That's about the same time I realized tech hiring is almost entirely about cultural bias. Watching coworkers talk about rejected candidates as if they were morons for simply having a slightly different approach to, say, OOP architecture, further convinced me of this.
In my experience, "culture fit", as cited in post-interview discussion, was almost purely code for ageism. Meanwhile, most of the supposedly technical stuff was really culture.
I have found that freelancing avoids even coming to the question of culture fit. Clients don't care what you know or what kind of books you read or where you went to school, they care what you can do. I have been turned down for jobs for not figuring out their algorithms, whereas the one client I have (I'm open to new clients btw) has told me that he's glad that he found me, because I get the job done fast and well and for cheap.
The downside of this is that you're expected to do a perfect job 100% of the time and have to bite every minute that you lose to yak shaving or other problems, whereas if you work for an employer, they are more understanding if it takes a day to solve some stupid Java XML configuration issue.
Perhaps I am the odd one out, but whenever a potential new hire is presented to the team, I do a quick Google search and investigation about whom that person might be and whether I'd like working with that person, regardless of his/her skills and knowledge. Every day interactions make up for a very large portion of work agenda.
Searching for someone's name can at best give you suspicions, but name collisions are so common that you can't know whether the person you found mentioned online is the same you wanted to find out about.
Personally, I have almost no real-name presence on the internet, so the top result for my name is some other guy's Instagram account. You might spend a lot of time looking at his posts, but that won't help you learn anything about me.
As per online presence - we do not hire people that we have never seen. We're a remote and distributed team, thus rarely any hires get to have a walk-in interview, but we do always see the person being interviewed. I wouldn't waste hours looking at posts of a person I can clearly see is not my potential colleague. Having no online presence is fine, most of us don't at my current job. However, if it's there, it is going to be examined. It's way harder to get to know to understand someone as a person if you've never had had a face-to-face interaction, therefore having a video call is a must.
You're right. Ultimately, people are uncomfortable with the idea of being around me based on what I did. Even if you take the huge exaggerations out of those articles, what I did was still enough that people just don't want to be around me.
There's no path for redemption for me. It doesn't matter how much I ever change, or how remorseful or sincerely sorry I was, or how hard I work to stay positive and struggle daily against letting the bitterness and pessimism in. But these are things I do for myself.
I really thought that this would show through in my character, and that people would see the good that I strive to always have in me and try to always be, and that this would override in their minds what I've done in the past. But apparently that's not how life works.
Google is a wonderful tool but I would prefer to not search for the person online, as I am more concerned that false positives might unfairly bias my opinions on the applicant.
The usual solution to this is to charge more. :)
Sometimes yak shaving is necessary for a project (Java build config funtimes), in other cases not so much (fiddling with autocompletion plugins in your .vimrc)
Even without knowing what you are charging I can tell you aren’t charging enough. :-)
I am not meaning to be offensive, but I really wish I could master the art of sales. I have some trouble adding in a sales pitch in an informative or casual setting. So you have any resources you would recommend for learning how to sell yourself?
[Sorry if this does not make much sense I am still learning English]
There's nothing on yolur blog disputing any of the claims either. That's usually not a good sign either... its basically admitting that the story is the truth
Also while I like the blog its just information overload. There's no use of white space, no space to "rest". It feels like your throwing everything at me when I didn't ask for all of it. I just want to know a little bit about you as a person, not all your thought processes. It needs a gentler introduction imo, its too brutalist.
Also forces your brain to read left to right, most people naturally read straight downward / scroll down. The portfolio section is very well done though.
There's benefits in not throwing a single page portfolio as well. I spread mine across several pages. You can choose to find out what you want to know about me. I use a barebones simple template so I can throw my own uniqueness into it
The blog posts... they give me headaches reading it. The content is far too short and frequent, so I'm constantly seeing the footer move around too often. It gets really fatiguing. I get the general impression that the potential employer will feel you have too many random ideas tossed on the table.
The rule of thumb is have a 5min read or 750-1500 word count. There are some rules to that exception though, just be aware people have short attention spans, myself included.
A blog represents you as a person. It gives the impression that you know how to build stuff efficiently, and can pickup any programming language quickly. However, your blog essentially states that you only love coding and not much else really. It also gives the impression that you like asserting yourself onto people, because there's no white space, the UX is too brutalist. The questionable 3rd google link fits the same persona (with photo verification), you don't dispute it either. This gives the impression while you might be great as a solo-developer, working in teams might have cultural fit issues.
It might not even be you, you might work really well in a team. Or an interesting person that people enjoy having around. However it might just be employees at the company who might outright not want to work with you based on social media stigmas.
I have been both on the hiring and interviewing side many times before. My impression is not unique, its probably what most recruiters assume as well.
Some companies would rather have someone more rounded with interests across other spectrums. Your best interest would be hiring a firm specializing in SEO and pushing negative results downward. Something like this, I just googled around for you. https://www.abine.com/blog/2017/push-negative-search-results...
I have a generic firstName and lastName, in fact there's many more famous people with my name. I never have to worry about silly google searches, I get to control my branding however I like which is convenient. Your name on the other hand ... is very unique. This is both good and bad, if you become famous its easy for people to recognize your name. But for you its a bad thing.
Despite the fact that the articles are highly exaggerated and contain much inaccurate information, what I actually did wrong was still enough to put it in people's minds that they will never be comfortable around me. There is no actual path for redemption for me in society. I have come to accept this.
It would be great if I could get those articles pushed off the google search for me, but it's never going to happen. Since I can't get work, we are consistently below negative in our bank account. Last month we passed -$700. We still have bills from July that haven't been paid yet, including electric and natural gas.
All your suggestions for improving my portfolio site are great, but at this point there's no reason to put any more time into that site. I built it to get me a job, and it's clear I won't get a job ever again. The only client I have, I have because he's a good person who looks at me as a human being and sees the good in me, and is excited to get my talent at this good of a deal.
I could lie. I could change my name and not tell companies about my past. Then I would be able to make 100-150k. I could make it if I choose to be unethical. But I won't. Because despite what everyone thinks of me, and despite whatever happens to me, I am trying to be a good person and do right. I was hoping that would show through in my character throughout all my blog posts and posts on HN and everywhere. I guess it did to some extend, because I do have that one client.
I have never been on that side of the fence where I have been incarcerated or put on an offender list. This could happen to anyone, you could just be taking a piss in the woods after a long night of drinking and be placed on that list. You could just be working out in an open gym park, have your fly down, forget it was there and cause public indecency to minors. Everyone will just assume the same - that you are a pedophile regardless if it was true, or even intentional, or just a one off mistake
I can't relate to your bank account issues personally, I have been lucky in that I have not had to worry about finances in the negative. Dealing with paycheck by paycheck is very draining mentally, I do nonprofit work with people who are disadvantaged, low income, or are homeless. I imagine you don't have a lot of free time in your day either.
