Software Eats Recruiting: 5 Reasons You Need to Use Triplebyte to Hire Engineers

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In Startupland, at any given time, there are an innumerable amount of startups (an amount n that has been growing exponentially year-over-year). A small percentage of n is the true epitome of Silicon Valley’s rosy reputation: a genuine mission rooted in changing things for the better, and work being done towards that mission that is so good, and so impactful, it will really change the world (or a facet of it).

That is the kind of work being done at Triplebyte. Founded by Harjeet Taggar, Ammon Bartram, and Guillaume Luccisano, Triplebyte has innovated a credentials-blind interview process for programmers, and matches candidates to tech companies. I’ll go into more detail below.

Silicon Valley is a place where people care deeply about real skill, rather than caring about proxies like credentials to signal ability. But in practice, when it comes to hiring, it’s very difficult for companies to forgo all signals, and instead use skill itself as a signal for ability. The status quo is that companies use past work experience at top companies and top schools on a resume to filter candidates. Having worked at Facebook and gone to Stanford is definitely an indication of a skilled candidate; the problem is a high number of false negatives: countless talented people are rejected right at the resume screen for not looking good on paper. This is a dangerous problem, because it will have consequences like limiting your candidate pool and limiting diversity, both of which are detrimental to a company. One of the things that makes tech so great is its culture of meritocracy, but making it a true meritocracy in practice is vitally important for future innovation: anyone who has the right skills should be able to excel here.

So what does Triplebyte do that makes it the best at solving for this?

A summary if you want to skip the details:

  • it allows you to find talented candidates who wouldn’t have made it through your recruiting filters by using a credentials-blind process
  • they built a statistical model that maps the technical attributes of candidates and the preferences of attributes by companies, and then uses that model to match engineers to companies, so that you don’t waste time on any candidates that wouldn’t have been a technical fit anyways
  • candidates are fast-tracked to matched companies’ final onsite interview, saving you hours of screening time and engineering hours
  • the only time you pay anything is when you a hire an engineer Triplebyte sends you, with a nonstandard 6-month guarantee if it doesn’t work out with the hire
  • evidence in the numbers: doubled onsite offer rate, more than 50% decrease in engineering hours per hire — the time you spend on hiring is greatly optimized

The details put in context:

1) Accessibility

Optimizing your hiring funnel to find the best software engineers is one of the most important things a tech company can do for their success.

The accessibility of that process for engineers is key, because it will directly affect the number of and backgrounds of candidates. By accessibility, I mean how easy it is for candidates to apply, how many hoops they have to jump through before an onsite, how expensive (in time and money) interviewing will be for them.

Because Triplebyte is a company that solely specializes in recruiting and interviewing, it is able to optimize for this.

The initial screening is an online programming quiz which anyone can take, you just need a browser and internet connection. They built a version to take for fun here, it’ll give you the answers with detailed explanations, and a score.

The rest of the technical evaluation is done completely over Google Hangouts, where the candidate uses their own laptop, dev environment, and language. After passing that, a candidate is fast-tracked to the final onsite interview of companies Triplebyte matches them with.

Triplebyte also does something that I don’t know of any other company or recruiting firm doing — for every Triplebyte engineer that passes their evaluation and moves on to onsites, they arrange for and cover the cost of all flights, transportation, and accommodation. Making the entire process free for programmers removes a barrier that so many face when trying to break into tech, and opens up the ecosystem for people of low socioeconomic backgrounds — no one loses out on a career opportunity because they can’t afford to interview.

2) Credentials Blind, Meritocratic Hiring

Triplebyte’s mission is focused on making hiring based on skill, rather than credentials — finding engineers that are good at programming, rather than good at talking about programming. They do their entire process credentials-blind, without a resume; the process is built to find an engineer’s strengths.

Using traditional screening methods, the average industry onsite offer rate is 25%. That means that of the engineers that are passing all of a company’s screening steps and making it to an onsite, 1 out of 4 are getting an offer.

This indicates two things about traditional screening methods: 1) they aren’t that great at identifying good candidates, and 2) they aren’t identifying candidates that are a technical fit for that particular company. I’ll go deeper into #2 in the next section, but let’s talk about #1.

As I mentioned before, Triplebyte’s initial filter — their replacement of a resume — is an online programming quiz. It has a precision of 70% — meaning of the engineers that pass, how many are actually good — which is a much more precise filter than a resume, and minimizes false negatives. A programming quiz as an initial filter is great, because they’re able to literally use skill as a signal for skill, which is how hiring should be done. Candidates are filtered out based solely on their ability, not arbitrary signals such as work history and pedigree.

