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My Amazon interview experience (jayhuang.org)
141 points by jayhuang 1376 days ago | hide | past | web | 155 comments | favorite

I don't understand why this sort of thing happens. At Intel, I got the silent treatment after getting an offer. It was for an implementation (RTL -> circuit) position. We chatted about schedule and it was apparent that they wouldn't actually have a pressing need for that sort of thing for at least six months, and that they were hiring as they could and they expected to be hiring implementation folks for at least another six months to fill all of their reqs.

When we got around to discussing start date I asked if I could take a few months off between jobs and start in a few months. The hiring manager (who was an engineer, not a recruiter) stopped responding to my emails and returning my calls. Months later, I asked a friend of mine what happened and was told "X is busy". Too busy to spend five seconds responding to an email? Really?

Today, that hiring manager is at ARM and I declined an a chance to interview in his group when I found out who was in charge. I think I dodged a bullet; I can only imagine what working for the guy is like.

By contrast, I applied for a job I was completely unqualified for at another company around the time I interviewed at Intel. I didn't expect to even get an interview, and I didn't. But I still got a nice snail mail rejection notice. Many years later, I now work for that second company.

Like I said, I don't understand why this sort of thing happens. Putting aside kindness and basic human decency, even if you're completely selfish, it costs basically nothing to be polite, and the benefits are pretty large. Conversely, being rude gains you nothing and has noticeable costs.

I got the silent treatment twice when trying to interview at Yahoo and once with Google. In all cases it was at the stage between initial recruiter contact and agreeing on a date for the first phone screen. I later found out (by looking up the recruiters on LinkedIn) that both of the Yahoo recruiters had left Yahoo and now worked at Apple. Ever since then I started wondering how big the impact of recruiters turnover is on candidates getting stalled.

I had a similar experience at TomTom. I applied for a position, got a positive reply, tried to schedule for an interview. After that I did not hear anything for quite a while, so I e-mailed again and, in case they had e-mail problems, called the recruiter. He promised to call me back, which he obviously did not. Later I learned (also from LinkedIn) that the recruiter had moved to another company around that time.

Funny enough, until this day (months later) the position is still open and it gets reposted every now and then.

I got the silent treatment from Intel as well, though in my case it came after I had gone through an initial interview at an event here in Dallas. I got a message from someone down in the Atom V&V group in Austin that they were interested in bringing me down for an additional interview, and that was the end of communications. I never got a response to any of the follow-up emails I sent.

Strangely, I got an email from someone in HR down in Austin about a year later that was very similar to the one I got after the Dallas interview event. Again, no one responded to me after that initial email.

In the last six months, my spouse interview in 20+ places and in 10+ places, they were silent after the in-person interview. We concluded that its just the way SV works...inspite of all the hype.

That's EXACTLY how SV works and frankly it annoys the hell out of me. You spend countless hours interviewing. Recruiters are overly excited and hyper when talking to you ("You're the perfect candidate. bla bla"). And at the end when they decide to not move forward with an offer they don't even have the decency of sending a quick "Sorry, it didn't end up being a match" email. Your emails inquiring on the status on the other hand are often not responded to anymore.

I can think of a likely potential scenario: There are some reservations, maybe they are first offering the position to someone else and are waiting to see if they accept, or they want to bring you back in for more interviews to make sure. They wait too long to talk to you, and now they feel guilty and awkward talking to you at all. So they just stop.

Long-time Amazon employee here.

I have to say that I despise with every fabric of my soul the lunch interview. I wish we didn't do it to people and I decline as many of the lunch interviews I have to give as possible--I don't think I learn much from the candidates as they are starving and tired and trying to put food in their faces. The best candidates tend to answer your questions instead of eating, making you feel rude for eating yourself; the worst candidates take big long thoughtful bites to stall answering.

It is definitely one of the more broken things with the Amazon interviewing system and I wish it would go away.

One thing I like about Google's process is that we take you to lunch, but explicitly tell you "this is off the record, no feedback will be submitted. Ask any questions you want, or just chill out and eat."

>explicitly tell you "this is off the record, no feedback will be submitted. Ask any questions you want, or just chill out and eat."

And people fall for that?

Well, it's true. But if you're paranoid you choose not to believe it.

Till about 2006, the lunch "interviewer" was able to put in feedback, but was specifically told that they were not supposed to do it.

Except for some smart alecks who would put in "Candidate held fork in left hand, was neat eater" I never saw anything beyond "n/a" or similar non-feedback. Most often I would see a savvy recruiter pair up the lunch with the referrer so they could catch up with their friend and it would act as the 'sell' part of the interview slate.

I can say that on my June 2012 interview at the GooglePlex, the engineer showed me the paper on his clipboard and it had a feedback section but said "(not required)" next to it.

He joked that "Well, if you punch a hole in the wall I might write something". Other than that we just talked about hacking game consoles & Chromebooks & breaking out of Chrome's sandbox to reach the OS from javascript.

Most often I would see a savvy recruiter pair up the lunch with the referrer so they could catch up with their friend and it would act as the 'sell' part of the interview slate.

This is a functional and smart practice.

This (lunch with referrer) happened to me when I was interviewing there and I agree that it is a smart move. It put me at ease. Presumably by the time you are there for an on-site, there aren't any questions of fit left.

I've worked at similarly (or perhaps even better regarded) companies with lunch interviews. They always say the same thing.

I've definitely seen the lunch interviewer pulled into the conversation. When the process isn't supremely formal, lines get blurred. Being paranoid is probably a smart thing to do.

Google lunch interviewers are instructed to give no feedback whatsoever, and in fact the internal tools provide no opportunity. The only exception is if they do something terrible, like punch somebody (it has happened!) or say something really racist. Then, an email is sent directly to the recruiter.

Youtube link, please?

I suppose I am a little paranoid, so I guess that's fair.

At Garmin, they pull in non-interviewers that have interview training (for legal reasons, don't want to ask the wrong questions like do they have kids, etc.) to eat lunch with candidates. There's no pressure on the candidate, and no pressure from HR for any kind of report, unless the candidate does something weird that would indicate they're not a fit for the company.

When I did lunches, I would make it clear that they could ask any type of questions or just hang out.

I've always had mixed feelings about personal questions. As a candidate I appreciate the questions. I'm evaluating the employees and their attitude towards my family, my religion and personal history. I usually make a point to volunteer this information because I know they won't bring it it.

