What was your job (or intern) interview process like? What surprised you? What frustrated you? What excited you? How did you prepare? How did you perform?

What is your overall impression of the general interview process? Is it efficent? Is it effective? Is it humane? Is it ethical?

At the beginning of my first semester of my final year in college, I was unsure of what I wanted to do after I graduated. I had just come from an incredible summer internship experience, and was considering returning after college. However, I was also interested in working at one of the large tech companies or possibly going to graduate school for Computer Science. Overall, I was a little lost and overwhelmed. Part of my process for making my decision included applying and interviewing for many positions at some of the large tech companies. This time period gave me insight into the interview process, and left me with an interesting view of the whole thing.

The good thing about the technical interview process is that I was very unsurprised during any of my interviews. I pretty much knew exactly what was coming: slightly tricky programming problems that I am relatively good at but sometimes get hung up on. I would go into these interviews, do my best, and leave with adrenaline and high blood pressure. But I was comforted by the fact that I share this experience with most others — these questions don’t come easily for really anyone.

This is not to say that the interviews are not frustrating, because there are few things more frustrating than failing to get a question. I once found myself finally reaching a solution to one of the problems a full month after the interview. The most frustrating part of the process however, is knowing that the interview cannot possibly fully represent my ability as a programmer. If I don’t get an offer for a job, I want it to be because I am not qualified for the job, not because I didn’t come up with the most efficient way to determine if a linked list has a number n of loops within ten minutes. I understand that the interview process is fair and probably the most efficient way to determine competency, but it is still frustrating knowing that I might be slipping through the cracks of an interview process.

While this was frustrating, there were still some parts of the process that excited me. The problems are actually very interesting and compelling. They reflect the types of problems that caused me to become a Computer Science major in the first place. I enjoyed doing tons of practice problems to prepare, and while stressful, I even enjoyed some of the interviews (namely, the ones that I was able to answer quickly and accurately). I think that I performed very well, and I am proud of the interviews I had and the answers I gave. I got a few offers, and in the end decided to take a job at one of the big tech companies. It was extremely hard to give up my job from the summer, but ultimately this will be a new experience and I am excited to finally get a look at what goes on within a successful tech giant.

I ended with a mostly positive outlook on the interview experience. This is because of my opinion on the best way to judge an interview process: the percentages of false positives (accepting unqualified candidates) and false negatives (rejecting qualified candidates). A company cannot really afford to accept an unqualified candidate, and so they make the interview questions difficult, minimizing false positives at the cost of an increase in false negatives. This is unfortunate and holds me from fulling accepting the validity of tech interviews, but I think it is still a good system for the most part.