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Why the Job Search Sucks (thewebb.blog)
67 points by NetOpWibby on Jan 11, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments



A candidate we passed on reached out and asked for more specific feedback about why we passed. I happened to have some time over the holidays and agreed to provide him with some additional information personally and to meet up for coffee.

> It's not you: The first thing I told him was that 80% of whether you get hired at a company is nothing you can do anything about. It depends on the company, your skills, their needs gap, the timing, the manager, so if you're batting .200, that's pretty good.

The second thing was that there were some really basic stuff to make sure you're doing every time you interview that you CAN control to narrow that gap further:

> Dress: wear dark jeans, nice shoes, a button down dress shirt. This outfit is almost never "too fancy" or "too casual". If the company requires more fancy than that, might want to question if you're a good fit (unless you like wearing a suit shudder)

> Give Specific Examples: Always try to start your answer with a summary, then give a specific example then abstract it into a generalized theory. Don't start with the generalized theory and never give specifics

> Know your stuff: If you list something on your resume, especially in a recent job, make sure you can not only explain it but that you have an opinion about it and that you've considered other opinions.

Edit: the outfit above applies mainly to men, I'm less versed in what the equivalent would be for women. If someone wants to add that, I am sure it would be helpful.


I once had an interview where I was told they did a bit of functional programming, but experience with FP wasn't a requirement. They flew me out and interviewed me. A few days later, they rejected me. I asked them if they had any feedback for me and, surprisingly, they answered! They said I was rejected because I didn't have enough FP experience.

This is just to illustrate that "It's not you" may sound trite, but it's true.


See? This! This would make the job search process a lil' less opaque.


How? That's just general "how to do well" advice, it doesn't help explain which of the reasons were relevant to a particular rejection.

And even that comment doesn't give an example of a shortcoming relative to one of those bullet points.

I mean, from the comment it sounds like kaspm literally told the candidate: "hey, sometimes it just doesn't work out, you should be glad at 'batting .200'.". I don't see the actionable feedback.


Ah sorry, this is a good point.

Edit: I added the specific examples of each item that I gave the candidate but decided to remove them so as not to expose them publicly should this candidate read hacker news.

People can PM me if they'd like to know more information about the way this particular candidate could have benefited from the above.


Ah, that makes sense! Thanks for explaining. Sadly, that was the interesting part.

But I don't really see the privacy issue if the name is left off and there's no way to figure out who it was you interviewed.


I'm interested in the details, but I don't see PM info in your bio.

Please reach out to twitter@web007 or ryan at geekportfolio with anything you can share - I'm working on a side-side-side-project for increasing employability, and this kind of info is exactly what I want to promote.


I see that the contact info is private. Will do


The level of pure bullshit that is part of the hiring process these days is mind-boggling. An recent example:

I interviewed for company X, where I spent an entire day with more than a dozen engineers, answering the same types of questions over and over again: "Here's our platform, how would you fix it". At every turn, I would speak about X,Y,Z issues that would need to be solved and how this or that technology might be applicable in a broad case. Diligently, in every session, the interviewers were taking copious amounts of notes about what I was saying... NOT how I was doing on the interview, but rather, the content of what I was saying. "How do you spell Corfu?" (as an example).

At the end, they told me they really liked me, and would have an offer for me in the next day or two... Two days passed and they called with "We're sorry, but you're just not technical enough for us".

I basically gave them a free day of consulting.

I'm not sure HOW to fix the problem, but it is definitely getting worse.


Encountered such situation couple of times. Pokerface interviewers asking in-depth questions (e.g. domain knowledge, not necessarily data structures or algorithm smartassery), with minimal feedback. Learning basically. Quite cynical because it's good to talk basically, exchange knowledge and experience - I've always taken it as a common sense. Once I detect pokerface jokers I answer "no clue" for the simplest questions.


You made me realize I’ve been in interviews like that too. This is frustrating to think about. I’m gonna try the “no clue” method with these people, the interview’s a wash at that point.


> I basically gave them a free day of consulting.

Exactly. (I mentioned this in my response to the OP.)


Now THAT is some straight up bullshit.


For the downvoters, I was talking about how fucked up the company was for tricking bitcrusher into doing consulting for free.


FWIW, I understood what you meant and I agree.


I've been unemployed for ~4 months now (by choice) and it's been the best time of my life. Yeah, I'm burning through my savings, but I can focus on projects that make me happy, I can focus on honing skills I actually care about, and I don't have to partake in endless meetings that serve no purpose whatsoever.

What I realized as I entered my 30s is that some people are okay with that. Some people are okay with endless streams of bullshit and office politics, with building sub-par products, and with anxiety-inducing whiteboard interviews. All they want is a paycheck and all is well. Last year, I discovered that I'm not one of those people. I tried hard to fit in that mold and just be happy -- but what makes me happy is fundamentally at odds with being a model "company man."

