Should those of us who aren't top 5%/didn't go to a top school just find another industry, one where sub-perfect work doesn't actively make other people's jobs harder?
I obviously don't have any statistics, but I think I could imagine a situation where the top 95% of software people constitute the top 1% of the interviewing population. Also one where interviewers are terrible at math, but that's no surprise. Anyway, you're fine, just go for it. That fact that you are self-aware enough to worry about it puts you in good standing all by itself.
My goal is to not hire the bottom 50% of the workforce in a given discipline. IMO, you're better off building teams that make the average+ person more productive.
What's fun is that this isn't just a possibility, its likely! Despite the following being a clearly artificial argument, the general shape of it is true.
Let's say that you can rate employees 1-10 on each of technical skill and employability/soft-skills, and that both are equally sought by the market. Given how attractive your company is to work for and what you pay, its quite often true that you can allocate around 12 total points between the two categories. 13 point candidates have better offers from Google; 11 point candidates fail your interview process.
If you only hire people that strongly pass a strong technical interview, ensuring that their technical skill is at least an 8/10, then your employees will have at most 4/10 soft skills.
That of course works much better when everyone has their own office so the angry outbursts are only heard by the 2-3 closest neighbors.
Why most companies find it hard to find good sales engineers.
I'm pretty sure you're being hyperbolic, but that sounds hellish. I have GAD and dread interviewing so much that I'd forego unemployment and just work as a Task Rabbit or something.
To preempt the inevitable responses: Yes, I do have a family to support and, yes, I have worked as a Task Rabbit or done manual labor when faced with similar situations in the past.
These companies aren't looking for top 1% people. They are looking for top 1% people who are in form currently.
The day you get unlucky and slip out of form, they don't want you.
Its basically the equivalent reducing the great people to Kleenex. Once used, they want to throw them. Then buy the next Kleenex box.
I recently had to proof-read a job req for a lead dev role on our team. It was insane and the person it was targeted at 1) wouldn't work for the compensation we were offering 2) would likely be running their own business. When I gave my opinion to my manager he said "If we can get someone who can meet a third of those requirements and doesn't come off as an asshole, we'll give them an offer."
My husband is applying for jobs now and he says the same thing about senior positions he's come across. "This seems like it's a director's role, not a senior!" I tell him to apply anyway because they're just chest-puffing and won't find that ideal candidate before they make a desperation hire.
Those types of whacked out reqs are written by the employees who are exiting the role. They're likely exiting the role because they took on a bunch of extra responsibilities and weren't getting substantial raises or promotions. If you can do half the shit they did, you'll probably be fine. Although you'll eventually end up leaving that role for the same reasons the guy before you did.
Recently, I've been applying for web developer positions and am coming across applications with these sorts of questions:
- What's the coolest thing you've done both in life and at work?
- What are your dreams?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I certainly do have answers for these questions, but I can't tell if they're the ones that employers want to hear. And are these things for other random people to know?
There are things I've done that I think are cool, but that doesn't necessarily mean that most people will think they are cool. Honestly, there really isn't anything about my life that is conventionally cool, even by the standards of the nerdiest nerds. Should my life have been more unique and exciting by this point?
The same can basically be said of my dreams, although I do not aspire for big dreams. I haven't made enough money yet to even think about anything more grandiose than simply living comfortably. Do my dreams need to be more exciting? Should I be shooting the moon? I feel like any honest answer I give to the question will sound disappointing to any startup.
Should I see myself anywhere in particular in 10 years? Beyond making more money and taking on more responsibilities in my career, where should I be in 10 years? My field evolves so rapidly that I can't honestly predict that far ahead, let alone 5 years into the future. But maybe I'm not cut out for what I do if I can't see that far ahead?
I could very well be what's wrong in the picture, but it seems to me like we are culturally intolerant of "normal" people who have a skill and want to make a living. Everyone needs to have dreams, grand aspirations, and a little clairvoyance. I tend to have pretty high confidence, but seeing this kind of language when applying for jobs does stir up that feeling of imposterhood in me.
Let me elaborate a little.
My dreams are none of an interviewer's bloody business. I'm here to work not share the things that give me hope in my darkest moments or the aspirations that shaped my adulthood. I find this question very creepy and extremely unprofessional.
I could maybe figure out a "lesser dream" to share, but then what's the point of this question? To find out the most intimate thing that I'd be willing to share?
Where I see myself in ten years is a meaningless question to ask after I've had, what, fifteen minutes of exposure to a company's culture? Maybe I'm the kind of person who sees themselves in management over ten years, but you've got such an amazing working culture that you could convince the most ambitious career builder to stick to engineering instead. Or vice-versa. Or do you really want to hire the kind of people who get an idea in their head, and then do it, even if it takes them ten years and it's really, really, really bad idea?
I've heard all sorts of ways to justify these things. That it's a way to see if a candidate can relate to you and evaluate their empathy -- if anything, this will say more about an interviewer's biases than about anything else. To see if a candidate can communicate about abstract matters -- as if there are not countless questions about ethics, aesthetics and epistemology in our profession that you need to start prying into personal things. That it's a way to see if they're "career-oriented", whatever that means, as if someone who writes amazing code but wouldn't hustle for a promotion is a bad hire.
So far, it hasn't turned out to be a bad idea.
Yup - that's all it is. And you're going to have a certain envelope of negatives (usually far worse than this) in any environment.
So while it does make the flag a bit bless verdant... to call it a "red flag" seems to be a bit of a stretch.
(And as for the substance: agreed, and a capable interviewee should know how to work around those questions and similarly silly ones, like "what's your greatest weakness?". It's a two-way street. And while it's not a positive datapoint, it's hardly a KO-criterion. (viridescent? aquamarine? turquoise? :) )
If you don't have any work-safe dreams, you might want to see a psychiatrist. Again, though, you've misinterpreted the question - They're looking for you to express your spark of passion. It doesn't even have to be for the job. People like people who can talk about something passionately.