Honestly, I would rather find out that being Mormon and having 2 kids at age 25 is a problem sooner rather than later. In my last job, the fact that I don't drink came up in the interview. It want because they had a problem with it. Rather, they wanted to ask me if I was comfortable with the somewhat alcohol focused culture of the company. These are important parts of the recruiting process, at least to me.

> Honestly, I would rather find out that being Mormon and having 2 kids at age 25 is a problem sooner rather than later.

FYI, none of the things you mentioned is (in itself) something that a company can (legally) choose to factor into their hiring decision. Experienced recruiters and/or interviewers will avoid those topics entirely because, while they may be able to ask questions that happen to reveal that information indirectly, they're risk-averse, and they'd rather not open themselves up to a lawsuit.

That said, this is one of the reasons I get uncomfortable when people use the term "culture fit" - it's not a bad idea in general, but it can oftentimes be a euphemism (perhaps even unconsciously) for inadvertent discrimination. (Why is Joe not a good culture fit? Is it because his hobbies include taking care of his two kids, rather than rock climbing or bar hopping, or something else that the rest of the 20-something office enjoys doing?)

> In my last job, the fact that I don't drink came up in the interview....they wanted to ask me if I was comfortable with the somewhat alcohol focused culture of the company.

I can sympathize with this.

I once had an interview where I asked why my interviewer (an early employee) left his previous job to join this company. He said that he felt "a strong culture fit". When I asked why, he said, "Well, the founder was drinking a 40 while he interviewed me". I waited for him to finish his explanation, then realized that that was the extent of it. I asked him to tell me more about the culture, and he made more some general statements, but was unable to give any other concrete examples.

The only thing that an early employee at that company could say to sell me on the company was that the founder drinks during job interviews. I'm glad I dodged that bullet early.

FYI, none of the things you mentioned is (in itself) something that a company can (legally) choose to factor into their hiring decision.

This is true, but it is something that you can factor into your employment decision. That is, deciding whether or not you want to be employed by a certain company.

IIRC we couldn't ask about things like kids because it's illegal to base a hiring decision on whether someone has kids or is going to have kids - a bad actor could decide not to hire you based on this because kids equate to more insurance premiums, and having kids equates to maternity leave.

If we make a decision not to hire someone and we asked that question and they wanted to stir up trouble, they could try to build a case based on us asking that question. Would they succeed? Probably not. But it would cost the company a lot more than just not asking the question.

It kind of sucks, because there are lots of good schools in the area, but we couldn't bring them up unless the candidate did first.

There was a time when they also tried to get someone who phone screened the candidate to be the lunch host. This way interview candidates would eat with someone they'd already talked with, and had already submitted positive feedback.

Who's "we"? The good way to do this would be to have someone who was knowledgeable, but had nothing to do with the rest of the hiring process, take the candidate to lunch. Even with the best intentions, it's hard to grill someone for an hour on the record, chat with them for another hour off the record, then not let the latter influence your judgement when your manager asks if you should hire them.

The "good way", as you put it, is exactly how engineering interviews work at Google. The person assigned to take the candidate to lunch is completely separate from the actual slate of interviewers, and does not submit written (or any other kind of) feedback into the hiring process.

In my team's case, it's generally the person who did the candidate's phone interview who takes them to lunch when they come on-site, but I don't know if that's a common thing.

I am strongly against the so-called lunch interview as well, if the candidate is already scheduled to meet 4 or more persons.

When I am scheduled to have lunch with candidates, I never brought up any topics related to work, unless the candidates did it by themselves. It is exhausting to have an interview of 4~5 hours, and talked about your projects or work experiences many times. So at lunch, it is best to relax and eat. The candidates have to be well prepared for the afternoon. It is never to our best interest to make the candidates so exhausted so that they might not be able to perform well and thus we might miss good potential employees. So I prefer to have light conversations, no work . If the candidates fly from other cities, I will introduce the city, the neighborhood, and the life around. If the candidates are interested in any specific parts, like housing, schools, parks, bars, restaurants, etc. those would be very good topics.

I actually really enjoyed the lunch interview for Amazon in Seattle. The 2 interviews before and the 3 interviews after were strictly technical, and although each technical interviewer offered to answer any questions I had, it was clear that the time was up and I was scheduled to be moving on. The lunch interview was a good opportunity to find out more about the hiring team and the company, and was the only conversation I had that didn't start with "please write code to solve this problem" or "how would you design this". Although you're right, trying to eat while answering questions about yourself was challenging, but since I knew that going in, I didn't order very much food. But the cafeteria was pretty awesome!

And I'm surprised at the poster's experience, I received a polite rejection email just a few days later. I hate when companies just cease communication after an interview...at least let me know, regardless of the outcome; I'd rather receive a rejection notice than wait and wait. But I guess it's a big company, experiences probably vary rather wildly.

I did the Amazon lunch interview back in school. It was every bit as strange as you describe it. It was presented as non-evaluative, but it involved a fair number of behavioral questions and a case study. I'm guessing those questions weren't just my interviewer's way of making small talk.

I had a great time visiting the company, and I ended up with an offer. (Ultimately I decided to go elsewhere, mainly for family reasons that were pressing at the time.) But the lunch interview was completely draining.

By the end of the lunch I'd eaten about two bites of salad. Needless to say, my blood sugar tanked, and it's amazing I made it through the rest of the day. :)

Is there something a candidate can do to get out of the lunch interview? It seems like it might be one of those things that both sides put up with in order to seem polite, but neither is actually interested in. I've been in the lunch interviewer situation before and would have been ecstatic if the candidate said, "I'm actually unable to go to lunch due to [some plausible excuse], can we reschedule for 1pm?" but generally, the schedule was already set at that point.

The lunch interview is supposed to be mild and mostly for selling on Amazon and the team (e.g. you talking). Trying to do a real interview where you drill in is a mistake some people make. You are there to have lunch and make sure the candidate has a good time, there is plenty of other feedback from the real interviews that you shouldn't feel the need to add to that body of evidence.

I had a really bad experience with a lunch interview...

I really felt it wasn't respectful to ask technical questions when you are hungry, tired and stressed.

I interviewed at a small company. I came in, talked to several people, cruised through some coding problems, and left with smiles and handshakes. Sent the usual thank-you email, too.

About three months later, after I'd long written them off, I got a call from them. They'd "been busy" and asked if I could come by the next day. This time, I met with several people working on the projects I'd be helping them with (mostly porting code to platforms I had a ton of experience on). Everything was looking good. Then the HR guy said something like, "you don't seem very excited." Since no talk of an offer of any kind had come up yet, I was severely tempted to remind him that, after the last time I came in, I didn't hear from them again for months.