Portfolio is actually fine for what it is, I might have overexaggerated about fixes that needed to be made.
I really think the "lie" part is a little opinionated though. I do not think there is such a thing as ethical marketing at all. I don't draw the lines between black and white either, its just a gray zone for me. I lived a lot of my life telling lies not because I wanted to, because I didn't have a choice in the matter. I still try to do good and live by a set of rules though, but I realize things don't work out that way. Sometimes life just sucks and you are just unlucky and were in the wrong place and wrong time.
You have all the skills a potential employer wants. My friend told me this same advice to me as well - You are limiting yourself. You are holding yourself back. I have had similar yet different problems, I am socially shy on social media, but I only recently started blogging and rebranding myself under one social media name (vincentntang). I have had a very complicated past, I have never been understood most of my life, I do see where you are coming from to some extent. I dumped it here if you are curious http://vincentmtang.com/2018/08/13/story-of-my-life/.
Throwing all your eggs in one basket, one client, is just a disaster waiting to happen, especially with your financial situation. He might be a good person at heart or just taking an economic advantage over your situation. You said it yourself, because I get the job done fast and well and for cheap.
Changing your name and using social media branding is unethical, but I would argue what HR is doing to potential employees is even more unethical. I think its not fair either for someone to assume who you are based on one past incident either. I got sick of dealing with people assuming things about me so that's why I mostly blog, its to tell the stories from my perspective. I don't talk about webtechnologies half the time, many times its just snippets of stories from my life. Debatedly I want to start doing things on youtube again as well, so I can share more tidbits of things that interest me
Most of your articles are opinion pieces, but where are all the adventures and stories of how you learned XYZ or struggled with dealing with incarceration? People would love to hear your stories, and your struggles, it makes you more relateable. I wouldn't use HN as a means to this end though, I mostly use HN to hash out potential stories I want to write about.
You aren't the only person with incarceration problems though. There's a whole network of developers who have been incarcerated, here on this job search tool. https://www.70millionjobs.com/
It would be a downer. People want to be uplifted and read stories about people's successes. My life isn't there yet.
> "what HR is doing to potential employees is even more unethical"
This comes back to culture fit. If my presence would make anyone uncomfortable, simply because of my past, then it's not a good fit for either them or me. Plain and simple.
> "Throwing all your eggs in one basket, one client, is just a disaster waiting to happen, especially with your financial situation"
Which is why I'm mentioning my availability and services in hopes of getting more work for when his runs out.
I still think you should write something about your incarceration though on your blog. Your whole blog just seems to entirely ignore it. I think it would be best to directly address the concerns potential employers and prospects might have on things they find in a google search. You would probably get more prospects sympathsizing to your situation. It might seem like a downer, but the downer stories shows you've learned from your past mistake as well. That you can accept criticism thrown your way and openly accept events that transpired in your life good or bad. This can only be seen as a positive trait about you.
Dont let people draw assumptions about you, let your stories speak for themselves.
I wish you the best on your journey. You dont have it easy but im sure you will figure something out
But that really goes for any language.
The true extent of technical debt is almost never realized in an interview, but you can't really do much about it if you accept the job and they tell you to work on it.
It goes so much more for php than any other language. PHP used to be so popular and even now with JS and other languages on top, there's still so many legacy php apps out there for maintenance. I deal with them regularly and most of them are really bad.
And no, I'm not shitting on the language. It's a decent language nowadays.
But to manage scalable PHP (or any language, for that matter) you still need smart programmers, a lot of whom will have been through most of the serious academic works in the field. They won't love working with PHP (I never did), and it might mean greater flight risk (yup!), but they might join the job anyways (at least half a dozen people that I know with those creds that joined up with the last project I was on where we had no choice but to deal with PHP) because of other reasons, like liking the company, people, or goals.
I've worked with a dozen different languages over the last 20 years. PHP is not one that I'd pick for a new project, but TBH, it's not the worst I've had to deal with. My experiences with the Visual Basic, Perl, and R code that I've had to interact with were actually far worse (typically because the people that code them are not as solid in software engineering), but I wouldn't judge people that use them just based on having done so. Unless we're spinning up new prototypes, very few of us actually get to choose the technologies that we use.
I know this is painting with a broad brush, and I'm working from a sample size of 2 (or, 2 vb.net shops that I've worked with), and the software engineering culture as a whole was really bad on those teams.
The webserver is scaled by just adding more instances in parallel with a load balancer. It's the database that needs to scale and that's the challenge.
One of the biggest problems with PHP, IMO, is that most of the code you'll find online is extremely old, and probably will give you terrible advice, using old deprecated mysql libraries, etc.
I started learning PHP/Laravel the other day and was able to make an item/data management system with a corresponding JSON API in about an hour.
It's bootstrap so the UI isn't unique or innovative, but it's definitely passable and it works really well.
Ruby is very practical, has everything, very consistent and clean. PHP is not consistent and not clean.
Golang is fast and the simplest language that is actually used in the industry. It is dramatically simpler than C. It is the fastest.
Python is like Ruby, but even more practical because it has ML and math, whereas Ruby does not.
PHP has no place in this world.
Python is surely nice looking, but as it allows redefinition of everything at runtime, it is impossible to optimize at compile time. I think PHP, with the recent type strictness functionality, is better positioned for making way to new developments like meaningfull code analysis, (compile time) optimizations and performant JIT compilers.
I don't know Ruby well, but I know it is also slow.
The biggest problem with PHP is that it standards library has inconsistent naming. The syntax is very much Java-like.
If PHP would shove the standard library into `LegacyPrelude` (and have it automatically loaded like Haskell) it could improve on that as well. This problem is not as fundamental as the other problems in my opinion, although still requiring a major effort to slowly turn to a new `Prelude`.
If knowing "the red book" were so important to Google, you'd think they would make sure their own search engine knew how to find it.
I have no idea which book they're referring to. For red computer science books, the only ones that come to mind are Numerical Recipes (probably not a Google favorite), one version of Appel's compiler book (not really an algorithms book), and perhaps the old edition of AIMA (though on further inspection, it's more brown).
More seriously, I have no idea what book you're talking about. Whatever it is you're referring to, it was not the textbook used when I took Data Structures and Algorithms in undergrad (EE), nor when I TA'd the course while doing my master's (CS, Graphics) at another university.