Why the job search sucks is that there's a lot more people in the former camp than in the latter. It's the same reason why most people don't start companies, don't try to write novels, and don't compose orchestras -- a fundamental lack of creativity. Unless one of my projects really takes off, I'll inadvertently have to get another "real job" soon, and even though I loathe the process, I'm happy that this time away from work really helped me reflect and figure out who I truly am.


Having the privilege of being unemployed by choice sounds amazing. Unfortunately, I was blindsided by my employment and didn't have enough to just take it easy all this time. Thankfully, unemployment exists and I've been able to pay my important bills on time.

This experience has reshaped how I think about savings though, that's for sure.


I recently took a 4 month sabbatical and it was wonderful. A friend of mine at a new company called me up looking for help, so it ended up being only 2 months, but I've replenished my "oh shit," fund and will take some more time off after this gig ends in a few years.


Upvote x 1000.


> At least I know not to waste my time waiting on you.

So don't. If they don't meet your communication expectations, then it isn't a good match anyway. So don't wait. Move along.

> These tests and whiteboarding are not indicative of your skill level

No, they indicate your ability to work and talk through problems. I'm not sure where this idea that whiteboarding is about skill level came from. You can cram/study algorithms. But you can't fake the thinking process, or how you approach a problem. You can't fake your communication style. And that is what doing it in a stressful situation shows - how do you really think and communicate under pressure?

> Maaaaan, go fuck yourself.

Hmm. OK, you are being honest about your feelings, but... does anyone ever get a better result in their job search after ranting about it online? Does an employer ever call you and say, "Well, we were on the fence, but after seeing you F-bomb other companies, we decided we liked you!" I'd save these rants for AFTER you get a job.


>But you can't fake the thinking process, or how you approach a problem. You can't fake your communication style. And that is what doing it in a stressful situation shows - how do you really think and communicate under pressure?

Totally different type of pressure. You're assuming timeline pressure and social pressure is the same thing. It is not.

>does anyone ever get a better result in their job search after ranting about it online?

I don't believe that was his objective. Maybe some hiring manager will read this while simultaneously complaining about not being able to find anyone and a light will come on. Maybe not.


Totally different type of pressure. You're assuming timeline pressure and social pressure is the same thing. It is not.

If I'm applying for a senior developer/architect position, I should be able to think of a high level solution on the spot. When I was looking for a job a year or so ago, I thought I was interviewing for a regular developer position. I didn't realize I was interviewing for a lead position and they were looking for someone to create a development department from scratch. The first thing my now manager asked me was what steps I would take in the next 3-6 months to create the department.


>The first thing my now manager asked me was what steps I would take in the next 3-6 months to create the department.

Thinking and describing it is a lot easier than coding it on a whiteboard. I explain ideas to problems all day. I don't code it on a piece of paper and hand it to the board.

If it's an important problem, I actually take some time to roll it over, as should anyone solving any important problem.

White boarding code is a farce used by people who don't have any better ideas.


Hear hear!


> The first thing my now manager asked me was what steps I would take in the next 3-6 months to create the department.

Am I going to have a hiring power? Is sufficient budget guaranteed to launch the department? Double yes or fuck off.


> If they don't meet your communication expectations, then it isn't a good match anyway. So don't wait. Move along.

You do realize this is like, every employer right? Or maybe I have bad luck.

Your last point is good and I thought about it for a good minute before I decided to go with it anyway because, if these companies don't care about me, why should I care about them? I'm already in the reject pile, right?


Not a fan of the OP's language, but in terms of the overall rant, actually I'm absolutely going to be more interested in hiring somebody who is calling it for what it is. Lengthy and convoluted interview processes and non sequitur whiteboard sessions are the scourge of the industry. The more programmers revolt and refuse to accept these bizarre practices, the better.


I completely agree.

People are allowed to be frustrated, and they're allowed to use colorful language to express that frustration. The author's opinions are certainly not out of left field; anecdotally, I've been through the same process he has many times. It is frustrating and is completely unnecessary. I especially agree with his feeling that job searches are opaque, with several layers of impenetrable bullshit to filter through. In fact, I've had companies outright lie about why they were hiring me or what working at their company was like, let alone clueless recruiters just trying to make their 20%.


The number 1 reason I don't actively look for new jobs anymore is because of what the hiring process has become. I refuse to go through this BS unless I absolutely have to.

All these companies screaming they can't get good candidates. IMO a major part of it there are tons of people that no longer want to go through it so they are not actively looking like they did in the old days.

These big tech companies have seriously damaged this entire industry with all this bullshit. Yes I blamed the big companies because they get all the press and everyone copies them.


Thanks Jared! I wrote this while still irritated which explains the choice language. I'm glad it didn't stop you from reading!


>No, they indicate your ability to work and talk through problems. I'm not sure where this idea that whiteboarding is about skill level came from. You can cram/study algorithms. But you can't fake the thinking process, or how you approach a problem. You can't fake your communication style. And that is what doing it in a stressful situation shows - how do you really think and communicate under pressure?

