There is no meaningful data that any hiring process--good or bad--improves the outcome of a hire. If there were, everyone would be using it.
Instead, third-party HR monoliths have moved in and snatched up (and more or less created) the 'market' for screening and filtering applicants. Larger companies sigh, throw up their hands, and say 'well how else can we deal with hundreds of applicants?'.
As if that 'funnel' of applicants contains what you think you want. As if it's just an exercise in reductionism, each applicant a data point to evaluate.
Given this, why not hire lightly and fire lightly?
I think my industry (civil engineers) is a bit easier to hire for because credentialing weeds out people who are completely out of their depth, and lying about qualifications can get you in real trouble. Managers can assume you’re basically competent and can focus on hiring people with decent personality and a good reputation. Some of my software friends use brain-teasers to screen candidates, and it comes off as a bit silly to me.
Pretty much the case for every non-Software Engineering discipline.
But then again, people in the tech field will vehemently defend the system - because it's one of the very, very few fields where you don't need a college degree, can go on and "grind leetcode" for months, and land a six-figure job.
And it is because of that, that tech companies are making their recruitment process bordering the absurd. They're simply deadly afraid to vet frauds, that have "gamed" the system.
So in short - tech companies would rather let 10 decent candidates slip by, if it means they can block 1 fraud.
I've been to many engineering interviews, outside tech, and it is not even remotely the same process.
There are arguments here and on the blog post that the industry doesn't have credentials. We do have credentials, it's the CS degree, but universities suck at issuing them so we don't rely on them much. Sometimes not at all.
The people saying, hey, why can't we be like civil engineering are thus perhaps not sounding as re-assuring as they hope: why would universities be more trustworthy at teaching civil engineering than other kinds of engineering? The problems are incentive related. Ultimately the software industry is highly egalitarian and a bad university experience can't hurt your career permanently, like it could in most other fields.
If material like this had been available 20 years ago it would have made a huge difference.
Because any company that adopts such an approach will never be able to recruit anybody who wants to work in a stable environment with a consistent set of smart people who aren't in constant fear that they will be fired the next day.
It is still not easy to find good people, but the truth is: HR are not the best people to decide who is. If you have good people already and they don't try to build an empire, they will select good people. The danger there is only that they will select people that are too much like themselves or they will select the worse candidate because they fear about their own standing etc.
Netflix, for example, and Amazon (to some extent) have gotten away with this model but the vast majority of companies are simply unwilling to pay top of market.
Where I live you have a month when starting were you can be fired with 2 weeks let-go period, after which it takes 3 months or more.
I think you should have an intensive monitoring/evaluation in the first month, and fire lightly if you think there is a mismatch. After you have determined an employee fits you, if they stop fitting you try to figure out why, help them to fit again (are they the kind who gets bored, needs new challenges?, do they have problems at home? If you found someone who fits I think it is more efficient to make them fit again then try to find someone else who fits). I believe this is the way to go even in areas where you do not have the rules about the dismissal period that you have here.
I suppose if ALL companies did that then there might be some sort of fluid equilibrium state where most companies had some mix of mostly competent engineers who chose to work there for positive individual choice/reasons. But in a more winner-take-all world where the "best" need to hire the "best", because that means second tier companies get the rejects and therefore will fail to compete and the chosen few get success and riches? Set the bar incredibly high and forget fairness. (also an extreme for purpose of conversation, just on the other end of the spectrum)
I can say with confidence that certain resume features are incredibly strong predictors of interview performance (at least in the related measures, in the field and/or team I'm working in). I'm not HR, but your statement seems to also deny the possibility of this empirical observation.
> Given this, why not hire lightly and fire lightly?
Because it would be a complete dick move to have someone relocate (possibly involving change of country) and then fire them 2 weeks later? That's not even looking at the formal, bureaucratic or training overhead, or any of the other factors in this industry that make hiring and firing a bit more complicated than handing someone (and later taking away) a hardhat and a shovel.
This. I hold a slightly lower bar (meaning more willing to take a chance) on someone who is unemployed than if they're working now. Worst case if I take someone unemployed, hire them "light", and they don't work out is they're back where they already were, whereas if someone quits their job to come work here and gets fired, they're worse off than they were before.
You're still interfering with that unemployed person's job hunt.
Here are a few (at a level of detail that I'm comfortable sharing):
- Outstanding (in either direction) performance in certain subjects in school is a very strong predictor.
- Cover letters are mostly noise, but incoherent, overbearing or careless ones don't go very far. Lack of curiosity and interest is also a negative predictor (but these are of course easily feigned).
- Relevant extracurricular engagement and/or industrial experience begets more well-rounded engineers.
Let me be clear though that we consider applications on more than these factors. These are just predictors, and sometimes they are wrong. I have interviewed actuaries that couldn't calculate dice roll probabilities, C++ programmers that were confused by the class keyword and C# programmers that hadn't heard of virtual.
