Confessions of a FAANG hiring manager

Apple xyz5678
Mar 8 195 Comments

I’ve read a lot of posts recently about confounding or failed interviews at top tech firms. As someone who regularly serves as an HM (direct and indirect) at one of the most selective, I’ve also been bogged down by a flood of them in the past 2 Qs. I want to shed some light from the other side.

First of all, because our brand stamp is so strong (for now), HR is a wasteland, nowhere more so than Recruiting (I’ve known exceptions but this is the rule). The standard at which they work is incomprehensibly low. In fact, on my team, doing 95% of the job ourselves is the only way to make the process run smoother and faster. This includes fixing the 5% they inevitably fuck up.

Contrast that with most other teams’ needlessly high performance standards and top down expectations. We are the poster child for getting a rocket scientist to do data entry (this is a real case, not a metaphor). And instead of a headhunter, an intern sourced him for us (again, recounting a real situation here). Now do you get a sense of why hiring is the way it is here?

This also contributes to why employee experience varies so wildly from team to team, geo to geo. Finding a good fit is critical and effortful, but the payoff is well worth it if you do (in terms of both money and personal growth). If you’re qualified and determined enough, it’s not as hard or complicated to ace the interview as people seem to think.

Best advice I’ve seen thus far is simple: “Each interview is learning experience, just focus at learning, results are byproduct.”

That’s it. That’s the mindset you need to have before, during, and after each interview. I glaze over when people describe how “pro-active,” “a team player,” or even “results-oriented” they are (and definitely don’t drone on about how you want to “add value”). All of that can mean a million things, which makes it meaningless.

What does get my attention is someone who’s 100% present in the conversation or on the task at hand. I’m not looking for timed monologues, I’m looking for someone who listens to the question being asked and understands what specific thing I’m trying to evaluate. It isn’t hard, but it requires focus and clarity in your thinking and communication.

For example, if I say, “Success in this role requires x and y. Can you share a past experience that demonstrates your capacity for x and y?” Address exactly that. If you don’t understand, ask me to clarify or provide an example. Don’t launch into a speech about something else, even tangential, or answer in a way that requires me to guess which part is supposed to demonstrate x and y.

For cases, I don’t care about the answer or outcome itself (unless it’s preposterous). Mistakes are overlooked if you can recognize where you went wrong and fix it. Again, being present is key because I’m coaching you the whole way. If nerves take hold—pause, deep breath and pay attention to where I’m directing you. Concentrate on solving only the problem posed but be prepared to mentally pivot and sanity check along the way.

It’s astounding how many people fail interviews not because they’re unqualified but because they miss every opportunity the HM gives them to shine. If I invite you to interview, I’ve already determined that you have the raw talents to work here (e.g., education, IQ, experience, etc.). All I’m assessing is if you’re the right fit for my team and how easy you are to manage/lead.

Trust me, I want you to pass with flying colors too and will set you up for that. Interviews are time consuming, and no one wants to spend hours (sometimes months) repeating the same routine with unprepared, disconnected candidates (who, in theory, should more than qualify). But on the other hand, it’s very hard for a major MNC to get rid of duds and no one has HC to waste/risk.

Thus, we do our due diligence when filling FT positions. There can be a staggering series of interviews to complete. Based on ones that go well, you might be considered for various roles. Even the role itself may be reconsidered based on how much potential you demonstrate.

And remember, if you find the process utterly exhausting, then that’s a red flag. The company culture, or that particular team, may be the wrong fit. We’re both putting our best foot forward here, so if I feel drained afterwards, can you imagine what 40+ hours together under pressure would be like?

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TOP 195 Comments
  • LinkedIn tendies
    How much does diversity and inclusion play into your hiring choices? What about ageism and lookism? Are you trained to acknowledge and handle biases such as those? Does anyone take that seriously?
    Mar 8 15
    • New tooQ10
      @USSW74 (is that your birth year?) - totally agreed on ageism. I thought I was staying ahead of the game by going to grad school in the evenings and taking coding courses online. Turns out that nothing can make up for aging without promotion or salary bumps. You're considered to be second class.
      Mar 8
    • Tableau MOVSD
      In all our loops, I ask our recruiter to cast as wide a net as possible, source from places other than LinkedIn, and I always try have a diverse hiring loop. As a result, my team has a much higher diversity, in many measures, than the industry, and we have benefitted greatly from it. Never once did I tell anyone I didn’t want to hire the most qualified individual, although we do evaluate team fit quite rigorously.