The last thing said to me upon exiting the interview, again, all smiles and handshakes, was, "I'll give you a call tomorrow. But if you don't hear from me, give me a call."

Fuck that. From the moment I left their building, I never gave them another thought. As expected, I didn't hear a peep from them.

Employers like to complain about how hard it is to find talent, but then they behave like this. It's as much our evaluation of them as it is their evaluation of us.

I've been on the other side of it, too. Being made to interview candidates when we have absolutely no need for additional people, or for groups wildly unrelated to anything I do in the company. I wanted to tell the people, "look, you're probably never going to hear from us again because, frankly, we don't need anybody, and nobody in engineering has any idea why we're interviewing you."

> The last thing said to me upon exiting the interview, again, all smiles and handshakes, was, "I'll give you a call tomorrow. But if you don't hear from me, give me a call."

I might have been inclined to respond, "you don't seem very excited." :D

You're funny.

I might say, I express my excitement in other ways. (cue a joke about is that a banana in your pants or are you just happy to see me)

>The last thing said to me upon exiting the interview, again, all smiles and handshakes, was, "I'll give you a call tomorrow. But if you don't hear from me, give me a call."

>Fuck that. From the moment I left their building, I never gave them another thought. As expected, I didn't hear a peep from them.

I don't understand, why wouldn't you give them a call? I mean, sure, if it's not the place for you then it's fine, but just putting it off because of that.. I do not understand. At least they had the human decency of letting you know that they might be busy and forget to give you a call, and encouraged you to remind them. Way better than most other companies that just ignore you altogether and pretend you never even existed.

So far I have never forgotten to call or email a candidate when I personally told them I would do it. I put it in my todo list and then it gets done. This "being busy" is just a lame excuse.

I guess it depends on how many candidates you interview in a day. I suspect that there is a point where taking the time to be the bearer of bad news just doesn't seem to be worth it anymore. But I guess at that point one should stop promising to call or email candidates.

If you are being asked to interview candidates (especially if you are being asked to coordinate/lead the interviews), then you should also have the time/bandwidth to do the follow-up work with the candidates, even if that means sending them a canned response.

Another comment noted that we're talking about common human decency here--a candidate took time out of their schedule to spend a good chunk of a day (likely more, counting phone screens and travel), and someone can't take a few minutes to even respond to an email. I'm not sure I'd want to work with/under someone like that.

I started a non-tech business about 10 months ago. Food, actually. I go to work every day, but my business, though profitable, isn't large enough yet to hire. Of course, there are limits to what I can do as one person, so it's likely that I will eventually hire.

This week and next, I've had a young man who I already knew helping me. The restaurant where he works is currently closed for two weeks, so I took that as an opportunity to give him a chance without either of us making any commitments. I already knew that he had a great attitude (well beyond his 20-year-old age), so this was more of a way to see how well he did in my line of work and to let him evaluate what I do and how I like to do things. For both of us, it was a way to confirm that we’d work well together.

In some areas, I've gone out of my way to accommodate him and his circumstances. I asked what he's paid at his current job so I can pay him more than that (by percentage, a good amount, less so when viewed as an hourly rate). I talked through with him paying on a schedule that fit his needs (weekly, it turned out). I took him with me on deliveries to see how I handle customer relations. I had him come along when I spoke to a potential new customer, one that in his presence agreed to receive product from me. I've openly shared my expenses and revenues.

It's articles like the one linked here, along with my own employment history, that taught me there are equitable and forthright ways of treating people. As a business owner, I want to do those things, whether with employees, customers, suppliers, etc.

What I often tell myself, and share with others, is that there are certain things I must do. For example, I have no choice about certain licenses I must have, or tax filings, etc. But everything else is a choice, and I want to make my choices conscientious of the needs of those with whom I work.

I had a similar experience when I interviewed with LinkedIn almost two years ago.

I remember two rounds of technical interviews with two people in each. In the first I was okay but in the second I did very well.

Then a director came in and interviewed me. After a good chat about technical things and their overall vision for the future he walked me out of the building and mentioned that after what he'd heard from the interviewers, he'd have HR send me an offer on Monday. I was excited!

After nothing happened for a week I emailed my recruiter (in house) and asked what was going on. She said she'd call me the next day but did not. So I decided to drop it for a while.

A month later I sent yet another follow up email and she finally called. Obviously it was rejection.

I felt the whole thing could've been handled better.

Experiences like that are very weird...it makes you wonder if they're actually interested in making an offer, and just completely change their minds, or whether they have no intention of making an offer but for some reason think it's less awkward to just give extremely positive feedback, and then fall off the face of the earth. The worst is when they apologize and give the excuse that they have been very busy...because it takes so long to send an email that says "Thanks for coming in but we decided not to move forward".

I know exactly what happened there: he didn't get the headcount signed off, hoping that he could say "well I've already made them an offer" to force it through, and HR said nope, you tried to do an end run around us and we're not playing ball. It's happened to me, at a company that is notorious for doing it.

I also think that the recruiter want to hedge their bets, sort of keeping candidates in their baskets for a "just in case" situation.

I know that in some companies that if a candidate is rejected, than they are automatically filtered for any other positions in the company for a next X months, sometimes permanently.

Or, they just didn't want you to accept any other offers while they considered whether they really wanted to hire you. In their small minds, it costs nothing to make a verbal promise and break it later, and it keeps you on their leash for at least a few days.

Here is my experience about Amazon interview.

We were graduating from a very reputed institute and we were supposed to go through a screening test. So there was a programming test.

We assembled in the building where their HR lady was supposed to co-ordinate. Since the AC had some issues we all were sitting close to the window instead of the front row.

First she shouted - Guys I want to you'all to sit in the front and not at back. (Since it was a live randmized programming test there was no fear of "groupwork").

We said we do not want to do that to which she responded with this :

"You guys want a job or not ? If you want a job and want to answer the test you will come and sit here else you will walk out of this room."

Then she told us the common password. We requested her to write it on the board. She refused. I will tell it one more time and you guys will have to listen else forget the test she said.

I realized that I dont want to work for Amazon.

Was this in India? The US hiring process is very different.

I wondered this also. From interacting with people on careercup.com (which is absolutely flooded with people from India) it seems like they are pushed through a lot of written tests, both for programming and for general aptitude. Definitely a lot different experience they go through over there. Wonder if it has to do with there being so many people.

In US, you mostly hire for specific roles....developer, or QA or some such thing, even if straight out of college. Most colleges here are good..you can trust the grades to about 75% accuracy. In India, in college recruiting, your plan is to hire relatively bright people and train them later. And you don't trust the college's grading. For this purpose, you also conduct an aptitude test. If they pass a cut-off mark, then you consider them for a programming interview or for in-person interview.

I think Amazon should hire US workers

Yes. This was in India for campus recruitment. But if I remember correctly the job location was US + India.

While for me they were polite enough to call for rejection, but I still found the interview process little 'old school' at Amazon. For example, they asked me to write code on white board "Exactly as I'd write it on Computer, - AND - which is ready to go into production" (yes, these were the words). Really, you want me to hand-write code on whiteboard and also work as a pre-compiler and a compiler? I hope that's not the way you work.

Another friend of mine (who was rejected twice) was told to do the same thing - but at the end of it, the interviewer captured the photo of the code from his cellphone to properly evaluate it later. REALLY? You are not able to even evaluate the 'production ready' code someone else wrote, and you ask others to write it!

If I hadn't already heard from enough people I trust that working as a developer at Amazon sucks (depends on team, from what I hear, but I've heard lots more bad than good) your interview experience alone would be sufficient to get me to not bother interviewing with them.

I love them as a customer though!

For some reason their recruiters attempt to recruit me quite a lot (via LinkedIn, email, etc) despite the fact that they have no office in San Diego and I have no interest in living in Seattle.

I love them as a customer though!

I recently read "The Everything Store" and and my take away was that customer is the only relationship you want with Amazon. Everyone else gets hosed.

I had the exact same feeling. Bezos' and Amazon's approach actually made me question how far would I go to build a billion dollar company. The customer experience is bar none the best I've seen at a company, but deep down I'd hope there would be a way to do it that wouldn't require leaving so much collateral damage.

-edit- Wife was talking to me while writing this post, hence, errors. -edit-

Seems to happen quite a bit. I get pinged on linkedin or email by them a few times a year, despite me living probably 700 miles from their nearest office in the United States. No interest really in moving to Seattle or their other office in Boston, but I still get the occasional inquiry.

Yea, this was a really key aspect during my interviews, including the initial phone interview.

All the code I wrote was expected to work in the browser (if copy/pasted) and behave as intended. I didn't have much trouble with it as I've been doing this kind of work day in, day out and at night too. I'd imagine it would be pretty difficult and frustrating for new grads though.

>"Exactly as I'd write it on Computer, - AND - which is ready to go into production"

From experience, I learned that you should just ignore what they are stressing on and just write the code as best as you can. Its an interviewer's way of saying I want to see if you can discuss the finer points of an implementation.

Or your twice-rejected friend put code on the board that was going to be shared in a WTF manner.

Any decent technical interviewer knows to let certain things slide and to grind out details in the interesting areas. I've interviewed enough people to assure that I don't give two shits what code was there two seconds after I saw it unless it's WTF-worthy. In those cases, you have earned a place in my heart.

No, he is a graduate from Georgia Tech, and I know is pretty good though may not be as good as Amazon wanted. Cannot write WTF code that's for sure.

Only seven interviews? You got off easy. I had 10, for a freaking sales job. 3 on the phone (one each with HR, sales, and a sales engineer), then they flew me across the country for a day of interviews - 7 back to back to back...

The thing is, 5 minutes into that first on-site interview I knew I was wasting my time. They hired a new East Coast Sales VP. He started the week prior. When you get hired as a sales VP what you do is bring in all your old cronies from previous jobs. You don't ever make your first hire somebody you don't know. Even though I nailed the interviews (they told me I handled the case study as well as anybody does) I knew there was no way in hell I would get an offer.

I was right, although I did at least get a polite rejection email a week later.

BTW, I probably had my lunch interview at that same sandwich shop.

I have interviewed with a lot big tech companies(Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle etc). I interviewed with Microsoft in Dec 2013, and I found their process was the best and really well planned.

First I was brought into a giant conference room with 12 other candidates and the recuirter gave us the overview of the company and gave us the itinerary for the day.

Then we had our interviewers come into the conference room and call out people's names to take them to indivisual rooms for interviews. After each interview we were brought back to the conference room and given a 10ish mins break to have snacks etc.

After the 3rd interview the recuirter took all 12 candidates to a very informal lunch, which basically acted like a sale pitch for the job.

Every single interview I had, had been working for the company for 10+ years and was extremely humble about their work. I especially liked the fact that they openly accepted their past mistakes and told me how they were fixing them.

After the final interview the recuirter passed around a sheet where we filled out our available times in the next 2 days to talk to the recuirter about our results.

I interviewed on a Friday and I got a call from the recuirter on the next monday with an offer.

I've done interviewing as an engineer. It's pretty much totally easy to give a quick reply to someone who has reached a final state in the interview process.

Here's an example:

"Sorry, we decided to not move forward with your application. Best of luck in your future endeavors".

Very canned, very corporate. But it's real easy to copy and paste, then email. Brings closure to the candidate and frees them up to move on. Also, it's just plain kindness.

I wasn't trying to be sarcastic. My thought was, is there something different you call yourself, or some different niche that helps you avoid that kind of treatment? I should have been clearer in my question.

Sorry. No, I meant that I was interviewing people from the perspective of an engineer, not as a manager or as a recruiter.

So what do you interview as now?

To other readers - this post is 92% typical post-interview review, but the last 8% is a big WTF on Amazon's part. So... if you're short on time, feel free to skip to the end.

The article is suspicious as an Amazon employee. The recruiter would never talk offer in the final interview, there is at least a day+ afterwards before feedback is submitted by the interviewers and they meet to discuss the candidate. Only after that would there be offer talk (assuming the interview was positive). The silence part is sometimes possible when recruiters bail out suddenly and don't hand things off, unfortunately that seems to be an area in tech companies where people move companies every 6 months.

My favorite company: Convergent. We made and offer, or rejection, before the candidate left the building. The last one to talk was HR, who was actually stalling as the interviewers met and compared notes.

I don't understand why this can't be the norm. E.g. Most auto shops have you make an apptmt for routine work; Midas does it while you wait. What's the point in the delay? Its the same work to do it NOW instead of later, when you've forgotten your first impressions and maybe even their face.