It feels a little arbitrary. As an EE, I took many classes on the fundamental design and construction of computers and communication networks. That knowledge has been very useful in understanding how my software interacts with the world. I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of trees, graphs and other data structures are weaker than those who spent many courses on them. But the company needs a broad assortment of skills to succeed, so it seems like a bad idea to base hiring heavily on finding people that all have the same talents as the interviewer. Of course, if I need to conform to that mold to pass the interview, that's what I'll do.
In a sense yes its "wrapped up in a particular culture" I guess the culture that exposed me to this "red book" was a CS bachelors that included graphical programming as a course.
Edit: If someone from google said to read the red book as a helper for interviewing I would probably return with "wait you mean the OpenGL book?"
However, at this point, I end up looking up that particular website instead of trying to remember anything about this book at all.
Another thing I'll add is that if you have any input into the hiring process PLEASE try to convince your employer to subsidize training and prioritize that over hiring to a bulleted list of particular technologies a candidate must be familiar with. I can't tell you how many engineers could very easily get up to speed with something new, or perhaps are inexperienced and just need a little guidance and could become incredibly better with the right investment in their training (including many long time employees at your company, I guarantee it). I was lucky enough to take a week course from some very knowledgable instructors at a previous job and everyone I know who took that course was bettered by it. Startups are frankly lying to themselves if they think they hire hyper-qualified people anyways, but the entire concept of professionalized industries that are unwilling to invest in the education and training of their employees is absurd and something we should all adamantly reject.
To be honest, if someone walked out of an interview with me because I asked them "So anything you like doing in your spare time?" I'd probably be glad that they'd saved me some time. A response of "Sorry, but I like to keep my work and personal life separate" is totally reasonable. I spend more time with my deskmates than my partner during the week. I don't care if they're into running/anime/videogames/heavy metal, I just want to know that if I ask them a question they're not going to get up and walk out of the room!
Why would anyone willingly work at a job like this. Why is this ever accepted to be a good thing. I've done this as well, I've worked 9-9 at a startup and have come to the conclusion that I was extremely wrong to ever accept this kind of thing.
> I just want to know that if I ask them a question they're not going to get up and walk out of the room!
lmao this is an amazingly stupid excuse that makes no sense
You don't need to work at a job for 12 hours a day to wind up spending more time with your coworkers than with your partner though. I work 9-5, my partner works 10-6. I leave before she is awake and when I get home we have about 6 hours before we go to bed. So yeah, people willingly work at jobs like that because they are...normal jobs.
>lmao this is an amazingly stupid excuse that makes no sense
Makes sense to me. Anyone who gets up and walks out of an interview because they were asked what they liked to do for fun is probably not someone you want to waste your time with.
Buddy there are at least 32 free non-sleep hours on the weekend. I think the 9-5 schedule is a ridiculous social phenomenon as well, but if you're saying "I spend more time with my deskmates than my partner during the week", you're working more than a 9-5. If you're using "during the week" to mean on weekdays, this seems like a pretty arbitrary point to make. We live in a capitalist society, most of our social relationships are determined by economics, frankly I think it's fucked up to think you're entitled to be best friends with your coworkers. I'm unhappy that economic decisions beyond my control mediate my personal relationships, but that affects my politics not my decision-making around whether someone is entitled to earn a living alongside me.
> Makes sense to me. Anyone who gets up and walks out of an interview because they were asked what they liked to do for fun is probably not someone you want to waste your time with.
This is pretty much the universal understanding of during the week. I don't think it's arbitrary at all. I spend 40 hours a week in my office, and I spend 62 (32 on weekends and 6 per evening on a weekday), so 40% of my waking time is going to be spent with this person.
> frankly I think it's fucked up to think you're entitled to be best friends with your coworkers.
You're the only person who is talking about being best friends with your coworkers. I'm talking about having a working relationship with people which means being able to communicate with people. There is lots of gray area between being best friends and wanting to keep work and personal life separate.
> But ask yourself why its important to know what my hobbies are
I literally don't care. All I care is that you can communicate in some way. Saying "sorry I'd rather not discuss that" is fine. Saying "Why do you want to know about my hobbies, you're just going to use what I tell you to confirm your biases and not hire me" is antagonistic and makes me wonder "how are they going to react when I sit beside them".
> and was told I didn't get the job because...
that's awful, I'm sorry that happened to you.
Christ, you literally compared it to your relationship with your partner, forgive me if I'm just following your argument.
> I literally don't care. All I care is that you can communicate in some way. Saying "sorry I'd rather not discuss that" is fine. Saying "Why do you want to know about my hobbies, you're just going to use what I tell you to confirm your biases and not hire me" is antagonistic and makes me wonder "how are they going to react when I sit beside them".
Being an interview candidate who is under the microscope and being a coworker are two completely different experiences, and my relationship to you as a candidate will be extremely different than as a coworker. The communication I'm provided as a candidate is usually not frank and honest. I often won't even get feedback because companies are afraid of being sued, so the process is often a total black box. If we're drawing the analogy between an actual working relationship and the experience of an interview, everything about the latter is artificial because I need to work to live and am generally willing to jump through whatever hoops you need me to. Meanwhile you are going to conceal your actual thoughts until you have to make a yes/no decision about if I'll have to worry about not getting a paycheck at the end of the month to pay rent.
This entire experience is a lie. I get that there are difficult, arrogant people out there, but stop prying into the lives of your candidates to try to suss those out and have a little empathy for people in this experience.
> that's awful, I'm sorry that happened to you.
Look in the scheme of things my grievances are minor, tech has a much larger problem w/ racism, misogyny, transphobia, etc. and those biases are much more prevalent in interviews. I want tech workers to have some recognition of their position within the structure of society as workers with relative privilege who could make their jobs easily accessible for anyone instead of nickel and diming candidates over bullshit. Start seeing yourself as an actual worker with compatible interests to other workers and not as a gatekeeper or emissary for your boss.
After all this, I am genuinely curious of your hobbies.
I am a strong believer in work life balance. But it’s not about crazy hours that causes you to spend more waking hours with your coworkers than your spouse during the week.
My wife gets up at 5 and doesn’t get off work until around 6:30 everyday during the school year. She has a split shift. So she does have time to run errands, go to the gym etc.
I get off work around 6. She goes to bed around 9. We may have two to three good hours on weekdays. I come home, we spend a little time together, she goes to sleep and two or three days out of the week, I work out in our home gym.
We have to make up for that time on the weekend. Things were worse when she was doing support and was working nights and weekends.
The summers and extended Christmas breaks are awesome though....
I work 9 to 5, and commute 30 minutes each day. I spend 9 hours a day away from home (on average) and I'm at home from 5:30 til 11:30 before bed which is 6 hours.