      The diverse hiring loop is incredibly important, since it does two things, it’s a good advertisement that we’re diverse, and it’s very useful in picking out the folks who would not fit in well. I’ve had a loop where the guy was a superstar coder, and we no-hired him because he was incapable of not being condescending to the women on the loop.
      Mar 8
    • Tesla Sbrk33
      @MOVSD Well said!
      @swetool Already have! Thanks!
      Mar 8
    • Microsoft huiii
      For me, this is one of the most valuable posts on blind. Thanks to the OP.

      I would have needed this information some time ago. I had many interviews but I didn’t nailed the jobs. The reason was that my answers weren’t to the point enough. I was nervous, had a challenging discussion about things that I’ve never done (why else should I pick this role), in English which is not my native language, have been under stress, etc. You don’t want to look like a fool but exactly this happens when you think about this while interviewing.

      I was actually surprised how HM’s in the US are looking for the exact answer, even though it’s not the best way to address Problem A or B.

      What I really missed in that process were I learned this painfully are two things: A clear feedback and an understanding of my culture. Got always told I have everything for the role but it‘s all about this or that.
      When I reached out to HR I got their real written feedback. Only this helped me to get better, not the BS that I got told. Regarding culture I would have wished a better understanding of how things may work in other geographies on this planet. In Europe Interviews run completely different i.e. And I guess this is also the case in Asia or other parts of the world. So sometimes (as in my case) people are used to their interviewing style in their home countries. For someone who nailed every interview in his origin country this kind of experience is quite painful.

      We spend a lot of efforts on diversity. But no one really think about how to interview a foreign worker appropriately so that he/she feels comfortable and can reach his/her full potential during the interview. I would bet we leave a lot of talents behind us due to that missing piece of diversity. It would have helped me a lot to show my full potential. And of course open and true feedback. It was a 2-3 year journey of painful learning. And i‘m still learning.

      Only persistence and self reflection helped me to overcome frustration and land my new role, before leaving the company that i‘m actually being proud to work for.
      Mar 9
    • Microsoft HtIB24
      @MOVSD
      >Source from places other than LinkedIn.
      Such as...? On the employee side of the table, I get bombarded by low quality recruiters to the point of frustration. The noise to signal ratio on the inbox and voicemail I have hooked up to my resume makes it barely worth to even looking at. LinkedIn avoids this problem (mostly). Where else should I be to get good signal recruiters?
      Mar 9
  • FactSet r/TIFU
    Such a refreshing take on the other side of the table for the hiring process. Thanks for this post. It really alleviates a lot of concern and uncertainty about interviewing. This definitely is going to instill a new mindset in me personally when interviewing, and I hope others take away valuable insight from this post as well.
    Mar 8 0
  • Google GnaSkItSlf
    Interesting about Recruiting comment. I got approached a couple of times from Apple "recruiters" and it ended up so disastrous that I removed Apple from my potential employers forever. Once I asked a recruiter about details of job description he approached me for and he set a call with a HM so I can ask my questions. In the call, I wasn't getting any chance at all to ask any questions and I realized halfway through that I'm in a phone interview without knowing. I told the HM that I have not even made my mind if I want to apply for this job let alone do an interview without any preparation... A couple of other times, the recruiters just ghosted me in the middle of scheduling.
    Mar 8 11
    • Amazon cayde
      Lol. Tech workers: always slamming the evil companies they don't work for. If you wanted to work at a perfect company, you'll be out of a job.
      Mar 8
    • H&R Block Uwvf45
      I work for an outfit that has its very own PAC. 🤣
      Mar 8
    • Amazon cayde
      Yeah, John Oliver did a number on you guys a while back, haha.
      Mar 8
    • H&R Block Uwvf45
      TBH it kinda creeped me out a bit when I learned about it.
      Mar 8
    • American Express D.BCooper
      I applied twice to Apple and got picked up for both positions through the basic web applications.