I've seen the "radio silence after enthusiasm" routine from other companies large and small over the years, from startups to Apple and LinkedIn.

Oh yeah. I, normally, put the company which does that in my blacklist. I give bonus points if it is a small startup which interviews a couple of people a week and still can't manage to do it. Extra bonus points if they contacted me first. Yes, it does happen.

Once a person from a local startup suggested to send him my CV at a meetup, 2 more people from they same company suggested to do the same. I got invited to come over, was told that there is no actual position so they just would see if I could fit in somewhere. Sounded very positive at the end. Sent a follow up thank you note. Never heard back.

I've personally interviewed a substantial number of candidates (phone screens and in-person interviews) for Amazon.

Amazon is very prompt about responding to candidates, but no decisions are ever made until the interviewers have a chance to sit down in a room together and discuss. So I don't know how the recruiter at the end of this account could have said half the things he is supposed to have said.

This account sounds like a specific recruiter made a series of huge errors and just kept on compounding those errors with bad decisions. That or there are some factual inaccuracies in the account.

In any case, my primary point is that I wouldn't write off an entire company due to what are likely the mistakes of a single individual, the recruiter who is supposed to be communicating with you.

In any case, my primary point is that I wouldn't write off an entire company due to what are likely the mistakes of a single individual,

Well, actually, I would. Because (being as it seems to keep happening, over and over again, in big companies and in small companies) clearly it's not the mistake of a single individual. The fault lies with the mindset of those who create the hiring culture in the company at large.

And the shabby treatment frequently dealt out to candidates may not be entirely consciously intended, but still, it is no "mistake." It is a perfectly predictable outcome of the hiring culture in these companies.

See also:


Is Amazon as good at hiring developers as it is hiring recruiters, then?

Many startups can't do the "see if they fit in" thing, they have too rigid ideas about their hires.

Totally correct. For me the interview/negotiating process is not finished until I walked into the office on my first day of work. Prior to that, anything can happened.

And from women. It's the way of the world.

Sounds about right. My experience with Amazon's hiring process was that it was extremely flaky, which surprised me because it was nothing like my great experiences with Amazon as a customer.

Did well on the phone interview, got an email the next day saying they'd like to schedule an in-person interview. Emailed them right back with my schedule, radio silence for two weeks. No response to further emails or phone calls from me.

By the time they got back to me two weeks later with an interview date, I had two offers from other companies that I interviewed with in the interim. Ended up having to cancel the Amazon interview.

There are some companies that have this process WIRED. Hiring managers respond immediately to any email and actively work to find the right place for good candidates, an offer gets made a day or two after the interview, or they tell you they're not interested. It's very difficult to not want to work there when you see that.

Friendly advice to entrepreneurs: don't be the Amazon in this story. There are some really good people I know that are turned off to working there from similar experiences.

I had a phone interview with Amazon. It too, was with someone with a heavy accent I had trouble understanding. To make things worse, I could tell that the guy was giving the interview from home because there were children yelling in the background.

To make things even worse, the interviewer had trouble understanding my english. How do I know? Because when he told me the answer to one of the questions I had gotten wrong, he repeated back the answer I had just given him.

It was really frustrating.

Actually, sometimes it's better to repeat what the other person said back to them to prove you did in fact understand them.

I interviewed at Amazon for a product management role in 2010. I also got the whole travel / hotel accommodation thing.

A thing that stuck out at me was ego. There was a lot of ego on the other side of the tables I sat at.

I had one guy interviewing me say he had been recruited by the CIA but chose Amazon. It seemed important to him that he tell me how good he was at his job.

My lunch interview was totally fine and not awkward.

At the end I spoke with a department head who's job was apparently to make sure I wanted to work for the company. I kind of needed work then, so it was a pretty boring end to the day.

My understanding was that Amazon was using an interview model style similar to Microsoft's, where you can be 'let go' from the process at any point during the day. If you make it to the 'closer' type person toward the end of the day, then you've done well. I don't know if this is true.

Ultimately, I wasn't offered the job, but I did get good closure and apart from some of the personalities I encountered, I was pleased overall with the experience.

Seven interviews sounds like a broken process. What did they learn in interview number 6 that they didn't/couldn't know at the end of interview number 5 ?

Also, spending a whole day interviewing in Seattle and not meeting any of the team you would be working with ? WTF ?

Edit: I forgot some other points:

The interview process is supposed to be about building trust and getting a feel for whether you would be a good fit for the company and vice-versa.

This process sounds very asymmetrical: they only cared about whether he satisfied their criteria. This is further proven by finding an NDA to be signed on the morning of the interview. Couldn't they have sent it in advance so he would have time to read it ? What super secret details might have accidentally been revealed by their carefully planned interview process ?

I had a shit experience like that with Google about four or five years ago. They interviewed me on the phone. Then called me in for in-person interview on campus. Then like thirty days went by before I got the reply "No, sorry." It was kind of hell waiting that long to get a no reply.

I had a phone interview with Amazon in 2009, when I was between jobs. The interviewer asked me to write out a binary sort function in my preferred language.

Now, I can describe a binary sort in pseudo-code pretty well, but it's been a long time since school (a lot longer for me than for the interviewer, I suspect) and I suggested I just describe what a binary sort was and we could move on, but he stubbornly insisted that I do the scripted exercise.

I then asked, is this type of coding a requirement of the job, because that's not really my strength, and he seemed to become rather irritated. I terminated the interview, and sent a complaint about this kid to the Amazon recruiter who set up the interview (never heard back, obviously).

I'm terrible at writing code in interviews or answering quiz type questions. I'm much more comfortable with top-down types of scenarios--how would you approach this problem, what tools would you use, what languages, sketch out a solution for us, how would you test, what's your documentation style, what version control system do you like to use, etc. I like telling war stories from previous jobs--weird problems I've had to solve, interesting challenges, and so forth. I enjoy talking to people, and usually in these sorts of open ended interviews, I do pretty well.

The OP seemed uncertain about going to this interview in the first place; he had a pretty good situation, he doesn't really like the interview process and is not that comfortable with that type of social situation. He didn't like breaking his routine, either. Therefore, it's not too surprising if his lack of enthusiasm came across.

What's inexcusable is for him to have invested all that time, and for them to have invested all that time, and not to give him the courtesy of a one liner email followup, especially after a verbal offer was made. Annoying, but not at all uncommon. It's happened to me, too; I remember in particular an all day interview at GTE, a verbal offer, then nothing. The only thing you can do is just shrug it off and move on.

