July 17th, 2019
I’ve worked as a software engineer on Google products like Photos and Maps for four years. But if you asked me to interview for a new role today, I doubt most technical interviews would accurately measure my skills. I would need to find time to comb through my college computer science books, practice coding theory problems like implementing linked lists or traversing a graph, and be prepared to showcase this knowledge on a whiteboard.
According to a survey we conducted of over 2,500 working software engineers, nearly half of the respondents spent more than 15 hours studying for their technical interviews. Unfortunately, many companies still interview engineers in a way that’s entirely disjointed from day-to-day engineering work—valuing access to the time and resources required to prepare over actual job-related knowledge and skills.
As a result, the tech interview process is often inefficient for companies, which sink considerable engineering resources into a process that yields very little insight, and frustrating for candidates, who aren’t able to express their full skill-set.
At Byteboard, a project built inside of Area 120 (Google’s workshop for experimental projects), we’ve redesigned the technical interview experience to be more effective, efficient and equitable for all. Our project-based interview assesses for engineering skills that are actually used on the job. The structured, identity-blind evaluation process enables hiring managers to reliably trust our recommendations, so they have to conduct fewer interviews before reaching a confident hiring decision. For candidates, this means they get to work through the design and implementation of a real-world problem in a real-world coding environment on their own time, without the stress of going through high-pressured theoretical tests.
An effective interview to assess for on-the-job skills
We built the Byteboard interview by pairing our software engineering skills analysis with extensive academic research on assessment theory and inclusion best practices. Our interview assesses for skills like problem-solving, role-related computer science knowledge, code fluency, growth mindset, and interpersonal interaction. Byteboard evaluators—software engineers with up to 15+ years of experience—are trained to objectively review each anonymized interview for the presence of 20+ essential software engineering skills, which are converted into a skills profile for each candidate using clear and well-defined rubrics.
By providing a more complete understanding of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses across a range of skills, Byteboard enables hiring managers and recruiters to make data-backed hiring decisions. Early tester Betterment saw their onsite-to-offer rates significantly increase by using Byteboard, indicating its effectiveness at identifying strong candidates for the job.
A more efficient interview to save engineers time
Byteboard offers an end-to-end service that includes developing, administering and evaluating the interviews, letting companies focus on meeting more potential candidates face-to-face and increasing the number of candidates they can interview. Our clients have replaced up to 100 percent of their pre-onsite interviews with the Byteboard interview, allowing them to redirect time toward recruiting candidates directly at places like conferences and college campuses.
An equitable interview format to reduce bias
The Byteboard interview is designed to grant everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, name, background or education, the same opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Traditional technical interviews tend to test for understanding of theoretical concepts, which often require a big investment of time or resources to study upon. This can create anxiety for candidates who may not have either of those to spare as they are looking for a new job. By focusing on engineering skills that are actually used on the job, Byteboard allows candidates to confidently show off their role-related skills in an environment that is less performative and more similar to how they typically work as engineers.
I felt less anxious while doing the interview and it gave me the most complete view of my strengths and weaknesses than any other interview I’ve done.
a recent candidate from Howard University
The Byteboard Assessment Development team of educators and software engineers develop challenging questions that are tested and calibrated among engineers across a wide range of demographics. Through Byteboard’s anonymization and structured evaluation of the interviews, hiring managers can make decisions with confidence without relying on unconscious biases.
With Byteboard, our ultimate goal is to make interviewing better for companies and candidates alike. Companies looking to improve their hiring process can get in touch at byteboard.dev.