How to Recruit the Best Software Engineers? Interview Process at Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple

Sep 19, 2017

Ranking high among the world’s best companies to work for, tech powerhouses like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook attract millions of candidates annually. These companies understand that human resources are among their most valuable investments, which is why only a small percentage of the applicants ever make it to interview, and why only a lucky few will be hired.

With thousands of CVs received and hundreds of interviews conducted daily, how do companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook choose the right candidates? To process such a large amount of applications and to identify the perfect candidates, you need a solid hiring strategy. Little wonder then, that a strong and efficient interviewing process is a must for any company serious about attracting top talent. 

If you are planning to hire software engineers, this article will provide an inside look at the hiring process at some of the biggest companies in the world, as well as give expert advice on the qualities to look for in your candidates.

Google’s Interview Process

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Photo credits: Pinterest, ShoutMeLoud

Google was ranked as the best company to work for in 2017 by the magazine Fortune. In total, the company has topped the list 8 times in the last 11 years, making Google one of the most desirable employers anywhere in the world today. 

Annual net hiring at the company ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 people, whittled down from over 2 million applications received each year. The ability to process such an enormous amount of applications means that the company has probably the most efficient hiring process in the industry.

One candidate can apply (and can be screened) for several positions at a time. If a person doesn’t meet the requirements for one position, they can immediately be recommended for another one, without the need to re-apply. This makes the screening process much more efficient.

Another aspect of the Google interview process is that all hiring decisions are made by a designated committee. Thus, the company eliminates bias and makes the decision-making process both transparent and well-defined.

The typical hiring process includes pre-screening via email or phone. All candidates are first screened by the company’s recruiters, which is where background and reference checks take place. The next step in the Google hiring process is a technical phone interview, although this stage can sometimes be skipped if a candidate has a strong internal reference or has an outstanding track record in their chosen field.

As soon as the candidate passes the initial screening, the company invites them for an on-site interview. This stage can consist of anything from 4 to 9 meetings with different interviewers. Each interviewer (including those who perform the initial phone screenings) creates a report, providing feedback on the candidate’s performance and ranking them on a four-point scale - 1 indicates “no-hire”, while 4 means “definitely hire”. 

Interesting fact: In addition to meeting with potential managers and peers, some Google interviewees can also meet the people they will manage in their given position. This allows practically every employee at Google take part in the hiring process.

After that there is not much a candidate can do to improve their chances of success. The interviewers submit feedback with their ranking for each candidate, a hiring committee reviews the reports and forwards its decision to senior level managers, then another committee will determine the acceptable level of remuneration. After a final executive review, a formal job offer is made.

Despite the high levels of difficulty involved in each interview, recent research by GetVOIP pointed out that 56% of the candidates had a positive experience at their Google interview. One benefit often noticed by candidates is that the company usually provides solid feedback, even if there is no job offer at the end of it. This helps candidates to improve their technique and adds transparency to the hiring process. 

The Hiring Process at Apple

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Photo credit: WIRED

All that we know about the internal processes at Apple is that we know practically nothing. The company is famed for its secrecy when it comes to technology, a trait that extends to internal operations.

The hiring process at Apple would appear to be even more challenging than the one at Google. First of all, there is no unified hiring process: each department has its own process for candidate screening, which is why there is no way to apply for multiple positions at a time. 

Interesting fact: According to some sources, Apple often conducts group interviews as a part of the initial screening process. These can involve up to 10 candidates making short presentations about themselves.

The Apple interview process usually consists of 4-10 interviews, which range from about 30 minutes to entire days. The numbers may differ greatly depending on the team and position. Some sources quote 3 calls, 5 one-on-one interviews via Facetime, and 5 on-site interviews that took a whole day.

One of the specifics of the interviewing process at Apple is that each candidate is expected to show unparallelled knowledge of the Apple product range (both software and hardware).

All in all, many applicants find Apple interview process to be inefficient, with too many people involved at every stage. It takes too much time, and often includes unnecessary travel expenses. Others comment on the lack of feedback after a “no”.

It is for these reasons that Apple interviews are often considered a negative experience. 26% of the respondents had a negative experience, according to the GetVOIP research mentioned above.