> lmao this is an amazingly stupid excuse that makes no sense
Really? The guy I replied to said he would get up and leave the interview if he was asked about his hobbies.
As an interviewer, you're potentially going to be spending 40 hours a week with this person. You don't really want to hire a robot.
As an interviewee, my private life is none of my employers business. Maybe my hobby is some super kinky shit that I don't really want my employer to know about. There are certainly a lot of things that I do in my own time that I won't talk about at work, some of it because it's not exactly legal and some of it just because I don't really want to deal with my colleagues judging me.
It's useless to pretend though that our work life and private life are firewalled from each other. Our work life does leak into our private life, and vice versa.
I'm no special snowflake and I am definitely not a White male and I can say with almost certainty that I haven't been discriminated against in all of the many interviews I've had. I know because I've always gone through recruiters, my resume never went down a "black hole", and my success rate from being submitted to a job to not being rejected (I've taken myself out of the running after getting an offer is high). I'm also not in Silicon Valley.
What training does the company need to provide software developers? All the training I've needed I taught myself. It was for my benefit.
Sounds like you've had good luck, but you're saying you know it hasn't happened to you because of documented social phenomena in the industry.
> What training does the company need to provide software developers? All the training I've needed I taught myself. It was for my benefit.
If you have untempered interest in your profession, there's likely some overlap in who benefits from your training, but largely I think it makes more sense to consider your _employer_ to be the main benefactor of your skills, not you. After all, when you're hired you don't have agency to change the direction of the product with the other workers, you don't have total control over your working environment, the technologies you choose, your schedule, etc. You may have input into these things, but in a legal sense your employer is the arbiter of these conditions, and ultimately you develop skills not simply to build the things you like, but to make yourself marketable to people who set the terms for your ability to earn a living.
It’s not luck, it’s focus....
1. Don’t randomly submit your resume to job boards. I have always used local recruiters who submit my resume and have a vested interest in staying in contact with both me and the hiring manager.
2. Don’t waste time having your resume submitted to jobs that you don’t have the must haves. I’ve been on both sides of dealing with recruiters - the candidate and the “hiring manager”. A good recruiter will talk to the hiring manager about what the must haves and the nice to haves are. You can also talk to the recruiter to see if you have the must have skills.
3. Keep in touch with recruiters even if you aren’t looking. They will usually put you on a mailing list with the job openings. You can find out what the market wants. I have a few recruiters that will give you a salary range in the mailing list.
Once you know what the in demand technologies are at the salary range for which you are looking, focus on those.
4. Make sure you live in a market where the jobs are. In over 20 years and 7 job changes, it’s never taken me over three weeks to get a job, usually with a bump in salary that I am looking for and the technology stack. I’ve sacrifuced major salary bumps when changing jobs for a better tech stack/shorter commute before.
Again,I’m no special snowflake. I’m just a “senior full stack enterprise developer”, Architect, or consultant depending on how the wind is blowing.
I’m not only not White I am not young (mid 40s).
If you have untempered interest in your profession, there's likely some overlap in who benefits from your training, but largely I think it makes more sense to consider your _employer_ to be the main benefactor of your skills, not you.
No, I’m just as much the benefactor of my skills as my employer. Increasing my skill set and staying marketable gives me the ability and optionality to change jobs - and usually for higher pay. I don’t have an “untempured interest in my profession”. It’s just a means to make money. But to continue to be competitive and to be able to ask for an increasing salary. I have to keep learning.
After all, when you're hired you don't have agency to change the direction of the product with the other workers, you don't have total control over your working environment, the technologies you choose, your schedule, etc. You may have input into these things, but in a legal sense your employer is the arbiter of these conditions, and ultimately you develop skills not simply to build the things you like, but to make yourself marketable to people who set the terms for your ability to earn a living.
The company I work for isn’t the main determining factor on me earning a living until I retire, my marketable skillset is. If my job closes its doors tomorrow and I have a marketable skillset and a healthy network, I can make calls and usually get another permant job or at least a contract gig in less than a month. Not bragging, anyone who has my not so rare skillset in my market can do it.
You do have agency if you have the skillset. I can’t choose the product I work on, but I chose the technology I wanted to work on by choosing the company I work for. I get to choose the how based on “expert power”. I haven’t been questioned about the how in four or five years across three companies. I’ve had to champion my position but if it made business sense, no one stopped me.
Once the technology I’m using starts getting out of step with what the market wants, it’s time for me to change jobs.
I also haven’t done but one “whiteboard coding interview” in the past 10 years, numerous interviews and 5 job changes.
I’ve done one pair programming in an IDE test and plenty of white boarding of architecture.
My last two jobs I was asked basically how would I go about solving thier real world architecture issues - yes I’m still 60-80% a hands on developer.
Ok so, you're so scarred by bad interviews that an attempt at small talk makes you walk. Fine, your call. But I'll choose what I do when someone wants to talk about light material for a few minutes, thank you very much.
EDIT: Nevermind, you're a founder of a company, so I dunno, it sounds like you're too deep in the kool aid or too disconnected from the position of a regular software engineer to understand why this is a problem
Additionally, your own personality raises caution, with a profile about reading, "Gonna stuff everyone on this website in a locker."
Consider the possibility that you've had bad experiences and have been shaped by them, but others have also not had these experiences and function differently in both the interview process and in day-to-day workplace life.
It's a lightly prodding joke. Hacker news cultivates a particularly obnoxious set of reactionary libertarians and self-aggrieved nerds. I'm not the only software engineer to notice this and to find it fair fodder. I've never had complaints about my personality at work, and I think I work pretty well with most teams and am pretty easy going. Actually what scares me is people like you who think they have a good sense of other people based on brief encounters and their own unexamined biases.
> Consider the possibility that you've had bad experiences and have been shaped by them, but others have also not had these experiences and function differently in both the interview process and in day-to-day workplace life.
It's fairly obvious that different people are shaped by different experiences, but I've found that a lot of what I'm talking about has been frequent enough in my history of doing interviews that I'd be surprised if it was a unique experience. Certainly doesn't seem to be from the handful of likes this comment got. Of course that doesn't make it a universal experience.
I would add mentorship to this. Even an informal program would be fine, as long as it means hiring more junior candidates who are then mentored (i.e. internally trained) by the more senior staff who were hired partly for this purpose. Even the mentor tends to learn from this arrangement, so everyone benefits.
> Startups are frankly lying to themselves if they think they hire hyper-qualified people anyways
Whether or not that's the case for an early startup, the credibility of such a conceit wears thin as a company grows. Unfortunately, the attitude of "we don't have the resources for training or mentorship" doesn't seem to dissipate, even with dozens of engineers.
