they apologized and they said they'd reschedule. Except they didn't.
I sent a few followup emails where I suggested some times that might work, asked if there was an alternate time that might work better, etc. Never heard another word from them.
I think our entire industry is terrible at recruiting.
All I want to say is that, after the hiring experience and learned how their R&D was running afterwards a bit, I'm not going to hold its high flying stocks.
The hiring process sucks, the bar raiser is a joke.
I think one of the weak spots is the recruiting team. I feel like the recruiters, often contractors, get paid based on hiring rates alone. There's nothing disincentivizing them from sending unqualified recruits through the pipeline.
In the end, I landed a nice position with a 'tier-2' valley company(not FANG, but close), so I can go back to not giving a shit about the broken hiring process. Hopefully the industry wises up, but I suspect that the big companies will be staffed by people who survived the modern interview process and therefore nothing will change.
Amazon recruiters approached me first on LinkedIn and invited to one of their off-site hiring events in Europe. I didn't feel like interviewing with them back then as I wasn't sure I could pass but still decided to try.
Communication with the recruitment team was surprisingly flawless - I didn't have any issues with timezones (I was based in Europe, they were from Seattle/Bay Area), there were some last-minute changes that didn't affect anything/caused any trouble. HR provided me with tips on how to pass the interview and shared some online/offline resources on how to get prepared - they also put a lot of stress on their company principles.
After the initial tech screening and a Skype call with one of the recruiters, I was invited to the hiring event. Amazon rented the whole floor on one of the top hotels in the city, all the candidates were assigned a room and the interviewers came to you - 3 interviews for algorithms/data structures, 1 for system design. The organization was really superb, interviewers were very positive and eager to share their experience.
In the end, I didn't get an offer, but I'd say I'd definitely try to interview with Amazon again.
PS. From what I read here, maybe I was just plain lucky to have a positive experience interviewing with them :-)
Most people's ideas on hiring are plain wrong, so of course when a company assigns these people hiring duties the process will be broken.
Also, apart from people posting stories like this on Glassdoor it seems like HR isn't generally accountable for anything as there's no way for candidates to flag bad behaviour.
I'm not sure how to fix the first problem, but management should force HR to collect unfiltered anonymous feedback from candidates in order to review their performance, to avoid having you company mentioned in such a conversation.
It's also a more accurate model of what's going on.
I'm talking about the labor market in general, and my point is that your value is not $X/year, your work's value is, and it's good for your mental health to make that distinction, whether X happens to be high or low.
You're talking about understanding the recruiter's incentives, and you're right that, like any sales people, they've focused on making the sale and getting their commission.
The impression he gave off was that his field of IT was the only one that mattered and if you haven't heard some very specific terms from that field that you were a pathetic excuse for a human being
What really annoys me are those interviewers who are hell bent on proving they are smarter than the interviewee. The point of an interview is to find what the candidate knows and where she can fit in the organization. Even if the interviewer is the god of coding, there is absolutely no need to belittle or make the interviewee nervous. They are simply wasting everyone's time when they do it, not to mention the bad publicity, like this article.
The interviewers are developers themselves, I can't understand why/how they can treat fellow devs this badly.
I was interviewing for Amazon a while back and my experience was mostly positive.
I had applied myself and they got in touch via email a few weeks later. After a brief email exchange, I got invited for a phone interview. All very straight forward - the interviewer was really friendly and professional. At the end of the interview, he also gave me some pointers about what he thinks is important in interviews.
A week later or so, I got an invitation for on-site interviews. I think it was 5 interviews in total. The hiring manager and his team were all really nice. (Interesting site note: I did mention some interesting and for the interview relevant HN article at some point and the interviewer told me that I should not believe everything that is said on HN haha.)
I think the "bad cop" role was given to the two off-site interviewers. They asked some tough questions, one of which was something along the line of "Tell me about a time when you were right about something but could not convince others/management." Of course, I had experienced such situations in the past, but I struggled to give a clear narrative. I didn't want to look like someone who doesn't care; nor like someone who doesn't get their point across, nor like a push-over. In the end, I left it at something like "I still think I was right, but for other, non-content-related reasons, management went for a different decision." They didn't seem happy about my answer.
The last interview was a bit weird and I probably asked a stupid question that put the interviewer off.
I think that was my inner obstructionist. I was living in Belgium at the time and I really love BE (but didn't like my job there). The Amazon job looked better, but I didn't really feel like moving to the UK, where the job was located. Also, the team indicated that they are doing more than 9-5. Here, too, my inner obstructionist was telling me 'meh'.
You can see where this is going: I didn't get the offer. Still, I thought the process was pretty decent and fair in my case. Of course, this is also just a personal experience, but I thought I'd share a nicer one.
If there genuinely was a shortage could any company get away with these ridiculous practices? It only makes sense if there is both a glut of candidates and of existing employees with lots of free time on their hands.
During the dotcom boom when there was a genuine shortage an interview was a phone screen, a couple of hours onsite then “when can you start?”. Companies couldn’t shovel workers in the door fast enough!
There's still genuine shortage around, but it's by no means universal. Smaller companies are affected more, but they can't afford to shovel workers in like the big companies once could. And it's pretty likely that they are the ones that get hurt the most if they get a bad hire, so they are in a dire situation. The likes of google, facebook and amazon can easily soak up a bunch of bad hires until they realize the problem and show them the door.
In my personal experience, referral programs are the best.
You have to really police their behavior and almost babysit them, otherwise you get situations like this.
You got put in a room and went through 4 face to face interviews which were very gruelling, but the interviewers were nice and positive (although to my British sensibility, maybe _too_ positive!)
