-If you only get canned questions, run.
-If questions are machine gunned without any followups, run.
-If the hiring/interview process is needlessly complicated, run.
-If they give you an IQ test or similar, run.
-If they're not paying attention , run.
-If a pattern exists of mistakes (forgot to call, etc), run.
-If, when discussing pay, HR says "Yeah, sometimes we hire people knowing they won't last and only fit a political agenda."..... run. True story.
-If the recruiter tells you, "The path you're going down will lead to failure unless you do a startup. Frankly, I don't see you doing a startup"... run. Also true story.
..Ultimately, it comes down to gauging how "human" they are towards you. If the interviewer[s] lacks empathy, it's a sign somewhere up the chain that something's not right. Mind you, that's not to say that the interviewer doesn't necessarily have empathy.
 Seriously, this happens at about 20% of my interviews. Put away your fucking laptop and just listen, interviewers!
- While you're going through your questions with the interviewer, he suddenly looks up from his laptop and says, "These are great questions. I'm going to have to use them next time I interview."
- Interviewing manager, sitting next to CTO, says to you, "Convince my boss here that automated tests are worth the investment."
- Executive of SEO company casually lets it drop that they're being sued by Google.
- You're meeting after 5pm and interviewing manager jokes with CTO during interview how his wife is the one making his smartphone buzz like a swarm of angry hornets. Then as you're exchanging your farewells in the lobby an hour or so later at end of interview, a fuming woman storms in, stands next to manager glaring, no one is introduced, and you awkwardly take your leave.
- The conversation somehow turns to what you would do if you won the lottery. You say you'd probably spend more time working on open source projects. The CTO interviewing you remarks that he'd buy a harem. The HR rep and the other developer in the interview, both female, laugh uneasily. A couple minutes later he repeats the comment.
Manager: So you like caving?
Me: Yeah, I was able to go on a month long expedition last
summer to the mountains of Peru.
Manager: I can't believe your old job didn't fire you for taking a month off.
Me: I gave a lot of notice and had the vacation saved up.
Manager: That would never happen here. I have a problem leaving for a week.
In retrospect, I really appreciated the honesty. Declined that offer without hesitation.
They could easily threaten or guilt trip you when asking for a month off... If they would actually follow through is another question
That one actually sounds good, as it means that people at the company aren't really expected to stay late.
During the same interview, the CTO said something to me like: "You can come in, do your work, and leave at 5pm every day. And that's fine. Or, you know, you can stick around a little longer and help take this company to the next level. That's great, too."
As soon as I got home, I googled the company a little more deeply and found a slew of developers complaining on Glassdoor about being pressured to work long hours and come into the office on weekends.
My read on the situation was that the wife had been waiting in the car out in the parking lot for an hour or two (I remember we wasted a half-hour on a whiteboard puzzle-solving exercise which, while kinda fun, didn't really seem that relevant to the position) and was beyond getting sick of this shit.
I imagined him pitching it to her like, "Hey, once we hire another dev, I can start getting out of the office at 5 every day like I promised," when in reality the two (interviewer and new dev) would just guilt each other (or maybe inspire each other!) into working even longer hours.
The daily domestic and the weekly I'm asking you to do this because I'm pissed at my partner and I know it'll piss them off got very wearing.
Probably worst place I ever worked.
That's a legitimately good question, and you should feel bad for not knowing how to answer it.
My answer to that question would be, "I will be very happy to. My rates as a management consultant are $X per day." :-)
Just saying you don't have enough information to formulate a plausible response doesn't make a very good impression from my experience.
They're asking you to qualify yourself and so you need to know where you fit into the equation.
Note that he does not say that he was unable to answer the question. That is a conclusion you jumped to.
For all we know it could mean "hey, for an interview exercise, I'd like you to sell (this guy) on the importance of automated testing."
Suddenly it sounds like a pretty good interview question.
You should feel bad for being one of those who would end up dragging interview process to hell.
It was by far the worst interview I've ever been to, though I've only had a few. She hadn't reviewed my resume, she hadn't looked at any work I had done, she started the interview late, and she took a conference call in the middle of the interview. The icing on the cake was that she started listing out job responsibilities and said:
"Your number one responsibility is keeping me happy."
I told her I didn't think I was a good fit for the position.
