Everyone is hiring, is anyone good at it?

I’ve been seeing more and more posts about effectively interviewing technical folk. I don’t know very many people that claim to do it well, and my company has a largish internal effort to make this much better. Why is this so hard?

What does your company do to make interviewing effective and respectful? Have you experienced a recruiting process as an interviewee that you thought was good? Bad? HORRIBLE?

Bad things done by interviewers I’ve encountered, been interviewed by, or known:

  • Lack of testing for technical positions (hiring a programmer without any tests of any kind)

  • Treating the interview as though you’re doing the interviewee a favor. Remember that the interviewee, if they’re not desperate, and they’re skilled enough to be worth hiring, are shopping for employers just as you are shopping for employees.

  • Not trying to get to know the person enough. They have to work with your company for some time. Getting to know them at least a little beyond technical tests is helpful at some point in the process.

  • Trying to get to know the person too well. It’s not relevant to know all of their childhood stories and details about their experiences at every job they’ve held since the drive-thru window at age 16. Let them breathe some.

  • Discrimination - it’s still happening. Gender - hearing people say they’re specifically looking for a woman for a role, and preferably one they consider pretty - or that a role really requires a man (or a woman). Race - this shouldn’t even be a topic, but it still is. Age - I see huge discrimination against younger people, more than older, but both occur. Political or religious affiliations. Gender identity or sexual orientation. Sports teams that the interviewee follows (Yes, people are that ridiculous). If these things are affecting your hiring of a technical employee, there’s something seriously wrong in the process.

  • Testing specific skills to death. I think it’s much more important to find a competent employee who can and will rise to a challenge and learn new things to assist the team / do their job than to find one who is a proven expert in the specific tools you think they’ll need, but who refuses to really do anything else.

Just a few ideas.



@jeffreylees’ points above my reply are spot on.

Joelonsoftware’s Joel Spolsky has written an excellent book on his experiences hiring technical talent. I can recommend it.

Companies that I’ve experienced as having good hiring practices would have a combination of live tech testing (how does the applicant think, how do they act under pressure, how is their attention to detail) and an interview by at least 2 people, with a focus of having the applicant open up to those interviewing. Often with questions to which the answers would display use of nuance (is this person a diva, will he/she work well in teams) and / or knowledge depth (is this person a buzzword bullshitter).

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The main problem is incompetence of whose who hire specialists. I always wonder why firms invite to an interview come-and -go people. Why do not they invite specialists whose qualification is already known for them for example from answers at SO?.

I always advice everyone not to do any tests in interviews. If you are given a test then it means that you are dealing with incompetent boor who does not respect you and without any ceremony tries to manipulate you. They even did not find any time to know you closer before invinting to an interview.

Usually the main criteria of the selection of candidates is a colorfully written resume. Why? Becuase it is the only reference point for incompetent HR and their bosses.

That’s… definitely not true. Some developers don’t have public or OSS work to display, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of a shot. And some developers are harder to find due to usernames, etc. In addition, that doesn’t tell you thing about how they work under pressure, or solving of specific kinds of problems.

I definitely agree that depending solely on testing is bad, but I don’t agree that all testing is bad. Definitely not.

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