I didn't get an offer, I don't think I have the chops to pass the interviews really, I found the preceding 2-3 weeks of interview prep very stressful and time consuming. It's not just the algorithms and data structures bit you have to revise on, you need to think up many anecdotes that align to The Leadership Principles. They're all over that stuff, you cannot be a follower you must demonstrate Leadership.
All in all though I appreciated the experience, I don't think I would apply again though.
If the principle they set is that you must be a leader and not a follower, then you should presumably refuse to follow any leadership principles they dictate to you, purely out of principle.
Is it normal for the interviewing process to take up all the candidates
day? Is it always expected to spend 3 weeks brushing up on algorithms for an
How important are the coding interviews in the decision process? I consider
myself a decent programmer, and I have passed and even enjoyed all the algorithmics
courses at my university. However, asking me to implement, lets say, the Minimum Cut
algorithm on a whiteboard in front of multiple interviewers, would totally break
From my limited professional experience, the average day of a developer is the
exact opposite of what you have to display at these interviews I read about.
When I code, I need my silence and time to think, I need a relaxing and
comfortable environment, I need the internet, man-pages, StackOverflow, IRC. I
need my own notepad on which I can doodle, and occasionally write down notes for
later. I need room to make and learn from my mistakes. And last but not least,
I will have bad days where I might underperform.
Interviews seem to be the exact opposite of all this.
Yes and yes. If you want to work at the best companies with the best engineers and the best workplace culture with the best compensation yes. I even think it’s worth it. Unfortunately having this strict interview style doesn’t guarantee any of the above it is just a prerequisite.
How important are the coding interviews in the decision process? I consider myself a decent programmer, and I have passed and even enjoyed all the algorithmics courses at my university. However, asking me to implement, lets say, the Minimum Cut algorithm on a whiteboard in front of multiple interviewers, would totally break me down.
It’s important. 90% of the problems are search problems ie bfs and dfs. Sometimes they are a little more difficult.
If you are interested in preparing and studying like crazy I suggest you go to hacker rank, solve the problems in order in python. Look at the solutions when you finish and study the user submitted solutions. They typically take advantage of built in data structures that can make life interviewing very easy
You need a panel of 8 to interview a candidate. One of the 8 must be the hiring manager, but sometimes that does not happen (very rare) so hiring manager interviews on a separate day. 8 people are split into 4 panels of 2 each, and within each panel each interviewer gets 1/2 hours (need not be exact), they want the other person to observe and provide independent feedback when the 1st person is interviewing in a panel. Now that's just the background.
Now does the hiring team have 8 people? Maybe not. Then what do you do? Get people from other groups. Even if hiring team has 8 people, are they all available? Maybe not. Again, get people from other groups. Based on the people who are available, do they have prior experience of interviewing? [ I would consider prior experience valid if they have conducted at least half a dozen interviews. ] Well, maybe not. Do they all work in the same technology area? Maybe not.
Then once the interview scheduled is laid out, usually 2-3 days in advance, you have a production breakdown issue and you can not attend. Or you are sick or working from home due to an emergency. Or there is some other conflict you can't get out of. So you find substitutes. Do those work as well? Sometimes they do, sometimes they do not. We would have done some prep in terms of which individual will focus on what area of expertise, but when you get last minute substitute, oh well how do you manage that.
Now all this is real life. People have priorities, people have life and while an interview is important, dealing with family sickness and production breakdowns is equally important. Shit happens. We / teams of course do their best to work around this, but does it happen all the time. Well, maybe not, but then what is the alternative once you have signed on the corporate / department mandate of 8 people : 4 hours interview mandate. It is usually a bunch of people trying to do their best, and sometimes the best is really bad for the candidate, but not usually.
Finally the 7 people in the panel dont have a 100% stake in the process, the hiring manager does, and he/she needs to make the best judgement based on all the feedback that comes through and if there are sufficient warning signs (2-3 people not happy with the candidate), they just move on as they do not want to take a 'brave' decision and be provided wrong later.
I would say dont worry about the process, it is shitty, but just understand how it works and play your role. The process is the same for everyone, and it is sometimes a game of odds, the odds are low to start with, but the game of odds means that sometimes you come out lucky too.
Maybe changing your own view a bit gets you closer to reality.
This! I'm reading in the thread here about people not arranging the right times, and people responding to recruiters who clearly don't care, and people jumping through all kinds of hoops, and I'm just here kind of in disbelief.
A good way to think about interviewing/being recruited, is in terms of dating. If an attractive woman says she's gonna call you, never does, then when you see her on the street she gives you some "Oh my dad's aunt's cousin's dog was sick" excuse, you're pretty much an idiot for ever thinking she was into you in the first place, and continuing to want her.
Another thing is that these folks have no idea that by continuing to be straddled and dragged along (and basically bullshitted), they're confirming that "Hey, I'm desperate for this job, so sure, I'll let you walk all over me". Which thus reduces their attractiveness as candidates. A recruiter misses a call with me? No reply. A company doesn't follow through on what they said they'd do or bullshits me in the slightest way? No reply. This approach is definitely a gamble, but you have to have confidence in the fact that "Hey, I'm great at what I do and anyone who gets me is lucky to have me".
Again, not that different from dating.
But some people actually are desperate, especially if they need to put a foot in the door with the big players of industry. We all desire basic decency and not being treated as nuisance.
Not a horror story, in that case.
I wonder if anyone can come up with a long lasting score card of recruiters. How do the new hires do after 2 years?
Or maybe even the managers should be graded in how the new hires are hired.
And we see results every day.
I think the origin is the extension of Ford-model idea of easily to find and substitute "dumb" workers that only know to turn a key. That model does not work in the long terms and because of that automotive industry switch to Toyota model. Unfortunately someone in "top positions" thought that Ford model is nice, dumb people are easy to manage, predictable, expendable etc so they push it as mass as they can at all level of our society.