Right, and that's fine, so long as the interviewers are actually using it that way, rather than just, "did they reinvent this obscure algorithm? yes/no"

The complaint is that, in practice, most of them are doing the latter.


> No, they indicate your ability to work and talk through problems. I'm not sure where this idea that whiteboarding is about skill level came from. You can cram/study algorithms. But you can't fake the thinking process, or how you approach a problem. You can't fake your communication style. And that is what doing it in a stressful situation shows - how do you really think and communicate under pressure?

They indicate none of that. Hiring pressure is different from work pressure. Its totally useless for anything other than entertainment.


> I'd save these rants for AFTER you get a job.

I write my rants on physical paper. Then I burn it. You feel better and you don't accidentally make yourself unemployable. Well, as long as you don't accidentally burn down your house.


"I state upfront that I have zero React experience because 99.999999% of tech companies want someone with 18 years of experience with a four-year-old JavaScript framework. I'm being facetious here but that requirement is ridiculous for a fad. Writing CSS in JS? GROSS."

You don't have experience 99% of employers want, and your response is to stubbornly write it off as a fad? Maybe that's got something to do with it? If you have zero experience, how do you know it's gross?


I am actually wondering how many readers of the blog post rolled their eyes here. I am not saying that React is the best thing ever; there may be different arguments against using it, but man, this "CSS in JS" (or, alternatively, "HTML in JS") argument is not even funny anymore.

I would have discarded this as a meaningless complaint coming from a hardcore backend developer who is repeating the principles of single responsibility and separation of concerns he has heard in older days and has not yet had a chance to realize that a component is no lesser way of thinking about separation of concerns than an html or a css file. But judging by the appearance of the blog site, the author is a frontend developer, with pretty decent skills. I am confused.


That's just one of the things that I don't like about React. I guess I'm old-school? I like Handlebars, Sass, and of course HTML/CSS/JS and I do use JS frameworks (Express/Feathers).


As a mostly back end developer, snazzy front end templates are either cheap or free.


Could you please provide some pointers to those? Thx.


Google "free html5 templates" or replace html5 with your preferred framework. Here's one.

https://themewagon.com/theme_tag/free/


Thanks!


All web frameworks solve basically the same set of problems. If you're someone with a very good knowledge of the web platform, who has seen these problems solved in miriad of ways already, job requirements usually seems rather faddish and arbitrary, I can tell you.


Exactly!


I have zero experience in writing applications with it but I do know of it. I investigate it every now and then to see what's going on with it. Even I started writing a React app the day I became unemployed, I still wouldn't have the years of experience a lot of these companies are asking for.

Maybe "fad" wasn't the best word choice but you know how it is. How many frameworks are introduced to HN? You never know which one is going to be popular.


> I have zero experience in writing applications with it but I do know of it. I investigate it every now and then to see what's going on with it. Even I started writing a React app the day I became unemployed, I still wouldn't have the years of experience a lot of these companies are asking for.

Don't get hung up on what job listings say verbatim/literally. Most people are reasonably flexible about it, they just have to put something out there. If you know what you're doing and are otherwise a good hire, you shouldn't let the details of a single bullet point on the job listing deter you.

The more significant thing is probably that they can tell you're looking down on their decision for React before you're even in the door. If you sound open-minded about it, and especially if you flatter the interviewers by stating that you're excited to learn it from them, you'll probably start doing better here.

With specific regard to React, it's hard to call it a fad anymore. "Virtual DOM" is going to stick around whether it's in the form of React or not. I personally do wish that there were better resources geared toward experienced backend devs for it, but c'est la vie. You should get some basic experience with it so you can at least get a grasp on the concepts and the verbiage. I say this as a dev with a palpable dislike for the JavaScript ecosystem, and a visceral hatred for its encroachments into the backend.

I agree with the substance of many of your complaints (to be honest, I just skimmed the post, but the overarching points of way too many hoops and arbitrary dismissals after wasting a lot of time are solid) but I think there is too much edge/hostility in the post. I understand it's posted as "a rant" so maybe it's just about the venue/context, but I think you're going to get a lot of complaints about the tone here.


Yeah I've gotten about dismissive comments about tone, which is understandable.

In interviews I've had, I get questioned about frameworks so I figured stating my experience upfront would be one less question. I haven't thought about it possibly being perceived as dismissive before.


tbh I'd be reluctant to hire somebody who's head's going to explode if they have to deal with some JSX, it's been mainstream for long enough now that if somebody has no clue about it, they've got their head in the sand. It's not about the experience so much as what can come across as a dismissive/know-it-all attitude.


That's like a company saying "We make a product, but 99.999999% of our target market want some feature we don't have. IDIOTS!"

Guess what, in this scenario, you (specifically your labor) is the product.


Also, I recently gave in and ditched jQuery for React, and must say it's not that bad... It's quite a joy to use actually once you learn the concepts. One needs to look up all new JS "improvements" though to use it.

Especially in larger projects with multiple developers it keeps the codebase much more manageable than oldskool js.


"I hate what I don't understand"


FTA: "These tests and whiteboarding are not indicative of your skill level, they are approximations of what you can do with what is likely to be limited information and ambiguous scope."

If I'm going to make you get up at a white board (and I might) it isn't going to be to write code on it. We don't hand designers white board markers and say "draw monkey draw" - because it isn't their medium and neither is it ours.

If I am going to get you up at the white board it is going to be to show me a diagram (probably database) or how you think something "should flow" (boxes and arrows) to see if you can COMMUNICATE a concept. If you can't do that then we have issues -- because at some point your going to have to do that very thing to convey an idea to a colleague and if you can't we have a PROBLEM. There isn't really a "right" answer to this setup, but there are plenty of wrong ones - ones that show you either lack basic knowledge or communication skills needed to do the job.


I like this explanation, I hadn't put it into words before but it feels intuitively correct. For most positions, your ability to communicate what you're doing to the rest of the team is way more important than your ability to write fancy code, or do something like a sample project that isn't our actual day-to-day-codebase. That communication is what's going to keep the team disciplined design wise, keep things consistent, and keep the codebase extensible. And keep morale up since everybody is capable of getting on the same page with everybody.

Dealing with ambiguous scope is the single biggest thing I want in a candidate, so if you don't like dealing with that, you're not going to like working with me anyway. But here's the thing, from my perspective: when's the last time you worked with product or business people who gave you 100% perfect information and specs up-front and then didn't change them? If you can build in a way that allows for future change based on the needs of the team/company/market, then you're very valuable.

> I've never met someone who performs exceptionally well with thinking on the spot in front of people they've never met when the grand prize is gainful employment.

I also want to know, based on this line, how many people the author has interviewed themselves. Cause I've interviewed a few (it's at least in the 100+ area) and have seen as many people do well in that sort of environment as have frozen up. Not uncommon for them to do better than I'd expect myself to do, either, algorithmically - but neither does that always translate directly to an offer, if they're bad at the communication or wrinkle-handling parts.


>If I'm going to make you get up at a white board (and I might) it isn't going to be to write code on it. We don't hand designers white board markers and say "draw monkey draw" - because it isn't their medium and neither is it ours.

I haven't had to go through this process in years, but from what I recall, you are the exception, far from the rule.


""" I state upfront that I have zero React experience because 99.999999% of tech companies want someone with 18 years of experience with a four-year-old JavaScript framework. I'm being facetious here but that requirement is ridiculous for a fad. Writing CSS in JS? GROSS. """

React is just a library for mapping state to ui elements, right? I've been using react and all of my css lives in separate .css files. Is that not typical?

Maybe they are just venting frustration but maybe blowing off what employers want is indicative of other issues or a bad attitude.


The reference point for gaining employment is that dude who wrote Homebrew and got rejected by Google for being unable to "invert a binary tree on a whiteboard" [1]

Unfortunately with this and many other articles I've read on HN over the years, the common theme is that decent/good programmers are not making it past HR.

Everyone that wants to work in tech should instead navigate through the meetup/social space and build up a decent network for this kind of thing.

Anecdotally, at 1 interview I went for, I knew the hiring manager and our "interview" was a 15 minute casual chat. That's it.

[1] https://twitter.com/mxcl/status/608682016205344768


Maybe I've been just unlucky with how many times I've had to google for weird "brew doctor" type incantations to make it happy, or with how (un)smoothly I've found it + a Mac compared to using real actual Linux, but is it outside the realm of possibility that you can make something a lot of people find useful for some situations and still not necessarily be qualified for or entitled to every job out there?

If it's truly because there was an algorithm question with no correlation to what the team worked on, that sucks. But I've seen the other side of enough of these rants to take any single anecdote with a giant grain of salt.

There's a few potential audiences for rants like this, but most of them are unproductive. Other frustrated people don't have influence to change things, and hiring managers not experiencing hiring issues don't have incentive to listen to you. The group you need to find, if this is how you're feeling, is the hiring managers who aren't having luck right now. Maybe because their company doesn't have as much name recognition, or as much money to offer, or a sexy office location in the Bay Area, whatever. They're gonna need to expand their pool to compete, and that's where potential matches are. It takes a lot more leg work and sales work of the "here's why I don't fit exactly what you're looking for but why you should be confident in my ability to get there fast" variety, but it can be accomplished - I did it about 7 years ago, myself, to get from the land of "boring jobs" to the land of "interesting jobs building 'interesting' experience," and have seen other people pull off the same path since then. You also generally will do better starting in a smaller environment like that with more face time with the key players in the company, than as another line-level cog at BigCompany.


