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The Future of Work

What The Interview Process Is Like At Google, Apple, Amazon, And Other Tech Companies

The best and worst interview processes according to job applicants will surprise you.

What The Interview Process Is Like At Google, Apple, Amazon, And Other Tech Companies
[Photo: © MARK BLINCH/Corbis]

It’s kind of a perfect storm.

A record 78% of hiring managers anticipate more hiring in the first half of 2016 compared to the second half of 2015, according to the latest report from career site Dice. That means there are plenty of openings to fill that accommodate a range of seekers from entry-level to executive. CareerBuilder reports that over 100 occupations in the U.S. currently have more job postings than actual hires month over month. Combined, these two factors make it a great time to be looking for a job.

Unfortunately, even that level of demand isn’t making the time to hire a qualified candidate any shorter. For those about to embark on a search, expect it to take a long time. In fact, the average interview process now takes 23 days, up from 13 days four years ago, according to a recent report from Glassdoor Economic Research.

Why is it taking so long? Glassdoor’s research indicates that location, the size of the company, and more rigorous screening processes factor into the length of time it takes to get an offer. Ironically, tech jobs—among the most in-demand this year—have longer waits than average. Software engineers can expect their interview process to take more than a month (35 days), according to Glassdoor. App developers and product engineers come in close behind with 28 days of interviewing.

If it’s exhausting just reading about the time it takes to be "on" for a potential employer, it’s about to get worse. The researchers of GetVoIP, a cloud communication adviser, did an analysis of the hiring process for a software engineer position at 13 popular tech companies that had at least 100 reviews on Glassdoor to identify trends in the overall experience.

The companies included:

  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Cisco
  • Microsoft
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Apple
  • Yelp
  • Yahoo
  • Uber
  • LinkedIn
  • Amazon
  • Twitter

Alex Heinz, who does community outreach at GetVoIP, tells Fast Company, "We placed the most emphasis on interviews posted in the past two years (2014—2015), though we realize that the interviews could have been conducted at an earlier date and posted about later." He also pointed out that companies such as HP, Samsung, or Dell might have been interesting to include, but weren’t. "There wasn't enough information available for us to feel confident about their hiring processes," he says.

Overall, the analysis uncovered distinct trends in the interviewees’ experience. For example, seven of the 13 companies kick off the process with a screening call, while IBM, Cisco, and Yahoo initiate a phone interview. Only Twitter and Amazon require the applicant to complete an online assessment before moving to a phone conversation. In the case of Amazon, the initial online test is followed up with a second online assessment. Each company saves the on-site interview for the last step—after assessments and phone calls have been completed. Incidentally, only Yelp applicants reported doing Skype interviews.

All this phoning and testing takes between two weeks to a month at these companies, so you would think that there’d be plenty of negative feedback from the applicants. Instead, GetVoIP’s analysis revealed that drawn-out processes didn’t influence an interviewee’s experience. "While Cisco, Yahoo, and Uber had the shortest interview process of two weeks, only interviewees at Cisco had an overwhelmingly positive interview experience," writes GetVoIP’s founder Reuben Yonatan.

Likewise, easy interview processes don’t always translate to a positive experience, and a more challenging one didn’t necessarily lead to more disgruntled reviews.

As Yonatan notes:

Twitter’s interview process was moderate (3.1/5.0), but an overwhelming number of interviewees (42%) had a negative experience. Conversely, Google had the hardest process (3.4/5.0), but only 15% of people had a negative experience, and 56% of people had a positive experience.

Despite the dustup over Amazon’s corporate culture this summer, those who went through the interviewing process reported overwhelmingly positive experiences (49% of reviews were positive, while only 15% were negative, and the rest were neutral) even though it was rated one of the most difficult to get through. Uber had similar results (51% positive) even though the company and its leadership have also been criticized recently. IBM scored high marks for giving candidates an overall good experience. The company got 69% positive ratings and only 5% negative.

The company that drew the most negative feedback among applicants? Twitter, with 46% thumbs down. After that, it’s a tie between Apple and Uber both at 26%.

Yonatan admits that the data is specific to software engineers, but is a good indicator of how different the hiring process is today in a variety of industries. Fast Company recently reported that location is no longer a deal breaker to qualify for a position, thanks to video resumes and interviews. Says Yonatan: "Today, there are multiple rounds of phone/Skype screenings and test projects before you even qualify for an onsite interview."

Related: Are You Good At Conducting Interviews?

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