Hire me Not

A dive into the world of tech hiring…and pylons !

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So what’s the perceived problem ?

It has always seemed to me a bizarre,arcane, offensive & complex ritual, I suspect it is inefficient and perhaps most baffling most companies seem to be okay with it, the HR lady (or guy) and the hiring process might be costing companies money and making them enemies ( or worse, competitors) rather than helping them make money and fulfill their goals.

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What’s wrong with just wanting a job ?
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Pylon makers are people too.
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Where to start finding a job

Bombastic career pages are but one way to start the process of getting a job in tech nowadays…. ( data adapted from stackoverflow developers survey ) :

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Recruiters

How about recruiters or headhunters? Well, in theory they are a good idea, they focus on finding qualified people and lead them to the hiring party in exchange for a commission. In practice though they add yet another layer,steps and time to an already inefficient process and the experience from the average applicant is usually less than pleasant.

The funnel

The process of getting hired in tech doesn’t really start in earnest until you start engaging a potential employer by any means, a process that can be described as a multistage funnel where many candidates go in and only one comes out, it looks something like this:

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Just like the thunder dome !
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Screening and interviewing

Workers in tech are subjected to a series of dubious tests and interviews not usually seen elsewhere ( although they aren’t unique to the tech/software world and could be spreading along with startup culture), let’s go through a few of them:

The Coding-Technical Assignment:

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The Coding Test

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The answers are: B,Construct more Pylons, zilch.
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Been channeling the psionic matrix for so long they randomly appear.

Interview galore

The webcam interview with the HR lady (or guy) is at the very top of things that morbidly fascinate me, one one hand it is a miracle of technology, yet on the other hand it is a failure (or reflection) of humanity. I particularly love the bit where they ask what ones salary expectations are and you try to dodge it. We are in essence using an advanced communication tool to not communicate !

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He’s trained to smell excellence.

Pair programming

New cage syndrome is a known issue to animal trainers, you place a trained animal inside a new cage an suddenly it forgets all it’s tricks, the environment is just too distracting. Pair programming is to most programmers and professionals in tech and otherwise like a new cage, there’s pressure to perform a novel task with real consequences, good and bad in a new environment. Once more I believe it is up to the candidate to politely say no to pair programming and point them to an existing code base or portfolio.

Whiteboard Programming

I love whiteboards, they are a great tool for setting out a projects architecture, track progress and bounce ideas with yourself and others, I also use excel, sketchbooks and mountains of paper both digital and real. What these tools have in common is their ability to expand our limited working and short term memory freeing us to build on top,iterate and expand on what is already on the whiteboard or tool.

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And he’s tall to !

Survival bias

In very few cases there is hard data that these steps result in better projects or companies, what one would need for a reasonable comparison and metric would be a rigorous A/B test. Some companies (Google for Instance) have done some work and fine tuned some parts of their hiring process, but data is not easily available. I still believe there is a lot of survival bias in how the hiring process is measured, for instance a few big software companies are known for their grueling, endless interviews and tricky code testing which they defend by pointing out to their size, or relative success. Survival or survivorship bias comes into play when you fail to take into consideration what the outcome would have been if you had hired differently. And finally, success might be caused by other factors external to the hiring process ( they were first to market, luck, competitive advantages, etc,etc).

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Hey guys let’s have a drink and assimilate with the overmind after work !

In the End

As mentioned at the beginning, this is mostly a diagnostic post to try and make sense of hiring in tech,my impression could of course be wrong since I am just one person and I would be interested in your opinion from wherever you stand in the process ( hiring,applying headhunting,manager,ceo). What I think we can all agree is that as it stands, hiring in tech is a highly inefficient and complex ritual that probably shouldn’t be that intricate, it also provides a number of unneeded headaches for both recruiters and applicants.

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Written by

AI, Software Developer, Designer : www.k3no.com

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