> Maybe I've been just unlucky with how many times I've had to google for weird "brew doctor" type incantations to make it happy, or with how (un)smoothly I've found it + a Mac compared to using real actual Linux,

Have you tried MacPorts? But more to the point…

> but is it outside the realm of possibility that you can make something a lot of people find useful for some situations and still not necessarily be qualified for or entitled to every job out there?

Let's drop the dig regarding entitlement for a moment. Shipping a nontrivial tool like Homebrew and getting pretty much every Mac power user (except me and a handful of other MacPorts holdouts) using it should show far more qualification for an engineering position than inverting a binary tree on a whiteboard. Software is a complete system and process involving decisions and unsolved problems, even if those problems are "how do we solve these problems in a better way than they are already;" inverting binary trees is… an algorithm. One I can probably find with ten seconds and a search engine should I ever need it.

Granted, perhaps Google was hiring for a position where knowing how to invert a binary tree off the top of your head is crucial. Who knows. And I'm sure there are people out there who know that as well as how to create, ship, and maintain a useful product. But if I personally were looking for someone to hire, I know which would impress me more.

By the way, for those wondering, if you're ever asked to invert a binary tree on a whiteboard, here's how to do it:

1. Draw binary tree on whiteboard

2. Remove whiteboard from wall

3. Rotate whiteboard 180 degrees

4. Reattach whiteboard to wall

INTERVIEWHACK


> Everyone that wants to work in tech should instead navigate through the meetup/social space and build up a decent network for this kind of thing.

Yes, this is absolutely the best way to do it. There's a lot of anxiety and guarded interactions in an off-the-street hiring process, and it's hard for either party to feel fully trustful of the situation, and both end up taking a gamble. This is not entirely obviated by pre-existing relationships and experience (especially when new hires feel like their pre-existing relationship justifies shirking job duties), but it is significantly lessened on both sides.

We have this sanitized myth we've built up about objectivity, but the fact is that it's still about who you know, and most of all it's about being likable. Skill and competence are ambiguous areas that people can and do endlessly debate over, as in "If you can't invert a binary tree on the spot, you are clearly inexperience and incompetent" or "If you think you have to invert a binary tree on-demand without reference materials to provide value as a coder, you're inexperienced and incompetent", but in the real world, being likable and pleasant is the reason that people bring and keep others on board.

If you want to get hired, it's much more important to brush up on your charm and presentation (and maintain that standard throughout your employment) than it is to memorize a particular algorithm. There are always going to be new algorithms that you don't have memorized. Strong social skills will take you much further.


When looking through job postings I watch out for this type of statement: “Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.” which means that I can’t expect any reply if I am not selected for an interview. Dear recruiters, this is not OK, ever!

I put a day or two into a job application. (Which may be excessive, but it leads to a high conversion rate). Preparation includes researching the company, their products and projects, their history and my possible contribution – and tailoring my application package to their needs. If the company can’t be bothered to write me a short email “Nope, sorry. HR.” then that company is not worth my time.

In effect, “Only short-listed candidates will be contacted” tells me: “1) We are too lazy or incompetent to set up a mass email reply. 2) We don’t care about candidates enough to save them the time and stress of unnecessary follow-ups.” By extension, I will assume that company does not care about its employees either and has effectively disqualified itself from my becoming a part of their team.


Employers should be required, by law, to compensate interviewees for their time at a rate equivalent to the job for which they are interviewing.

(Macdonald’s, Goldman Sachs, line cook, VP legal, same law, everyone, everywhere)


Well then I would be a professional job candidate. I could easily fill my time with $300k+ job interviews that I can pass a phone screen for but am not fully qualified for.


First, good for you. Second, if the transfer of wealth from employers with 300k+ jobs to the public does not lead them to change their practices, than even better for you. Go get the money. But, for the vast majority of people and employers, your special case is irrelevant.

There exists a very inefficient, unbalanced social practice. Needs a regulatory nudge. Simple law. California goes first. The world follows. Onwards.


The interview process would certainly change as a result, so who knows if one could interview full time sustainably.

But I don't think it's a special case. Good software developers are by nature great at hacking systems and plenty of them would find it more profitable to keep interviewing rather than work a regular job.

If it does need a regulatory nudge, paying people to interview is the most naive way to do this.


“They say we offer naive answers to complex problems.”

Just paraphrasing something from my sons leadership project ;)


Google tells me you're misquoting Hucci lyrics.


I think you are misreading the SERP.


I seriously doubt that.


Thank you for the vote of confidence, but I'm a decent developer, not a $300k salary developer.


I mean, if you were paid market rates for interviews, you'd have to do a lot of interviews to net $300K.

I don't see how that is possible, ignoring the fact that doing that would be about as fun as gold farming on WoW circa 2007.


Never did I say I'd be making $300k per year. $100k a year to do three 5 hour interviews a week for $300k jobs? I would do that in a heartbeat.