(If it's any consolation, I've cut back on Amazon orders since they started charging state sales tax where I live. I philosophically disagree with the "use tax" concept (a whole debate for another time) so I just switch to buydig or ebay or newegg or whoever else is still tax-free. As it turns out, though, AMZN still has the lower price in many cases, so I might still order from them, though sometimes I can get it from an Amazon Marketplace Seller for less.)

Nice trick to use in these situations; Give them an arbitraririly hard question to solve, too. As a general rule, I've found the people most willing to whip these kinds of questions on you in an interview are the least able to solve one when put on the spot themselves...It's a bit of an aggressive counter-move, but the power-reversal can make them think twice about dismissing you out of hand...

For what it's worth, I think it's totally reasonable to ask a software engineer candidate to implement a binary sort, even if the candidate has to derive the particulars of the algorithm from first principles. If the candidate can't implement something as well-understood as a binary sort, how are they going to perform when given a totally novel problem that no one has ever solved before?

If anything, the problem with that as an interview question is that it is too obvious and common, and will not do a good job distinguishing between a strong candidate and someone who crammed for the interview and happened to practice that particular problem.

Did you and the parent comment mean binary search? I've never heard of binary sort. And if you do mean a sort, how does it work?

My theory: The recruiter may have a few spots to fill and several candidates. So say, there are 5 eligible candidates and 2 spots to fill. Knowing that not every one offered a position will accept it, the recruiter tells all of them they'll be given an offer. That way those candidates are less likely to accept an offer elsewhere and 'stay in the pool'. Recruiter offers the position to two and waits to see if they accept. If either doesn't accept, they make an offer to the next candidate. In this case, the spots filled before getting to all of them. Since they had been told they would receive an offer but no spots were left, the recruiter decides to end all contact.

If they were more honest, they would have to give offers to only two. The others candidates are likely to move on while the recruiter waits for a response. If the two formally offered jobs don't accept, the recruiter finds the other eligible candidates have moved on and has to go interviewing more people.

Yes, I think this is pretty standard all across the board, in every industry. Don't throw the grade "B" fish back just yet. Smart candidates do the same thing--"You're my top choice" etc., even while busily interviewing elsewhere. It's all just a game everyone plays, really nothing new here.

Having the interviews in Seattle isn't really that strange. If the Vancouver office is new or small, there simply won't be enough qualified, experienced interviewers there to interview you.

Also, since you believe your verbal communication skills are lacking, you should work on improving them.

I had the same deal, position was in so-cal but wanted to interview in seattle.

My experience wasn't great. I was put in a small window-less cell and quizzed by people who didn't prepare and I ended up answering the same questions about myself and my background for almost every interviewer. I had a real hard time with a manager-type person who kept on asking me the same non-technical question over and over even when I tried to prod for clarification. He didn't explain why my answer wasn't cutting it, he just kept re-asking it. Like he was taunting me as my answers harmlessly bounced off his bureaucratic shield bubble.

I felt I did pretty well given the circumstances but I guess the manager spiked it because I wasn't offered the position.

I see tons of "I interviewed 5 times and didn't get the job" comments on this thread. Why is it so hard to get a job in Silicon Valley?

I hear that it's tough to find talent, and I also hear that it's tough to find a gig. Something doesn't add up.

This is so true. Companies complain about not finding talent, but with this kind of behavior, it is understandable. Recruiters are just like that, they send you plenty of offers and do not even bother follow up. I got the silence treatment as we'll from Thomson Reuters for a golang developer position: 1: phone interview that goes well. 2: technical interview that goes very well. The guy is very excited and barely can hide it. 3: formal phone call for logistic details 4: silent

After 3 unanswered mails, I dropped it. And for the best. I then joined Docker, I do work with Golang and I have a lot of fun.

It is not the first time this kind of thing happen and it is very frustrating. I think it just filter companies where you do not want to go work.

No, it adds up. There are a lot more available workers than positions in SV.

The problem is finding good people. Good people that are a fit both technically and socially. Superstars get hired. That's it-- everybody wants a superstar.

If I'm a superstar, I don't need Google or Facebook or Amazon because I can start my own thing and/or join an up and coming startup and get a solid equity stake. That's the crux, and why the 'talent crunch' won't go away. It is self-imposed.

It's a numbers game. Most candidates have 20-80% chance to ace an interview depending on a number of factors and preparation. So to ace N in a row your chance is pretty slim. Companies only see the big picture numbers and say "We only hire 1 in 1000, we are that good". In reality they just hire the statistically inevitable person who beat the odds.

Similar to my experience interviewing for an SRE position at Google Dublin. 3 phone interviews (one with HR, two with engineers) and 5 on-site interviews, 45min each. Took them quite some time to tell me I wasn't getting an offer.

Even if he had gotten a job offer, it's weird he never spoke to anyone he would be working with. Or visited the site in Vancouver where he would be working. It seems like more interviewing was still to come.

I work for Amazon. I'm going to use the internal system to look up who dropped and ball and get the make this right.

And? How's the inquiry going, so far?

This is pretty fail on Amazon's part. Does anybody have a contact inside Amazon that can help this guy get his job?

I don't see the fact that this guy didn't get "his" job as the fail part. The Amazon employee from Vancouver at the end probably shouldn't have worded things such that everything sounded final, but maybe they simply interviewed someone the next day that they felt was a better fit for the job, or maybe something changed and the decision was made not to hire for the position they were considering previously -- it happens.

Having said that, I do think not getting back to him at all (even if that was with an explicit rejection) is a complete fail.

Based on anecdotal data, it seems to be increasingly common for modern companies (though I usually hear about it on companies that are much smaller than Amazon, which should have its HR shit together) to just go completely incommunicado with someone once the decision has been made to not move forward. Doing this is completely unprofessional (no matter how big or small your company is), especially in the face of explicit queries about the status from the person who was interviewed, and I applaud the guy for naming and shaming Amazon on that aspect of it.

Fix your shit, Amazon HR/hiring managers. Don't be jerks.

Not sure whats up with that last person in the interview, but the recruiter has really zero say in the hiring process. At least when it comes to AWS.

> The last interview was with the lead recruiter from Vancouver (apparently he flew from Vancouver to Seattle to interview me, a candidate that was in Vancouver and had to fly to Seattle for the interviews…).

