Interviewing at Six Silicon Valley Giants in Six Days: Day 0
A contemporaneous account of my 2018 interview gauntlet, a six-weekday stretch in which I interviewed at LinkedIn, Yelp, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google
I used to blog on another, pseudonym-less Medium account. I’ve had these diary-esque entries saved in my drafts for the last two and a half years and I thought they might be interesting to folks that have interviews ahead of them. I’ll post these weekly (or something). In total, there are seven parts.
To help keep my mind off of things — my upcoming interview performance, in particular — I’ve decided to keep an ongoing record of my upcoming Hell Trip™. After a preliminary job hunt and a lot of phone calls (something I’ll post about in the future, along with some tips I’ve learned along the way) it’s resulted in this: I will fly from $MyCity and between August 13th and August 20th I will attend six onsite interviews at major Silicon Valley companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I’ll also be using my time outside of interviewing hours to hang out with friends and family, some of whom live in the area and some of whom will be flying in to explore the city with me. The companies range from $4 billion market caps to $1 trillion (…), but they are all very technically exciting to me.
While I’ve made posts in the past about extensively applying to jobs, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at now, and I’m not going to give it up for anything less than perfect (or close to it). I didn’t even start this job hunt; three companies reached out to me independently and I followed up with them. Thus, I only applied to maybe 20 companies this go-around, and I only applied to companies with (very) large mobile presences.
I’m a lover of mobile development, iOS in particular, so going somewhere, like, I don’t know, Microsoft, wasn’t something on my immediate radar. It’s probably a great place to learn and grow and I’m sure it pays very well, but I’m laser-focused on mobile development right now. In total, six of the 20 or so companies I applied to followed up to get me on the phone and those are the six places I’ll be interviewing at.
I don’t really know what will become of this post; I’m going to avoid describing technical particulars both due to NDAs I have (or will have shortly) at a few of the companies and because that knowledge is available elsewhere. There are only a few blogs that describe the “other stuff”: mental preparation, logistics, interpersonal tips, things like that. It’s also just going to be a general post about my day-to-day, sort of like a mundane vlog (but without the video) or typical blog (without the useful information). It’s the kind of blog I would like to read, but not the kind of blog that people looking for interview hacks will want to read. Most importantly, it’s the kind of blog future me will want to reflect on. Maybe I can glean some interview hacks from that. I’ve never had a truly “hardcore” onsite technical interview before, but in ten days’ time I’ll have about 25 of them to reflect on. Yikes!
The Day Before
My flight out was paid for by LinkedIn and departs at 1:30 today (a Sunday), so I woke up early and went out for coffee and breakfast at my favorite $MyCity-area coffee shop. It’s a little family owned shop that’s newish to the city — newer than me, at least — but it’s gained quite a bit of traction at this point. I overheard one of the baristas talking about how they’re opening up another shop, presumably due to the success of the first. Although I’m “exploring opportunities” outside of $MyCity at the moment, that makes me happy.
I get super nervous for phone interviews, but in the limited experience I’ve had with onsite interviews, I feel mostly fine. I feel like the magnitude of the upcoming week hasn’t really hit me, so I anticipate either feeling very anxious tonight or pretty sickly tomorrow morning.
There’s a two hour time difference between $MyCity and Silicon Valley which will benefit me quite a bit. I’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier to help prepare myself for waking up early. I think a lot of people worry about waking up late for a final exam. I worry about waking up late for an interview that I’ve kinda-sorta been preparing for since 2012.
I’m at the $AirportName now starting this post. I connect through Dallas-Fort Worth International and I’ll ultimately land at San Jose International around 6:30 Pacific time. Hopefully I can get to sleep early, although the 9:45am start tomorrow is really an 11:45am start for my $MyState brain, and looming anxiety will likely ensure I wake up on time regardless. I’ve done an extensive amount of studying over the last three months, starting from next to nothing and eventually reaching the present point, where I’m cautiously optimistic about my chances. I haven’t deluded myself into thinking I’m 6/6 material, but if things go my way, I can delude myself into thinking I’m, like, 4/6 material. Right now, if I had to guess, I would guess my offers go, chronologically, like so: ✔️✔️❌✔️✔️❌.
I would be absolutely ecstatic if that happened, for the record. When I was interviewing during my senior year of college there were a few companies I interviewed at to make sure I had any employment and not because I was excited about the company or product. Now, I’m very excited about each and every company on my list, which makes any offer like Christmas in J̶u̶l̶y̶ August.
On the flipside, I won’t be nearly as crushed if I whiff on all six as I would have felt whiffing in college, where I’d be staring down the barrel of unemployment. My ego will absolutely take a devastating hit, though, as I’ve always thought to myself that I could work in Silicon Valley if I wanted to. I may have to contend with the fact that that statement isn’t true, at least at the present moment.
I don’t think I’m amazing or a wunderkind that companies should feel honored to speak to. Those sorts of descriptors should be reserved for people like Mike Ash or Chris Lattner. Oh, how I aspire to possess the knowledge people like Mike and Chris have. I’m pretty confident I have the passion for it, at least. Anyway, I just think I know a bit about mobile programming and development and have enough experience that I could provide value to these companies, even if they have a high hiring bar. I’m hoping that surrounding myself with technically likeminded individuals can help me grow and maybe even flourish, too. I think I’ve sold myself on each of these six companies holding up that end of the bargain. I just have to sell each of them that I can hold up mine.
My flight is about to take off, so I suppose it’s time to begin my journey (yes, that sounds awfully cheesy…).
One last update: my initial flight was delayed by an hour, so my airline put me on a different connecting flight. I landed at DFW and it turns out my original flight was delayed, so I could still make it. I spoke to the gate agent and was put on standby, which ultimately put me on my original connection. However, I spent the next three and a half hours sandwiched in the worst middle-seat imaginable. A pleasant start. However, I haven’t eaten in 12 hours, so I’ve got some Panda to dig into.