Dear Tech Hiring managers, please stop

Hiring managers, please study this list of poor interviewing techniques and try to improve. TL;DR, scroll to the end for a solution.

Try it. Please try it. I’ve hired my best engineers this way.

Stop hiring for superheroes

No one can fulfill your job description list of 50 skills. No one. I doubt they need to, either. I’m not convinced anyone possesses the stamina to even read to the end. That wall of inconsistently worded text just makes your company look unfocused. Probably 4 of them are key skills, but the candidate won’t know which because of your scattergun technique.

Stop hiring for your exact tech stack

You’re missing an enormous opportunity here and showing the candidate you lack flexibility and originality. You should seek fresh blood, someone with a new perspective, someone to bring the experience of a different tech stack to your organization. This is your chance to bring in new talent, not just more of the same.

Stop selling me your “family”

Is the CEO inviting me to his BBQs? No? Then we’re not a family. Don’t patronize the candidate. Work is a professional arrangement for mutual benefit, not a family. My family doesn’t pay me for showing up, more’s the pity. In any case, your twice a year company picnics or beer on Friday doesn’t make you a family.

Enough with the ridiculous coding tests

Sure, in real life, your prospective engineer will have to solve an obscure coding puzzle in 5 minutes without time to plan or use reference materials. What sort of lunatic are you hiring? Are you really going to measure an experienced engineer from a “clever” coding test? That seems incredibly shallow. People don’t always deliver their best in test situations. Don’t you want to hire a thoughtful developer who is going to carefully consider a problem, or do you just want someone to leap to the keyboard and start typing? Spoiler alert: candidates study for common coding questions, so how accurate is your test now. Besides, in the real world, most engineers will look up a tried and tested solution on stackoverflow. That’s what everyone does. Including you, admit it.

Don’t ask, “Why do you want to work for this company?”

This is how you hire sycophants. Money. That’s why everyone wants to work for you. Most people given a large sum of money will quit tomorrow, no matter what bullshit they tell you to stroke your ego.

What is my major fault?

Again, a loaded question. Candidates are so tired of trying to turn a fault into an asset using smart-sounding words. Guess what, we all have faults. You have faults. I have faults. We can still function and do monumental work. You should be more interested in their strengths, not faults. Are you honestly expecting them to tell you “I’m not a team player?”

Stop getting hung up over a degree or work someone did 15 years ago

If a candidate has been in this business 40 years, or even 20 years, do you really think a decades-old degree has any relevance? In tech, the last 5 to 10 years’ experience is everything.

It’s not a deal-breaker they don’t know your main language

Or they don’t have 5,000 years’ experience with Kubernetes, or AWS, or C.D., or… insert acronyms here. One thing that seasoned developers can do is learn — they have to as everything changes every year. This just warns candidates that you have no training program at your company.

Not getting qualified candidates?

Check the charged language of your job description… “must enjoy working in a fast-paced and challenging environment” = slave labor with lots of unpaid overtime and unrealistic milestones. Got it. Bye. An employment contract is a bond of trust. Don’t break that trust by “spinning” your environment or culture.

Don’t set a coding project before the interview

Come on, most people said goodbye to homework when they left high school. Don’t make them work for free. Chances are they’re not that desperate to work for you.

Don’t schedule 6 rounds of interviews on one day

It’s disrespectful to waste their time like this. If a maximum of 3 of your people can’t successfully evaluate a candidate, your hiring practices suck. Or your interviewers suck. Hiring shouldn’t be a team sport.

A Solution

OK, great, you made it to the solution. It’s simple. Talk to your candidates! Sit down, assure them there are no tests, and watch them relax. Watch your words bring out the best in them, their real selves.

Discuss tech like a couple of engineers, don’t test them. What are they passionate about? What makes their eyes light up? Explore the topic. Forget the antiquated question-and-answer format. Let them talk, just ask questions to encourage them. Drill deep if they are passionate. It’s easy to tell if they know their stuff. When they mention something interesting, ask them how they used that piece of tech, or how did they solve that problem. Just don’t quiz them. They’ll tell you everything you need to know if you just listen and encourage.

Another great advantage of such a chat is you get to evaluate their soft skills at the same time. Do they have an ego, are they humble, eloquent, detail-orientated, do they praise their team or is it all about them?

Try it. Please try it. I’ve hired my best engineers this way.

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