That's the charitable reading. The adversarial reading is that they're looking for the emotional buttons to push to maximize your output while minimizing their investment in you.
There's so much zero sum game thinking here when it comes to job relations ...
To me these are two entirely different classes of questions. The first is open ended and meaningless, while the second is directly connected to your career and thus highly relevant for both you and the company. I know where I want to be in 10 years career wise and thus I want to know if this job can help me get there. Equally the company probably knows where it wants to be in 10 years and as such wants to know if you can help it get there.
> I'm not looking for a particular answer just an honest one.
are contradictory one to another.
That type of culture is unbearable to those that don’t perfectly fit your monoculture.
My opinion is uninteresting people are just fine for coworkers, you're interviewing for an employee, not a drinking buddy.
A big part of the hiring process, at least at big companies, is taking a pile of 100 resumes and reducing it to a pile of 10 resumes, because there's no way you're interviewing 100 candidates. So 90% are eliminated before ever meeting, and bias is huge there.
But the bias starts even before that. The pipeline itself is biased. There are more men than women, more whites than non-whites (proportional to society as a whole). This is a problem that needs to be addressed at the society level, not the interview level, but it affects the interview level, because candidates who are "different" lead to unconscious bias.
For older technical people... well, I'm one of them. I'm 53, which means a lot of my social group is the same age. I freely job-hop and don't struggle to find work. I've never felt that my age was a bias against me. What I do see, and I see this a lot, is people my age who worked at the same company for 10-20 years and then lost their job, for whatever reason (usually reorgs or dying companies). Their skill set has become largely about intra-company specialization rather than broad industry skills. I watched my spouse go through this. She lost her job of 13 years in a buyout, and it took her six months to find something else. She had gotten deep in a narrow business field (international e-commerce analyst), and there just weren't many jobs for her, even in our busy town. We didn't want to move to the Bay area or New York, and while she could do generic business analysis or project management, without industry-specific skills, she's not much better than someone barely past entry level. Eventually she found a job that suited her long-built skills, but it took a while. And this story is common as dirt, it's happened to a lot of my friends.
That's how age bias works. It's not discrimination, it's just being unprepared for the job market after too many years in one place. Keep your skills up to date and switch jobs regularly, and age is just a number.
So when you talk about monoculturing and bias at the interview point... nah, that's not the problem point. The problems of bias prevent the interview from happening in the first place.
Hey, I ask a lot of these questions in consulting. What I’m looking for is to tell if a) you can communicate a point clearly b) if you can talk generally about your career and are growth oriented.
If you said that field evolves rapidly bit above that would be a good answer. If you span it as a joke “surely writing angular 25, the last web framework ever” even better.
I wouldn’t ask the dreams question, but the coolest question is loaded with coolest, I would say “tell me about a previous project you enjoyed working on” and see if you have had a good project you are passionate about.
A flip-side question is to ask about projects they worked on that failed. Failures rarely appear on resumes, and it can be an uncomfortable topic. But if you can get them going, you can learn a ton about how they handle adversity. Do they make excuses, or find scapegoats? Do they take responsibility? Do they give credit where credit is due for colleagues? Do they recognize the big-picture conditions that affected the situation?
That's a bad one, considering that everyone is supposed to be upbeat and positive in the face of adversity. You can't place blame on management and the environment that was in no way conducive to success because that's not culturally acceptable.
Are we supposed to prepare an answer for that question now as well because the true answer (unrealistic expectations from upper management and insufficient infrastructure) will make you fail the interview? What you could ask is what will make a team fail, and my answer would be autocratic management.
Nope. I don't want a prepared answer. I want an honest answer. Hence throwing them a rough, non-technical question that absolutely will not be on the resume, but has been part of the career of any experienced candidate.
"Autocratic management" isn't a good answer, because it's too general. What did autocratic management do? Were the requirements incomplete? The schedule unrealistic? Beaten by the competition? Depended on unproven technology? Sometimes, everyone does everything right, and a project fails anyway. There's still a reason it failed.
But when I hear a candidate talk about failure in the form of "I was a hero, but my idiot co-workers and malicious bosses ruined everything", I hear them finding someone to blame, rather than a problem that didn't get solved correctly. And that tells me a lot about what working with them will be like, when we have our inevitable failures.
Startuplandia has a way of attracting hucksters, unscrupulous businessmen and crazies with a firm disregard for what is physically possible. I notice that Ubeam was founded in 2011 and they are still around!
I once worked for an outfit where one founder was named party to an investor suit (he had awarded himself stock options after a clinical trial came out favourable) and the other was frankly incompetent and afflicted with cluster B personality disorders. It ended as well as one would have predicted. Failing startups because of founder personality and founder competence issues are unfortunately common, they are not corner cases at all, and for the person coming out of one the incidence is 100 %, but discussing such matters in an interview will torpedo your chances. No honesty for you, it's counterproductive for the jobseeker!
Seriously, Dave, if you were interviewing a candidate that had been working on the gluebot that Carreyrou mentioned in Bad Blood, how would he have to spin the story to get an offer out of you?
Hell, I've talked openly in interviews about the problems with a project that I got fired from, and blamed both management and the customer in no uncertain terms. I fault myself mostly for not walking out on it. I still get job offers when talking about how I got fired by incompetent management of an out-of-control project. But part of that is that my story leads somewhere - it leads to my lessons learned, conditions I will no longer tolerate in a workplace, #1 of which is the bottomless budget.
So I care less about how you screwed up, or who or what you blame, and more about what you learned from the failure. Tell me that, and you win my heart.
Conceptually, Theranos was very exciting. I hope someone actually pulls it off someday. I can understand the attraction for a scientist.
There are tests where it doesn't matter - consider the blood glucose - the variability of capillary samples vs venous samples is well understood and the introduced error sufficiently small compared to reference range.
