I started interviewing.io 5 years ago. After working as both an engineer and a recruiter, my frustration with how inefficient and unfair hiring had reached a boiling point. What made me especially angry was that despite mounting evidence that resumes are poor predictors of aptitude, employers were obsessed with where people had gone to school and worked previously. In my mind, any great engineer, regardless of how they look on paper, should have the opportunity to get their foot in the door wherever they choose.
So, we set out to build a better system. On interviewing.io, software engineers can book anonymous mock interviews with senior engineers from companies like Facebook, Google, and others, and if they do well in practice, get fast-tracked with top employers regardless of how they look on paper. Fast-tracking means that you bypass resume screens, scheduling emails, and recruiter calls, and go straight to the technical interview (which, by the way, is still anonymous 1) at companies of your choice. Because we use interview data, not resumes, our candidates end up getting hired consistently by companies like Facebook, Uber, Twitch, Lyft, Dropbox, and many others, and 40% of the hires we’ve made to date have been candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. What’s nuts is that many of our candidates have literally been rejected based on their resumes by the same employer who later hired them when they came through interviewing.io. One notable candidate was rejected three times from a top-tier public company based on his resume before he got hired at that same company through us.
Over the past 5 years, we’ve hosted over 50,000 technical interviews (both practice and real) on our platform. Our YouTube channel, where you can watch other people interview, has gotten over 3.5M views, and, most importantly, we have helped thousands of engineers get great jobs.
Despite that for our entire, multi-year existence, we’ve been in beta. Over the past year or so, this increasingly inaccurately named “beta” became kind of a smoke screen. Our product was stable, we had plenty of interviewers, but sadly, we couldn’t serve many of the people who needed us most. Because we made money by charging companies for hires, despite a growing waitlist of >180,000 engineers, we could only serve the ones whom we had a shot at placing, i.e. engineers who 1) were located in a city where we had customers and 2) had 4 or more years of experience—sadly, despite our best efforts, employers across the board were not willing to pay for junior hires.
Then, COVID-19 happened and with it, a deluge of hiring slowdowns and freezes. In a matter of weeks, we found ourselves down from 7-figure revenue to literally nothing. Companies didn’t really want or need to pay for hiring anymore.
But these hiring slowdowns freezes weren’t just affecting us. In parallel, we saw a growing sea of layoffs, and we realized that, soon, more and more candidates would be vying for a shrinking number of jobs. On top of that, because a disproportionate amount of layoffs targeted recruiters, an overworked in-house skeleton recruiting team would go back to relying on resumes and other old-school proxies, unintentionally marginalizing non-traditional candidates once again. We also realized that many of the folks getting laid off would be here on visas, which meant that they’d have a paltry 60 days to find their next job or risk deportation.
So, we made a hard call. You may know that historically, we’ve offered completely free mock interviews. What you may not know, is that we pay our professional interviewers, as it’s the only way to ensure that we have seasoned, experienced engineers delivering a consistent, realistic, and high-quality experience. This is often our largest expense.
Since we previously funded practice by charging companies for hires, we had to find another revenue stream to continue. In the face of either shutting down the company, unable to provide any practice at all, or to begin to charge for premium practice interviews, we made the choice to launch a paid tier. But, because charging for practice felt anathema to our mission, we knew we needed some ground rules in place. I started this company to fix hiring, after all, and that’s why the people who work at interviewing.io are here, too.
After 50,000 interviews, our data shows that where someone goes to school has no correspondence to their interview performance. Despite that, we are all too aware that just because aptitude is uniformly distributed among populations, resources are not. We understand that paying for interviews will be prohibitive to many of the people who need help most, so our ground rules and goals for this pivot were as follows:
There is an upside to our new model though. Now that we’re no longer strictly beholden to employers, we’re able to open up interviewing.io to engineers of all seniority levels and many more locations. And because our revenue isn’t coming from placements but directly from practice, we don’t have to constrain our users to a limited number of practice interviews.
So, as of today, interviewing.io is open to engineers of all experience levels in North America and the UK. Engineers who sign up can book mock interviews 24 hours out, and top performers will still get fast-tracked for great jobs.2
Here’s how it works:
What about the goals and ground rules above? We’ve already made some headway against these. The free tier was there from day one. Moreover, a number of our professional interviewers have stepped up and volunteered their time to help the people who need it most prepare for free (if you’d like to volunteer your time to help engineers from underrepresented groups practice interviewing, please email email@example.com with the subject line ‘Volunteer’), and a formal fellowship is in the works. Lastly, we’re working on a deferred payment plan, where users who buy premium interviews will not have to pay us for them until they find their next job.
Look, whether you got laid off, are a student who’s reeling from your internship being withdrawn, lost your visa, whether you’re fortunate enough to still be employed but worry about your job stability, or if you just want to help making hiring fairer, we hope you’ll take us for a spin. Technical interviews are hard, and hiring is broken. And whether you’re new to interviewing or are just rusty after being off the market, and whether you can pay or not, we have your back.
The coming months are going to be hard. We know that in the current climate more people than ever are feeling helpless, and the world feels like it’s burning. And it might not even seem like technical interviews matter that much. But they do to us… because this is our way of creating a world where access to opportunity isn’t determined by who you are or where you come from but by what you can do.
P.S. If you don’t need practice for yourself but you or your organization want to help others get awesome at technical interviews, check out our new gifting feature.
"Unlike other hiring marketplaces, we will always be an anonymous platform. No public profiles, no sharing of candidate information, and no one but you gets access to your interview history. You get to decide after each interview if you want to unmask, one interview at a time." ↩
If you were waitlisted previously and have been patiently waiting to get your invite, we’re issuing thousands of invites a day and we should get to you within a few days. ↩