Still highly unlikely. There are only a few cities that offer $300K jobs and they talk to each other. Most of them probably use just a handful of recruiting firms. Your name would get around. You could maybe change it, but I still doubt you'd get more than a few hours every few days, then it would dry up.

You'd have to interview about 12 hours a week (including Christmas and Thanksgiving), every week at only SV type companies and only for $300K jobs and pull it off for a year without getting caught before you hit $100K.

Highly unlikely.


Did you even try to play this out in your mind?


It would certainly force companies to actually read the resume in person before throwing out calls.


It was nice to randomly find your name here (: Good luck with the interviews, I totally agree with your points. Your blog improved a lot since I last checked it! (The NX framework guy)


Haha, hey man! Yeah, I've been improving it bit by bit.


If you can imagine each interview as a good way to learn about the people at the company, and also about the company's processes, then you can triage as you wish.

As an example you could ask openly about the company's hiring processes, rankings, followups, and the like. If you receive answers that satisfy your preferences, that's great; otherwise, you can move on to prepare for the next company.


Y'know what jph? I'm gonna try that.


I hate not getting feedback and the time it takes now to interview. On the other side of the desk, I have regretted not putting up the same code challenge and whiteboard sessions with people I interviewed and hired.


Yep, it's a massive time sink. I'd want tips on how to make that time matter or be utilized better.


He makes a lot of good points, many which I have experienced and resolved to never do.

All my applicants know within a few days of whether they are getting an interview.

All my first round interviewees know the next day if they are getting a second round interview.

All my second round interviewees know the next day if they are hired.

As you see above, there is only two rounds. There isn't any white boarding, because I find it a waste. For web developers, I ask a very simple one page site to make.

I try hard to make sure the applicants at least know where they stand pretty quick. Because I've been on the other side of that.


Your last point is quite telling.

I think a majority of the people making hiring decisions in these companies have never been where I'm at (and where you've been).


This is an area were AI could really help improve discovery. I see more and more job sites leverage personalized feed technology similar to the Facebook and YouTube. One could argue its perhaps more useful for job sites :) Also check out this blogpost: https://getstream.io/blog/personalized-job-feeds-machine-lea...


Isn't this one of those asymmetry things where the hiring company has no incentive to make the process pleasant? They hold all the power/keys etc.

Before people jump in with "what about negative Glassdoor reviews" or "negative reputation", I'm saying that all things taken into account, the equation is still in favor of the company.

I don't know.


I think, collecting anegdotal examples, that we might have a particular crisis right now which reached the widely understood IT as well. Companies simply don’t want to hire, if they do they want compliance and dirt cheap. Many recruiting people I had little pleasant dealing with treat recruitment like buying an item - demand experience with exact technology match and an obedient person as well (“1-2 hours” code assignment). The situation is in a deadlock.


It is complicated. My team is trying to hire but it is almost impossible to get a decent candidate. It is a massive time sink and still depends more on luck than anything else.


The hiring market is like a disfunctional dating market: A whole bunch of mediocre singles complaining they can't find supermodels of the opposite (or their preferred) sex.


So there should be optimal pairing... I guess the problem is if both sides are exercising minimums. "I don't want the best of the shitty programmers remaining, I want someone with at least this much experience."

I don't want some random company, I want a supermodel!


It is more like: all hot girls/boys are already taken only leftovers that cannot complete fizzbuzz are left.

Unless your company is hot or you can poach people from your network you will have big problem hiring.


It really isn't, even though they think it is.

They are losing out on so many good candidates which does affect the bottom line.


Job search sucks for many reasons and for the most part it's the hiring companies to blame for. However, this is a given situation which will not change any time soon. Instead of ranting, candidates should put some time in researching what the companies they're applying to are looking for and act accordingly - e.g. personalize their resume to match job descriptions, anticipate interview questions and do mock interviews. Some resources that can help in the process:

[1] https://www.glassdor.com (to find out interview questions asked by companies)

[2] https://www.jobscan.co (to optimize your resume against job descriptions)

[3] https://www.pramp.com (a peer-to-peer mock interviewing platform for software engineers)


The job search sucks for this guy because he's a front end developer that isn't keeping up with front end developer trends. Which is the thing people pay front end developers to do.


Actually, it sucks for a lot of people. Keeping up with trends !== building a todo app with said trend. Do you really expect anyone to create a new app with the new hotness every time a "Show HN: My framework" is announced?


Yes. If there are people who are getting hired over him. It's not about what's fair.


That still doesn’t equal years of experience.


I think the answer to age bias (that author referred to) is remote work. No one gives a shit how old you are if all you need is code, slack, email, and zoom/webex.

Or so is my experience.


I have to say I've been told numerous times by folks when they find out what I do "Oh, you can work anywhere".

Needless to say maybe I have been looking in all the wrong places for remote opportunities, but getting paid a reasonable rate + being remote seems hard to find.