But Theranos also tried electrolyte panels, and there you have a problem because the concentrations of ions in blood plasma are very different from the concentrations of ions inside cells. Both are tightly controlled in the healthy body. Slightly less than 50 % of blood is cellular matter, and even small amounts of lysis are sufficient to distort the numbers to render them clinically meaningless. You inevitably have lysis in capillary samples. Carreyrou talks about that in his book.
For example, "we made several governance mistakes on a project that meant we didn't have enough time to finish the project. On the next project, I made sure to be clearer with estimates and buffer time, so that the team etc. etc." and "Our management doesn't listen" can describe the same situation.
Again, definitely agree you are in the danger zone so its important to be thoughtful.
I would wager that at least half of candidates are just good humble team players. Your approach optimises for egotistical braggarts at the expense of normal people.
It's hard for a lot of people to speak well of themselves, which makes the whole interviewing process difficult much of the time. We're trained to a beat-down that gets called humility, but it's not. Asking about successes is a way past that - it's giving them permission to say something good about themselves.
But to be fair, a lot of what I'm after is inflated claims on a resume, which are common as dirt, because people are much more comfortable deceptively bragging on paper than they are in person.
I often have a hard time putting my accomplishments into context (indeed, even seeing them as "accomplishments," because they're simply what I'm supposed to do).
(Incidentally, I hate the word "ownership" in this context. You don't own anything you can't take with you. Try taking work you did for a company with you when you leave.)
- Anyone who skips those questions are rejected outright. If you're not willing to put in a little time you're not interested enough to be considered. You'd be surprised how many people skip these questions.
- If you've done something crazy cool or interesting it's a plus but if not it isn't a negative.
- Can you communicate something that's a bit abstract?
- Relevant jokes are usually seen as a plus.
Yep, same here.
> Anyone who skips those questions are rejected outright.
Any company using these questions is rejected outright. I'm looking for someone who is willing to give me money for code, not a wife.
Please don't take this the wrong way but "presenting" in this way at an interview is not helping you.
It's different from being a good talker, which can be entertaining, but isn't really two-way.
Talk about something that you can sound excited/relatable talking about. Friends, family, volunteer work, that all works.
It's not hard to find relevant examples these days though. Thankfully, ninja is no longer acceptable.
Makes me imagine they literally are not looking for someone. It's got to be a scam of some sort. I heard these types are posts are put up so firms can bank off of some sort of "lack of experience" in their area tax break or something. Rumor, read on internet. I don't know. Never understood it.
I think that's what I heard back in the day.
It just sucks that kids these days are judging themselves off these bullshit advertisements. Now they're getting mental issues where they don't have a good self-image in their skill sets.
Jesus...it's like the fashion industry for young girls...
If so, back then we all just thought the HR posting the job was retarded. If I saw something stupid, the person was stupid. It never hurt me.
Nowadays the whole imposter syndrome is becoming a bigger issue. People are becoming more and more inadequate in their own skin. It’s all just getting offended by stuff seen, no matter how small.
I grew up on, “Do they not like you? Fuck them. Move on.”
Just saying that, I feel like a “back in my day” old man. And I’m only 31.
Now kids are taking the most random things to heart. And it’s sad. Really is. And I don’t have a solution for that other than they’re to just ignore the garbage and plow on. Maybe one day I can figure that out. But as it sits, this over artificial world is poisoning from all directions.
You know that movie Interns with the wow actor going to Google. The two older guys had to convince the kids that their lives haven’t even started yet, even though they thought it was going to end if they don’t get into Google? I use to think that movie was silly. But the tech industry is grooming kids to believe this. These ridiculous job interviews. Ridiculous expectations. Tight crunch times and shit hours. All to think they’re making the world a better place. But let’s face it. There’s no difference between big oil and big tech. They’re the same machine spitting out a different product.
Maybe I’m just the last gen that sees it and shows up to meetings drunk.
Begs the question.. "What is society rewarding ? "
I'm not saying 100%, but playing with that idea. If you grow up your whole life on stories of teens making millions and you're a loser if you don't. What else is there for you?
I grew up that making bank like that was rare. Super rare. You work for it. Some way, some how. Through connections or through ideas. But it's not "normal". Thus, don't think it is. It does seem on social media and the filth, that being stupid rich is normal and you're a loser if you're not.
I can understand that if you grow up seeing that, a majority of your developing life... yea... I'd probably have a mental breakdown too. What else is there? You think, well, your life is over. It's too late to "become rich" or important.
In some respects, the hipster movement is a slightly interesting counter culture to that problem. Looking back to the old ways. I think they take it too far and are dumb about it sometimes. But, at this moment while writing this, I can respect it. What we have now is not normal. It's easy to deal with if you remember a day when no one had cell phones. You ran around outside doing dumbshit. No one cried if you called them an asshole, they just hit you in the mouth and the day was done. Hell, if I had a kid in school now, I'd be scared that they might call someone a boy or girl and end up on the news because of it. That's an irrational fear on my own right. But, yea, I seem to have it.
I don't know. I don't feel like this is well thought out. It's just a weird thing that I understand that there is an inherent problem with people growing up nowadays and mental illness is a bad result of it. Exactly what, I don't know.
Imagine the entire Internet landing on you instead of just your classmates ?
As far as I can tell, society is rewarding burning people out. The tech industry is actually MUCH better than most other industries. Check out assistant managers in most any franchise. We had an article on here(?) yesterday(?) about how everything in sales was "hustle" - even when it didn't need to be. Example after example. It's not new, but that doesn't mean it's not getting worse, and it doesn't mean we can't push back.
It's funny how being an entrepreneur use to mean freedom from being a cog in a machine. Now it's turned into just being all the cogs in a machine. You ditch one slavery for another.
Who's the guy who talks about a 4 hour work week? I mean, it seemed silly at first. But to be honest, I think he was the closest to getting it all correct.
Work as efficient as possible so you don't have to work too much. Enjoy your life outside of work.
Sounds like a goddamn madman lol. Enjoy life. Only work as much as you need to. Crazy person.
There's a great podcast with Jocko, of him being candid about his own life and burn out/suicide attempt due to his Phd. What essentially started the whole 4-hour thingy.
Tim Ferriss, that guy. Here's a link to that podcast. Worth a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsxydhFqXug
But as a caveat, there's nothing wrong with busting ass when you need to. There was a project I got contracted for on doing a surveillance trailer from scratch. I barely slept for 2 weeks getting parts, learning/welding, wiring and configuring a mobile surveillance system for stadiums. Got paid for the prototype and vacationed for a month, because I could. That last part is the important part. Nothing wrong with hustling or running your self into the ground, sometimes. Just not ALL the time.
I even have to combat the random feelings that "I should be working" instead of just taking time off for me.
That's just corporate America spewing their usual trash talk. Most people you'd meet on the street are totally fine with people having non-productive hobbies. Just as long as you're still able to make a 9-5 job, though.
EDIT: What I'm trying to say is that people care that you have a day job. After that, any decent human being wouldn't care what you do with your free time. That's yours and yours alone.
My point was it's demonized and there's like a stigma to it. Like masturbating. I just always feel like whenever I talk to random new people about wood working, it's almost like I'm talking about masturbating to them with they way they act about it. Since it's not money producing. It's not like I give a shit. I had a supremely bad burn out years ago and different hobbies have kept me from ever going back to that burn out mental state.
I think hobbies are a highly underrated form of keeping good, solid mental health.
I got my first tech job out of the local news paper btw
Maybe just keep that and learn to be a little more obnoxious in the self-assessments you give to others?
Do people apply to these places? I don't. Ever. Not that I feel bad about myself, but I don't ever ever want to work for a manager who approves this type of job ad.
Is that what we're calling co-working spaces these days? I can get on board with that.
It's at least what we where calling them in most of Europe long before the term "co-working space" was invented.
What is the big deal here? If you believe you can do it, then who cares what the job description says; just apply. If you don't believe you can do it, apply anyway. There is literally no drawback to applying for a job and there is little draw back to lying about it. When I was finally offered the job, I told the HR person that I had lied on my resume, and he said that he admired by chutzpah.
No one is going to fire you for coming clean after being given a promise of employment. And, if they do decide not to offer the job to you, you still haven't lost anything.
The top 5, 10, 20 out even 50% rarely hit the open market, inbound recruitment process. They get poached or go where former coworkers are
Of course, I spent the first 14 of those years in Dallas and the first 9.5 of those at a poor choice of company. I spent years having applications ignored. I sometimes wonder if thinking like this had something to do with that.
TL;DR We made women sound like men and men sound like women in technical interviews and found that it didn't move the needle.
My experience is that other people are weirded out when I talk in an empowered fashion like a man. Some people give me push back over that because sexism is alive and well. So it isn't a slam dunk cure for a woman to learn manly phrasing.
But, yes, I think you are correct that men and women typically phrase things differently, so masking the voice is insufficient.
"What will ya have?"
"Yeah give me a half pound of the turkey that's on special."
Perfectly appropriate conversation. It's a transactional conversation. Pleasantry are nice but the absence of them doesn't mean one is being rude.
Here (Australia) it's just rude people that say "Give me ..." and polite people who say "Can I please have ..." etc. - no clear split between male and female.
That's not to say your point is necessarily wrong, just that at least that particular example is highly region-specific.
I was a homemaker and mom for years. My sister had a serious career and delayed having a baby. When I was younger, I was sometimes weirded out by her framing. When I repeated things she said to other people, sometimes people actually remarked that she "spoke like a man" or similar.
I think there are differences in how men and women typically express themselves. Some of this may be rooted in different experiences that aren't per se gender specific -- ie men are more likely to be in charge and being in charge shapes language. Then men being in charge means men are more likely to emulate "boss" language. It becomes masculine by association.
But I think that a difference does exist in the aggregate.
So I guess my point is, are you only noticing it when you are testing for it?
I had a corporate job for 5.25 years. My department had around 500 people in it. I routinely sat up front in large meetings, in part because I have terrible eyesight. One day, the highest ranked woman in my department said to the guy who was her only equal in rank "Look at Doreen, sitting up front."
I don't sit up front to signal aggressive type A personality stuff or ambition or whatever, but other people interpret it that way.
I went to GIS Summer School, an 8 week program that covered a normally year long certificate. It's a two thirds male field and most classes were two thirds male. The last week of this program, I realized that I was the only woman who routinely sat up front. Most women sat in the last two rows of class.
I'm routinely interpreted as highly aggressive and pushy for doing things that are totally normal and completely unremarkable when men do them. It's fine if a guy does it. It's normal for men to sit up front. No one accuses them of anything for not hiding themselves away in the back row seats. But it gets a fair amount of attention for me to sit up front, and not in a good way.
This was viewed by the highest ranked woman in my department as noteworthy and she said it in front of a bunch of people loud enough for me and everyone else there to hear. She didn't discuss it with her equal privately nor comment on it to me privately. You could interpret that as a rebuke, like "how dare she do that!"
You could also interpret it as a shocked reaction by a woman who is presumably a great deal more empowered than most people regardless of gender, yet could not imagine doing anything as daring as sitting up front, apparently. She also got very defensive when I said my sons had taken over the housework and cooking. Her husband followed her from another state so she could take the job, but she still did most of the women's work at home. Most of my female colleagues were shocked that my sons took over the housework and cooking at home after I went from homemaker to primary breadwinner.
People tend to remember the times they're mentioned in that manner, but forget/overlook the times it happens to other people.
I can't tell you if those situations were sexist or not, but I can tell you that I'm a man, and I've had a large number of experiences that absolutely match your descriptions.
I've been told the tone of my voice was commandeering in a fairly civil meeting, I've had it remarked on about how many questions I ask, I've gotten plenty of pushback when I ask folks to do things they don't want to do.
Those things are basically a normal part of office politics. Again, I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that your interaction there sounds fairly unremarkable to me, and likely stuck with you because it was about you.
Just like the offhand remark about being commandeering didn't matter to anyone else, but I sure as hell remembered it.
It struck me that the female VIP said something in part because it was a "Pink Collar Ghetto" department in a company with an excellent track record for diversity and inclusion. When I got the job, the department head of my department was a woman. She retired shortly after I came on board and was replaced by a man. The two second in command positions were held by one man and one woman. When the woman retired, she was replaced by another woman.
So this was the last place I expected anyone to act like there was something noteworthy about me sitting up front. It was a female majority department with lots of women managers and other women in high ranking positions and you would think this would be one place where no one would think anything at all about a woman sitting in the front. Yet, here was this VIP woman remarking on it in front of everyone.
I gave up my car while working there. My apartment was about a 7 minute drive from work. It was about an hour walk. There were about 2000 people in the building I worked in. I rarely walked for more than 10 minutes before someone offered me a ride.
This resulted in a de facto informal survey where I would make conversation with the person who had picked me up and I would talk about having two special needs sons who had never held paid jobs and blah blah blah and they would express pity for me "Oh, you poor thing, you walked to work and worked all day to support the family and now you have to go home and cook dinner." and I would go "Um, no. I will peel and chop vegetables and go in the bath. When I get out the bath, dinner will be served to me. My oldest son does the cooking and dinner has already been started." And they would dramatically change their tune, from pity to envy.
This was a Fortune 200 company for part of the time I worked there and a Fortune 500 company the entire time I worked there. It was the largest civilian (non military) employer in the city at the time I was there. When I made small talk at eateries and people asked me where I worked, just telling them the name of my employer basically got oohs and aahs. Some of my coworkers had spent years trying to qualify for a job at the company at all.
So this is a sampling of arguably some of the best, brightest and most empowered women in the world who are not outright nobility or wealthy celebrities, who just have a job. And the vast majority of them still did most or all of the "women's work" at home. The fact that I didn't was quite unexpected and often met with shock and sometimes a lot of defensiveness.
I mean, not to dismiss your point. I often find it valuable when guys on HN say "Yeah, they do that to me too." That's often been enormously helpful to me. But, given the larger context, I'm pretty confident that this specific incident -- this remark by this high ranking woman -- was an expression of broader cultural expectations and sexism.
> women leave interviewing.io roughly 7 times as often as men after they do badly in an interview.
That could indicate a more general difference in men and women that could be effectively targeted to keep more women in tech.
I've seen some of the articles about the Nordic countries and was not conviced at all. They were saying that in Nordic countries women have more choice and they have a lower participation in CS studies. And bang, they thought they proved something...
Rather than accepting no evidence, why don't you suggest a better way to test this idea and explain why your test would be better?
There is nothing wrong in saying that we don't know if coffee is good or not for your health. Science is not there yet with its tools to test for this. Instead of presenting studies over studies that contradict each other.
The same with inherited differences between genders. Science is not there yet to tell us anything about it.
Correlations without context are useless, though: http://tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
You shouldn't walk away from a good interview feeling like you nailed it. An interviewer should push you to your limits and the more you know, the more they should push. It doesn't mean you failed, it means you reached the limits they could push you in the time you had.
If you're rejected from the role, most likely you didn't reach the bar they needed you to be at, or you failed at the behavioral parts. Or, the interviewers you had weren't properly calibrated, which isn't to say anything about you other than bad luck.
Granted, this is HN, but this viewpoint is very tech-engineer focused. Most jobs aren't like this at all. Chicken-parts processor interviews aren't like this, para-legal interviews aren't like this, firefighter interviews aren't like this, teacher interviews aren't like this, etc. For the vast majority of jobs out there, your certifications, references, and resume are more than enough (especially in right-to-work states in the US).
> If you're rejected from the role, most likely you didn't reach the bar they needed you to be at, or you failed at the behavioral parts. Or, the interviewers you had weren't properly calibrated, which isn't to say anything about you other than bad luck.
Hanlon's Razor states that the mostly likely explanation is not conspiracy, but stupidity. Most of the time, your interviewers are just dumb/inexperienced/busy/assholes.
Nor were tech interviews (usually), until about 10 years ago.
What are the odds that everyone in your interview is dumb/inexperienced/busy or an asshole versus the odds that it's just you?
In a lot of tech interview loops, all it takes is one idiot or one asshole to torpedo your candidacy.
The commenter wasn't saying that everyone they talked to was in that category. But rather that one person they talked to who basically tanked the whole interview for them. You know, the one who reported back everyone about what an uninspired dolt you are because you didn't answer that "Tell us about your dreams" question with quite the level of gushing enthusiasm they were expecting.
So what are the odds that you'll run into at least one person in that category, in a random tech interview these days?
When we take into account how toxic and culturally dysfunctional the tech industry in general has become in recent years -- I'm speaking specifically of it is huge vanity problem (from which this "we only hire the best" nonsense stems); combined with its insatiable addiction to bullshit and the cargo-culting of bad practices (and its worship of dumb and/or useless interview questions specifically) --
actually, fairly high.
Let's assume that your interviewer is selected at random from the population and that traits are independent from each other. Let's further assume that 50% of people are 'dumb', that 30% of people are inexperienced, that 90% of people are 'busy', and that 50% of people are assholes. Honestly, I think these estimates are kind to most people in corporate America, but we're going from a random sample of the population. You can play around with the odds yourself and see what you get.
Now, my probability math isn't the best these days, but I can give this a go:
The odds that your interviewer is all four of the listed traits is ~7%.