I think it's kind of like dating: if they don't give you an obvious signal, you probably won't know until it's too late, and sometimes when you get an "obvious" signal you might be wrong anyway.
The only advice I can think of--beyond heeding obvious warning signs--is to try to work some place that's doing something you actually care about. Then you're less likely to run into incompatibility issues, and the effect of toxic people may be mitigated.
Another angle is that you probably can't avoid working with assholes, so you can get organized and be prepared to push your own agenda. Don't back down too easily. I've seen this work fairly well, but you have to be ready to deal with the stress and potential fallout. Depends on circumstances, YMMV, etc.
My recent employment adventure turned me cynical. My then-soon-to-be boss seemed great during the interview. He was technical, his questions were interesting and deep and the team seemed happy. Turns out he was a complete sociopath who made everyone's life living hell. The unhappy weren't invited to the interview.
The first clue from the second day at drinks should've been, "I voted no in hiring you, but [his boss/my previous company's CTO] convinced me to change my mind." in front of the other senior admin. Kinda downhill from there.
What makes these situations so difficult is that leaving a job early has such a strong negative effect on your future work prospects. Even worse, being unhappy at a job affects your work prospects, too. There really isn't a win in those situations.
It's a pretty good time to be a developer - most of us don't need to hang around under asshole bosses just to keep the rent paid next week. If you start a new role, and the red flags are waving madly on day 2, strongly consider walking out.
This advice won't apply to first-job-put-of-college devs, in that case you might just need to suck it up for a year, and put off buying that flash new car or taking that trip to Vegas until you've got 6 months living expenses saved (Note, may also not apply so well to fairly well paid junior or mid level devs who've gone way too deep with SF housing rental either... Same advice applies, build up a six month living expenses savings, so you _can_ afford to walk out on an asshole boss if you need too...)
But yes, other people did know what type of boss he was. The last recruiter I worked with said, "You worked for X? That guy was fucking mental..."
The aggravation can make you want to lose your cool, but like you said, not backing down is key. Nothing is worse than someone telling you that you are not doing your job and then never challenging them with an intelligent response. You then have to spread your gospel like you own it. Otherwise, you become guilty due to your perceived indifference.
>If they give you an IQ test or similar, run.
I ran across this study a few months ago that says IQ-like tests, structured interviews (canned questions), and work-sample evaluations were some of the few useful interview tools for selecting good employees .
They're great for determining which employees will be productive
They're entirely terrible for figuring out which employees will be decent people to spend 9-5, 5 days a week with.
Realistically you need a bit of both
Work samples are my #1 competence filter. They've also formed the basis of great interviews.
As for your second point, sometimes you want to hire a change agent. It takes skill and practice to distinguish toxic personalities from the merely disruptive. Again, standard questions designed from a perspective of empathy and experience have helped me.
Unrelated to that -- one of my personal red flags is poor handling of the post interview follow up. If a company drags their feet, gives conflicting signals about next steps, etc., they probably are a mess.
Even if the test is good, it's probably calibrated on WEIRD  subjects, so is really only good as another kind of gatekeeper - you can probably use old-school IQ tests as an excuse to reduce diversity. People who aren't WEIRD may not do as well on these tests (even though they're just as "intelligent" (parenthetically bracketing the ill-defined term for a moment)), so you have your reason that you only hire white dudes. But that's a cynical extension of logic there.
Most people, when approaching a psychometric test like one of intelligence or personality make the first incorrect assumption that modern cognitive science can actually form a construct like "personality type" or "intelligence" that's stable across all cultures and norms, testable, and repeatable. That's just not really true, and by and large what makes it to public consumption is pseudo-science.
Diverting just a little bit here, but MBTI  is another good example of bad use of psychometrics in business. There's about as much science supporting Myers-Briggs tests as there is astrology, yet people still use MBTI for actual decision making. Types aren't shown to be stable and they're not well-clustered (meaning you can be a mix of introvert and extrovert, or show signs of both depending on the day, context, mood). Zodiac Sign and MBTI Type should only be used as pick-up lines in a bar. "Hey, babe, I'm an INTJ, so I'm not going to say anything else."
There are good uses of psychometrics, but they're rare enough that I take any reliance on any kind of psychometric during hiring as kind of a bad sign.
I do find it surprising that Raven's appears to be more susceptable to the Flynn effect (people keep getting better at IQ tests, for an unknown reason).