The recruiter finds talent, schedules the interview and hassles AWS employees to interview the applicant. The applicant interviews with 6-7 people (like I did), that consists usually of your direct manager, a bar raiser (an article about this was just posted here the other day), and other peers.

Only after your interview day is over, and everyone has a chance to put your review info into MRT does everyone meet again and discuss if you are a valid candidate or not.

The recruiter has no say in this matter since they have no idea how your answer related to distributed systems lock coordination and Big O(n) notation work. It sounds like this person jumped the gun.

Amazon HR should at least get back to you with a "sorry we've decided on someone else", or "we'd love to work with you" letter either way.

I would say this is a culture thing as well.

As Portuguese I am more than used to this. You never ever get a reply back if you don't make it.

Companies only contact you again if you got the job.

I was astonished when I moved to Switzerland and later Germany, that companies would get back to me to say 'no' and send me back the application documents I had sent.

I've had good/bad experiences from all sizes of company. I chatted once with Microsoft, and they had a really great turnaround time - less than 2-3 days from start to finish (they weren't interested in a Linux nut, oddly enough ;-) ). I've talked with small companies who blackhole you after a discussion.

YMMV. But I try to remember the companies who drop you into /dev/null and avoid dealing with them again, either as applicant or with their products.

When I interviewed with amazon they let me know their decision within two days.

I think that missing the initial follow up with his interview result can often happen simply due to candidates getting 'lost' in the system (e.g. someone forgets to schedule the follow-up call).

However, not replying to any email inquiries does sound terrible.

It's probably a pitch designed to resonate with people who eventually get offers, with some subtle caveat that renders the whole thing moot if any aspect of the process fails to connect. That's not really a failure mode, just an optimization geared toward improving the experience for people who are presented with an offer, at the expense of those who are not.

The lead Vancouver recruiter could have screwed up, and might have accidentally dropped the "when I send you the offer" when he hadn't yet talked it over with everyone else. I know nothing about the OP, but maybe he just didn't make the cut.

This is my assumption too. It's typical for some recruiters to never close the loop with candidates who are rejected because they're no longer "of value" to them. A sad commentary on recruiting in general, but it happens.

It certainly wasn't anyone in the hiring pipeline who screwed up.

It's someone very high up in the Amazon food chain, responsible for failing to create a hiring process that emphasizes the need to treat candidates respectfully at all stages of the process.

And that means, for every candidate, having one person take ownership of the communication, start to finish (regardless of the outcome). You now -- "be respectful, be kind. And always, always close the loop."

It's like, really, really simple. But somehow Amazon and so many other companies seem incapable of wrapping their organizational heads around it.

There could be plenty of reasons no offer was received... some of those could be that no offer was sent, impolitely or not.

When I interviewed with Amazon a few years ago, almost all of their recruiter emails ended up in Gmail's Spam folder. Clicking on the "Not Spam" didn't seem to fix this, and I ended whitelisting amazon.com.

At the time I found it quite amusing, but this can be a real problem, since probably most people don't check their spam folder regularly.

Well, on a hilarious note, I too had this issue with Gmail. In fact my offer letter too went into the spam folder. :|

In the future, don't let yourself get distracted with accent etc, especially if you want to work in the tech industry. It may be different in Vancouver, but majority of tech workplaces in the US you are going to find people from all language background with heavy thick accent.

Accents can be a huge problem, though, especially over the phone where verbal communication is all you've got to work with.

I've worked with a lot of developers from many different backgrounds: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Russian, Ukrainian, etc, etc and while even the thickest accent becomes easier to understand with prolonged exposure, I'd still much rather talk to someone without a strong accent when interviewing, especially over the phone.

If you're spending a significant percentage of your linguistic and abstract/symbolic brain processing just trying to figure out what the other person is saying to you (which can happen with particularly strong accents) it puts you at a big disadvantage for dealing with programming-related questions.

> In the future, don't let yourself get distracted with accent etc

Huh? It's not something we have any control over. We don't understand them. Let me repeat that slowly: We. Don't. Understand them.

Also, note that this argument could be turned around in an instant: "If you want to work in the tech industry, don't distract others with your accent." Who is in the right about it? No one, I would argue. It just needs to be accepted that some portion of people have difficulty understanding some other portion of people. Don't make us feel like jerks for trying to clearly and precisely understand what is being asked.

That is not something one chooses. If one doesn't understand someone, one doesn't understand someone - and especially on the phone that can be quite distracting.

Oh Amazon... I had some interviews with Amazon years ago. The very first face to face interview and the very first interviewer was asking a question about finding a "median element", I heard "medium element" (which made sense in the context), and in the end it turned out he meant "average element". That was one worthless interview.

it's still disconcerting if you're in a position where asking the other person to repeat themselves could be seen as a strike against you.

NDAs for interviews? Is this common in the US? I would feel intimidated and not sure I'd sign that.

At one company, we had a list of standard questions we would ask in a phone screen. Then we got a whole slew of candidates giving the same wrong answers to a few of them, enough to make me suspicious. Turned out the external recruiter had been de-briefing their candidates to reverse engineer our process.

We had this too with one large hiring agency.

Well, I did phone interviews with both Amazon and Google (both in their UK offices), and while I got rejected, I found both companies very professional. Google called on the phone within 2 days and Amazon send an email the very next day. Also I really hate phone interviews ...

While I'm yet to read the article, I wanted to note down that companies like Amazon, Google and the like are enormously huge and nobody needs anybody in these places. Thus do I want to be in small companies where I can be an important piece of a team.

Could it be that Jay is hopelessly overqualified for this job? Whatever this position would be.

I assume the sweet positions for algorithm tweaking and HTML/CSS development from scratch are already taken by core Amazon engineers. Well protected holy grail. Perhaps they are looking for is a junior expendable wheel in some sub-project, and not a person actually capable of re-creating Amazon from scratch.

Jay's qualifications seem for me quite senior. He appears to be more suitable for IT lead of a startup or a member of a think tank of a more intimate company.

Unless interviewers are trained to provide honest (and we hope, compassionate) feedback to candidates as soon as is clear, the natural desire is to run away from a face-to-face rejection. Thus, except for definitive no-hire's, it's forced smiles and positivity (and lots of wasted time all around).

My prep sheet always reminds me, with a few choice options, to subvert my inclination to duck.

Very similar to an interview process I went through about a month ago. The "full-day" interview sort of irks me. You mention how you were tired, and I imagine a lot of candidates are, 5-6 hours of straight interviewing seems too heavy.

