The Indie Hackers Podcast June 28, 2019

Overcoming Fear and Paralysis to Build an Industry-Changing Business with Aline Lerner of Interviewing.io

Episode #099

Although Aline Lerner (@alinelernerllc) graduated from MIT and worked as a software engineer for years, some of her most impactful learnings came from the time she spent working as a cook and moonlighting as a recruiter. Putting all of her experiences together, she realized that hiring in tech could be so much better, and so she started Interviewing.io, a company that has since grown to millions in revenue. In this episode we talk about finding the activation energy to get started, juggling the 50+ responsibilities of being a founder, how to build a team of people you're lucky to have, and how to win big by starting small.

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    Aline is amazing. Almost everything she says resonates - the indifferent universe, suspension of disbelief and she is so real and says whatever's on the top of her head. Just wish I could sign up on the website...seems to be in permanent beta. Is it geo restricted? I've been following interviewing.io for 3 years and everytime I try to sign up I get their beta page.

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      hey, email me, and i'll make sure you get access! [email protected]

      thanks for the kind words.

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      This comment was deleted a year ago.

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        cris, please email me, and i'll make sure you get access! [email protected]

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          Any chance I can get in on that offer too?

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            email me!

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    Really great interview. I have already listened to it twice, and I rarely to that. But in this case, I didn't want to lose anything she said. One can learn a lot from Aline thanks to her non conventional point of view.

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    Great interview. I like how off the cuff it felt!

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    Number 1 or Number 2? 🤣

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    She mentions typos and gramatical errors are a good predictor of candidate quality and that she wrote a blog post about it. I always had an intuition that those were very strong signals, but with nothing to back it up. Does anybody have a link to the blog post where she talks about it? I'd like to see her data.

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      Ha, I just read her latest post about How to write stuff that gets on the front page of Hacker News and your comment here perfectly confirms her point:

      The most effective strategy, in my experience, is to tap into a controversial point that your audience already holds and then back it up with data that you have to confirm their suspicions.

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      I wonder if that means that non-native English speakers are at a disadvantage even for technical work. That would be sad.

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        They are definitely at a disadvantage. Most technical documentation and products are created in English which means people that seriously want a technical career, they have to learn English on top of everything else. I'm one of those, I learned to code before I learned English, my knowledge of English is still influence by that. I learned to use "if" in code before I could use it in a sentence. They were just incantations with no meaning to 7-year-old-me that didn't speak a word of English.

        It's unrealistic to expect all languages to have an equal amount of technical documentation, communities, innovation, etc, but we could have definitely picked a better language than English, such as Esperanto.

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    My Main Takeaways:

    • Your value isn’t based on your resume: There are great engineers who don’t look good on paper, but are still rockstars.
    • The technical interview process sucks so bad that it creates founders: Because some engineers (like Aline) dislike the recruitment process so bad that she’d rather start and run her own business.
    • Aline graduated from MIT then worked as a cook after graduating: She was very burnt out from academics.
    • Don’t quit your job straight away, start something on the side: While working as a developer, Aline worked as a recruiter on the side to try it out.
    • The top 3 attributes of a great software engineer resume: (1) Few typos. (2) Detailed explanation of activities for each job. (3) Working at a “top company”.
    • Solve the problems around you: Aline got the idea from Interviewing io when very competent developers with poor resumes asked her if she could make a platform for them to demonstrate their competence to recruiters, since recruiters wouldn't even consider them due to their poor resume.
    • Validate your idea with a landing page: Aline validated her idea (Interviewing io) by creating a landing page and sharing it on Hacker News. It got to #1 on Hacker News for 2 days, and received about 7,000 signups on the first day.
    • Don’t be afraid of doing the wrong thing, just do something.
    • Reach out to people working at companies if you want to work there: Resumes often get ignored.
    • Work with a co-founder who knows how to prioritise: Ensure that your priorities are both in alignment.
    • Hire people better than you: Aline says that most of her good decisions have come from the people she’s hired.
    • Hiring software engineers is more about selling than vetting: Great engineers don’t have to work for you, so you must sell them on why it would be a great idea for them to work for you.
    • Growing a two-sided marketplace business is hard.
    • Advice for beginners: Dip your toe into the water, if you have an idea just try it out.
  7. 1

    Here perspective on reality and purpose were mad depressing

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    I really like the idea behind interviewing.io. Offering free technical interviews anonymously with a real interviewer sounds awesome. I wonder though how it works.

    Aline said that in a typical company only 20%-25% of people who apply make it through the technical screening to an onsite interview. Out of those candidates only 1/4 to 1/5 actually make it to the next step. On the other hand, companies that work with interviewing.io have a 70% placement rate with candidates that are sent to them.

    My question is, how many people who sign up for interviewing.io actually get placed with a job? From the FAQ page it seems like they prefer candidates that already have done a number of technical interviews and are already proficient at solving algorithm type problems.

    My feeling is that this service is more geared towards developers who are already good at solving algorithm type problems find a job. Rather than help developers get better at technical interviews and algorithms. I wonder if they get a lot of candidates that can't pass the free practice interviews, and just leave the platform? From what I read online you only get 3 or 4 chances and then have to wait a while to try again.

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      We end up monetizing a very small portion of our signups, in part because we are better suited to people who are going from like 80 to 90 rather than 0 to 80.

      The reality (and this kind of sucks) is that we have to focus on senior talent because companies aren't down to pay for junior candidates.

      My hope is that as we continue to grow, we can think more long term, add educational content, invest in people earlier in their careers, and increase the latency between when they first use us and when we monetize them.

      I hope we get to do it!

  9. 1

    Awesome!

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    Awesome interview, loved the authenticity.

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    I happen to look for a remote job right now.
    (My Github: https://github.com/1c7 LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/cheng-zheng-1c7)
    Definitely would try interviewing.io!

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      just halfway through this episode at 35:45.
      quite a fun interview haha

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