Completely agreed on the MBTI, but its surprisingly difficult to convince people that's its useful.
FWIW, I agree with most of what you said above, I was just pointing out a counter-example. (Psychologist/psychometrician here).
Secondly, in this context, the assumption is that not only does this generalized attribute exist in humanity and we can measure it, but this attribute causes success in $job. That's a further assumption that I'd call into question. Sure, plenty of people who do well on $test do well on $job, but those could easily be covariate or epiphenomenological relationships rather than causal ones.
I don't doubt that for some values of $test, there's some discriminatory power predicting the presence of success, especially in more monocultural environments (affluent, often-white, often-male, often-young startups, to caricature). But I do believe that this kind of test would suffer from strong false negatives as many kinds of people who would otherwise be excellent programmers (or whatever other $job) are rejected for not doing well on $test.
That's why I worry about anyone who puts real stock in these kinds of tests - it is (generally) indicative of a kind of science blind spot in the user. People are critical and skeptical of all kinds of other scientific claims, but psychological measures tend to get a pass.
I imagine the fact that a lot of us tend to score well on IQ tests has a lot to contribute here. When I found out how many standard deviations above the mean my IQ score represented, I was pretty excited about how awesome I was. When I realized that the test was probably baloney, I had to figure out more interesting ways to shore up my self-esteem. Personally: I bake bread and fish for compliments on the quality of my sourdough.
I learned, as an adult, that I had taken an IQ test while young and had scored in the 99.97th percentile. I think that I got that not everything benefits from what IQ tests measure. That said, I had already started seeing great success in a knowledge industry.
It is clear that you also have great linguistic intelligence. I don't think you could completely dissociate your IQ test results from that intelligence.
The fact that certain groups of people tend to test well (or, taken conversely, that there are so many reasons why otherwise "intelligent" people don't test well) just exacerbates this problem and I think the central claim is still reasonable: things like IQ tests aren't necessarily strong predictors of tech skills, are dangerously close to pseudoscientific when misapplied, and have enough other theoretical problems that they should probably not be utilized during a hiring process.
As to my own linguistic skills, I contend that a lifetime of reading as well as a MS (in computer science), a Ph.D (in cognitive science and education), and ten years afterwards in academics including a professorship has prepared me as a writer. Did I have some initial Potential that gave me a head start? Maybe. If nothing else, I had the head start of my general introvertedness and a love of both reading and geekiness. A short test that purports to measure a fixed potential somehow inherent in someone is going to be pretty flawed.
But my "I don't doubt" phrase was more along the lines of ceding a central point: there probably do exist certain inherent characteristics that vary between people and provide some kind of predilection or head start. I'm just not yet convinced that the scientific community has really identified them yet, or that they're really able to effectively measure them yet. Instead, we get proxies that have a very high false negative rate, especially among otherwise-marginalized groups.
Anyway, four paragraphs is probably enough here.
I had an MBTI test pretty much forced on me a while ago (senior engineer would be unhappy if I didn't take it). I argued very forcefully against it, saying it was like astrology, that it made me feel like the company was asking me to participate in some religious ritual when I was an atheist and so on. I'm not in that company anymore and one major reason I ran was that they allowed pop psychology like that to dictate decisions.
The worst I've seen was where I had to do 100 questions and half were spatial intelligence (gameable and wtf). It looked like an incredibly expensive piece of software. Didn't get the job, thankfully, but the company's now known for having a policy of not being able to talk about work out loud if you're in IT. The other places that gave me tests had dissimilar, but equally insane workplace policies.
-At some level, the person interviewing you (or management) doesn't trust their intuition to find the right candidate.
-It's an easy way to throw someone out of a pool despite all else. There's a reason it's illegal to do IQ tests.
-Mental health issues such as dyslexia or ADD.
-I've taken maybe five intelligence tests for work and none of them have been the same. Where's the standard?
-Companies have a weird tendency to use puzzles such as the "three light bulbs" one. All that does is test if you've heard it before. "I want to see how you think" makes no sense when the question's on paper and there's 100 questions just like it.
-A lot of these tests are gameable since you can just practice beforehand.
-Test anxiety sucks.
The company who gave me the test offered me the job after a very brief interview, in which they said the test was not important. It was very clear from their behaviour that they thought it really, really was (important) and they were about to hire some sort of genius. I ran. I'm still running.