When I had my "full-day" interview it left a bad taste in my mouth. (I ended up not accepting the offer)

> and asked me to write the HTML/CSS for the whole page.


"new release about to be pushed live, and asked me to write the HTML/CSS for the whole page."

I cringed a little at this, but this is not too bad. They probably wouldn't expect you to make it perfect. It is not always the result they want, usually they want to see the process on how to handle working through the problem.

I always thought getting no response in a few days means you're not hired. This is pretty industry standard. Also, in the interviews they will always assume that you get hired. What kind of interviewer would say "well, you're probably not gonna get hired, but...".

"This is pretty industry standard."

It shouldn't be, and didn't used to be (I'm 40 so I've been around software dev for a while).

This kind of behavior is unprofessional and an embarrassment for our industry if we just consider it our industry standard.

It doesn't take much effort to draft a form letter rejection (that is generic enough to avoid any potential for lawsuits, if that's their concern) and even less to send it out. With just a minor amount of work they could act like they were adult humans who treated other people like humans... why not do that?

In fact I'd go further and say it's pretty much industry standard for recruiters to go missing/contract ending mid-offer. It might sound aggro, but if you think you have an offer coming, it's not awful to email anyone you might know inside a company to get an answer.

Heck, I don't think I even mind telling people it didn't work out, so if you get in this kind of mess with Google, I'm happy to track down errant Google recruiters for you for them to officially turn you down, or happier still, get you that offer that is waiting in some stalled process.

Big companies can be challeging to interview for. So many moving parts that translate into an offer. pre-interview, interview, referrals, manager and exec review, headcount allocation, comp negotiation, etc. etc...

If anyone considers this to be an acceptable "industry standard", things needs to change dramatically.

FWIW, I've never gone through an interview here where I felt like I should assume I will be hired.

Every single time I've been offered a job, I received the call within 3 days of interviewing -- usually same or next day.

And with one exception, every time I have not been given an offer, it has either been the silent treatment or they wait until the very last day of time that they said they would give an answer (usually a week).

Especially if you have had a bunch of individual interviewers, who are all conducting multiple interviews per week and trying to ship product, the delay may be down to waiting for one or more of them to submit their feedback about you. I've definitely been terrible about that when we had some product fires going on, and got in the habit of trying to write up immediately after the interview, but sometimes with back-to-back meetings all day it fell off the stack. Knowing someone out there is waiting to hear back is a horrible thing though, and usually spurred me to try and be super-fast -- but you only need one overworked, or sick, interviewer to fall behind with feedback and you might be waiting weeks for the full interview report to be ready for hiring review.

I waited for 3 weeks before I received an offer from my current employer. Actually, I emailed my recruiter/HR contact and explain I had an offer from a different company who were pressuring me for a decision, but I would prefer to work there..I guess sometimes things either fall through the cracks or there is a lot of dominoes that have to go.

I've interviewed in SV, and it's not industry standard. Google is pretty notorious for not getting back to you for up to several weeks, even if you did well.

My rule of thumb is give the recruiter 3 days to 1 week before trying to contact them again.

If I don't hear back within 3 days, I just move on. In fact, I move on anyway. Not being a super-star, I need to spread the net pretty wide.

Would someone please disrupt hiring in the tech industry? It's so incredibly broken and the people who are extracting money out of providing services to "help" are putting in very little effort for a very big gain without actually having much impact on the problem.

It is hard to disrupt these practices. These kinds of interviews, while not the best gauge of talent, do have some correlation with a candidate's ability. The fact that this process scales well and that all the big companies that everyone wants to work at do this makes it such that the only way to disrupt the practice is if another large company gains such a competitive advantage as to overtake the big corps like Google/Amazon/Apple/Microsoft.

A lot of companies do things differently. They're just usually smaller companies.

I don't think his comment was the interview practice itself (though that needs an overhaul too), but rather the pacing and relation the company maintains through the recruiter with the candidate. Neither internal nor external recruiters seem to share the same priorities as the hiring managers nor the candidates, and I know a couple of companies (yes, predominantly SV ones) who have left such a bad taste in my mouth just from my interaction with their recruiters that even though I've never interviewed with them I don't ever want to work for them. That is probably unfair, but if I'm of so little value as a potential hire as to respect the basics of human decency, I don't really want to see what happens when I'm actually dependent on them for my salary.

What's interesting, too, is that the only time I've -not- encountered -any- of these issues (with a large SV company no less) was when I had an offer in hand from somewhere else. Being able to say "Sure, I'll interview with you, but you need to be pretty quick about it because I have an offer in hand that is pretty attractive" got me through from initial phone screen, to onsite interview, to verbal offer, without me having to drive the process at all, in less than a week.

Wait, aren't those you're calling to disrupt this the same you say are putting in very little effort?

I can't wait to see whether Amazon ends up responding after seeing this...

This is not news. I experienced the same thing at Agilent in San Jose.

7 interviews???

I would've given up after 2.

What a broken process.

That's typical for Amazon, Google, etc. You don't have to pass all of them, just get enough of them (especially the more senior ones, although you might not be able to tell who that is) to like you.

At Google we've capped it so that you'd not see 7 unless there is some need to revise the slate (different job to interview for, or a really badly formed interview) . In fact we found and target 5 nowadays as the statistical change of score for incoming candidates after 5 wasn't dramatic enough to justify the extra trouble.

YMMV/excpetions etc, but still... I remember when we capped it at 8, then 7, now it's largely 5 at most for 95% of the candidates.

Why can't you setup one phone screen + one full day interview?

you sound like a terribly unsocial person if you were that worried about a phone interview. what is wrong with you?

You sound like a terribly rude person. What is wrong with you?

Interviewing on the phone isn't always easy. You have no way to express or see the other person's body language which is a major part of how people communicate. Any audio glitches can cause a miscommunication. Any pauses on phone calls are awkward, but yet in technical work you usually have to spend more time thinking than actually writing code, so a technical interview is kind of awkward. Phone calls are a good basic filtering mechanism, but not really a great system overall.

Plus, while many people in technology are very friendly and nice people, some folks have a bit of social anxiety or are shy or any number of things.

Social anxiety != unsocial. Plus, it was a technical phone interview, where your abilities are relevant, as opposed to a "is this an okay person" phone interview with HR.

I hate those phone interview too. Not being a native English speaker myself it is terrifying the thought of screwing things over just because you don't understand the questions over the phone.

I guess there must be something wrong with me too. Don't bother interviewing me.

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