Tech Job Interviews Are Out of Control


Bock says the shift is partly due to mass layoffs; employers are more able to flex their muscles in a tighter labor market. But there’s also a broader psychological shift. “After years of tech workers being pampered, of ‘bring your whole selves to work’ and ‘work from anywhere,’ executives are now overcompensating in the other direction,” he says.

The upshot for job-seeking coders is confusion, culture shock, and hours of work done for free. Buzz Andersen, who has held engineering roles at Apple, Square, and Tumblr, recently hit the job market again. He noted on Threads last month, “Tech industry job interviews have, of late, reached a new level of absurdity.”

Coding Olympics

Last year an estimated 260,000 workers were let go across 1,189 tech companies, according to a live-update layoff tracker called Layoffs.fyi. And the layoffs have continued into 2024, forcing a glut of talent into an already competitive market. An estimated 41,000 tech workers have been laid off so far this year.

Of course, not all of the tech workers losing their jobs are engineers. Engineers are often still seen as a privileged class within tech companies and the wider economy. Typically they’re the highest-paying class of workers below the C-suite in tech companies. Aline Lerner, who runs a popular interviewing practice platform called Interviewing.io, believes that the total number of engineering layoffs last year was closer to 15,000.

Data from Interviewing.io backs up job seekers’ claims that the bar for technical interviewing has gotten quantifiably higher. Interviewing.io connects people willing to pay $225 or more for interview practice with experienced hiring managers. These managers conduct mock interviews and then provide detailed feedback. Over the past eight years Lerner’s company has recorded thousands of grades from these encounters. Interview subjects are graded not just on their technical interviews, but also behavioral interviews, which focus on problem-solving and communication.

Since 2022, scoring a “thumbs up” on a technical interview has gotten more difficult by an estimated 22 percent, Lerner says. “It’s a very very clear trend,” she says. “And it’s not just interviews at a few Big Tech companies. It’s happening across many tech companies.”


Got a Tip?

Do you work in the tech industry and have experiences with job hunting or work that you’d like to share? Contact Lauren Goode at lauren_goode@wired.com.

On the app Blind, an anonymous gossip app where the truth might be elastic but industry trends often emerge, some tech workers say interviews feel “practically impossible.” One user wrote in early February that the bar for getting hired at one of the Big Tech firms is “two LeetCode medium/hard [tests] within 40 minutes and most of my friends failed,” referring to an oft-used online programming platform.

Another worker complained on Blind that preparing for LeetCode questions requires “hundreds of hours” of preparation: “Why are we expected to do the coding Olympics for every company that wants to interview you?” An engineer who became a manager at Dropbox and is now a director in the telecom industry tells WIRED that in his own past job hunting experience, he felt compelled to collect and write over 100 pages of coding material and potential questions before interviews.



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