The Eng Hiring Bar: What the hell is it?

By Atomic Artichoke | Published: March 31, 2020; Last updated: July 14, 2023

Recursive Cactus has been working as a full-stack engineer at a well-known tech company for the past 5 years, but he’s now considering a career move. Over the past 6 months, Recursive Cactus (that’s his anonymous handle on has been preparing himself to succeed in future interviews, dedicating as much as 20-30 hours/week plowing through LeetCode exercises, digesting algorithms textbooks, and of course, practicing interviews on our platform to benchmark his progress.

But this dedication to interview prep has been taking an emotional toll on him, ...

No engineer has ever sued a company because of constructive post-interview feedback. So why don’t employers do it?

By Aline Lerner | Published: February 6, 2020; Last updated: May 1, 2023

One of the things that sucks most about technical interviews is that they’re a black box—candidates (usually) get told whether they made it to the next round, but they’re rarely told why they got the outcome that they did. Lack of feedback, or feedback that doesn’t come right away, isn’t just frustrating to candidates. It’s bad for business. We did a whole study on this. It turns out that candidates chronically underrate and overrate their technical interview performance, like so: Where this finding starts to get actionable is that there’s a statistically significant relationship between whether people think they did well in an interview and whether they’d want to work with you. In other words, …

We ran the numbers, and there really is a pipeline problem in eng hiring.

By Aline Lerner | Published: December 3, 2019; Last updated: May 1, 2023

If you say the words “there’s a pipeline problem” to explain why we’ve failed to make meaningful progress toward gender parity in software engineering, you probably won’t make many friends (or many hires). The pipeline problem argument goes something like this: “There aren’t enough qualified women out there, so it’s not our fault if we don’t hire them.” Many people don’t like this reductive line of thinking because it ignores the growing body of research that points to unwelcoming environments that drive underrepresented talent out of tech: STEM in early education being unfriendly to children from underrepresented backgrounds, lack of a level playing field and unequal access to quality STEM education (see this study on …

3 exercises to craft the kind of employer brand that actually makes engineers want to work for you

By Aline Lerner | Published: May 14, 2019; Last updated: May 1, 2023

If I’m honest, I’ve wanted to write something about employer brand for a long time. One of the things that really gets my goat is when companies build employer brand by over-indexing on banalities (“look we have a ping pong table!”, “look we’re a startup so you’ll have a huge impact”, etc.) instead of focusing on the narratives that make them special. Hiring engineers is really hard. It’s hard for tech giants, and it’s hard for small companies… but it’s especially hard for small companies people haven’t quite heard of, and they can use all the help they can get because talking about impact and ping pong tables just doesn’t cut it anymore. At, …

You probably don’t factor in engineering time when calculating cost per hire. Here’s why you really should.

By Aline Lerner | Published: April 24, 2019; Last updated: September 18, 2023

Whether you’re a recruiter yourself or an engineer who’s involved in hiring, you’ve probably heard of the following two recruiting-related metrics: time to hire and cost per hire. Indeed, these are THE two metrics that any self-respecting recruiting team will track. Time to hire is important because it lets you plan — if a given role has historically taken 3 months to fill, you’re going to act differently when you need to fill it again than if it takes 2 weeks. And, traditionally, cost per hire has been a planning tool as well — if you’re setting recruiting budgets for next year and have a headcount in mind, seeing what recruiting spent last year is …

Can fake names create bias? An exploration into’s pseudonym generator

By Atomic Artichoke | Published: March 7, 2019; Last updated: May 1, 2023

Hello everyone, my name is Atomic Artichoke, and I’m the newest employee of the team, having joined a couple months ago as a Data Scientist. Atomic Artichoke isn’t my real name, of course. That’s the pseudonym the platform gave me, right before I took my final interview with the company. If you’ve never used before (and hey, if you haven’t already, why not sign up now?), it’s a platform where you can practice technical interviewing anonymously with experienced engineers (and do real job interviews anonymously too). When it’s time to interview, you and your partner meet in a collaborative coding environment with voice, text chat, and a whiteboard (check out recordings of …

There is a real connection between technical interview performance and salary. Here’s the data.

By Aline Lerner | Published: February 26, 2019; Last updated: May 1, 2023

At the end of the day, money is a huge driver for the decisions we make about what jobs to go after. In the past, we’ve written about how to negotiate your salary, and there are a lot of labor statistics and reports out there looking at salaries in the tech industry as a whole. But as with many things in eng hiring, there’s very little concrete data on whether technical interview performance plays a role in compensation offers. So we set out to gather the data and asked our users who had gone on to successfully get jobs after using our platform to share their salary info. With our unique dataset of real coding …

Impostor syndrome strikes men just as hard as women... and other findings from thousands of technical interviews

By Aline Lerner | Published: October 30, 2018; Last updated: May 1, 2023

The modern technical interview is a rite of passage for software engineers and (hopefully!) the precursor to a great job. But it’s also a huge source of stress and endless questions for new candidates. Just searching “how do I prepare for a technical interview” turns up millions of Medium posts, coding bootcamp blogs, Quora discussions, and entire books. Despite all this conversation, people struggle to know how they’re even doing in interviews. In a previous post, we found that a surprisingly large number of’s users consistently underestimate their performance, making them more likely to drop out of the process and ultimately harder to hire. Now, and with considerably more data (over 10k interviews led …

Exactly what to say when recruiters ask you to name the first number… and other negotiation word-for-words

By Aline Lerner | Published: August 16, 2018; Last updated: July 31, 2023

There are a lot of resources out there that talk about salary negotiation but many tend to skew a bit theoretical. In my experience, one of the hardest things about negotiating your salary is knowing what to say in tough, ambiguous situations with a power balance that’s not in your favor. What’s OK? What’s rude? What are the social norms? And so on. Before I started, I’ve worked as a software engineer, an in-house recruiter, and an agency recruiter, so I’ve literally been on all sides of the negotiating table. For the last few years, I’ve been guest-lecturing MIT’s 6.UAT, a class about technical communication for computer science majors. Every semester, negotiation is one …

We looked at how a thousand college students performed in technical interviews to see if where they went to school mattered. It didn't.

By Samantha Jordan | Published: February 13, 2018; Last updated: June 20, 2023
Screen Shot 2022-12-07 at 16.56.02.png is a platform where engineers practice technical interviewing anonymously. If things go well, they can unlock the ability to participate in real, still anonymous, interviews with top companies like Twitch, Lyft and more. Earlier this year, we launched an offering specifically for university students, with the intent of helping level the playing field right at the start of people’s careers. The sad truth is that with the state of college recruiting today, if you don’t attend one of very few top schools, your chances of interacting with companies on campus are slim. It’s not fair, and it sucks, but university recruiting is still dominated by career fairs. Companies pragmatically choose to visit the same …

We know exactly what to do and say to get the company, title, and salary you want.

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