Interviewing developers and PMs is incredibly hard, we know this, in fact I have looked back at several blog post I have on this site and overwhelmingly disagree with most of my positions. I saw this super interesting discussion by Mekka Okereke about finding and prepping talent from diverse sources. If you want to see the original discussion check out the Twitter thread here, however, I transcribed most of it here (some small edits) so I can search for it later:
The valid question was: Mekka, you say talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. You say there's brilliance at HBCUs. But in my years doing it, no HBCU grad has passed my interview. Ever. But Stanford kids do. Why do you think that is? And yes, this is a valid question. I asked the Google Software Engineer (SWE):
Mekka: Did you know that there is literally a class in Stanford's CS curriculum, that is basically "How to pass Google's Interview?"
SWE: Wait... what?! Really?
M: Yep! They spend the semester practicing. Here's the course details: https://web.stanford.edu/class/cs9/
M: Stanford students also have ready access to Googlers for doing mock interviews. Ready access to SV tech workers also humanizes these mythical Google and Amazon engineers, into "kids I took classes with" or "my research teammate."
SWE: That all makes sense...
M: The power of mock interviews cannot be overstated. Consider basketball. If the 1st time you ever try to shoot a 3 point shot, is in the NBA finals with LeBron James guarding you, you're probably gonna miss. Similarly, if your 1st real interview is at Google HQ, you'll miss.
SWE: I get that. So what do we do about it?
M: Two years ago, we started traveling to HBCUs, giving mock interviews, and we downloaded the publicly available syllabus from that Stanford interview prep class, and gave it to CS students at Howard. 3 guesses what happened next.
SWE: More Howard CS grads started passing the Google interviews!
M: That's correct! And anothe--
SWE: *Interrupting* We were interviewing for the wrong thing! For access rather than ability!
M: Yes, and so---
SWE: *Interrupting* We need to do more! How can I volunteer?
Over the years, hundreds of Googlers have volunteered to create materials that level the playing field for engineer evaluation. The best way to remove "access to interview information" as an advantage... is to give away interview prep materials to everyone.
I really want to see a company like Microsoft (and FAANG more generally) do more to make interview material accessible to everyone, this of course goes beyond interview prep material but would include mock interviews, coaching and meeting seasoned engineers. I am hoping I can have some impact here.