It’s not just your imagination: tech job interviews are getting worse

When did interviewing for an engineering job become the fight of your life?

In tech’s heyday, you might’ve been asked in an interview why manhole covers are round or how many golf balls could fit in a school bus.

A black man in a gray suit and red tie holding his hands to his face and looking at a laptop screen on an orange background.

But now, big tech companies are trading in brain teasers for something far worse: labor-intensive interview processes that seem to never end.

Circuitous interviewing — oftentimes with a lot of waiting around, ghosting, and unpaid work — is something many have experienced.

We’re not just impatient, though. The time to hire has actually gotten longer, increasing across all industries to a 44-day average in 2023, up a full day from 2022.

And even interviews for technical jobs — often the highest paid positions aside from the C-suite — are getting grueling, per Wired.

  • In 2023, ~263k workers were laid off from ~1.2k tech companies — with ~15k of those estimated to be engineers. In 2024, more than 42k tech employees have already been let go.
  • On job site, job seekers shell out $225+ for mock interviews with tech hiring managers. Scoring a “thumbs up” on a technical interview rose in difficulty by 22% since 2022, according to site data.

Plus, on anonymous apps like Reddit and Blind — popular with engineers — vent sessions have illuminated the growing trend of seemingly impossible tech interviews.

Falling from grace

Interviews for technical jobs are more than just an awkward Zoom call: candidates report extreme exercises like coding apps from scratch or crafting in-depth project evaluations — all on tight deadlines (and without compensation).

The experience is a far cry from the ping pong tables and kegs of yore, signaling the ways the industry is changing as companies recalibrate post-pandemic.

There’s also a new whiz kid to compete with: artificial intelligence. Generative AI is not only changing what positions companies are hiring for, but also how applicants apply and interview for jobs.

Like, um, this time a candidate used ChatGPT to generate a live script during a video interview for an engineering job.

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