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Conducting Practice Technical Interviews For PoC: Year End Retrospective

Tilde A. Thurium
Twilio Developer Evangelist. JavaScripter and Pythonist. Painter of algorithms. they/them.
Updated on ・2 min read

In June, I offered to do practice interviews for people of color seeking software engineering jobs. It was one small thing I could do to make the industry less white.

Helping people navigate the utterly broken, terribly racist system of technical hiring feels like a form of white saviorism. That makes me deeply uncomfortable. At the same time, interviewees have expressed genuine gratitude for the time I've spent with them. I believe there is value in this work. I don't want to tell this story as if I'm sort of hero for doing the bare minimum. I'm not. The bar for allyship is depressingly low.

This post is for public accountability and to share a few things I've learned.

I conducted a total of 22 interviews. Out of those folks, 4 updated me to let me know they got job offers. 🎉 I also referred 2 people to others for more specialized interviews outside my area of expertise.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Set up a gCal or a Calendy with bookable appointment slots. Doing so cuts down on the back and forth about scheduling.
  • Let people know how to give you a heads up if they can't make it. Before I was explicit about cancellation procedures, I had a lot of no-shows.
  • Think about what time zones you want to accommodate if you're interviewing over video chat. I interviewed people as far away as Bangalore, Lagos, and London, which was surprising.
  • I offered candidates the choice to write code on their machine and screenshare, or use Coderpad. (Yo Coderpad, it would be great if you had some kind of discounted plan for folks doing grassroots work to get more underrepresented people into tech.)
  • Language agnostic questions are the most flexible. If people want to interview in a language you're unfamiliar with, ask them to teach you as they go. I love learning from interviewees.
  • Don't let the interview be the end of the conversation. Ask how else you can help interviewees. You can refer them to other folks for additional practice interviews. You can keep your eye out for open jobs. You're not just dispensing help, you're growing your network of awesome people which is a win-win for everyone.

I'm going to keep conducting interviews as long as there's demand. My DMs are open. Please hit me up if you're interested.

White folks in tech: how are you showing up for people of color in tech, and in the world? How are you educating yourself? Since being an ally is an ongoing practice, not a fixed identity, we all have areas of growth. Next year I'd like to do better at amplifying and supporting people of color in my workplace. It's long past time we all did our part to dismantle racism, so let's hold each other accountable.

Discussion (1)

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Kara Carrell

Thank you for sharing your process, these are good tips for building out a process to support others!