Interviewing.io hopes to close the engineer diversity gap with anonymous interviews

Sarah Buhr

Take out your name, resume and any other identifying information then hop on the internet and show your skills to a recruiting manager. That's the way Interviewing.io does it to ensure a truly blind interview for big tech companies like Facebook and Lyft.

And, says cofounder Aline Lerner, women and minorities are flocking to the platform for that reason.

"We are seeing an influx of female and other minority users because of the anonymity and not having to deal with stereotypes," Lerner tells TechCrunch.

Most of the major tech companies have been criticized for their lack of diversity in the engineering department. Google most recently came under fire when one of its engineers suggested women were not biologically capable to handle the role.

About 20 percent of users on Interviewing.io are female, according to the company. Not a huge number, but it's still higher than the overall percentage of women working in software engineering jobs in Silicon Valley.

The bigger piece of the pie -- 40 percent -- are non-traditional engineers, meaning older folks and those who didn't graduate at a top university.

Interviewing.io levels the playing field for these workers by allowing them to log on, pick a time slot and start anonymously practicing their skills for evaluation in front of an engineer contracted with the company to identify top performers. If they pass, the job seeker can then go on for a similar interview with a recruiter who will evaluate them based on a set of tasks given. The person evaluating them on the other end doesn't know anything else about the person trying out other than whether or not they are able to complete the task assigned.

Assuming all goes well with the evaluation, the person hoping for a job might then be asked to come in for an interview -- of course, they'll likely still need to meet with the company face-to-face but the startup eliminates at least one major hurdle for minorities and the marginalized by getting that interview based on merit rather than privilege.

Lerner, who worked as a software engineer before starting her own recruiting firm, knows all too well the struggle women face in the job hunt.

"One of the main issues is companies rely on recruiters whether in-house or otherwise. They're doing the best they can but they often don't have the technical backgrounds so they have to look at other things like a resume or what school the person went to," Lerner said. "In light of a dire engineering shortage, that strategy doesn’t make much sense."

Recalling her early days as a line cook where jobs were based on your cooking skills and not where you came from, Lerner thought up a more anonymized way to level the field and make it easy for recruiters to verify top-notch talent through an anonymized system.

Now, says Lerner, about 3,000 engineers sign up to look for jobs through Interview.io and she's been able to get Facebook, Lyft, Twitch, Yelp and other well-known tech companies to turn to her platform to bring in good engineers in a system that might weed them out otherwise.

The startup recently pulled in $3 million in seed money led by Susa Ventures, with participation from Social Capital, Ulu Ventures, Kapor Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, Manifest Investment Partners, and others.

Lerner says she plans to use the new funds to continue growing the company and to launch a new university platform, out today, which will enable recruiters to find young, eager college talent

"We just want to create a system where anyone can show what they can do,” Lerner said.