When I've been interviewed it was telling when the person didn't realize I was interviewing them also.
The hobby etc questions were basically just shooting the shit getting to know a potential new member of the team if they accepted.
1. We're a professionalized industry? Really? I don't see any licensure outside Texas, any credentials that aren't sheerest fluff, any teeth whatsoever to the ACM's deontological ramblings^W^W Code of Ethics, any etc.
2. For reasons I don't know and which are another topic of discussion entirely, the CS industry is all about high turnover. Career advancement comes less from promotion and more from switching employers. Under these circumstances, if you are a company that employs software engineers, do you really want to make an investment whose returns will mostly be reaped by others, if not by your direct competitors?
2. There are probably many reasons for high turnover (especially among startups), but you kind of allude to a salient one (for this conversation) yourself. Leaving a job is a chance to get hired in a place where you'll learn something new, so if employers need a reason to train their people, that seems like a fairly good one for how it might benefit retention and experience of their employees. Ultimately I don't really care how it benefits employers, but software engineers tend to have a lot of leverage over who they hire so I see it as something we should do for our own sake
Unless you are the employer, or at least the hiring manager, the decision ultimately isn't yours, regardless of leverage, so you have to care about how a change would affect the employer or hiring manager, if you want them to make that change take-effect.
For example, we do hire for culture fit, but we define culture fit along vectors such as:
+ How do you attack problems
+ How do you communicate and collaborate
+ How do you deal with rainy day scenarios
+ How do you learn and grow
+ How do you teach and mentor
+ What do you need (and not need) from your teammates
+ What type of work enviro do you thrive in
The issue is many companies that rely on "culture fit" don't objectively define what it is. So it often becomes a dumping ground for whatever dumb biases and subjective criteria folks involved in hiring might have.
If your company actually has a hard definition of your internal culture and uses that in comparable fashion across candidates, I don't think that's what the author means.
And when companies do add objective metrics like whiteboard problems, everyone freaks out how it's not comparable "real world" (aka subjective)
On the other hand, I had one whiteboard interview where I had to write psuedocode for a merge sort. I was offered the job but I turned it down.
If I would always get assesed based on my skills, I would now do the same things I did years ago.
The types of things you mention seem perfectly legitimate. For example, I've advised someone who I knew from a previous employer who I knew needed a lot of structure and direction to not apply to a company that I knew was considerably more... chaotic.
If you tell me your company culture is an open office and you do lots of get-togethers in the evening and focus on working together on everything rather than going off and working on problems individually for a while, I'll probably pass.
I certainly assume OP's team is well-intentioned, but I'm skeptical that hiring for uniformity of "how do you attack problems" or "how do you learn and grow" is a good idea.
My hope is that the OP meant that they test that people can attack problems, and can learn... rather than aiming for the team to do those things homogenously.
Personally I'd disassociate those things out of any umbrella assessment of "fit" and just assess them as independent skills during the broader hiring process.
The big problem with "culture fit" in interviews is that it gives you an escape hatch to avoid the conclusions that concrete objective assessments provide.
Candidate did poorly technical qualification challenges, but man were they great to talk to at the interview! Fuck it let's hire! Candidate did great on the technical qualification but hrm they have a family and live out in the suburbs? Meh let's pass this time and maybe come back to them later.
You might as well not be hiring rigorously or objectively at all.
My experience running concrete work-sample-based resume hiring programs (we're hiring now!) is that every force in the institution you're working for is going to push you away from trusting your assessment results. And if you can't rely on those results and learn from them, you can't iterate and get better at hiring. And indeed, most organizations never do get better at hiring, and draw from the exact same pool of "conventionally hirable" candidates everyone else does, and it's a disaster.
If you want to hire based on "intelligence" (ick), create an assessment rubric that surfaces the kind of intelligence you're looking for. Don't rely on face-to-face meetings to do that; it doesn't work.
Did you hire on any sort of "personality fit" at all? I.e. would you hire a technically brilliant asshole?
Personally, I really try to be objective, ask the same questions every time, etc.. but lately I realized that if you're going to be spending 40+ hours per week with a person, it's not just the matter of them getting their job done...you also need to be able to work together, and that does require some amount of congruency in personality styles
If the hiring manager doesn’t drink beer, they aren't looking to hire someone to drink beer with, they will tend to hire the person who also doesn’t drink beer...conforming to their personal bias. Of course that has nothing to do with qualifications, and it is to damning to admit personal bias...in comes “cultural fit” which sounds sophisticated and in the interest of the company.
Talk to the same people promoting “cultural fit” about diversity, and watch the mental gymnastics of them simultaneously claiming they want diversity of candidates, diversity of thought/experience...so long as the diversity falls within the scope of “cultural fit”. It’s a lot like university giving professors tenure, sure you can have tenure and be protected from termination based on individual opinion after you prove to the university your opinion conforms to the university’s way of thinking and “fit”.
How do you assess communication and collaboration?
How do you assess handling of "rainy-day scenarios"?
How do you assess learning and growth ability? Just how long does your interview take?
How do you assess teaching and mentoring ability?
How do you assess whether someone thrives in your work environment?
Everybody says they assess for these things, push comes to shove. But most of the time, they're really covering for the fact that their final decisions are based on a collective gut-feel assessment.
I think your definition is true for technical hires for tech firms. For everyone else, the "beer" definition is operative.
*enjoy here means that you'll be able to enjoy a non-toxic work atmosphere, will be able to provide and receive constructive criticism and comments about your contributions; the healthy working relationship does sometimes lead to enjoying having a beer with them from time to time, but the former is definitely the primary goal in trying to find a culture fit.
People also seem forget that it goes both ways. For example, we had a candidate come in. He had good technical and communication skills, he could get along. I had zero doubts about his ability to perform the job well. I didn't hire him because I thought that he would would leave because due to the lack of cultural fit and to the fact that cultural fit was a deal breaker for him.
I didn't ask him about his interests. Instead I asked him questions about who he worked with, conflicts he had to solve with past co-workers, etc. He opened up and talked about close friendships at most jobs. He had two jobs where he didn't stay long. When he talked about those, you could tell that he got along but didn't have much in common with his co-workers. So I called his old bosses and one said "Oh, he was great, learned quickly. I wish he would've stayed." When I asked why he left, he said "Well, we're mostly in our late 40s-50, we have families, I don't know if it was the right fit. He wanted somebody to get a beer with after work and go camping on weekends."
