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A big, and arguably controversial and nuanced, question that pops up when talking to tech friends is: Do companies that don’t whiteboard succeed IRL, and more importantly, do they pay the big bucks? The short answer: yes.
I will admit— it sounds counterintuitive to go against the grain with hiring practices, especially with FAANG (or better put MANGA - any Jujutsu Kaisen fans out here???) doubling down with asking LeetCode Hards, but it’s not unusual for a company to succeed with brilliant engineers regardless of the screening process.
Company ethos > outdated hiring practices.
Today I’m here to talk about 3 successful companies that don’t whiteboard interview their candidates. Another nice thing is that none of what I’m writing about is private information that I’m privy to. These companies’ publically share their interview processes on their sites like an open secret. I’ll also talk about average pay for these companies’ senior engineers, but don’t worry, my entry and mid-level friends, they pay big bucks for you, too.
Without further ado…
Any first year CS major, aspiring web developer, and principal software engineer has dabbled on version control. (At least we hope.)
GitHub, one of Microsoft’s subsidiaries since 2018, makes it on our list. It might come as a surprise that the git giant known for hosting open-sourced projects and development tools such as Visual Studio Code (which we use personally use to create this website), .NET Core, and PowerShell among others, does not do whiteboard interview style questions. More surprising, in fact, considering its parent company still uses LeetCode questions word for word. 👀
GitHub’s interview process:
Code review and technical discussions
So how much do they pay?
For a Senior Software Engineer (E4), the average total compensation package is $274k.
That’s with a base salary of $179k, $73k stock, and a $24k bonus, according to levels.fyi’s self-disclosed data.
Of course, it all depends on location, interview feedback and impressions, and negotiations. Still, that’s a hefty sum.
Here's their full software engineer ladder and respective salary:
|Entry Level Software Engineer||$148k||$111k||$26k||$12k|
|Software Engineer II||$155k||$128k||$12k||$15k|
|Software Engineer III||$216k||$161k||$39k||$15k|
|Senior Software Engineer||$272k||$179k||$72k||$23k|
|Staff Software Engineer||$399k||$217k||$139k||$50k|
Sourced from levels.fyi
When I was in university not too long ago, a good portion of the orgs I joined had a Slack workspace. Of course, a larger portion of the student body was also using GroupMe, so color me surprised when I found out companies use Slack as their primary communication tool.
Slack Interview process:
Phone call with tech recruiter
Phone call with hiring manager
On their engineering site I quote, “Since we don’t do any whiteboard coding during the onsite […], the technical exercise is one of the best ways we’ve found to evaluate programming competency.” The candidate has a week to complete and submit their working solution.
The onsite interviews will last 4 hours and contain high-level system design and culture fit. There’s no need to even bring a laptop, and though they’ll provide a whiteboard for you to draw out your system design, they won’t ask you to implement a binary search function.
So how much does Slack pay?
According to levels.fyi, a Senior Engineer (G05) can expect a total compensation package equaling to $361k. That’s with a $179k base, $156k stocks, and $25k bonus. Of course, depending on internal leveling and how one does on their interviews, an offer may differ from this (plus or minus, given their internal range for the position), but with negotiations, this number may get even higher.
Also, it’s good to note that their vesting schedule has a 1 year cliff and goes something like: 25/25/25/25, with a 6.25% fraction every three months after the first year.
Compare that to something like Amazon, which does a 5/15/40/40 vesting schedule. With Amazon's prominent PIP culture, don't be surprised if you're only seeing the second year of that vesting schedule, at best.
|Senior Staff Engineer||$651k||$261k||$332k||$58k|
Sourced from levels.fyi
Next up on our list might not yet be a household name, but Stripe is dominating in the payment processing space. Their goal is to “help increase the GDP of the internet” by building financial tools and infrastructure for their customers all over the world. Stripe is valued at $95 billion as of March 2021 and is the most anticipated IPO of 2022 according to BusinessInsider. Does it sound like a one-way ticket to the moon? You bet. 💎 👐 So here’s what you would expect while interviewing with them:
Stripe’s interview process:
Programming/debugging phone screen
On site with your own laptop/setup and full access to internet,
2.1. Systems design discussion
2.2 45 min practical coding question
2.3 Integrating an API exercise
2.4 Debugging exercise
2.5. Talk with the hiring manager about team alignment
Unfortunately, my extensive search for the levels did not clearly show which exact level they’d consider “senior.” However, if we go by years of experience (YOE), Stripe’s Software Engineer (L3) is comparable to GitHub and Slack’s senior engineer positions.
An L3 at Stripe can expect a whopping total compensation package summing up to… $480k. That’s with a base salary of $219k, $225k in stock, and a $36k sign-on bonus. Can you imagine what those grants would be worth when they go public? Sheesh.
And here’s the kicker: at Stripe, they have a 1-year vesting schedule. An engineer at Stripe would vest 100% of the RSUs after their first year at the company, but they also have the option to go through the 4-year vesting schedule, which is same as above.
|L4 (Staff Engineer)||$624k||$241k||$332k||$50k|
Sourced from levels.fyi
It’s really interesting to see that during my research into these companies, one thing stuck out to me. They were all transparent about their hiring practices and make a note to respect the potential team member. All three of these companies make it a priority to treat each candidate as a human being, with respect, and their hiring practices showcase their efforts to dive deep into a person’s capabilities and overall fit based on criteria that does not include memoization, binary search trees, graphs, etc. They look at different angles, from “values fit” to “does the candidate bring a new perspective?” You don’t get docked points for being nervous and forgetting what the difference between in-order and post-order traversal.
While money isn’t everything, it’s certainly a big factor when looking for a new job. What’s the best way to know you’re being undervalued? When someone else will pay you more. Does it really surprise anyone that you can still make a substantial amount of money without having to subject yourself to grinding “Grokking the Coding Interview” months before you seriously apply? FAANG (or MANGA) may still have the perceived “prestige” and name recognition, but you should really watch out for these three companies trailblazing in the tech world. Perhaps in a couple of years, the acronym will change. Here’s to hoping.
It probably won’t surprise anyone if I apply to any of these companies the next time I’m looking for a job. If you’d like to see open positions for GitHub, Slack, or Stripe, check out nowhiteboard.org. and apply! I promise, you have more leverage than you realize.
As always, good luck with your job search and may the right one find you.