      One recruiter was incredibly rude, like you'd think she was a third party headhunter with under 3 months experience. She never would respond, then just finally ghosted me. I'm thinking, you guys get like 500 apps per job here, clearly it isn't a fluke I made it twice? I had to look back and realized where I messed up. I gave salary expectations day 1 and my career aspirations to move up. Should've just said I wanted to be a low paid monkey with no aspirations.

      Facebook was fantastic. They were very honest with my skillset and said I'd be a great fit elsewhere in more of a pure data engineering role instead of data science. I declined because it wasn't really the move, but everyone was on time, recruiters were great, etc. Recruiter said to keep in touch and let me know if I want to apply to something else. That's what candidates remember.
      Mar 11
  • Lyft 0xabc0de
    Counter point: your post comes across as arrogant in a world where corporates treat employees as replaceable cogs and employees treat jobs as stepping stones up the TC ladder.
    And this is certainly a sellers market so cut back those expectations.
    Tbh the whole thing isn't such a big deal. Treat people like people, keep the dead weight off the path of the few actually doing work, and show genuine appreciation of work well done with money and growth opportunities.
    Mar 8 3
    • eBay petta
      Hire me 0xabc0de..
      Mar 8
    • Lyft lyftwhaat
      Me too.. ! Wish other managers at lyft and elsewhere thought like that.. pity..
      Mar 9
    • IBM uhYq11
      I want to know where you work so I never work there. 1000x rather work for the OP than you.
      Mar 10
  • Amazon QUfT36
    tl dr
    Mar 8 6
    • Amazon QUfT36
      other than your statement its not an insult though, just stating a fact
      Mar 8
    • LinkedIn howd
      Come to LinkedIn, we have an ex-amazonians assistance group
      Mar 8
    • Amazon QUfT36
      do you hand out badges? like "i managed to go 10days without being open to anyone"?
      Mar 8
    • Amazon miner49er
      May help some, but post was too preachy and entitied.
      Mar 8
    • Lyft Lyft0123
      Lol we have a support for ex-Teslans
      Mar 8
  • LinkedIn howd
    You've "read a lot of posts" and no TC???
    Mar 8 0
  • Groupon grpbye
    I have interviewed at FB, apple and amzn and can say confidently that apple is a complete shitshow. FB and Amazon have great recruitment teams and processes. I would give apple a wide berth, if you can't get recruitment right your company is doomed, hope Tim Apple is paying attention.

    Edit - add Microsoft to the shit show list as well
    Mar 8 3
    • Amazon cayde
      Hahahaha!! That was too funny. Can't wait for him to call out "Jeff Amazon" for not paying "internet taxes" the next time he wants to distract everyone.

      Sorry my comment was unrelated to the actual content of your comment.
      Mar 8
    • Groupon grpbye
      LoL good one
      Mar 8
    • Amazon y67bert1pz
      After having worked for Microsoft and interviewed with Apple I had a revelation. The doors were the same. The desks were the same. The coffee machine was the same. Both were founded around 1975 by founders who were at worst frenemies. Company culture is exactly like human personality: It's generational. The differences between Microsoft and Apple are largely superficial. Otherwise they are extremely similar companies with hyper kool aide dystopian rank and yank cultures that are riding on fumes of past success.
      Mar 9
  • eBay petta
    Nice.. Tim Apple should be proud of you OP
    Mar 8 1
  • Microsoft shared_ptr
    This is for non-eng or eng? Cause I miss the part where you ask candidates Leetcode Hard questions...
    Mar 8 0
  • Microsoft mhhI43
    Tech interviews are inherently broken. I know so many people who get in with flying colors and the code they write is garbage, they are bad team mates and just an overall bad hire.
    But each company goes around pretending their tech interview process is great.
    Mar 8 9
    • Oh, no, the classic EA hater. Am I supposed to feel offended? What brilliant company do you work for?
      Mar 8
    • New LGwK11
      You brought that upon yourself. Your company has a shit reputation for a reason.
      Mar 8
    • New LGwK11
      Do you not ever think 'hmm my company is universally hated, maybe I shouldn't continue to help them be assholes?' or do you only care about TC?
      Mar 8
    • dude, how old are you, 15? let me break it down to you because I see you're lost: your hater group, given a very vocal group on forums and all, is a couple of hundred Ks strong. EA's unique monthly active users (people that play our 'garbage') is in the hundreds of millions. So yeah, I'm ok, don't worry about me or my ethics ;)
      Mar 8
    • I'm sure your company saves elephants in Africa and is loved worldwide :))
      Mar 8
  • Couldn't agree more that interviews are a learning experience. However, in my experience (pun intended) this is problematic, as very rarely is any feedback beyond the standard "we've decided not to move forward" is given.