I think the general nature of interviews is flawed - I've seen companies pass on great candidates who test well over some silly comment they made about a previous project, or because of "team fit".


Speaking as a mostly remote worker, you still have to get by a lot of the screening BS - and commonly awful HR treatment - before you can start work. Also many places think they can pay a lot less for a remote person.


Do you use many of the services like Hired / Vettery or Remote seeking these gigs?

I'll be honest I just haven't put much effort into it quite yet - still trying to arrange a few other projects in the event one of them takes off.

I am just resided to the "if it doesn't exist - make it yourself" but it sure is taking a lot of patience out of me to make it so.


I've not had good luck with Hired, but I haven't been a developer in quite a long time. Mostly it's been "make it yourself" which is unfortunate, I agree.


Hmm! I never thought about suggesting that. I'll do so if/when I attend a similar seminar.


OP here, I just realized the year slug was 2017 and it's clearly 2018. Updated link is here: https://thewebb.blog/thoughts/2018/why-the-job-search-sucks

Thanks for the insightful responses!


One thing about feedback: Too much feedback helps candidates game the system. This ultimately leads to bad hires, who end up getting fired. It hurts the process overall.

When interviewing with a good interviewer, he (or she) knows that whiteboard sessions / tests / projects are just hypothetical situations. If I throw an unfamiliar API in front of you, and you ask certain wrong questions, I know you're not going to work out. If you "get it" and can move forward, I know you're going to be able to learn all the weirdo stuff that you need to learn in order to do the job.

But, something I learned when I was in a similar situation: Companies that demand a LOT of upfront, grueling time in the interview process should be avoided. Once a call drags out beyond 45 minutes, or the coding test is just too time consuming, it's time to walk away.

Regarding whiteboarding, if the candidate argues with me about why we're using a particular API, I pretty much reject the candidate. (No, we can't use the new threading API, I want to see how you can learn this API. No, we can't use an ORM, I want to make sure that you understand how to use a database.)


These all seem like highly subjective criteria, which is the whole problem with the way hiring works in first place.


You might think it's subjective, but it's more like people arguing over whether it's a 6 or a 9. There's only one right answer.

In this case, I'm trying to filter out the morons, and people who can't disagree and commit. The idiots who argue with me that we should use a different API (for the interview question) get rejected immediately. The actual programming question is pretty mindless and any competent software engineer should be able to figure it out in under 10 minutes.

But the bigger reason is that in an engineering situation, people who argue over subjective things often times just waste everybody's time. Certain decisions were made and there is really no good reason to go back and revisit them.


> Regarding whiteboarding, if the candidate argues with me about why we're using a particular API, I pretty much reject the candidate. (No, we can't use the new threading API, I want to see how you can learn this API. No, we can't use an ORM, I want to make sure that you understand how to use a database.)

YUCK. One of the first things I will do when presented with a technical scenario is start questioning the problem's parameters, including API choice.

Interviewer: "Show me how you'd store a list of items in C++." Me: "Well, depending on the expected usage pattern I'd reach for one of the standard library's containers like std::list since it is time tested, robust, and comes with the compiler." Interviewer: "No, er, I mean if you don't have std::list... I want to know you can implement something from scratch." Me: "Am I really going to be working on a project without the language's library?? You generally don't want someone's hand-rolled linked list in production code."

I guess not wanting to waste the company's time re-implementing a wheel makes me a bad candidate.


I've tried that a couple of times. Of course it was a bad idea. The same as honestly answering questions. When I managed to get a nice job, it turned out that they also hired people for upper positions - who couldn't program, didn't know more than one language... and I still have no idea how they passed such a whiteboard test.


I've been forced to implement atoi and itoa functions in interviews, and albeit I agree with you that it's silly, I think they are just looking for a positive attitude.

I try to hype myself up with a "thank you sir may I have another" once I get through solving what I think is a silly question.

I remember being asked to solve a linked list problem with callbacks in JS where a service returned a Node and the API call to the next node in a list.

I had to just build a function to traverse the async list - I'd have wanted to just redesign that API, but instead I had to solve their silly problem.

I got the job, and it was all due to forcing myself to have a positive attitude and being happy to solve the problems vs questioning why one would ask it.


That...sounds absolutely dreadful. I'm happy for you but that doesn't sound like my cup of tea.


I think it just happens when younger folks do the interviewing, they don't know how to interview so they grasp for what they know.

Just seems that every big firm does it. Recently I had a take-home assignment - spend like a week at night working on it only to be kind of insulted by the folks who interviewed me. They didn't even spend 5 whole minutes looking over my work. I was far more frustrated with that than I was being asked to implement a Linked List in front of someone on the spot.


> Writing CSS in JS? GROSS.

Similarly jsx is writing HTML in JS. The whole evolution of web was to separate, modularize, componentize the concepts (DOMs, CSS, JS, HTML5 APIs, templates etc.), what on fucking earth happened?


