How to avoid HackerRank & LeetCode on your job search

Avoid wasting time in your job search by asking about the entire hiring process during the phone screening.

Last week I ranted a bit against LeetCode & HackerRank as recruiting tools.

Fellow list reader Shaffan replied with a great question:

I’ve had a few technical interviews recently where I was either asked to do HackerRank solo or “pairing” with someone else. Do you know how to find companies that don’t use HackerRank?

Unfortunately, I don’t know a great answer. I’ve never seen a listing of companies that do, or don’t, use such screening techniques (aside from the partial list of brands on the LeetCode web site).

But I can offer the simple technique I use to detect such companies early in the recruitment process:

I ask.

To be more clear, I ask, during the initial phone screening if possible, “Can you describe the entire hiring process for me?”

Most often, the answer reveals such screening techniques very quickly, with an answer like “First you’ll do an online technical test, then if you pass that, you’ll talk to two of our engineers, followed by an interview with the VP of Engineering.”

But sometimes it’s not nearly so clear. I’ve had answers like “First you’ll talk to the manager, and then we’ll have you do a technical test before proceeding to meeting the CTO.”

If you get such a vague answer, just ask for clarification. “What does the technical test entail?”

What’s great about this approach is it can help you detect many job red flags before you (or the company) invest much time. So use this opportunity to ask about any other deal breakers you may have. Keep a list, and up date it as time goes by.

For other job seeking tips, you may be interested in the advice I offered on my podcast, Episode 37: Career Q&A.

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