    I take notes and write up post-interview summaries in order to suss out what went well and what didn't, but it's MY impression of how things went, and what sort of an impression I made, which is often very different from the other side's. I've had interviews I thought went great fizzle out to a "thank you for coming in, don't call us" and others I thought were a disaster result in offer letters.

    Bottom line is, I believe HR refrains from providing actual feedback in an attempt to minimize the risk of litigation, which makes it extremely difficult for the interview process to double as a learning process.

    If I don't know what I should improve, how can I?
    Mar 8 3
    • Google LeeJaeDong
      You shouldn’t need feedback. If you don’t know what to improve, that means you must be perfect in every possible way and you should have no problem winning the next leetcode contest or architecting S3.
      Mar 8
    • Amazon dqJw06
      Have seen the S3 architecture. It’s a massive clusterfck.
      Mar 9
    • Magic Leap Leaper17
      Ask for feedback from the recruiter and ask for a 10 minute feedback call. Recruiters are there to help, so try for a fri afternoon or after hours call. Also, think about where you would like more info. ie. was it an optimization issues, timing, communication, edge cases, etc?
      Mar 9
  • Veritas nonzeroed
    This has to be the most condescending garbage I’ve seen on Blind in a long time. The laugh-out-loud bit is someone who appears to use the word “effortful” in all sincerity while criticizing people who want to “add value.” It’s a big wonder why the quality of Apple products has been in the decline. If idiots like this decide who gets into Apple, it’s no wonder why the products suck these days.
    Mar 8 2
    • Match ulcM52
      As they say on the internet ^^this^^
      Mar 8
    • Intel Telus
      Apple envy. Lol. Please write your version of what this HM should have confessed.
      Mar 8
  • eBay JavaHater
    Tech hiring is the worst. Entire process is full of hodgepodge techniques, and unproven methods.

    Tech companies are full of inexperienced and untrained so called Hiring Managers. Most of them became managers when company wanted to reward them for being good at coding, or when they decided that they do not want to code anymore.

    They are looking for a needle in haystack, instead of hiring an average joe, and than mentor and grow that worker, they want someone who can work with years old code, without documentation or someone to explain it. So called, "hit the ground running".
    Mar 8 6
    • New LGwK11
      What do you think about Hacker rank?
      Mar 8
    • eBay JavaHater
      Why not bring onsite, give a programming exercise that can be done in 3-4 hours, build a music player playlist, build a restful service, build a car showroom API ... and let the candidate setup the dev env etc., till completion and than look at his/her code, ask questions and see how thy goes ...!?
      Mar 8
    • Conduent Mile
      You're not wrong.
      Mar 8
    • Oath donkster
      And getting hired there is overrated, oversold. They may be a few hundred such companies, but the vast majority of devs work elsewhere in hundreds of thousands of other companies and do just fine, thank you very much. So I question if, all said and done, it's really worth all the trouble. Any thoughts?
      Mar 9
    • Honeywell that1guy
      The 3-4 hour coding exercise would most likely be a cookie cutter exercise in which people can study and train for even if they don’t know good API naming techniques, or high availability, etc. just enough memorization for what the interviewer is looking for.