I ask that question that specifically because the latter I have been told point blank is definitely asshole behavior. To which I say "it depends". Standing up for your principles and not capitulating to someone arbitrarily projecting their expectations onto you? That's not asshole behavior. That's standing up for yourself. Some seem to think otherwise.
Letting your principles take place of basic tact, dignity and respect for others? Different story. Some still even in this regard...think otherwise.
So how are we defining "asshole" tendencies here? Seems to me just as abitrary as "culture fit"
>[...] someone who stands by their standards and does so firmly because they believe in their personal principles?
That's integrity. Being stubborn and abrasive about it, however, isn't the same thing as having integrity.
Paraphrasing something I heard on the point: 'most people interested in being brutally honest are more interested in being brutal than being honest.'
At a recent job the engineers were asked to look for new candidates from their social networks at the same time as we were asked to look for more diverse candidates. I pointed out the inherent contradiction, and was met with effectively a shrug.
In consulting it's "wouldn't go crazy if stuck in an airport for 12 hours with"
You might be surprised. In my years as a consultant I would often be flying out of airfields that were little more than a shed near a runway. Not all the time but probably 30-40%.
I would be very surprised if one were ever stuck at such a small one for 12 hours. Presumably one would just return to town and be stuck there, instead.
This is objectively not 'culture fit'
This is exactly what I (and hiring managers in my company) mean when we say "cultural fit". The thought of having a beer with them or other social activities doesn't even cross my mind during the interviewing process.
I joined Netflix when Patty was the head of HR. Bethany, who she mentions, was the recruiter that reached out to me. Their recruiting process was masterful and it started with Bethany's first message - "They got you first, but they underestimate how valuable you are." I had joined Microsoft right out of college, worked there for 7 years and was feeling very under appreciated. She had taken the time to look at my LinkedIn profile and write a message tailored for me. She probably used that line on a lot of people in my situation, but it worked! So I opened her message.
The rest of the process was like staying at the Ritz Carlton. They treat you like a celebrity. It's a carefully crafted candidate experience. It's really impressive.
Side note: Anthony Park was my manager when I joined Netflix. He's hands down the best manager I've ever had and he's brilliant. You should try and work for him at Netflix if you can.
How is this computed? Since almost no programmers have collective bargaining agreements, in practice this seems to mean simply "who can negotiate the best".
Frankly, I think I'd rather the industry mature enough that we can be interchangeable cogs. Then we wouldn't spend so much time arguing about meaningless trivia like programming languages or coding style.
Obviously every company is going to hire for cultural fit. Every company has values that they build around to create successful teams. I would never hire anyone that I didn’t think fit in with our team...why would I do that?Some companies value different things than others. So don’t go around saying “we don’t do culture fit”, yes you do, you just define culture fit differently than other businesses because that’s your “culture”.
Because you might benefit from having someone with a different perspective in a professional environment.
An older parent might not "fit in" with a team of 22 year-old fresh grads, but still provide valuable experience and perspective in a way that an additional 22 year-old might not. You can probably extrapolate how this might also affect women and minorities.
Sure, in an ideal world "fit in" means simply "can coexist peacefully with", but in practice it can end up being a dog-whistle phrase (very similarly to "culture fit", which the article alludes to).
And someone who doesn't do any work might not "fit in" with a team of people who are doing work, but I'm not going to hire them for the sake of !current_culture.
There's a reason it's a "culture fit" or "match" and not "culturally identical" or "culturally homogeneous." The phrase as it is is sufficient and can describe a healthy way of hiring people who are compatible with your current team. If we assume our current team has a healthy culture, finding people who are compatible with it, that can effectively perform their professional duties without disrupting the ability of other employees to do the same (and, ideally, improving the ability of others to do the same), is exactly what we're looking for when hiring someone (other than technical aptitude).
Sure, it can also be used to illegally or unethically discriminate, but so could any concept you could conceive of to describe "they won't perform well with our current team." Before "not a culture fit" was a popular it was "not a team player."
The problem, of course, being that they often end up being synonymous.
Similarly "family values" is a dog-whistle for "christian values" in US politics, despite them being different phrases.
> If we assume our current team has a healthy culture, finding people who are compatible with it, that can effectively perform their professional duties without disrupting the ability of other employees to do the same (and, ideally, improving the ability of others to do the same), is exactly what we're looking for when hiring someone (other than technical aptitude).
One can imagine myriad ways that this would be used to reject someone in a really awful manner.
To go back to the parent example: Parents often get up early (because their kids get up early) and need to be home at a reasonable hour to meet their kids. A group of fresh grads has no such requirement and might reasonably work from 11-7 every day, whereas the parent might need to work more 8-4.
The disruption of course being that they only overlap for 5 hours a day and this could certainly be used as an example of how the parent isn't a good fit for the team.
> Sure, it can also be used to illegally or unethically discriminate, but so could any concept you could conceive of to describe "they won't perform well with our current team." Before "not a culture fit" was a popular it was "not a team player."
Yes, and we should strive to eliminate them as much as possible.
I'm not suggesting that you should hire assholes who don't work, but that your hiring criteria should be much more explicit: "Were they abrasive during the interview?" instead of "do they fit in well at <x company>?" being a very contrived, simple example off the top of my head.
That's not poor culture fit, that's just being lazy.
Because those others would be way too on the nose and not be defendable?
Yelling "dog-whistle" and redefining the goal posts whenever anyone comments isn't constructive. I suspect that most people use "culture fit" to mean people that share company values, not that they have the same perspective. Where I work, on some teams we explicitly try to hire people with different perspectives, but they still need to "fit" with our company values. And they still need to work with others without causing disruption.
Ah, but there's the dog-whistle-rub: What are the company values?
My guess is that they're sufficiently vague, like "works well with others", or "communicates effectively". Sometimes they're not even that opaque, like "work hard, play hard" (I've seen that one repeatedly).
Those values are then often used to discredit people based on, frankly, illegal factors like age/race/gender.
A friend once shared a story with me from a company they were at where every single woman they interviewed for an open developer position was rejected after the in-person interview because they were "too quiet and wouldn't be a good communicator". The company was otherwise fairly progressive all things considered (I was shocked to hear the name of the company, at least), but biases like these crop up in really unexpected and subtle ways.
That's an anecdote obviously and not data, and of course maybe they just got all the quiet people by random chance. But I hope you see how vague criteria like "culture fit" do end up actually being dog-whistles sometimes.
I guarantee you that whatever special process you use, it can be used as a form of racism or sexism. E.g. do you think that article's "look for musicians to find data scientists" can't be used as an excuse for racism or sexism?
The problem of discrimination is way more nuanced than naively throwing some things you may not personally like into a bucket and putting a label on it like "dog-whistle."