The rest of the evaluation is rigorous and deeply technical, and involves programmers writing real code on their own laptops and in their own dev environments. This is done purposefully so that candidates are performing in their comfort zone, and can be seen at their best. Rather than making the interview experience harrowing, and built to find every flaw, Triplebyte focuses on trying to find an engineer’s strengths. In one of their blog posts, Triplebyte cofounder Ammon Bartram talks about how to interview an engineer — I highly recommend checking it out — and he observes that there isn’t any software engineer that is adept in every aspect of software engineering, and if you ask any engineer the right question, she’ll look like a weak candidate. Different software engineers excel in different facets of the field: the goal of the interview should be to identify an engineer’s strengths, and hire them for their strengths.

On a deeper level, companies should be looking for the specific set of strengths that they need, which brings me to my next point.

3) Triplebyte Engineer Genome: a statistical matching model

After Triplebyte did thousands of technical interviews, and tracked a ton of different data and metrics along the way, the team created the Triplebyte Engineer Genome project. They wrote a blog post going into detail about how and why they built it here.

They found that companies don’t agree on what a “great engineer” looks like — everyone is consciously or unconsciously looking for certain technical attributes in their candidates for them to be considered good. Asking deeply technical questions about the preferences of their partner companies’ engineering teams allowed Triplebyte to map out what different companies value in software engineers.

For each company they work with, they assigned weights to different programming skills according to how much they desired them, and then used software that they built to intelligently match candidates to companies where they’d be a technical fit.

This innovation in the hiring process for software engineers is a win for both programmers and companies. Engineers that are applying to and interviewing for positions have grueling experiences, in large part due to not knowing which companies they’ll automatically fail at because they aren’t a technical fit. Companies can’t — and find difficult — communicating their preferences to potential candidates, so engineers go on to fail interviews and not know why, and companies invest engineering hours doing interviews with candidates they’ll ultimately pass on — it’s bad for everyone.

Shifting to a magnified view of candidates, seeing engineers for their sets of strengths, rather than just “great engineers” will focus the hiring process in a tremendous way. Triplebyte’s method of routing engineers with the right strengths to the companies where they’ll be valued is a considerable positive progression in the shift towards meritocratic hiring.

4) Recruiting as a software-driven process

Triplebyte Partner Company, Mixpanel

One very strong theme in everything Triplebyte does (that you’ve probably noticed throughout this post) is a strong focus on data, and building a software-driven process. They’re constantly experimenting, measuring their results, and iterating.

Triplebyte believes that hiring is an immensely complex task that is filled with a lot of noise and bias — I agree. Their software-driven approach is minimizing these bugs in the system.

The questions on their programming quiz are constantly measured for signal (how accurate a question is at identifying skill), and low-signal questions are replaced with high-signal ones, constantly iterated on. During interviews, a myriad of different data points are tracked, down to what an interviewer is thinking every 5 minutes. Their Engineer Genome was born out of them experimenting and tracking things in thousands of interviews. They’ve built a ton of their own software, from their own ATS to scheduling software to their matching model. They are constantly seeking feedback from the companies they work with to improve their matching model and determine the accuracy of their evaluation process.

This approach is what separates Triplebyte from every recruiting firm, from every company’s hiring practices — they did the intensive work no one else did, asked questions no one else asked, measured everything and iterated on everything. The work Triplebyte is doing is going to change the way software engineers are hired, because they’ve proven that a credentials-blind, software-driven, meritocratic hiring process is the best solution for both companies and programmers.

5) They’ve Proven It

Triplebyte Partner Company, Gusto

Triplebyte is a Y Combinator startup, and they initially tested their ideas on other YC startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe. They’ve recently expanded outside of that network and are now working with Facebook, Apple, Asana and Palantir among others. You can read their case studies here. They’ve only been working with companies in the Bay Area, but they’re going to start operating in Seattle, Chicago, and New York next year.

Working with the ecosystem of YC startups allowed them to build up a huge data set and prove that their methods worked. They improved a ton of important metrics.

The industry average engineering hours spent per hire is 35 hours — Triplebyte’s companies see an average of 15 hours, a more than 50% improvement.

The industry average onsite offer rate is 25%, or 1 in 4 engineers get an offer — Triplebyte’s average is 50%, or 1 in 2 engineers get an offer.

This means for every 4 interviewed engineers, there is a number of engineering hours that don’t convert to an offer. The industry average is 105 hours — the Triplebyte average is 30 hours.

The metrics show that Triplebyte’s approach has made a measurable improvement in the hiring process, and has made it much more effective for both the companies and engineers that work with them.

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