Understanding Technical Interviews for Remote Tech Jobs
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Tech companies, especially FAANG and Tier-1 companies, have always been lauded for their advanced interviewing and hiring techniques. After the pandemic hit, companies were obligated to change the way they conducted interviews and hired. This paved the way for the era of remote interviews and remote tech jobs. Even for critical roles, several companies started moving their hiring processes to fully remote environments.
Latest stats and surveys indicate that people don’t want to go back to the office. According to a poll by Citrix that interviewed major IT leaders, over three-quarters of them believed that most employees would not want to return to full-time work after the pandemic. This is especially true with respect to technical roles, where work can be done remotely.
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA), in one of its polls, found that 81% of Subject Matter Experts preferred working from home, especially if the role involved is technical. Recently, Slack surveyed over 9,000 software engineers in six different countries and found that 72% prefer a hybrid remote-office model and only 12% preferred working in a physical office setting. Additionally, 13% of software developers said that they preferred to work entirely remotely.
Why Did Companies Shift to Remote Roles and Remote Hiring?
Ever since the pandemic took the world by storm, several companies started moving their operations to remote environments. Most on-site roles spanning tech, operations, and marketing, among others, became remote as a result.
With lockdowns, hiring had to be undertaken remotely as well. Companies started using advanced tools and technologies that enabled the smooth functioning of workflows and operations remotely. As for interviews, video conferencing interviews and coding assignments on remote tools became the norm. It mostly started with the tech heavyweights — Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — embracing remote hiring, after which several other tier-1 companies followed suit.
Amazon Chime is perhaps the perfect reflection of how a big company transformed its hiring approach to meet the demands of the new era post the pandemic.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, FAANG and some tier-1 companies did not halt or slow down hiring. In fact, they started hiring more for remote roles. This allowed them to interview a larger number of applicants as location and physical presence weren’t barriers any longer. Additionally, remote roles raised the talent bar as smart engineers who were specifically looking for remote roles were given the opportunity to apply.
Are Companies Continuing to Hire for Remote Roles?
Yes, very much. The pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation, and many companies have transformed their processes for better output and performance.
As such, although hiring, operations, and workflows underwent a paradigm shift, the nature of work didn’t change much. Responsibilities associated with specific tech roles remained the same despite the sudden shift from on-site to remote. So even after the pandemic, with a huge percentage of engineers preferring to work remotely and companies adopting new working norms, it is quite evident that remote work is no longer just a response to the pandemic but an enduring feature of the modern working environment.
Moreover, with the advancement in mobile work technology and virtual reality environments powered by video conferencing software, more and more companies are opening up to the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely. So even though there has been a buzz about companies calling back employees to physical offices, remote work, and remote roles are here to stay.
What Do Employees Think?
The percentage of engineers looking for remote roles has seen a staggering increase after companies started adapting to new processes and strategies to thrive in the new working model.
In its first State of Remote Work survey, Goodhire, a background verification company in California, revealed that 68% of employees surveyed preferred to work remotely, while only 32% preferred an in-office style work environment.
A more recent survey by Willis Towers Watson that surveyed 9,600 employees concluded that over 70% of respondents believed that remote roles helped them achieve a better work-life balance. However, about 52% of respondents said that remote work left them feeling disconnected from their teams, and close to 44% said they are worried that working remotely will negatively impact their careers.
Additionally, according to Global Workplace Analytics, 37% of remote employees are ready to take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home. Because of this increasingly popular trend, some refuse to accept an onsite position, feeling confident they can find a flexible and more convenient gig elsewhere.
Which FAANG+ Companies Are Hiring for Fully Remote Technical Roles?
As for FAANG companies hiring for remote roles, every one of them currently is. Even amid the buzz of calling employees back to physical offices, the discussion around hybrid and remote roles are still ripe. Companies, especially FAANG and Tier-1 companies, are looking to embrace innovative tools and resources to enable hybrid and remote work environments, and aren’t particularly looking at resisting this change.
