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Ask HN: Compensating SWE interview candidates with $500?
1 point by swehiring 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments
SWE interviews used to be an hour or two. Nowadays they're all-day events. This requires candidates to to effectively "work" an entire day for free.

It seems to me that we should compensate candidates for their time.

From an employer's perspective, it seems like it might be a good thing to do regardless of whether it's the right thing to do or not

The $500 push would hopefully result in more in-demand candidates taking interviews.

What does HN think? Is it crazy? Is $500 too much, or too low? Is the risk of non-serious candidates too high?

Adverse selection.

If they don't get the job, gain is zero. If they do get the job, the gain is their salary. EV = P(job) * E[salary|job]. Someone who believes there is a low probability of them getting the job will be drawn to these sorts of interviews, but the sharp people who want the job are not going to be more interested.

If you're trying to optimize for amount of good candidates, maybe. If you're trying to optimize for share of good candidates, absolutely not.

What could be interesting is a simpler test. How about the following?

* On the first of every month, the company publishes a list of random numbers.

* The job interview consists of a written test on how well you've remembered these, and them some code stuff.

Fast, cheap, efficient. Should be a reasonably good selection criteria.

How does memorization of arbitrary numbers help in any capacity in SWE role? Seems like just an absurd hurdle to jump.

That's the whole point - you select for people who are interested in jumping over hurdles to get the job, i.e. passion. It also requires intelligence. So already there you are selecting for the two most important traits.

> i.e. passion.

This smells more like desperation than passion.

> It also requires intelligence.

I agree, but intelligence is a very wide term and I'm not sure that the "intelligence" that you need to find patterns and memorize a few numbers is the same "intelligence" you need to make good programs. I guess it is positively correlated, anyway.

> This smells more like desperation than passion.

They are one and the same. If you're a nice company a lot of people want to work for, those who want to are prepared to go through hurdles in order to do so.

> I guess it is positively correlated, anyway.

Memory is very strongly correlated with IQ.

Most intelligent people I know hate memorizing noise. (But I have a few friends that memorized a few hundred digits of pi. Good luck convincing them to memorize your random numbers.)

> you select for people who are interested in jumping over hurdles

No, some people are interested out of desperation, others have established themselves in the industry and _will not_ go through your hurdles because they can afford not to.

Imagine getting 100 recent graduates because they got no other offers while people currently employed elsewhere scoff at your hurdles, imagine the team you're going to be building.

Seems like a gimmick more than some sort of proof of passion. This is the type of thing I would expect from the same sort of company that is going to hand me lots of busy work.

I mean if they know ahead of time that you are going to ask them to regurgitate these numbers, then they are just going to memorize them right before the interview. What does that really prove? Certainly doesn't prove passion IMO.

In principle it sounds like a great idea, but you're gonna get flooded with low quality candidates.

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