> I think this is actually why this conversation rubs people the wrong way: I'm not assuming bad faith at all, even though I'm calling "culture fit" out as a bad metric used to discriminate against people.
> A relatively modern view of gender/racial relations is that it's not exclusively people acting in bad faith - that is, a minority of people are being overtly racist or sexist (though they obviously dominate the headlines). Rather, there's a lot of subtle and unspoken biases that creep into society and result in discrimination even if that wasn't the intended purpose or goal.
> To go back to your own example, if our culture "expects women to be quiet", and then discriminates against quiet people for jobs, that kinda sucks doesn't it? What are women supposed to do in that scenario? Are they really forced to choose between gainful employment and acting in a societally-approved way?
I can't imagine Margaret Thatcher ever being called "too quiet and not a good communicator", but there were also a lot of other bad things people said about her. And yeah, if they interviewed a loud, well-spoken woman, and then rejected her because she was too "aggressive", that would definitely hint at bias to me.
How do you solve that problem, as an employer? If you're an assertive workplace and you don't want to hire quiet, passive people, do you hire less assertive women anyway and then train them to be more assertive? I can see some logic around that, but you have to actually dig in and reason your way to that idea, and then you have to test it, and if it turns out not working out, then what? These are some hard problems, and assuming bad faith isn't the be-all end-all of talking about it.
I'm not sure that either scenario really paints a rosy picture. More on that below.
> And yeah, if they interviewed a loud, well-spoken woman, and then rejected her because she was too "aggressive", that would definitely hint at bias to me.
I'm sure you can find plenty of outspoken women to whom that's happened.
> These are some hard problems, and assuming bad faith isn't the be-all end-all of talking about it.
I think this is actually why this conversation rubs people the wrong way: I'm not assuming bad faith at all, even though I'm calling "culture fit" out as a bad metric used to discriminate against people.
A relatively modern view of gender/racial relations is that it's not exclusively people acting in bad faith - that is, a minority of people are being overtly racist or sexist (though they obviously dominate the headlines). Rather, there's a lot of subtle and unspoken biases that creep into society and result in discrimination even if that wasn't the intended purpose or goal.
To go back to your own example, if our culture "expects women to be quiet", and then discriminates against quiet people for jobs, that kinda sucks doesn't it? What are women supposed to do in that scenario? Are they really forced to choose between gainful employment and acting in a societally-approved way?
Well, yeah. Except there's a ton of jobs out there for meek, quiet, agreeable people who don't rock the boat, to the point where sometimes it's even more of an impediment being boisterous, loud, and outspoken, even if you are male. They're not always the best and most respected jobs, just as meek and quiet people aren't always the best and most respected people, but they're out there.
And yeah...if you're conspiratorially minded, it's awful convenient if women are socially conditioned to have exactly the personality traits that make them easier to dominate, isn't it? Except, socially conditioned traits are a trailing indicator and not a leading indicator. Maybe it's easier for women to get away with being assertive now than it used to be, because we have tons of cultural countersignaling ("well-behaved women rarely make history") that seems to indicate that. I dunno; it's a hard problem to navigate, and I don't have the experience to advise what a woman should do in that situation.
What I can say is that--as an employer--you should definitely make a point of hiring assertive people, and particularly assertive women. I think it's the wrong move to say, "women tend to be quiet and agreeable, so we should try to hire quiet, agreeable people instead of loud, assertive people for diversity reasons". No, being quiet and agreeable is exactly how you get oppressed and stay oppressed. If you're an individual woman trying to survive a sexist and unjust system, you do what you can, but if you're part of the system, you fix the damned system. Go out of your way to hire "aggressive" women, and coach the women you have to become more assertive. At least that's my advice.
Can you explain it in a way you aren't using mental gymnastics and/or "dog whistles"?
Short term goals, homogenous team.
Long term goals, heterogenous team.
The differences should be based on where they get information and inspiration from, not nessesarily their cultural or geographical background.
"PayPal once rejected a candidate who aced all the engineering tests because for fun, the guy said that he liked to play hoops. That single sentence lost him the job. "
You seem to assume everyone agrees that making hiring decisions on factors with zero relevance to doing the work doesn't make sense. Sadly that's not the case.
> PayPal was a place where the younger engineers could and would sometimes wrestle with each other on the floor to solve disputes! If you didn’t get the odd mix of nerdiness + alpha maleness, you just stuck out.
I can't say I disagree with the decision.
>The author basically says “don’t just hire people you’d want to have a beer with” and then goes on to say that they do hire for cultural fit by looking at their ability to solve problems and overcome challenges
Those seem pretty different. One is someone I click with at a personal level. The other is someone who can do the sort of work the business needs. I've worked with plenty of people who I didn't especially like but who were clearly good at their jobs.
Sure, at some level, there are elements of culture in whether you're a process-driven organization, a let-the-best-idea win, etc. But the standard "not cultural fit" is more code for you're too old, too quiet, don't want to hang with the guys after work...
People has such widely varying definitions of "culture fit" that "hire for culture fit" doesn't mean anything either.
Maybe the problem is everybody has a different definition for "culture fit." Mine has nothing to with age or personality style (or race or sex obviously). I've hired plenty of all types of those. But its whether a person will get along with our team, and will interact appropriately. They don't all need to be ongoing, or super talkative, or agree with everything we do, but they must have certain skills to mesh with our team.
I've been in situations where there were people who were not culture fits, and I've left jobs where people were brought on board who were not culture fits. I find whether a person fits is much better then their exact skill level or knowledge. Both those can be learned. Fitting in with a culture is harder to learn.
Edit: the rest of the article is really good though. Just wanted to address the one point I disagreed with.
This way the overall capabilities and knowledge power of the organisation would increase over time - either by hiring top talent or by hiring candidates for their uniqueness.
Gee, it's like they aren't even trying. It's so unscientific I can't take the process seriously at all.
A lot of 2004 attitudes persist long after they have any relevance or predictive power.
0. The usual exceptions for anything human.
I only remember it as the chat application before hotmail and MSN messenger. It's even more ancient and abandoned. Not a good signal.
AOL was an internet provider that mostly died out in the mid-2000s. Back then, "true nerds" scoffed at it -- it was for grandmas and total noobs.
So if you got an AOL email address (which you still can actually do, turns out), it not only is a relic of ancient technology, but it's a signal that you're a technology noob in like the 90s.
I just am amused at the idea of sending a resume to a trendy tech company with an AOL email address. They'd either laugh or flip out.
"Culture fit" is mentioned literally once. I know that's the HBR pagename for it, but it's a terrible title.