The goalposts moved. We went from building websites to building SPAs, and the biggest problem there was reusing/abstracting/modularizing logic.


It's still separated, modularized, componentized, just on a web component level instead of a file level.


Hey, just wanna stop by to say hi! I was in the same situation, the company I working for ran out of cash for no reason and I got no paycheck since November too :(


Damn, that sucks. I hope we both find an awesome place to work soon!


> Coding/design tests

Left tech years ago, but assumed that many/some of those tests and sample projects were employer attempts to procure free labor w/o any of the burdens (liability) of internships and employment.

> Rounds of interviews

Perhaps its helpful to look at the whole process from a different vantage point. Saw an article on CNBC a few days ago about the importance of, essentially, seeming desperate and wholly committed to whatever position it is one is applying/interviewing for. Seem too smart... too ambitious... have options for doing something else if this doesn't work out... etc? Don't expect to get hired. I can actually attest to that.

Anyway, the implication is that if you are still available and willing to go through rounds of interviews, you probably aren't 'all that desirable' in the first place. Yes, there is some irony there. But I know this having spoken w/ a # of HR people.

> Feedback:

-- Dear Paul, Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha NO.--

Yeah, that would be, at a minimum, courteous, but... Workers are for the most part, commodities. As such, feedback isn't merited. Could say more here, but won't.

> How to deal

Obviously, each person's situation is different, but my experience tells me the best solution is to position oneself for independence (as much as is possible in a society). While in my last job, I pretty much decided that I'd focus on (hopefully) not needing another job. And while I didn't get everything right, I think that mindset and planning was instrumental in me pretty much being able to walk away from a job market that is pretty stacked against the typical applicant.

I know tech is supposedly immune to such stacking, but... Last year I listened to an applicant's conversation with a recruiter. The applicant was getting robbed, so much so that a guy, who I think was/is homeless, told the applicant as much. I mean are people really going through all this work to get paid $25/hr... in California???

Yikes!


But, why does job search sucks?

I feel like I need to hear the other side of the story to get the full picture.


Companies can't tell the difference, get bad candidates and are then afraid to fire them, even in "at will" states.

Companies think this rigamarole will separate good candidates from bad candidates.


I would love to read a post from the other side on this process. If nothing else, it'd help temper expectations.


The tone of this whole post tells the actual story.


You sound like the dismissive companies I ranted about.


Filling out 7000 fields on taleo is comical.

It's why I use the hated recruiters now. I get to skip the BS of applying online. (At the employer's expense too!)

I miss the old days, you submitted your resume, then they called you for an interview. You interviewed and either got hired or didn't (they'd typically call and say if you didn't).

Why we need 80 layers of BS between the job seekers and employers is beyond me. I've also never seen a competent HR person in my 20+ years of working in IT. If you can't tell by their resume, HR isn't going to give you anything more so skip that stupid step as well.


Why the "hated" recruiters. Only once in the past 20 years have I even thought about getting a job without a recruiter. I applied for 17 jobs through recruiters in my last job search and I knew the technology stack and the salary they were willing to pay before ever starting the process. Out of the 17, only one wasn't interested in starting the process, I got three offers within a month and none of the other 12 rejected me, I took myself out of the running when I found a company I liked.

At no point was I just twiddling my thumbs waiting to hear back. The recruiters always knew where I was in the process. One day, I had 6 phone screens with different companies. Another day, I had a morning interview and an evening interview.

I'm not trying to brag about myself, when you have a recruiter it's just so much easier finding jobs you are qualified for. They've also worked with the company before so they can prep you a little more for the interview.

Also, you hardly ever walk into an interview knowing whether the salary you are expecting is in line with what they are willing to pay without a recruiter.


I concur.

1) Every time I talk with a recruiter, salary is the first thing brought up. It saves so much time to go through an interview process only to find out they're going to pay you 30% below market value.

2) A recruiter brings you an job position that you did not know about in the first place usually. There are thousands of companies in an area, and not all of them post to the job boards you're looking at.

3) Using the recruiter means the company is motivated to filling that position. They need someone now and the usual means of getting people in to interview in that company is broken.

4) Developing a relationship with a recruiter is valuable, because they know what's hot, and what companies are willing to pay.


I've met some competent HR folks out there - I promise they exist.

I've only been around for like 15+ years though but been running in consulting circles for over 10. I'll admit that there are a fair number of crappy ones.

I generally avoid recruiters too - just against working with them on principle.

I wish there were an easy middle-person to use to find high quality project work. I think the tried and true referral system is all that has worked for me the entire time.

I've never applied cold to something and done it, and been happy about it.


> hated recruiters

My impression is "recruiters" has become a sink term for anyone one is facing during the recruitment process (various recruiters, agencies, POs, PMs, HR, CTOs, teasing puzzle smartasses, whatnot). In fact my personal experience with HR departments is rather good, and my attitude towards real recruiters is neutral at worst.




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