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Ask HN: The most pleasant engineer interview process you've experienced?
4 points by mavsman 55 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments
What is your favorite interview process you've been through? What made it particularly enjoyable? Something in the interview? People you interviewed with? How they prepared you before the interview? Could it have been better?

I once interviewed with Automattic for an engineering job and they did some of the experience/behavioral interview over Slack. It made things a lot more relaxed and was something I had never done before so I really appreciated it. I did not get an offer from them but I look back on the process very fondly.

In 2008 I replied to a Thomson (now Thomson Reuters) job add that I might be interested.

A 45 min. or so phone call was agreed on, where I was asked general questions about my Ph.D. research, technical experience, model design and programming skills.

A few days later I was flewn in for a two-day on site meeting. I was hosted in a very nice 4 **** hotel (Embassy Suites). The interviews were all-day and ranged from straight forward probability theory to high level software design and NLP/IR/ML topics with a whole range of super-nice people (I spoke with people at 5 different hierarchy levels) that later became my colleagues, and in the evenings we went to excellent (by U.S. standards) restaurants. I liked that the interviewers were not at all arrogant, and many of the questions were asked out of genuine interest rather than being silly logic puzzles. And the better the interviewers were in mathematics, the goofier was their sense of humor, so I had a feeling this might be the right place for me ;-).

After these two steps, I was made an offer that I accepted without negotiation, and I didn't regret it. Stayed for 10 years and made it to research director; when I left, I donated my karaoke kit from BestBuy to remind the team of the fund we had together. Thanks, guys, you rock (if you read HN)!

Shopify had a really great process and one reason I work there now:

- internal high quality recruiters that gave me a lot of attention and transparency to the process

- they went at an appropriate pace. They could accelerate of need be. They could slow down if need be.

- I never was ghosted by anyone. I never had any surprise extra rounds of interview

On the interviews themselves, a combination of practical design, pair programming, and deep dive into past work. It all felt appropriate, no weird whiteboard logic puzzles. No leet code super hard crazy problems. All things that felt job appropriate.

No obsession with me having used any particular tech stack. They knew good Devs could learn what they need to.

Certainly this seems like a secret plug, but in all honesty seeing the care I was given through the process helped solidify the decision. I saw it as the closest proxy to how I would be treated as an employee.

When you are more experienced you most likely have seen a lot of things throughout your career. Some of the things you saw may apply to this position but not to that one.

When you are interviewing, as a candidate, it is very hard to know what’s relevant and what’s not. Especially when the position is not strictly technical.

I love interviewing processes that nudge the candidate in the right direction so both sides can focus solely on talking about what matters.

I dislike interviewing processes where it takes half or more of the conversation just for both parties to figure out what they have in common so they can see if they are a match.

1. Call with an internal recruiter.

2. Phone screen with some technical questions.

3. In person, solving a couple of programming problems on a whiteboard, talking to the interviewers a bit more about my experience and about the position I'm interviewing for.

It sounds very standard and I prefer it by a mile compared to all the alternatives that I've seen. I find take-home assignments much worse than whiteboard interviews and often when companies try to be cool and casual it makes the process worse for the interviewee.

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