The purpose of interview processes for remote tech roles at FAANG+ companies hasn’t changed. Companies are still looking to hire the best minds — problem-solvers and strong analytical thinkers who can collaborate effectively to deliver impactful projects.
As companies intently plan their next steps, the idea of remote and hybrid environments are presenting them with an unprecedented opportunity to weave various positives into a fully-functional model that will shape the future of both employees and companies alike.
What Tech Roles Have Become Largely Remote/Hybrid?
After the pandemic, most roles that were on-site became remote. This became a norm across domains/professions/departments.
Today, companies hire for remote roles regardless of the domain in question. A hybrid/on-site/remote model is usually decided based on project impact, workflows, and operational optimality.
Some tech roles that are remote today include - full-stack, back-end development, front-end, cyber security, data science and data engineering, embedded systems engineering, cloud computing, and test engineering, among others.
The Interview Process at FAANG Companies for Remote Roles
Remote interviews these days are very similar to how interviews were conducted before the pandemic.
Today, for remote roles, tech interviews still extensively evaluate one’s problem-solving, analytical design, domain skills,and behavioral attributes before making hiring decisions.
The interview process for remote roles typically consists of:
- An initial recruiter screen
- A Technical Screen/Coding Assignment
- An On-site interview (remote on-site) consisting of domain-specific rounds, coding rounds, design rounds, and leadership/behavioral interviews.
How Do Tech Interviews for Remote Roles Differ From On-site Roles
Technical interviews for remote roles don’t drastically differ from interviews for on-site roles. Typically, the parameters evaluated remain similar — problem-solving, programming, domain knowledge, systems design, and behavioral attributes.
A lot of companies, including big names such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, have on-site interviews for remote roles as well. This essentially implies that although these companies have been hiring for remote roles, they realize the importance of in-person experiences with candidates. On-site interviews allow recruiters to assess subtle aspects of a candidate’s personality, enabling them to make better hiring decisions.
Tech Interviews for On-site Roles
Tech interviews for on-site roles typically involve 3 stages - the informal Recruiter Screen, the Technical Phone Screen or Coding assignment (remote in most cases), and the On-site or In-person interview itself, which consists of 3-5 interview rounds.
Tech Interviews for Remote Roles
As for remote roles, the process is more or less the same. Candidates go through a coding assignment and are asked to appear for In-person interviews only if necessary. After the pandemic receded, knowing the importance of in-person interviews, companies started calling candidates on-site even for remote roles. That said, interviews for some remote roles take place fully remotely, and the on-site is just a replication of the real on-site, only that the various rounds take place remotely.
While the on-site give interviewers the opportunity to understand candidates better owing to the physical experience, remote interviewing allows companies to interview a wider talent pool and raise the hiring bar.
The Perks of Remote Interviews and Roles
Remote interviews have always been part of the hiring process at FAANG and tier-1 companies, especially for software engineering and technical roles. Technical Phone Screens and coding assignments of most companies take place remotely, regardless of whether the role offered is remote or on-site.
FAANG companies wanted to make sure that the remote style of interviewing didn’t negate the challenging nature of their interviews. That’s the reason why remote hiring processes are still exhaustive.
Below, we’ll look at some benefits we observed with regard to remote hiring:
- No in-person interviews meant that candidates traveling from out of state no longer needed to spend time and money booking a hotel.
- Remote interviews offered more flexibility with scheduling, making the process much smoother.
- Being interviewed in a comfortable environment (one’s home) takes away a lot of the pressure that goes along with whiteboarding in front of new people.
Remote roles allow companies to hire engineers beyond the local talent landscape. This presents them with an expanse of smart candidates, improving the available talent pool and raising the hiring bar. It also encourages smart engineers to apply to jobs outside of their state/country,
Remote roles were rare before the pandemic, with companies only allowing it in scenarios concerning employee health and well-being. After the pandemic, however, many notable tools and technologies have supported the shift from on-site to remote. Now, with companies starting to comfortably adapt to new norms, remote roles are here to stay.
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