Hacker News new | more | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

"If they give you an IQ test or similar, run."

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 couldn't disagree more. While I've only once taken an intelligence test for a job, it was a relaxed thirty questions in thirty minutes involving pretty simple mathematics and pattern spotting, with some pretty low level word play.

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.

A bit of street-smarts also helps with those tests:

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.

"Street-smarts"? That sounds more like school-smarts. Going for the easy ones first is standard practice when taking tests.

Hey, I followed the same strategy. I got hired too. And now I work on mainframes :X

So, on the basis of once having taken an IQ test that you found not problematic and after which they hired you, you feel good about them. That's great. Sample size of 1, obviously it must be unquestionably a good thing.

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?

> Do you want the person whose IQ score is better, or do you want the one who will do the work?

How about someone who is both smart and willing to work hard?

smart people are inclined to work smarter not harder :-)

For a while, it's the same thing.

Only on HN could someone argue that trying to select smart employees for technical jobs is a bad idea.

So the thing is, "smart" is a pretty sloppy term. Furthermore, claiming that measuring this "smartness" in a small-sample, unrelated set of tasks (a relaxed, 30 question test), and that this "smartness" on the test would transfer to "ability to write good code well and work in a team" is utter crap.

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. [0]

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.

0: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/the-weir...

I would much rather work with a team of people of average intelligence, with humility, work ethic, honest enthusiasm, empathy, etc., than with a team of brilliant people with none of those things. That goes double for technical jobs where you're building a complicated product over the long term. We're not here to solve the Putnam and go home. We're delivering value, and that involves solving a hard problem simply because there is no easier way, not because hard problems are inherently worth working on.

You people just read your own prejudices into everything.

So according to you, doing mediocre on an IQ test makes someone not smart, right?

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).

So, you think that hiring smart people is a good idea, and you think that people who do well on IQ tests are smart, and you think that people who are not smart do poorly on IQ tests, but you are adding that there are some additional smart people who don't do well on IQ tests, and you are rightfully concerned because you consider yourself to be one of them, and you think there are laws that put the burden of uncovering these people on private employers? I'm not sure that's true, but anyway, just wanted to clarify.

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.

If I may pick a small nit. People who get good grades are "smart", people who score highly on IQ tests are "intelligent" - those characteristics are essentially orthogonal. It is generally easier for intelligent people to get smart, but they can just as easily get stupid.

Generally speaking, good developers are both smart and intelligent.

> As a proxy for developer performance, intelligence is strongly correlated.

I think sampling some code from the applicant could be a better indicator.

How do you feel about personality tests? I've never seen an IQ test, but many interviews I've done as well as my family have had personality tests (and were very high quality workplaces), and we generally laugh them off as a kind of a silly thing. All of these were encountered in the finance (trading and banking) industry, so that might have something to do with it—the industry tends to be old fashioned in many ways (especially compared to the tech industry). Are IQ/personality tests an old fashioned thing?

Someone I know well used to work at a place that does personality tests, but not for hiring. More as a training thing.

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.

That's what they tell me. I honestly didn't feel like it mattered, my mom and I are ISTJ for instance and we get along/work with a pool of such random EN* it feels like you pull these letters out of a bag.

Guess it depends what tests you run. And it's not really about the specific result. Once they have the result, they talk over it with you, using that as a template to identify and understand behaviors/motivations in your coworkers. It's a dialogue, not just a test score.

> How do you feel about personality tests?

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.

1) https://www.google.com/search?q=myers-briggs+bullshit

Like I said, none of us take it seruiously. But the places that hire using that which we've experienced have been top notch in most ways; I think to a point it's okay to just let them satisfy themselves with their little tests.

FYI - Google makes you take a personality test as part of the hiring process now for SDE. Mine was around 3 pages long. Reminded me of Myers-Briggs.

Must have been a quite a few years ago?

I never saw any personality tests done at Google.

All the more reason to not work at Google.

This is news to me, and I work there.

I've seen other places do them before. I do wonder what the personality of my D&D dice ended up being...

lol apparently administering a test is so much easier than asking personality questions and interviewing cultural fit.

so glad I left that place.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact