Every hiring season, we receive a high volume of applications from talented individuals looking to join our team. It can be frustrating not to receive specific feedback about why your application was rejected. As much as we'd love to, with a small team and limited resources, it's not feasible for us to reply to each mail with specific reasons for rejection.
After reviewing thousands of applications, we've come to realize that there are only a handful of mistakes that ~95% of the rejected applicants make. Whether you're applying for an internship or a full-time position, we hope these insights will help you improve your future applications.
You lack relevant experience
When we receive a job application, we're looking for candidates who can demonstrate that they have relevant experience in the field. We want to know that you have the necessary skills and experience to be able to perform the job responsibilities. We give our folks real responsibilities, complete ownership over important projects, mentoring them along the way. We want people who demonstrate their experience and willingness to work with small and fast-moving teams. We understand that there can be other reasons for not having traditional work experience before — you could've been busy doing freelance work for your clients, building your own projects, running a company, but you gotta tell us that.
Sometimes, the reason for a job application rejection has nothing to do with you, but rather the strength of the competition. If there are many highly qualified candidates applying for the same position, we have to reject some candidates inevitably even if they have strong qualifications and a good fit with the company.
You haven't built enough stuff
We're all builders at heart, and we want to work with folks that care about their craft. We love people who spend their college time churning out great side projects — small tools, apps, projects, etc. Open source contribution is also a big plus. We spend a lot of time checking out your portfolio, GitHub, Devfolio, Dribbble, etc., and if there's not much there, we're unlikely to invite you for a call.
You don't have a speciality
We hire engineers across four main verticals — Frontend, Backend, iOS, and Android. We expect our joinees to have basic knowledge of a few of these but a deeper understanding of one of them. We like generalists, but we value engineering expertise. We see many profiles riddled with all the latest buzzwords — AI, ML, Blockchain, Data Science, etc., but with no evidence of you having solid fundamentals. If your profile showcases a willingness to dive deep into something — we're more likely to take your application forward.
You did not send a personalized email
Always avoid generic boilerplate emails. If you're just replacing the salutation and sending us the template email you send to everyone, it's a red flag for us. Putting in the work shows genuine interest, and boilerplate emails only show us that you're not interested in building with us. Tell us if you like our products, how we can improve them, why you're specifically a good fit if you've worked on relevant stuff before – mention it in the email, if you've met us before – let us know; context is important, so always make it personal.
Your email had no real body
As surprising as it is, some applications include nothing more than links to social profiles. If you do that, chances are we didn't even open those links. We like great engineers, and those links might include proof that you are one, but we value good communicators too. All of us work asynchronously (and currently remotely), which has made good communication more important than ever. It's true that if you're a top 0.0001%ile builder, we'll hire you even if you don't like to communicate or write much, but if you were that person, we'd be the ones getting in touch, not the other way around.
Additionally, please note that the role you applied for may have been closed due to our limited team size.
Some of you might think that you got everything right, and none of these apply to your application — and that's wholly possible. We receive a good number of applications, and sometimes there's nothing really wrong with your application, just that there are enough good ones that are pushing you down the list or you reached out when we were already in advanced stages of talks with other candidates.
We hope this helps out and gives you some direction. If our suggestions help you improve your profile and you are keen to work with us, please get in touch. [Pro tip: Reply on the same thread to highlight your progress.]