Writing out the matrix for all the probabilities is going to take a while and really isn't formatted well for HN, so I'll skip most of them and just focus on the dumb assholes. So the odds that your interviewer is:
- dumb, inexperienced, and an asshole is ~8%
- dumb, 'busy', and an asshole is ~23%
- dumb and an asshole is ~25%
Now, that's just a single interviewer. You typically get a few rounds of them. Let's say that we have three interviewers to go through. What are the odds that at least one of them is a dumb asshole? Well, again, my probability math isn't the best, but I think that you just add the events together. So, the odds that you have at least one dumb asshole to be interviewed by is ~75%. Again, though, probability math is a head-trip to me and I always have to relearn it when I do it.
Now, you asked what the odds were that the person being interviewed is the one at fault. Again, we have to assume that we are being picked at random from the population. I'll use the numbers as above and assume they are randomly distributed in a person likewise.
The odds that both you are all four things (dumb/inexperienced/busy/asshole) is still just ~7%, and likewise for the rest of the permutations. For the sake of brevity, let's assume that the interviewee is dumb asshole and that the person giving the interview is NOT a dumb asshole. The probability that they are not a dumb asshole is ~75%. The odds that you, the interviewee, are a dumb asshole are ~25%. Again, though, probability math is a head-trip, I think the odds are then just multiplied to give the odds of that particular interaction at ~19%, or just shy of 1/5th of the interviews.
Now, again, you have to go through three of these rounds of interviews, each time going through the independent probability math. Again, my probabilty math isn't the best here, but I think the odds that you are a dumb asshole and that the interviewers are NOT dumb assholes is ~56%. Again, assume random distributions of traits and random sampling of people and that my distributions of traits are accurate.
Hope it helps!
EDIT: Crap! You asked a question I did not answer (sorry): what are the odds that ALL the interviewers have NONE of the four listed traits and you have at least one of the traits. Well, the odds that a random person does NOT have ANY of the listed independent traits is ~2%. That ALL three of these hypothetical interviewers would not have ANY of the listed traits is ~0.000054%. Now, that you have NONE of the traits is ~93%, but lest focus on the dumb assholes again. So the odds that you have at least the dumb trait OR the asshole trait are ~50% ( Thank God I chose both those percentages to be the same!). So, given that you have at least one trait, and that the interviewers have NONE of the traits, what are those odds? They are ~0.000027%. Again, though, my math is not always the best, so please re-check.
> Now, again, you have to go through three of these rounds of interviews, each time going through the independent probability math. Again, my probabilty math isn't the best here, but I think the odds that you are a dumb asshole and that the interviewers are NOT dumb assholes is ~56%.
This is what I meant to ask, but I should've worded it differently.
Why would you undertake a several-paragraphs-long probabilistic analysis if you are aware of your inability to do so?
Doing this sort of interviews on programmers probably wouldn't work even if current programmer interviews do suck for both parties and they're mostly embarrassing, too.
I'm guessing here and might be wrong but all these professions have a rather fixed set of limited skills they have to know in order to qualify. Teachers have to teach a certain curriculum: on top of that they can be bad teachers or good teachers but basically what they have to achieve each year for each class is known and predicated. Firefighters have their training and as a baseline it's sufficient to be a good team player and just execute. Firefighters will have to improvise at times, and they will have opportunities to make some really good judgement calls based on their experience alone, but that's sort of extra. You're still a good firefighter if you just stick with doing it by the book.
Now, the same for programmers would be something like "Must know Java and we'll hire you". This didn't end very well in the IT bubble twenty years ago. Knowing Java inside out doesn't make you a good programmer, not even a good Java programmer, there's so much more to that. Would you hire an artist based on "Must know how to paint in oil, watercolor, and draw in charcoal"? That's where the real skills begin, not suffice.
If you're a Java programmer it doesn't mean you can just sit down and program anything for any company: there are hundred domain-specific skills and questions, all sorts of CS theory of which you know one or two fractions based on what you've worked on before, and a very specific mindset that makes a good programmer for a specific role. To some extent you can be a generalist and learn a bit of this and that but especially for heavy specialists it could take years to transition from one specific subdomain to another.
All programmers are cathedral builders but they will all make very different cathedrals and they are continuously requested to make cathedrals that have not been built before. Then there are other jobs where they follow the blueprints and produce a cathedral one after another, meeting the same requirements each time.
I'm not saying programmers are superb to these other professions when it comes to complexity and depth. It's just that a programmer's job can be about anything: the number of problem domains is endless and more so as the world becomes more software than hardware. You can do so much with computers and programming that whatever baseline there exists alone doesn't yet take you anywhere as a programmer.
There's the fizzbuzz level of a baseline, there's the skillset, buzzwords and qualifications baseline, and there are a lot of other baselines that need to be met. That's why you need to figure out a way to interview programmers that takes all this into account.
There's no single interview that could be used to qualify people for being hired as a programmer because the requirements are never fixed.
I mean I've been working there for nearly 8 years now and haven't gotten fired yet so it should be alright. But still. [/impostor syndrome]
Disagree. An interviewer should be trying to find out if you are technically and socially capable of performing the job.
Still is capitalism here...
So, yes, most interviewers are looking for the best fit.
I look for someone who will be able to grow inside the company and fill gaps. Like to see them do smart things they are hired to do without being told what to do.
However, if you're seriously arguing that you'd hire an MBA for the front lines of a minimal proficiency call center "so they can grow into the company," then you're exaggerating.
In one conception, "a job" means that your boss sets out a list of tasks for you to do, and you do them, consistently and reliably. As long as you do what you are told, you will be paid the salary agreed upon. If you do it long enough, you will be promoted. Under this conception, there is no reason for a job interview to do anything other than ascertain whether you are qualified to do the tasks listed in the job description.
In the other conception, "a job" means that you're responsible for looking around the organization, identifying ways to either generate more revenue, make customers happier, or eliminate inefficiencies, and then go do them. Your boss's job is to remove roadblocks and introduce you to coworkers that can help you. The specific tasks you will be working on are unknown at the time of hire, and it is part of your job description to discover them. If you generate value for the organization, you will be promoted. Under this conception, it makes sense for a job interview to push you as far as possible, because if it turns out you're more qualified than the position, the position can be extended so you have more impact and get correspondingly higher compensation.
