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.
Funny enough, until this day (months later) the position is still open and it gets reposted every now and then.
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.
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.
And people fall for that?
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.
This is a functional and smart practice.
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.
When I did lunches, I would make it clear that they could ask any type of questions or just hang out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. :)
I really felt it wasn't respectful to ask technical questions when you are hungry, tired and stressed.
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."
I might have been inclined to respond, "you don't seem very excited." :D
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)
>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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
-edit- Wife was talking to me while writing this post, hence, errors. -edit-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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.)
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.
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.
Also, since you believe your verbal communication skills are lacking, you should work on improving them.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
However, not replying to any email inquiries does sound terrible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My prep sheet always reminds me, with a few choice options, to subvert my inclination to duck.
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.
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.
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?
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...
FWIW, I've never gone through an interview here where I felt like I should assume I will be hired.
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).
My rule of thumb is give the recruiter 3 days to 1 week before trying to contact them again.
A lot of companies do things differently. They're just usually smaller companies.
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.
I would've given up after 2.
What a broken process.
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.
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.