In my current position, at Big Financial Corp, I had to take an "aptitude test". There were three parts of it: literacy, numeracy, logic in that order. I suck at arithmetic so after the literacy bit I wanted to get straight to the cool and fun logic puzzles at the end, but the time we were given was like a third of the time the test was meant to take (allegedly, they wanted to see how well we perform under pressure) and I wouldn't have the time to do all three parts equally well. So I thought, screw it, I'll approximate. I clicked through the numeracy test mostly at random (I concentrated clicks on the first three options), hoping to get a 50/50 score and dove right into the logic test at the end. I had great fun and I got hired after all so it can't have been that bad. They haven't told me how well I did because they don't like to um, foster antagonism. Or something.
Point being: IQ tests are stupid. You don't need to have a high enough IQ to pass them. You just need to be smart enough to beat the test. So, useless.
Also, please read about IQ and rational thinking: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rational-and-irrat...
Amen. IQ tests, or tests to see if you're psychologically a "good fit for the organization," are a sign that they haven't a clue what they're looking for, they don't trust their own judgment, and couldn't identify a good developer in a million years.
As a proxy for developer performance, IQ tests are utter crap - but IQ tests are something that's intelligible to your run-of-the-mill idiot manager, so they get done.
Psych tests are similar - they're saying that they can't figure out by talking with you whether you're a nice person or a psychopath. Which, OK, to be fair, psychopaths might hide it fairly well ... but if so they'd hide it well enough on the test, as well.
Totally agree it's down to how human they are towards you. If they're willing to see you as an individual vs. whether they want a new part of their machine.
I believe that this kind of intelligence test correlates well to being able to think coherently and abstractly in both numerical and non-numerical terms, and as such correlates well to being a good programmer.
As a proxy for developer performance, intelligence is strongly correlated.
In my one, there was clearly not enough time to do all the questions.
So I picked the questions I could easily quickly answer accurately; followed by the ones I could take and educated guess; then finally as time was running out just out and out guessed the rest. I did exceptionally well apparently :-)
Then I got the job, and worked on a typical CRUD system.
If developers aren't evaluated as people, but as units who are expected to hit some threshold of "intelligence," then that says something about the company asking you to take the test.
If everybody who tested well included everybody who was intelligent, or able to code well, you might be able to use it as a proxy. If not, you're missing out as a company.
The students who achieve the highest grades in school aren't those at the peak of the IQ range - they're the ones who actually have to put in the study time to learn the material, rather than cruising on previous knowledge. Do you want the person whose IQ score is better, or do you want the one who will do the work? If you want the better IQ score, what will you do to get them to perform when asked to do what might be regarded as drudgery?
Or are you saying that they give IQ tests to screen out the really bright bulbs, so as to isolate those who are willing to slog through whatever they're given?
How about someone who is both smart and willing to work hard?
Doing well on a test is usually an indicator that you do well on that kind of test. Even good psychometrics tend to fail with calibration problems - the vast majority of these tests were written and calibrated using psychology undergraduates at western universities. That's a significant sampling problem. 
So I'm personally not opposed to selecting for "smart" employees. But I do think that the belief that a short test actually selects for that kind of smartness in any meaningful way is sloppy thinking.
What about people with dyslexia (such as myself)?
What about people who have test-anxiety?
They aren't arguing that hiring smart people is a bad idea, they're saying being dismissive and discriminatory is a bad idea (and illegal, in the US - violation of the ADA).
Out of curiosity, this is a serious question: are you a programmer and if so does dyslexia cause you problems coding? lots of library functions can have confusingly similar names and spellings for me, and I don't have any reading problems.
Generally speaking, good developers are both smart and intelligent.
I think sampling some code from the applicant could be a better indicator.
My friend said it was really effective - the person running the test told him a bunch of stuff about his personality and management style based on the test that he hadn't explicitly thought about but was helpful. It can help point out your blind spots and how you should approach people with different personalities and styles.
The problem with the Myers-Briggs personality test is that it is codswallop. It is made-up. It is not supported by scientific evidence. It has no predictive value. It is meaningless.
I never saw any personality tests done at Google.
so glad I left that place.
If the interviewer doesn't respect you, then management doesn't respect or listen to employees.
If you only get canned questions, then the company cares more about checking boxes than creative thinking.
If the interview process is complicated, _everything_ is complicated.