      That’s why it always needs to be different challenges.
      Mar 9
  • PayPal da anomaly
    +1 for the "please answer my direct question directly." The #1 reason - by far - I reject candidates after the first phone conversation is their inability to answer a question. Not that they struggle communicating - that's fine - just be able to answer the question.
    Mar 8 2
    • New 0xBD
      What are your 10 weaknesses?
      Mar 8
    • New fckfb
      Your inability to articulate question is the problem.
      Mar 8
  • Amazon N0tSure
    Hire for attitude and train for skill. You can train someone how to code and the majority of the internal tools and systems are proprietary, so there is no way an external hire could claim to be a self starter or a perfect fit. Even industry veterans start from square one with a new company.

    If someone has a strong work ethic and is willing to put in the time to learn then it shouldn’t matter if they missed a few technical questions. Surrounding yourself with good people improves team moral and productivity even when there is a skills deficit.
    Mar 8 2
    • eBay petta
      Well said. We just lost an engineer just because he refused to apologise for a mistake. Ppl didn't feel comfortable working with him and had to let him go.
      Mar 8
    • Microsoft mhhI43
      +1. Attitude to learn, grow, solve problems, team work and intellectual capacity to do so is the key to hire a great talent.
      Mar 9
  • Procore Sbgu62
    Nobody gives a shit about apple interviews. Frankly, they are a second tier employer at best.

    And everything you describe absolutely does not apply for the 2 FAANGs I have experience with, FB and Google.
    Mar 8 1
    • Capital One TXrR83
      You must be fun at parties
      Mar 8
  • Disney zrbt65
    This a wonderful write up and thanks for putting it together to share with us. I have been in HM role in my current job for few years and we also have similar approach on our side. Hiring process is time consuming, we want candidates to succeed and appreciate candidates being themselves in the interview and be present.

    However, when I started looking for a new job and got interested in FAANG companies, there is so much BS outside. In fact there are coaches and experts making living by selling that BS, I am a victim of paying to such asshead!

    While problem solving and frameworks help in giving effective answers, being natural yourself is the key.

    This post has helped me reset my approach! It’s a learning experience and I am up for it. Thanks
    Mar 8 0
  • Google pAIf08
    Is what happened at YouTube (recruiter was asked to only schedule interview for 'diverse' candidates) prevalent in rest of FAANG?
    Mar 8 4
    • New TC++
      Tell me more
      Mar 8
    • New LGwK11
      100% yes. I'm a recruiter and ive seen it over and over again. And every time I do, I call out the BS. It has cost me my job before, but I'm not gonna let that shit slide.
      Mar 8
    • Google pAIf08
      TC++ - There's a court case filed. Do a Google search
      Mar 8
    • Microsoft IEjP42
      Yes at MSFT
      Mar 8
  • Netflix enjoylyfe
    +1000 to the answer questions directly. I've rejected candidates that couldn't come to the point even after ten minutes of droning. At senior level, I expect their answers to be crisp and deep. They'd be working with other senior folks and launching into one hour long discourses is bad..... very bad.
    Mar 8 0
  • Microsoft joyfill
    Sounds like interview for non software engineers. My experience tells me it is strictly about whether I provided optimized solution or not. Interviewers think they know who are giving memorized answers etc but I pass all of the interviews which I got a question I solved before. It was not like this till 7 years ago but nowadays 2 years out of college interview 10 years experienced engineers. They think they know better when they see senior candidate struggle to solve coding quiz. Looking at my friends, it is clear whoever solved more collect more offers. Thought process and communication skills don’t matter. Coding expectation is too high that 90% of the time, that decides the fate of candidate. You can blame software engineers being dumb probably. I wonder why the interviewers are junior engineers not the managers. It was cool when Google focussed on such things. It is not cool when every company hires in the same way and coding quiz determines the hiring in most of the cases.
    Mar 8 2
    • That’s what I thought 💭 when I read this post. Apple isn’t the most coveted either. It’s a company that works people to death.
      Mar 8
    • Netflix enjoylyfe
      Hahaha got interviewed by a one yoe guy in appdynamics and didn't pass even phone screen coz he was looking for a particular answer and wouldn't accept any others. And I cracked all of FANG and others!
      Mar 8

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