In my most recent job search, I used a service called Triplebyte to connect with potential employers. Triplebyte basically plays the role of a third-party recruiter- it signs solicitation agreements with clients (i.e., companies) and then matches candidates with open jobs at these companies. If a candidate brought in by the recruiter ends up signing an offer with a client, the client pays a certain percentage of the the candidate’s first year salary as a fee.

Unlike traditional third-party recruiters, who usually just pass you off to their clients’ own recruiters, Triplebyte actually does some of the technical screening itself. It also uses technology (i.e., a slick web site) to handle the logistics around sending messages back and forth, scheduling calls, collecting feedback, etc.

In the end, I decided to accept a job that I found through a non-Triplebyte source. However, I had an interesting experience with Triplebyte, and I wanted to share my thoughts in case others are considering using their services.

How Triplebyte works

First, you do a short, online, multiple-choice test that covers coding, SQL, computer hardware, and a few other, related topics.

If you pass the online test, then you can schedule a two hour video chat with a Triplebyte interviewer. This chat is like a traditional, technical phone screen, except longer- it covers writing code, debugging an existing codebase, systems design, and basic technical knowledge (e.g., how HTTP works).

If you pass the video interview, then you move to the matching phase. The Triplebyte site shows you a list of companies matching your criteria; you can select which you’re particularly interested in and (optionally) write them messages explaining why. You also fill out a calendar to specify when you’re available for “pitch” calls.

After a few days, your profile goes “live” allowing companies to see it. If you’ve already expressed interest in a company, and they’re also interested in you, they’re allowed to put a call in your calendar without asking. If they’re interested in you but you didn’t explicitly express interest in them, they can still write you a message asking for a chance to chat; if you accept, then they’re also allowed to put time in your calendar.

You then do a 30-45 minute call with each company that you’ve matched with. These calls are mostly for the companies to sell themselves to you. They can also ask you questions about your background and interests, although, per Triplebyte policy, they’re not allowed to ask any technical questions at this stage.

After each call, both you and the company indicate whether you want to move forward. If there’s still a match, you work with the company to schedule an on-site, and from this point forward you follow the standard, non-Triplebyte process.

In the end, if you accept an offer from one of the companies you matched with, the company pays Triplebyte according to their agreement. Triplebyte doesn’t disclose its fees publicly, but third-party recruiters typically charge at least 25% of the candidate’s first year salary.

The stats

After making it through the multiple-choice screen and video interview, I was shown around 50 companies that met my criteria (in San Francisco, 100+ employees). Around 20 expressed interest in me, and I did pitch calls with 8 of them. 7 of these invited me on-site, I did 2 on-sites, and, in the end, I got 2 offers.

The good

Saving time

The marketing pitch for Triplebyte is that they save candidates time, and, at least in my personal case, I found this to be true. It took a few hours for me to set up my profile and do the initial screens, but it saved me much more than that because I didn’t have to do recruiter and technical screens for each of the companies I matched with.

In addition to taking a lot of time, these per-company screens can be a pain to schedule and usually can only be done during business hours. Triplebyte’s interview, on the other hand, is scheduled by picking a slot from a list of options on their site. Because many of their interviewers are remote and/or working part-time, they have slots available almost 24/7. I did my interview 9:00-11:00PM on a Friday night with a nice Polish guy, for whom it was Saturday morning.

You still have to do “pitch” calls before going on-site, but I found these pretty easy to fit into my schedule because they’re short and don’t have the usual requirements of a technical interview (computer, quiet room, good Internet, etc.).

Detailed feedback

Triplebyte provided very detailed feedback for the two hour video interview that they did with me. I didn’t learn too much from it that I didn’t already know, but I can imagine that this feedback would be helpful for people who haven’t had a lot of recent interview experience.

Low pressure

I’ve worked with several third-party recruiters in past job searches. They can be extremely aggressive and needy, some to the point of wanting to chat every day until I’ve finally signed an offer. I’m an introvert, and, moreover, when I’m looking for a job I’m usually busier than usual, so I find this kind of attention pretty annoying.

Triplebyte’s staff, on the other hand, were super laid back. I spoke to my “talent manager” (i.e., recruiter) once on the phone and then maybe twice over email over the following weeks. Aside from a few automated emails asking for feedback, I didn’t feel that any of their communication was superfluous.

The bad

Limited matches

The 5 or so client companies that I was most interested in chose not to match with me. This was their right, of course, but it was a little frustrating, and it’s an aspect of the process that Triplebyte’s marketing glosses over.

In the end, I matched with some interesting companies lower down on my list, so I still felt that Triplebyte was worth it. However, I’ve heard anecdotally that some candidates have trouble matching with any companies that they’re even remotely interested in; this may be more likely if your profile is a little riskier for potential employers, i.e. you’re not already local or you don’t have well-known companies on your resume.

Trivia questions in interviews

The video interview was a little less practical than I ideally would have liked; a decent chunk of it consisted of what I would consider “trivia” questions (see this previous post for my thoughts on these types of questions). In Triplebyte’s defense, though, I would imagine that many of their clients also ask these types of questions, so they need to include them in their assessment.

Rushed process

Triplebyte’s process is designed to be fast; your profile is only “live” for a week, and, because you skip the technical screens, you have to make a decision about whether to go on-site quickly and with less information than you’d typically have at this stage in the process. This is great for people who have lots of free time (e.g., because they’re not currently working) and want to do lots of on-sites, but for people like me who are already working and want to be more deliberate, it can make it hard to know whether a role is a good match.

One thing I did with one of the companies I matched with but was feeling on-the-fence about was to arrange an office visit and casual lunch with the hiring manager after the pitch call. This helped me to decide that the role wasn’t the best fit, which saved both me and the company a lot of time. It would be nice if Triplebyte facilitated these kind of pre-on-site, casual meetings for local candidates who can’t spend two weeks doing on-sites.

The verdict

Overall, I would recommend Triplebyte to people seeking software engineering jobs in the Bay Area. It doesn’t require a huge amount of time and effort, and the downsides are pretty limited; even if you don’t pass their process, you’ll get some practice (with detailed feedback), and you can still apply to their client companies directly.