If they aren't paying attention, then nobody pays attention in any meeting, so they get repeated, or stuff constantly falls through the cracks.
If you're interviewing people for a job you're filling, focus on getting them to do a small test project and bring it in for the on-site. I've done this for years, never had someone say no. Worst that happens, they're too busy and back out. Fine, no worries. Works well for developers, release managers, program managers, technical writers, etc. Basically you want to be sure that they can solve problems. Memorized knowledge of facts has almost no value (to me) these days; things are changing way too fast for that to matter in the long run. Never understood why the Google's, Microsoft's, ask the goofy questions like "why are manhole covers round?". To me, the hires that are a joy to work with are adaptable, learn things pretty fast, take pride in what they create, show leadership by helping others in their group, and are dependable.
"Trust your gut instincts. If something seems "off", run."
This is a much better advice than a list of arbitrary criteria of the quality of the interview process whose correlation with the work environment itself is unknown.
(why did that list blow up, anyway? I really don't understand this place....)
- A very biased outlook to problem solving. A lot of times I see my own boss think that the right answer (to an interview question) is the one that worked for our particular case without considering that the candidate didn't have the same constraints.
- I always like to ask 'the boss' what their idea of a good team is. Some of them will say stuff like 'A team is good when they're meeting deliverables' or 'A hardworking team' etc etc. Somehow the tone weighs in here -- you want a boss who is understanding yet not a pushover, who justifies (and thereby convinces you of) his decisions when it comes to a solving problems.
- You really want to avoid the bosses who have a desire to work long hours for no real reason. This is important because of two reasons: they don't focus on the real problems and they don't value their teammates time. A good boss wants to make sure that their team is aligned with the company goals and that everyone on the team is happy and is enjoying their time with their colleagues.
Hope that helps!
Chat up the office staff. If they're treated like shit, run. If the founder blows through them, run. You can find some of this on linkedin.
You can search specifically for former employers on linkedin. Consider how many of them there are; there shouldn't be lots for an A round startup.
> -If respect isn't reciprocal, run.
Yes, in theory, but this is deceptively difficult to judge accurately on first impression. Some good people are naturally less immediately personable than others and misconceptions are common.
> -If the hiring/interview process is needlessly complicated, run.
This is a bad sign in terms of the company as a whole, and could indicate that you'll need to wade through some needless bureaucracy in your prospective job from time to time, but this is relatively common in bigger companies and doesn't necessarily indicate anything negative about the actual team/leader/interviewer you'll be directly working with/under on a daily basis.
> -If a pattern exists of mistakes (forgot to call, etc),run.
Worth considering, but it seems a little picky to say a hard no based on this alone. Some of the best technical people I've worked with are not necessarily 100% organised administratively 100% of the time.
> -If they're not paying attention , run.
This happens far too often. Fully agree. Run!
As an employer, I get some extra hours out of you and all it took was a few beers, or an Xbox, or a table game. That is a good investment for me, but not so good for you. It's the casino approach to maximizing profits. I'll give you free drinks and smokes, so stay a while.
My company's approach: We encourage people to wrap up their day at a healthy time, preferring to work smarter during our shorter days. We ask people in different time zones not to respond when getting chat/IM messages if it is outside of their work hours. They were doing this and it wasn't fair to them.
Despite this, our team puts in longer hours than we want because they are given challenging work and rise to the challenge. If we have to ask people to work extra time, as we did this week, we do it with the acknowledgement that we have had a lapse in planning on our part and we thank them for their commitment. Later, we go through and understand why we were unable to deliver and work on doing better with our planning.
I mean, if we're lucky enough to work in a sector with lots of offers available, better make the best of it by finding a place we truly enjoy.
Maybe it ends up being one that pays you a bit less but has an amazing crew or great benefits or work/life balance. Find out what matters the most to you and make sure you get an acceptable answer (from several sources if possible) before committing to a company.
I'm still upset about the massive waste of time. Why did you not consider my resume before giving me a massive take home project. I took a day off work to build this thing, the least you could do is look at it. I shined that code to a beautiful luster.
Anyone here from FB who passed this and knows what I did wrong?
This rule is important because it makes the widths of the events deterministic, which otherwise they are not. That same test illustrates this exact problem, why not have the widths be 1/2, 1/4, 1/4, 1/2? Considering the first constraint the correct layout is all having width 1/3.