When people with the first conception apply to jobs with the second conception, they wonder why their employer demands so much of them, why there are no clear guidelines, and why they don't advance while people hired after them shoot right by them and end up becoming managers. When people with the second conception apply to jobs with the first conception, they get bored, step on other peoples' toes, make political enemies, and end up getting kicked out.
Adding to the complication, your boss is many companies is far more likely to hold the second conception of what a job is, because that's how he got promoted. Good managers can adjust their managerial style to make both types of employees productive, but bad managers assume everyone is just like them and complain about how employees are so lazy these days, while those employees complain about how their manager doesn't know what he wants.
Also complicating things, the first type of job is dying out. In many cases, they're being replaced by automation, and the jobs themselves disappear in favor of machines. In other cases, their boss is being replaced by an app, and those jobs become contract positions for Uber or Postmates or DoorDash or Amazon.
The first types of jobs Should have good leadership where the complex parts have already been decided and all that’s left is the implementation.
The issue is what happens when a worker for a type 2 manager is smarter and knows exactly what to do? That employees best course of action in their perspective is to get their boss fired and take their role since they are more capable.
When the type 2 manager gets frustrated due to incompetence that becomes scary since they lash out at their underlings for incompetence.
Type 1 jobs are more relaxing on the psyche as you don’t have to think about
I'm pretty sure, most of us have come across folks who pretend to know something, you ask them easy, little, but esoteric questions, that prove whether or not they even have knowledge in something.
At least for big firms, this isn't out of the realm of possibility. Small companies... I get it. They have to then base it off experience, references and gut feelings.
That's because most people wouldn't pass their interviews if you gave it to them again.
Unfortunately a lot of interviews these days are passed by grinding on LeetCode (that's not to say your experience doesn't get displayed in other forms) and then forgetting about these patterns & problems after.
When you're in a situation in front of a whiteboard with 15-45 minutes to craft some algorithm it makes a ton of difference whether or you've been practicing.
Many people have said this.
I've probably exceeded 20 before if you count lunch and meeting VPs/directors toward the end.
That explains it. If the job is hard, people just faffling around don't even bother to apply.
You need 12 adversarial grilling rounds of interviews so that you can hire what you claim to be the best and put them to build JSONs.
I've managed to pull it off somehow, but I rarely go a day where I don't wonder if I really should have as good of a job as I do.
And yet... as an independent consultant, I'm often brought in to projects worked on by these folks who "have proof that they know what they're doing". If they knew what they were doing, almost by definition, they wouldn't be calling in an outside consultant to fix broken shit.
There are often many reasons - cutting corners due to time or budget, or inheriting something that was bad and not having support to fix it, or not knowing how to fix it. But often if I'm able to talk to these folks... they didn't know what they were doing (and often didn't know they didn't know), so the result was a mess.
The "1% dude" with his CS degree probably has never had to acknowledge to a boss that they made a mistake, or are in over their head, or... haven't had to deal with their own code 5 years later and clean up their own mistakes, let alone others'.
I've been brought in as an "expert" on all sorts of things, with hardly any interviewing. Just show up and be given the keys to the kingdom.
Granted I've almost always been able to deliver, but they mostly took my word for it up front.
But having someone at work for real for a few weeks give employers a way meaningful signal than any degrees on a resume. If your employer maintains their relationship with you, you are likely worth more than the degrees you mentioned--dont overthink it!
Still, after dropping out, it was hard to avoid constant feelings of inferiority. Even though people obviously didn't mean it this way, I was interpreting every statement as having an implicit suffix of "and you're stupid because you dropped out". It took me years to realize that people really aren't that much of jerks, and a surprising few actually give a crap about you dropping out.
I do think that, for engineering, a year of experience is worth just as much as a year in school if you are willing to spend evenings self-teaching.
My interests tend to be a bit more academic (which don't appear to be willing to overlook a lack of a bachelors), and since there's not a single Math professor in the NYC area that will take me on as a PhD student without a degree (I think I might have emailed literally all of them), I've actually started back in school, so hopefully that'll kill the complex.
I forgot to mention it, I'm interested mostly in theoretical math, and more specifically Type Theory.
I wouldn't worry about being an Impostor.
Both started out by looping over the items in the dict and stopping at the correct one. Asking if there was a simpler way to get values out of dict didn't help.
The third candidate really didn't get far enough to get the dict wrong so I counted them as well but they may have known how to do a dict lookup.
Here is the exercise:
Given these dicts:
Write a program in language of your choice that sums the common keys.
a and b are common so result is:
so output should be:
This exercise is stupid simple. Note this is in an IDE/Editor, not a whiteboard.
I've had people fail the "tell me if these two strings are anagrams" thing, with one person's response being to have 26 counters, one for each letter.
You don’t see them at startups or at companies with solid technical reputations.
I don't even know how to study. I sometimes consider it, but have never spent more than an hour prepping for an interview. :(
It worries me, because I know that interviewing is a skill. But are we not setting folks up to over index on that skill such that they have difficulty with actual job performance?
If anyone knows any literature into that general topic, I'd be very interested in perusing it.
So, as is normal in life, I expect it is complicated.
Companies always take the full time they scheduled for your interview no matter when they've decided you failed. Then a week later they may drop you an email informing you that they've chosen to pass on your candidacy. They then ignore or deny any request for feedback (something about liability).
So, interviewing with most companies may never inform you about why you're getting rejected. Last time I searched for a new position, I did about a dozen interviews, failed each one, still no idea why. That is why I'll consider a practice interview before my next job search.
That's cleared by recruiting, HR, and legal from the SF startup I work at. I did it today.
Damn, that made my skin crawl. If I heard that, I'd be thanking my lucky stars that I didn't get hired by such a company.
