Why airbnb coding interviewers so unprepared?

Facebook iDev
Oct 23 25 Comments

I interviewed at Airbnb recently. Interviewers do not really prepare for interview before they walk-in.

First interviewer - Entered 5 mins late. Start searching for question for few minutes in the laptop after entering. Finally, he/she din't find then finally wrote method signature on whiteboard with (a) method name (b) input and (c) output. Then, he/she says can you think what can be question here?Seriously? just by method name and data structure name? I had to come up with data and ask whether this is what he/she thinking about? Then, he/she says no it's not that. Then, I explained more he/she says it's not even that. On top of that he/she questions why do you think that is what I'm trying to ask? I gave up here.
Then, I questioned him/her requesting "You should give me the data" to explain the question :-( I know in that moment I din't ask nicely may be because I lost 15 minutes of time and months of efforts in preparing for interviews. If we are spending months to prepare, why interviewer can't do a good job of preparing ahead?

Second interviewer - Enter the room. Greet.! hand me the printed paper...! Now, I should understand the question by myself. I'm not complaining about that. But, my major complaint is when I'm asking for clarifying question even interviewer do not remember what they are asking clearly?

On the other hand, design interviewer did excellent job. With proper question and helper functions, and expectations. Ironically, design interviewers should be abstract. I may have been fine without that.

Funny part is, When I escalated "coding interviewers" to recruiter, response is even more classic. He/she says that we are maintaining similar standards for all candidates and don't have any complaints from there.
It was a tight slap on my face that Facebook at least listens to the feedback regardless whether they take action. It made me think do I really want to leave Facebook and work here.

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TOP 25 Comments
  • Optum / IT
    isearching

    Optum IT

    BIO
    An experienced software professional with 10+ years of experience in tech. Having widespread experience across technologies and passionate for tech.
    isearchingmore
    Lol, this is funny
    Oct 23 2
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      It may seem that way in the end, but with weeks or months of preparation is being played by bad interviewers.

      Each person is different. If you promise 45 mins for coding including introductions and questions in the end, you should give that time to the candidate.
      Oct 23
    • Uber / Data Guiliani
      Most interviewers don’t realize that while they are evaluating a candidate, a candidate is also evaluating them and their employers brand. Sending naive interviewers ends up doing significant harm to the brand of the employer. In a talent starved market, this is even more critical than anywhere else to ensure consistent interview experience for majority of the candidates. It’s not that hard to be prepared as an interviewer to ensure positive interviewing experience for majority of the candidates.
      Oct 23
  • Uber / Data Guiliani
    I had similar experience. Specifically, they handed out a print out and expected me to respond using a pre determined function. Interviewers were mostly in a rush. They need work on their interviewing game. I did not bother sharing feedback with HR because they were a bigger joke.
    Oct 23 0
  • Google foony
    Airbnb was the least hospitable group of interviewers I had, ironically. One of my interviewers sat on her laptop the entire time. Another was super aggro before I got a word out of my mouth. Another asked me if I wanted to get off the call halfway through my phone screen. I guess she was bored. Oh well.

    Short term vacation rentals are serious business!
    Oct 23 4
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      😂
      Sat on her laptop? May be working on SEV.
      Oct 23
    • SoundHound newrep
      The interviewer asked you if you wanted to hang up the call? That's pretty rude.
      Oct 23
    • Google foony
      Yeah, I got hung up when I was about 95% of the way through and she told me it was too hard to do it that way and there was something simpler. So I sat there for a few minutes just trying to see what she was talking about and she asked if I just wanted to stop. The funny thing is someone was shadowing her, so this was her example of how to run one of these. Also no greetings or small talk whatsoever. Just not a good experience.
      Oct 23
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      I remember incident from FB. In which, my colleague called candidate for phone screen. Candidate is not aware of tech interview process and was not ready with laptop. He tried setting up but took very long time. Candidate is also not expecting to clear this since he simply attended to see the process.

      My colleague know this in first 15mins. Despite that he spent entire 45mins talking to him about his work, what programming languages they use and what data structures candidate is familiar with. It would have created positive experience for candidate with Facebook. This might be extreme case of good interviewer.