I tried to impress them by not using any libraries, that may have been a mistake. It was a couple years ago now...
> If two events collide in time, they MUST have the same width. This is an invariant. Call this width W
The solution is actually much easier that way.
If they say no, you say no.
Also, if there's no pay, wouldn't you have copyright over that part of the code then? You could arbitrarily tell to stop using your code at any time, and sue them if they don't..
If nobody runs, like I'm suggesting, then these issues will just continue. Hell, a week ago I ran from a nice job. The two interviewers were on their laptops, not paying attention. After the interview, I sent a rejection email to the internal recruiter and later got a very, very apologetic response and phone call. We're all humans, so why act like dicks about it?
The only time I've interviewed, I was 23 and hiring for a release engineer at an enormous bank on a giant global FX system. No training. No advice.. nothin'. Even though the candidate was technical, I got an unsettling vibe from him. We eventually hired him anyway since "weird feeling" isn't good on paper. Oh man, was he awful. For example, during training and meetings, he would be on his phone, texting constantly. He made a mistake while training him that caused an outage that eventually led to me getting let go.
A bit of interview training there would have gone a long, long way and should have been mandatory, or at the very least, offered.
Their hiring process is so full of shit that between the interviewer and the recruiter, they somehow managed to forget two phone interviews which I left work early for both times. When they finally and successfully initiated a third interview (again, left early), it was with someone who sounded like they wanted to jam a pen in their eyes from debilitating boredom. You could hear the eye rolls from over a thousand miles away as if I was some sort of nuisance who shouldn't be listened to. Why would I want to work for a place that drains the life out of someone that much, then uses them as an introduction to the company?! "Hello welcome to I Hate My Life, can I make you hate yours, too?"
I never received a call back, nor did I get an apology.
There aren't enough middle fingers or taboo words in this world to express how pissed off I was at them for the way that they behaved. It was just plain unprofessional, dammit.
That sucks for them and all, but get over it. At the very least, learn to fake interest. If you can't even do that, then yes, the candidate should run far away.
" I am not saying this is right, and I also think the system is broken, but it's system's fault, not the interviewer."
The interviewer is the one who's doing it. So yes, much of the blame does fall on the interviewer.
Can you explain this one a little bit please? I'm not quite sure I understand the sentiment here.
The point is just that dismissive attitudes are everywhere in job searching, so it was just a damn good feeling to hear the guy with pie on his face.
Is this applicable to bigger companies? I've noticed that some companies figure out where to place entry level engineers during or after an offer is made. And then getting a good recruiter seems to come down to luck at some places. I once had an interviewer not show up for a phone interview at one place. But I wouldn't necessarily say that my boss would have been horrible, I don't even know if I was interviewing for a specific team.
One example - It took one of those big companies three weeks to get the last signature of 6 to signoff on my hire. There was nothing anybody could do to push it forward. That turned out to be one of the worst jobs I've had. 6 months in, they ended up firing the NOC after forcing them to train a NOC out in Bangalore who would call me 5 times a day for unrelated issues. I complained hard. My boss, who I talked to maybe once a month responded with, "Welcome to $COMPANY." I quit two weeks later.
-If you only get canned questions, run.
-If questions are machine gunned without any followups, run.
-If they're not paying attention , run.
If the questions you're asking are canned, or _your_ questions are machine gunned, and you don't follow up on the responses of your interviewers you're missing out on an excellent opportunity to get a read on what it's really like to work there. I'll grant you that reading people is not a science, but if don't go any deeper than "So what's it like to work here?", you're missing a big opportunity.
Make your questions unique, so your interviewer has good reason to pay attention. Don't just hit the softballs and nod. If they give you a vague answer, try to get them to be more specific.
For example, follow up "How are team successes and failures treated at $COMPANY?" with "Interesting. Could you give me an example of a specific situation where the team failed, and how it was dealt with?" with "Do you think it was the right response? Do you think there's any room for improvement?"
-If the interviewer[s] lacks empathy, it's a sign
somewhere up the chain that something's not right.
I think a lot of this comes down to going with your gut. Sometimes things are not exactly as advertised, so another piece of advice I'd give you is: Don't overthink it. Human beings have evolved to detect when something is, you know, "a little off". Trust yourself, but attempt to verify.
