The world’s top tech companies, FAANG, or Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, are looking at an entirely new process of hiring as a result of the 2020 pandemic. Like most other businesses, as the coronavirus swept the globe, these tech companies were forced to immediately pack up their office spaces and begin operating remotely.
This style of working posed an important challenge for recruiters in these companies. As an industry that’s responsible for developing some of the most cutting-edge technology, these top tech companies have gained a reputation for hiring the best candidates. Conducting interviews remotely was no exception to that rule. The pandemic has changed the way these businesses scout new talent and revolutionized the virtual interview process for tech companies everywhere. In this article, we’ll cover what effect these virtual interviews have on candidates in the tech industry:
- The Competition Grew for Applicants
- Comparing the New with the Old
- The Perks of the New System
- Challenges with the New System
- The Bottom Line
The Competition Grew for Applicants
Before we dive into the logistics of how these unique interviews were conducted, it’s important to note some of the changes that influenced this process.
FAANG companies saw a dramatic increase in applicants in the year 2020, and that number is not expected to slow down in 2021. A desire for stability linked with the knowledge that technology is quickly becoming a leading industry in America drove software engineers from all over the country to submit their applications.
Not to mention, as thousands of Americans lost their jobs, technology companies began to grow. As their stocks began to skyrocket, it became clear that the future of software engineering would lie in the hands of the digital space.
There is one key factor as to why this style of interviewing poses as more of a challenge to potential candidates. In an in-person interview, if you are asked to give an example of coding, it can be a bit of pseudocode with an explanation. However, if you are being interviewed virtually, and asked to do code, your interviewer is able to view your coding throughout the entire process. For software engineers that have an interview with a FAANG company in the near future, make sure that your code is perfect.
Comparing the New With the Old
The biggest change that technical interviews have witnessed is the way on-site interviews are conducted. Technical interviews fundamentally consist of three main rounds — the initial phone screen with a recruiter, the technical phone screen with a hiring manager or a technical lead, and the on-site interview.
The first two stages didn’t involve any physical interaction and were conducted remotely even before COVID-19 hit hiring processes.
Before the onset of COVID-19, on-site interviews involved being invited on-campus to appear for 4-5 rounds of interviews. With COVID-related restrictions taking effect, on-site interviews have become largely virtual in recent times.
Several companies have transformed their hiring processes by conducting remote interviews assisted by technologies that have emerged to support this new setup.
But taking a remote hiring route can pose significant challenges, mostly pertaining to hiring top talent. With the temporary absence of in-person interviews, identifying unique talent can be quite challenging, mostly because the extent of interaction is limited in remote interviews. The tools to hire are definitely there, but they don’t really assist in hiring smart people.
In-person, Pre-COVID Interviews
In-person interviews that took place during the on-site round typically comprised 3-4 rounds of interviews depending on the seniority of the position.
On-site rounds consisted of:
- A coding round
- A design round
- A behavioral round
Each of these interview rounds lasted 30-40 minutes and were conducted by technical leads or hiring managers.
Coding interviews involved solving problems on algorithms and data structures, while design interviews involved building arbitrary systems with low latency that could be scaled to reach millions of users. Behavioral interviews mostly involved answering questions around workplace situations, past work-related challenges, and the company’s culture at large. Recruiters would then determine if you’re the right fit for the role after carefully evaluating your skills and behavioral traits.
Virtual Interviews Post-COVID
Currently, all on-site rounds are conducted remotely and can last 30-40 minutes each. The great thing about the new setup is that FAANG and tier-1 companies let you schedule your virtual interviews. Meaning that you can decide to give your interviews when you’re completely prepared and ready.
With on-site interviews moving completely virtual, companies have readjusted the way they conduct these interviews. There’s an increased focus on the quality of questions and problems asked to filter in only the best talent.
Amazon has instructed its recruiting teams to conduct interviews via Amazon Chime, the company’s video conferencing software. Google has been conducting virtual interviews via Hangouts or BlueJeans. The big companies are constantly evolving to make sure there isn’t a pause on hiring top talent.
The Perks of the New System
FAANG companies wanted to make sure that the remote style of interviewing didn’t negate its challenging nature. It was still an exhaustive process, especially with the increased competition among applicants. However, there were several perks for potential employees with this new method, including:
- No in-person interviews meant that candidates traveling from out of state no longer needed to spend time and money booking a hotel.
- Remote interviews offered more flexibility with scheduling, making the process much smoother.
- Being interviewed in a comfortable environment (one’s home) takes away a lot of the pressure that goes along with whiteboarding in front of new people.
Challenges With the New System
The challenges presented by the new system are borne more by the companies than the engineers. The remote hiring processes have encouraged a larger number of engineers to apply, making the competition stiffer. With the number of applicants witnessing a steep rise, the hiring bar has definitely gone up, making it more difficult for engineers who have impressive experience but aren’t adequately prepared, to get past the interview rounds and land an offer.
The Bottom Line
With technical interviews having undergone significant change post the coronavirus pandemic, it shouldn’t change the fact that in order to land offers at the biggest companies, your preparation should be nothing short of exhaustive. Giving yourself adequate time to prepare is key in this regard, especially with the hiring bar gone up at most companies.
For more tips to crack coding interviews in 2021, click here.
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