YC remote interviews are freakin' scary
Shared by louis@cloak.ist · 25d ago · 16 comments

I've interviewed twice for YC, once in person (W19) and once remotely (S20) (failed both times). And I'm interviewing again this evening. Writing this to try and get some catharsis for how I'm currently feeling.

Now, I'm not saying that interviewing in person was a breeze, but the remote interview is really bonkers, stress-wise.

- If you're in an African/European time zone, like me, your interview is very likely to be right at the end of the day. For me, today, it's at 9pm. Which is really nice, because I've had the entire day to get worked up about it. 4 more hours to go! Woo!
- You're asked to join a Zoom link 10 minutes before your interview. But it almost certainly won't start the second it was meant to. So for an unspecified amount of time - around FIFTEEN MINUTES for me last time - you're completely tensed up, staring obsessively at a line of text on the screen, waiting for the moment that you get dumped into a meeting with 4+ YC head honchos and have to immediately be on top of your game.
- There's basically no chance to insert niceties - no shaking hands, no little jokes to defuse the tension.
- Unless your connection is insanely stable, you'll be freaking out all day that your internet connection is going to drop half-way through the interview. I live in Rwanda, so that's going to be me.

This compares with my recent experience of interviewing for Techstars, which although a massive time commitment - 6 interviews with 6 people - at least was spread out enough that I didn't feel close to puking at any point.

Interested in other people's experiences of this. Now...back to interview prep.

ardy · 24d ago

Well said! I was pretty stressed out about the interview last week (it was my first YC interview). I used some techniques that are usually used before public speaking, and they worked (mostly physical exercises and box breathing). I wasn't too nervous during the interview.
That being said, it took so much energy that after the interview, I was super exhausted for like 24 hours!

Blake · 24d ago

If you haven't done any mindfulness training, I highly recommend you look into it. It makes dealing with the stress of all of this much more manageable.

brugeman · 25d ago

I failed to even get to the interview, so I kinda wish to have had your problems :)

However, I totally get how you might be feeling, and connectivity has been my issue too. I wish you luck, and no matter what, you're doing great work, with or without YC!

louis@cloak.ist · 25d ago

You're totally right. It was a nice problem to have!

sam@cashcoach · 19d ago

I definitely see how remote interview can make it more stressful. As cheesy as it may sound, I would recommend you to take 10mn of deep slow breathing, posture control and relaxation. It actually works.
Here is a link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/career-transitions/201503/10-ways-calm-your-interview-anxiety

louis@cloak.ist · 19d ago

This is a really good tip. Too late for me but hopefully can help some others who get to this point.

davidcrombie · 19d ago

Have you tried using your local ecosystem first. There are more brilliant people in Europe and Asia than people realize. That cuts out a lot of issues not the least time shifts.

louis@cloak.ist · 25d ago

Update: this time round I only had to wait 12 minutes to get on the call (10 minutes before the start time, 2 minutes after). What worked for me to destress a little was playing loud music up until I had to join the call. Even then it was quite nerve-wracking. But the interview itself was fine. I didn't get in, by the way. Next time!

MarketMetrics.io · 24d ago

Haha that's awesome. Nothing like a good jam session to settle the nerves. Good luck!

John_CropSafe.io · 25d ago

How did it go?

louis@cloak.ist · 25d ago

The interview went well but I didn't get in, for completely understandable reasons. They said in the rejection email they'd like me to apply for the next batch if my numbers have got stronger.

bvest · 24d ago

I hope you apply again for the next batch.

Regardless of what happens with them, becoming a better candidate and using the next interview as a target for improvement seems like a good goal.

Keep applying until you disagree with their reasons for not accepting you.

dcg · 25d ago

Fascinating, thank you. Best of luck. Do you think this was a bad stressor or good hormesis?

louis@cloak.ist · 25d ago

I don't think the format negatively affected my performance since I think nerves help me be on my game - but I can see that for some people, it would really not be helpful.

taigakobayashi · 25d ago

I have not experienced interviewed yet. So I learned from this a lot. Thank you and cheers for your interview.

mirr.tech · 25d ago

I've little to no experience with this but I wish you the best of luck! Take a deep breath, and just go for it!