Personalized vs generic interviews

Microsoft hououin
Jun 11, 2018 11 Comments

I have been pleased recently by a few companies that now are making the interview process more personalized. They either let you give a talk or do a "deep-dive". They take at least a few of the coding problems from real situations related to the group's topic. They make the problem solving collaborative rather than adversarial.They ask system design questions related to your previous work.

This is distinctively different from generic and awkward interviews. Interviewers asking generic leetcode problems, "how would I design Twitter" (or some big site unrelated to the position) for the design question, and being smug jerks overall. In my experience, Google has been pretty bad at this. One time an interviewer even refused to tell me what he was working on, not even on what team because "I didn't need to know".

Why can't we have more interviews like the former and less like the latter?. I often ace the former while the latter are hit or miss. I believe there are too many false negatives caused by bad interviewers.

I am glad that it's getting better in some places.

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TOP 11 Comments
  • Starbucks / Eng Code9000
    I’ve always liked the personalized ones. I feel like it gives a better showcase of what you really know in your domain. As opposed to solving a random leetcode question using algorithms that you hardly use in your day to day. I have good experience with the pair programming ones too. Although those may be more stressful for some.

    Oddly it may not be a good thing for some. People who are not necessarily that good in their domain but good at prepping on leetcode for a few months might be at a disadvantage. For example there are plenty of positions that I could probably get that I’m not really fit for just because I’m really good at leetcode. Like jobs in languages I don’t use much like clojure, GoLang, Rust, etc.

    So it could go both ways depending on a persons strengths.

    Theres a whole repo of companies that use the more personalized style: https://github.com/poteto/hiring-without-whiteboards
    Jun 12, 2018 3
    • Microsoft hououin
      OP
      But wouldn't you want to hire the people that are good in their domain, and actually filter those that are just good at leetcode but may not deliver in practice?
      Jun 12, 2018
    • Starbucks / Eng Code9000
      Yeah I agree. I was just presenting both sides of the coin in my response.

      I’d also like to add the personalized one takes a lot of skill on the interviewers part too. It’s way more difficult than picking a few leetcode questions out of the pool. So that’s a challenge too.
      Jun 12, 2018
    • Microsoft hououin
      OP
      Agreed. I guess it only makes sense for senior or higher roles. I think it would be worst investing more in the interview process for this purpose.
      Maybe a baby steps would be to have at least one of the interview sessions to be personalized
      Jun 12, 2018
  • New aneemz2
    I had this experience interviewing at Facebook. All questions were directly related to the type of work I do currently, no questions from leetcode. Was really surprised, but it seemed like they gave me interviewers who worked on specific teams I was matched for.
    Jun 12, 2018 1
    • Microsoft hououin
      OP
      Did you get/accept the offer?
      Jun 12, 2018
  • Google / Eng v0
    While this may work at smaller companies, I wonder if it will be possible at Google's scale. (I'm not saying it won't work. Additionally, I'll concede that Google's process is not perfect and can unfairly impact some highly qualified candidates. I'm afraid that the variability of this approach might increase the noise.) I can see this working well for specialized roles where your interviewers are selected in a way as to judge the skills required for the job.

    Additionally, I question the ethics of "solve one of our problems for free before we hire you" type interviews.
    Jun 12, 2018 1
    • Microsoft hououin
      OP
      Oh, I didn't mean solve a current problem they have,but a problem they had. The interviewer will be very familiar with the problem and own thought process. I believe the chances of empathizing with the interviewee are higher.
      Solve a current problem for free is not ethical. I agree with you
      Jun 12, 2018
  • Tango Health / Eng lyub4y2
    Sorry about your goog exp. l'd have flagged the interviewer to the recruiter.
    Jun 11, 2018 0
  • I agree with the Google interviewer. On my Amazon phone interviews they were different teams so I asked no questions, I don't really care what CRUD thing they're working on. Pre-onsite questions are pointless anyway
    Jun 12, 2018 1
    • Microsoft hououin
      OP
      I am talking about onsite.
      Jun 12, 2018

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