Finally, if you aren't in a rush, I've almost always been given the opportunity at the end of the interview to "reach out with any additional questions". Let the interview simmer for a day or so, and then take them up on their offer. Think about where you might have seen some hesitation, bases you may not have thought to cover in the initial interview, and see how they respond.
Trying to be clever in detecting a bad workplace neglects one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, your ability to ask questions that'll reveal whether it's a good place for you or not.
That's interesting; it conflicts with one of the few pieces of evidence I have about successful correlation in recruitment. I don't have the study to hand, but I'm sure its conclusions were that people who do well at IQ tests (although they might have been more general intelligence tests rather than specifically IQ tests) tend to make better technical employees (or indeed, almost any kind of employee), and that's it's one of the few actually reliable indicators. As a strong rule of thumb, smart people are better at technical jobs.
What's the thinking behind taking it as a sign of a bad employer?
Let's say you're an experienced developer. You have an impressive work record, open source contributions, and ace the technical interviews.
Then your potential employer asks you to take an IQ test.
Legality aside (and it may be framed as a "general aptitude test" or somesuch), this may be very insulting to some people, who feel their contributions and achievements should stand on their own without bullshit tests. It signals to them "we don't care what you've done, and you can prove you can do, or your years of experience or education, you getting the job depends on an arbitrary test we're going to throw at you". You're not going to be treated as an individual, but rather a set of points on a score sheet.
Now you may be right or wrong as to whether these tests are indicative of ability, but for a lot of applicants they would be a red flag.
The original assertion was not "If you've done very well at a series of interviews and proved your ability already, and then they want to give you an IQ test, run."
Don't get me wrong, I love to see open source work, it is a plus and it definitely helps paint the picture of what the candidate is passionate about. But just having impressive open source work alone is not enough to make the technical interview unnecessary.
> and ace the technical interviews
If there's an IQ test after they ace the technical interviews, then that's a really weird order to do the interview, but I don't think that's the situation that the above comments were talking about.
Open source is usually a free time pursuit, so quite possibly they did spend several days on a small change because they had better things to do. Or the small change was the result of several days of tracking down a difficult bug.
My point was however that whether or not IQ tests are effective, making experienced developers sit through them (or indeed junior developers who may have verifiable academic or other accomplishments) could be seen as insulting or degrading. If your goal is not to unnecessarily piss off good candidates who may then bad-mouth you to their friends or bring up the issue on Glassdoor, then IQ tests - even discarding the legal implications - are perhaps not such a great idea.
I have a high IQ (so I'm told) and when I work at companies like these, they're managed like absolute hell. Metrics for miles and using technology rather than proper management to manage people.
Building social skills to identify intelligence is much more effective and significantly more personal. Yes, it can be gamed, but so can intelligence tests. The last one I took had 50% questions similar to, "If you rotate this paper 120 degrees and flip it, where does the dot end?" You bet your ass I took that test with a piece of paper in hand.
I'm not saying what I did was right, just that there was some justification to it.
Anyway, I would say it's not necessarily a good way to consider a candidate as the results can be subjective and doesn't indicate what to do if the best coder in the area sucks at taking tests while under pressure.
Only if they can't show it's materially related to the ability to do the job.
When I first started working for the IBM LTC, IBM had an online aptitude test as part of their application. The results directly determined both whether you got hired and how much you got paid.
As opposed to all the other completely objective ways of evaluating a candidate?
By the way, in Europe very few companies do IQ tests of employees. However.. the thought that it might be illegal to qualify potential employees based on IQ tests would simply not occur to us. I guess you guys in the US have a more, eh, colorful history for good and bad.
There is pretty clear relationship between, say, SAT scores and measured performance in college but that correlation is easier to accept intuitively. (Given that college GPA depends to a large degree on performance on tests.)
That said, apparently I'm very difficult to manage. When managed properly, though, I do really good work (so I'm told). When managed badly, it's a completely different story - and usually at places that require IQ tests ;).
All an IQ test does is gives you a reason NOT to hire someone. Why not work on building the social skills required to identify smart candidates if you're trying to hire smart candidates?
Not always though. e.g. For my previous employer it was par for the course to run everyone through multiple rounds of psychometric testing. And again during a major promotion cycle. Nothing wrong with it in my view - in fact if it saves me the hassle of dealing with a slow colleague then I'm all for it.