Whenever people start talking about the best ways to hire, I generally just start thinking about Moneyball and game theory and how most people are just making shit up with no clue why they're succeeding or failing. Every success story is equal parts "I worked real hard" and "There are far too many variables/luck for me to ever possibly be able to account for them objectively" but everyone like to put a narrative on it and be a hero (or cast someone as a villain).
But it's incredible that it's so prevalent in tech, where people are supposedly so smart and data driven.
Assuming you can act confident without ego. Most of the time you don't even have the social skills to put forth an opinion in a charismatic way. Weak voice, weak body language, stuttering, stumbling over your words, unsteady eye contact, failure to make people laugh and feel at ease. Bam, you lost. Made fool of youself. If you have no ego, you learn and carry on. It is difficult to do.
Ego and insecurity are two separate things. You can mask insecurity with a big ego (and people often do that), but you can also be calm, confident and assertive sans ego if you're comfortable with yourself.
Now if you can fix your managers to be good at integrating diverse teams with a variety of interaction styles, then you can hire pretty much anybody into those teams and quality managers will empower them and make them effective. But when was the last time you had an executive that you knew was focused on improving the communications effectiveness of their line managers?
The trick is that they (the executives) have to know that the investment will pay off in better management but unless they have experienced it in action they won't have the internal understanding to value it versus the performance management goals they have used their whole career up to that point.
The end result is that when someone hires in that the manager can't handle they write it off to "bad culture fit" rather than figure out how to fix the manager and the cycle continues...
This is never how the companies I've been at treated culture fit interviews. Maybe I've only been at good companies, but typically we're only screening for dealbreakers and red flags, and the "culture fit" interview is little more than a chance to relax the interviewee between grueling tech interviews and have a low-pressure chance to sell them on the company; if they happen to offer up an offensive statement or shoot themselves in the foot, then that's on them.
The only situations where I've seen people cut based on culture fit questions, they've done something really odd. Comment on an interviewer's looks. Talk unreasonable shit about current company coworkers or policies, or spill confidential info. Indicate unwillingness to work with people of certain political persuasions. Outright racism or sexism. So on.
"Like to have a beer with" is a terrible hiring criteria, even if it might be useful when playing both internal and external politics. But "I'd never be willing to tolerate this personality in everyday work interactions" is a very valid reason to cut someone from consideration, and that should be considered in every interview.
Almost every toxic coworker I've come in contact with worked on a team that specifically did tech-only interviews, and didn't take culture into account. YMMV...
Is this not culture fit?
If anything, the interview process for my first job in finance was the most intense and went on for about six months from introduction to offer.
The truth is that this article is more marketing and self-promotion than anything else.
Anybody who's hired for a decade or longer knows how much more nuanced the dance is.
That's an example of nightmarish bureaucracy getting in the way of hiring. Titles don't mean anything in software development. If you don't know that, your notions of what to do or not to do are suspect.
> Everyone was arguing until Anthony suddenly said, “Can I speak now?” The room went silent
VP or not (lots of software devs that aren't supervisors hold VP titles of Software Dev in various industry), this is an example of a terrible communicator who is less creative than autocratic, due to insecurity. Again, so common an archetype that, the rest of the article feels tainted.
I worked for Anthony at Netflix. He's one of the smartest people I've met.
Also, Patty was making the exact same point as you on job titles. (Note the quotes.) Netflix didn't care about your title at all when they came recruiting.
I think you're misinterpreting what the article said.
A great company should have an eclectic mix of skin colors, backgrounds, sexes, etc. Diversity is power. But this also includes diversity of thought-- you should have complete liberals, staunch conservatives, atheists, the faithful, etc.
You'll need an HR department with a backbone, to ensure everybody understands the importance of being civil. With great diversity comes great (and wide) perspective.
And similarly we should not miss the paragraph in the OP:
> We always tried to be creative about probing people and their résumés. Bethany once decided to analyze the résumés of our best data-science people for common features. She found that those people shared an avid interest in music. From then on she and her team looked for that quality. She recalls, “We’d get really excited and call out, ‘Hey, I found a guy who plays piano!’” She concluded that such people can easily toggle between their left and right brains—a great skill for data analysis.
WOW! On violin I got through the D-major section of the Bach Chaconne. Guess I should have applied to Netflix!!!
Then there is the:
> Say you need a software engineer. Do you want a senior programmer fluent in the best new techniques in search engine development?
Hmm .... My work "in search engine development" is based on some original applied math I derived in an infinite dimensional Hilbert space. So, can Netflix advise me if my work is "in the best new techniques"? Hmm. Who in Netflix can (A) give an example of an infinite dimensional Hilbert space, (B) say what the connection with search might be, and (C) review the "best new techniques"? Hmm ....
But I've done a LOT of scientific, engineering software with lots of algorithms, data structures, etc. I've done a lot in applied statistics and published peer-reviewed original research in mathematical statistics. I hold a Ph.D. in applied math from a world class research university.
But, no doubt, I couldn't be hired at Netflix!!!!
My one, short, telephone Google interview stopped when I gave the wrong answer to their question "What is your favorite programming language?"; apparently the only correct answer was C++; I said PL/I. I'd still say PL/I. How many recruiters at Google understood the pros and cons of PL/I versus other languages?
With all this nonsense, as in many posts in this thread, in hiring for computer programming, I gave up and am doing my own startup.
I picked Windows over Linux. On Windows I picked Visual Basic .NET (apparently essentially equivalent to C# but with a different flavor of syntactic sugar), type into my favorite text editor, KEdit with a few hundred macros instead of an IDE, used ASP.NET for the Web pages, used ADO.NET for the SQL Server access, etc. Works fine.
If I need Python, etc., then I'll learn it and use it. So far, I have all the software development tools I need.
For SPSS, SAS, R, Matlab, etc., my work in statistics has always been too advanced for those packages -- so I wrote my own code.
Yup, I wouldn't get hired!!!
Flip side: I should be able to compete well with the people Netflix, etc. do hire!!!!
If I need to hire for my startup, then I will emphasize first -- technical writing.
Come up with a list of questions. Ask each person the same list in front of a committee, and the committee members individually scored their answers. Total the scores, and recommend the highest scoring person for hiring. Then Management took that recommendation and sometimes did a second round of interviews.
Did they hire the best people? Sometimes yes, possibly.
It was at least an attempt towards objectivity. Although there certainly was discussion that "we want to hire somebody that is going to fit on the team." Of course the problem with this attitude is that it caters to everybody's built-in biases, leading to exactly the all the gender and other discriminatory outcomes we typically see in IT.
I don't think anybody really knows how to do hiring.