How Does the Interview Process at Facebook Work?

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Photo credits: modlar.com, Slate Magazine

Like most of the other tech companies, Facebook usually conducts 4-5 interviews to assess a candidate and to test their talent and cultural fit. However, the process can vary - some candidates went through 10 or even 17 Facebook interviews to get their offer. 

The Facebook interview process is more or less standard, beginning with a phone interview conducted by the recruiter. The second step is a technical phone interview, which is usually held by the candidate’s “peers”, people already working in the position candidate is applying for.

The next stage is held on-site. This will usually include coding tasks, design challenges, and behavioral interviews. Similar to the other companies in the tech sphere, Facebook interviews often use whiteboard coding tasks and hypothetical questions to test both the skills and overall cognitive capabilities of the candidates.

Interesting fact: In addition to phone and on-site interviews, Facebook often provides the candidates with take-home data challenges and code assignments.

Similar to Google, Facebook also has a streamlined process for collecting feedback after the interview. This includes a brief overview of the candidate’s performance, overall impressions from the interview, code samples, and a final decision on hiring, including a confidence score

These reports are usually processed at weekly candidate reviews, where every candidate is evaluated and discussed individually. The final hiring decision is made by a hiring manager and a top management committee, which has a unique right to veto any candidate. 

How Does Amazon Hire Software Developers?

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Photo credits: Glassdoor, Columbia Construction

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once famously stated: "I'd rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person." This bold statement lead to his company creating one of the most rigorous hiring processes in the global tech industry.

Amazon is well-known for its strong corporate culture that prioritizes leadership and creativity. However, the company’s requirements for the candidates do not differ greatly from the ones set by other companies.

Some of the key aspects of the Amazon interview process are the so-called “bar raisers”. These are the company’s current employees, who spend 20-30 hours per week interviewing potential candidates across other departments, in addition to their main job responsibilities. This process was established to remove bias and to weed out candidates who are not a perfect fit. Each candidate is, on average, interviewed by 5-6 “bar raisers”.

Amazon interviews usually include several phone screenings and up to 5 on-site meetings, each taking 2-3 hours. Just like the management committee at Facebook, “bar raisers” at Amazon have the unique right to veto any application at any stage of the interview process. To make the final hiring decision, the unanimous vote of all people involved in the process is required.

Interesting fact: There are no separate HR interviews at Amazon - all questions are discussed at the technical interview.

Reportedly, there are three ultimate questions used at Amazon to evaluate the potential candidates:

  1. Will you admire this person?
  2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
  3. In what dimensions might this person be a superstar?

The Top Qualities Companies Like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook Are Looking for in Their Candidates

Despite their varied interview processes, most leading companies tend to agree in terms of what they are looking for in the candidates. The must-have qualities include:

  • General cognitive abilities. The candidates should possess strong problem-solving abilities, genuine curiosity, and willingness to learn. It is much better to take on somebody who can learn the skills they lack than a person who thinks they already know everything.
  • Leadership skills. A perfect candidate should be willing and able to take responsibility, motivate other people, and solve problems of different complexities.
  • Cultural fit: With their strong corporate cultures, top companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook often prioritize candidate personality. For example, the perfect candidates for Google are often referred to as “Googley”, which is used to determine a specific attitude and a set of personal qualities. 
  • Relevant expertise: Last, but not the least, relevant skills and expertise are among the most important requirements at all of the top tier tech companies.

Streamline Your Hiring Process with Daxx

Unfortunately, the companies mentioned above are the exception rather than the rule. Most businesses simply don’t have the resources to put each applicant through 10+ screenings, or to fly every candidate for an on-site interview. 

Yet all tech companies want to hire top software developers. This is why we recommend engaging with a reliable staffing provider to streamline your hiring process and to fill your current positions with some of the best engineering talent around. 

At Daxx, we have been helping businesses from all over the world hire Ukrainian software developers since 1999. With a direct access to over 50,000 software engineers, we are able to build a dedicated development team for your project within 4 to 6 weeks. Moreover, our unique model allows you to manage your remote team directly, while we take care of office space, payroll, HR, and retention. 

To learn more about the Daxx staffing process and the benefits of our model, simply fill in the form below.

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