Happy to adjust the way I communicate so long as I can express that it was writing out code that didn't work as opposed to architecture and/or technical communication.
It’s also not particularly actionable. Obviously, it implies that you need to brush up on either a) algorithms, b) coding, or c) investigating a problem. However, you could just come out and say that. Some specific feedback on the problems that the applicant “failed” would be incredibly nice but is probably too much work. However, some general suggestions for how to improve would also make this feel more constructive, along with some instructions (if any) on how to reapply. Possibly something like “We felt that your knowledge of data structures was a weakness. Many of our engineers swear by Skiena’s Algorithm Design Manual, or.... If you are still interested in ABC Corp, we would be happy to consider a new application in six months.”
But point taken and I’ll bias back in that direction. Without any irony, thanks for the feedback ;)
: Granted, there’s always the nebulous “not a culture fit” to deal with, but that’s always going to be a thing.
Best to avoid it. That's a safe neutral ground.
I was proud of that one but man would it have been sensible of me to have asked him to re-apply at that time. I love working with people with that attitude.
Unfortunately, I had my first unpleasant interaction shortly after that and then have never given pointed feedback ever after. Is that really short-termism? I don't see the short-term/long-term implications. I only see that there's a lack of information and no way to prove that one is trustworthy enough to warrant the interaction.
Also, people who will react angrily aren’t going to have a favorable impression of the company anyway. Nor are people who are rejected without a real reason likely to. But, if you give someone a reason and they use it to actually get a job, that can stick with them. You can’t even buy that kind of goodwill. I guarantee you could contact that person you helped about a job opportunity in the future, and they would at least seriously consider it, unlike the tens of recruiter spams they probably get monthly.
As for proving one is trustworthy enough to warrant the interaction,” that’s your fundamental problem right there. Employers have all the power in the employment relationship, so they owe a duty to the weaker side, provided there is no material risk.
It takes probably 10 or 20 minutes to give someone who’s given you at least an entire day of their irreplaceable time a detailed feedback note. The candidate has invested far more time than any individual at the company. A couple of temporarily bruised egos and some hurt feelings is not a material risk. To anyone who reacts angrily, cut them off, block them from contacting you, and move on; you don’t want those people as candidates in the future, anyway. In other words, suck it up, buttercup.
One of the many unintended consequences of anti-discrimination law
I got offers I didn't expect at all and many of the ones I fully expected never materialized. It was random!
The moral of the story? Don't take it personally. It has little to do with you! Once you have enough skill to "roll the dice", you just have to roll until your number comes up.
Work on your network. Apply for jobs that interest you. Interview. Get job.
Interviews are subjective, and what I've seen recently is the expectation is that you solve Leetcode questions within 10-15 mins with the optimum solution (yes, this was told to me my several recruiters). Sure, so basically you're asking me to memorize as many Leetcode optimum solutions as I can.
No thanks, if you want to hire Leetcode monkeys go ahead and see how that works out. On top of this, when you add concious and unconcious bias what are your chances of being hired?
That is, I think this somewhat describes me too. However, I don't know as that I can give the advice of "ignore practicing interviews."
That is to say, it's a kind of meta imposter's syndrome. "I'm not even doing the right things to make myself good enough to put myself in a position to get a better job!" Which keeps people from even trying.
That's not easy. I work remote, and live in a place where there just isn't a network available. That would leave online and I usually just hang out on HN.
You maybe have good enough interviewing skills naturally and you get all the jobs you've aimed for. Perfect, great!
Most other people are just no good at it. For example:
"Do you want this job?"
"Maybe, i don't know..."
Practice may not make you perfect, but it's does go a long way.
People should really stop using that place as a credible source of information. The very nature of Reddit skews the posts that show up in favor of either over-the-top success or major depression. You never hear about the middle ground (the guy/gal that gets a so-so job in CS but still has time to spend with his/her kids on the weekends).
As for the student thing, this is industry's fault. It's an evolution of "no one got fired for buying IBM". In this case, they're buying the interview techniques of the big players (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc) since they are perceived as bringing in top performers. So someone at or near entry level is going to have to deal with bullshit HackerRank tests until the industry changes its hiring practices.
You should never study for interviews. If the company isn't asking questions relevant to the work or you can't answer those types of questions then it's best to not work there.
General interview skills are different than studying CS problems.
Tell that to every company in the Seattle area. They all seem to think that Hackerrank-ing everyone is a good way to hire because the bigger companies do it. It's an evolution of "nobody got fired for buying IBM" but instead they're buying the interview methods that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are using.
Do folks really typically do that
many practice interviews?
If for some reason a person absolutely couldn't risk being rejected by a few places, practising some other way might be a sensible move :)
As for not being able to risk rejection, what is there to risk besides time? I've heard of people practicing for 3+ months. In that same time period, one could probably get 10 onsite interviews and a lot more phone screens in. The fundamental problem is the lack of feedback on rejection (although it's possible to get randomly hired while doing this type of "practice").
As for not being able to risk rejection,
what is there to risk besides time?
And if you avoided that by applying to your twentieth-preference company first for practice, some people would feel bad or insincere.
I only did practice interviews for my college internships and my first job because my resume was so light and my experience in the industry was nonexistent. When you have so little to talk about, it's smart to come prepared with a handful of questions.
Once you have 5 years or so of experience, other than light prep, practice interviews are not necessary. You know what to expect in interviews and you have tons of work experience to talk about and industry experience to ask pertinent questions to the interviewer.
But that's just my own personal experience. Also, after my 1st job, I've never had to take "technical or IQ tests" either. The interview process was more center around my projects and work experience rather than technical know-how.
I’m on the line between neuroscience and machine learning. Interviews for “neuro jobs”, even ones where my major responsibility would be coding, usually involve talking about things I’ve done and how I would tackle new problems. Put a similar position in an org that thinks of itself as “tech” and suddenly I’m traversing graphs and drawing trees.