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Triplebyte for front-end and mobile engineers

By Ammon Bartram on May 2, 2017

Triplebyte for front-end and mobile engineers

Today, we're launching new versions of the Triplebyte process for front-end and mobile engineers. We started Triplebyte to try to fix some of the problems with programming interviews. Over the last two years, we've built a background-blind interview process, and helped hundreds of engineers get jobs. We've worked with people trying to break into their first job (we helped a pizza delivery person get an engineering job at Instacart), and we've worked with credentialed engineers looking for new opportunities (and helped startups hire their first employee). I'm proud of the process we built. We've convinced major companies to waive their phone screens for our candidates, and globally our candidates receive job offers after 1 out of every 2 interviews they do. (This is about twice the average rate in the industry.) 

But I have a confession to make. Our interviews do not work well for specialists. We built our process by interviewing thousands of engineers, and empirically testing which questions are most predictive of engineering skill. Because most engineers are generalists (and most companies hire primarily generalists), general web engineering has come to dominate what we look for. We do work with front-end and mobile engineers. But until today, we've required that they pass a process dominated by general programming and back-end web concepts.

Today we're changing this. We've spent the last two months repeating the process that we went through when we launched Triplebyte. We've interviewed hundreds of candidates, tested questions, and are now launching background-blind front-end and mobile interviews!

Going deeper

Our new interviews are particularly exciting because they're a big step toward solving a broader problem. One thing I've learned doing 900 background-blind interviews is that skill in one area does not necessarily translate to skill in another (even adjacent) area. We see expert distributed systems folks who do remarkably poorly talking about a simple normalized schema, and strong back-end web developer who choke when talking about JavaScript. It's easy to quip that perhaps these are not skilled engineers. But they are. These are often people who have done important work at successful companies. The truth is that there is no single definition of engineering skill. The field is broader than what any one engineer can master, and as a result everyone will look weak if you ask them the right question. Even among companies hiring generalists, there is not a consensus on what skills make up the core of the discipline (everyone seems to think it's whatever they themselves are best at).

This fact is why engineers who go through our process pass their interviews with companies at an elevated rate. Each company has a specific engineering culture, and values a specific set of skills (either explicitly, or in the practices and questions of interviewers that have built up over time). But companies don't have a good way to telegraph this to applicants. All they can do is fail every engineer who applies and has the wrong set of strengths. What we've done so far at Triplebyte is design an interview that covers the most common areas that the companies we work with care about. We then pass anyone in our interview who is strong in any of these areas, and match them with the companies that care about their areas of strength.

Matching in this way has doubled our candidates' offer rate at companies. But to bring this back to our new front-end and mobile interviews, we've so far been limited by the fact that we give every candidate the same interview. We've only been able to match based on the most common skills. The front-end and mobile interviews change this! We're now at a scale where we can break out specialized tracks, and measure broader skills. This is the direction interviewing needs to move, and front-end and mobile are just the beginning. Our candidates already receive offers after 50% of the interviews they do. With broader data, I think we can push this number up. I think a 75% pass rate is possible.

Conclusion

If you want to give our front-end or mobile (or generalist) process a try, you can create an account here. After entering your details, you can pick which track you want to try (you can go back and try multiple as well). The front-end and mobile processes are new. I'm sure we'll be making tweaks / fixing issues. I'd love any feedback you have on the process (or on this blog post). Send me an email at ammon@triplebyte.com.

If you're a company hiring engineers and want to learn more about using Triplebyte, you can get started here.

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