      Even 10% of this patience would my interviewer at Airbnb to the next level.
      Oct 23
  • Google SugarBoy
    Sigh and It’s Imaginable. Young and aggressive tech worker in AirbNb.
    Oct 23 1
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      Lol
      I would rather call careless and lazy 😉..!
      Oct 23
  • SpaceX / Eng
    darkarchon

    SpaceX Eng

    PRE
    Google
    darkarchonmore
    I 100% believe your assessment of your experience, but just thinking out loud, I would not give a well structured leetcode question to a SDE from Facebook. What would information would that give? I already know they're capable of leetcode problems. Would definitely go for more open ended and less structured coding problems to gauge analysis.
    Oct 23 4
    • Uber v v
      I partially agree with you. It all depends on the philosophy of the company. If you are a star being recruited, it makes sense. For a general hire, I think is just laziness
      Oct 23
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      It's not about asking leetcode question or not. They are free to ask any thing under earth or they can make up their own.

      Here, interviewer is not prepared enough, tbh not prepared at all, to explain the question. Interviewer jumped on to interview as if he/she is walking into weekly team meeting. To be fair, If people need to listen to me in my weekly meeting I would arrive better prepared about my thought process in the interest of their time.

      Importantly, I wouldn't ask listeners to guess the future and come up with their guesses so that I can prove them wrong for wrongly guessing my train of thought 😀
      Oct 23
    • Uber v v
      Ohhh I see! Tbh I also had a shitty experience with Airbnb earlier this year
      Oct 23
    • SpaceX / Eng
      darkarchon

      SpaceX Eng

      PRE
      Google
      darkarchonmore
      Sorry, if it wasn't clear, I agree that laziness is the cause here.

      I was just going on a tangent because it made me think about a dilemma I face with nearly anyone I interview for senior levels. Well structured leetcode like questions give nearly no new information when you know someone has been screened well in the past.

      I want to throw a curve ball, to see another dimension, but not so hard that we're just measuring nerves in an interview setting.

      And definitely don't want to appear unprepared or disrespectful
      Oct 23
  • Google Steve Woz
    This seems common with startup interviews. They want to keep up the facade of interviewing even if they don’t really need to hire more and also keep a pulse on the talent market. It’s like when you search for deals / Craigslist / Tinder every few days to get a feel for the market.
    Oct 23 1
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      Seriously? Would they do that? But, I don't consider Airbnb is a start up anymore.
      Oct 23
  • Airbnb wproto
    DM me the interviewers’ names. This is definitely not how I conduct my coding interviews.
    Oct 23 1
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      Thanks for showing the interest to fix the problem. I may not be sharing those for obvious reasons.

      These values should be trickle down from top rather than going from ICs to top.

      Anyone can have a bad day and can come unprepared. Though I strongly feel this is strictly because of negligence.

      The point when Airbnb lost me when recruiter responded like that.
      Oct 23
  • Airbnb kYFK02
    This is the problem with the generalist interview
    Oct 23 2
    • Facebook iDev
      OP
      I wonder how can we attribute this to generalist role
      Oct 23
    • Airbnb kYFK02
      You are much nicer to people you are interviewing for your own team
      Oct 23
  • Microsoft vvvvwvvvv
    Maybe they are trying to protect their job and feel insecure after seeing the likes of WeWork and Uber? Engineers are insecure because many of them don’t have social skills to get a job outside the industry and many are also immigrants with restrictions in job search either due to communication skills or Visa.

    This also should be a good lesson for us as well. I see so many people criticizing about the interview process, interviewers, interviewers but they don’t realize they might be one of the negative contributors (not saying op is). Interviewers are picky as hell and it is hard to satisfy these sensitive engineers. As OP pointed out, many of the interviewers are unprepared or don’t make effort to make the candidates feel comfortable and do their best. Instead, they like to point out nitty gritty details in code and verbal expressions (they are so easily hurt). I feel like engineers are even more sensitive than artists.

    Anyhow, if we want to make this easy, we should start being more generous to the candidates. Attitudes like this by the interviewers will only choose the candidates who practiced the problems before because they can answer no matter how poorly the interviewer was prepared. I say that this is not limited to AirBnb nor FANG. I found smaller companies are actually picker. Perhaps they don’t want to hire people unlike big companies where the interviewers feel better in job security.
    Oct 23 0
  • Amazon iSteveJobs
    I’m sure the person is female. If the person is male, OP wouldn’t mask it.
    Oct 23 0

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