These are people who were in workforce 10+ years.
Certifications are a strong negative predictor. Someone who turns up with a lot of corporate certifications is unlikely to do well when asked difficult questions.
People who have only ever worked in low grade or low tier banks tend to do poorly. There are a few exceptions. GS has good technologists. Most big investment banks have a few programmers (older ones usually) who have solid experience - but who are unlikely to put any creative effort in and may have a "here's why it can't be done" attitude. May not matter for some roles.
People who list a very large number of short roles tend to do poorly.
People who give a list of projects in their resume experience for which they only assert they were part of the group that delivered it, without concrete claims of tech leadership, often do poorly - generally it indicates a "hiding amongst the crowd" problem in which someone is a poor performer and attempts to hide lack of any actual achievement by reference to group projects.
People who list obscure programming languages as a skill do relatively well, people who list obscure products as a skill do relatively poorly.
No offense, but that is a very silly thing to consider "foundational" in 2020. The heavy, all encompassing use of inheritance patterns these days is much less prevalent than 10 years ago, even in the C# community.
But what about actual job performance?
But again, I'm not claiming this to be universal. Just that it's possible.
No, it's just the companies using it keep that data to themselves. Their hiring process is then a competitive advantage.
But I do know some companies who have a competitive advantage in the tech market, and their hiring is not great.
If hiring in tech is broken, then all of hiring is broken, whether it's fast food cashiers or aerospace engineers. Can you seriously claim that any of those have better hiring practices? From personal experience, I can say they are far worse.
Seriously, I would say that the competitive advantage of a company comes primarily from its product and the vision and competence of the company leadership. You can't just hire your way to success without that foundation. Bad leadership can destroy the greatest employees.
The company founders almost always come together in a very informal manner, and often the early employees do too. And that's the basis of the company. It has nothing whatsoever to do with some special snowflake data-driven formal hiring process.
Indeed, I would argue that once a company becomes very large and successful, they become bloated and bad at pretty much everything, including hiring. At that point they have to get better by acquiring other companies, not by hiring through their standard bureaucratic processes. The competitive advantage of giant corporations is the ability to swallow other companies whole.
I don't know if it was ever made public, I think I heard this story via backchannels. But Google did a research project at some point to discover why GPA/interview performance in general did not seem to correlate with post-hiring job performance. The project was never allowed to reach full completion because the direction their data and investigation was going looked like this:
"Our hiring process does not correlate with post-hiring job performance because we have a large and measurable bias in interviews in favour of Ivy League candidates and women."
In other words, GPA didn't correlate with job performance for Google because it was a confounding variable: they were selecting the sample for top tier universities (which select on GPA) at hiring time, but not when it came to promo reviews (which had a different process and anyway, less rhetorical ideology involved than hiring, at least at that time).
I don't have stats but anecdotally, hiring by personal reference seems by far the most effective way to hire.
Because it's a huge financial and organisational burden on the hirer and an even huger (sometimes existential if you live in the U.S. due to health insurance but that's a whole nother rant) burden on the hiree.
In a sufficiently large company you could have a specialized onboarding team, but you’d need to be careful that the specialized team doesn’t get isolated from the technical culture and needs of the rest of the company
It shouldn't be. From my experience, the financial cost that comes from increasing the number of people you fire after a few weeks is less than what companies spend furiously guarding against making a bad hire.
>and organisational burden on the hirer
There's no reason this needs to be the case.
The candidate stream is itself not "diverse" (assuming you are using the normal meaning of the word of lots of women+racial minorities). Simply randomly making offers wouldn't alter the outcomes because those people aren't being de-selected by skills testing to begin with - unless you believe the 'diverse' candidates are less skilled programmers.
Does this have some implied conditions I'm missing? Because to me it seems absolutely obvious that filtering for people who have experience/a degree will vastly improve your outcome over true random hiring.
And, also personally, I've had great experience with people who migrated from absolutely unrelated fields (e.g. several people who retrained - within same company - from support into software development). Similarly I had great experience with fresh interns turning out to be brilliant theory people.
Are you saying that you had no qualifications at all before? Because that's what they're saying, just applying for any high-paying job, even if you don't have the requirements.
In both cases, I was switching industries (from ASIC design to IoT cloud software to data analytics). So, I arguably had some qualifications and arguably none at all.
Isn't it? While machine intervention might be able to weed out the most obvious low-quality candidates, I don't think there's any strong evidence that most hiring processes actually select the strongest hires - just that they, out of the set of candidates that progress to the point of human intervention (i.e. interview), select a decent one.
The problem is that interviews don't scale well, and some kind of automatic culling of the field of candidates is necessary. Engineers, managers, etc all want to feel that whatever machine solution (keyword searching in resumes, applying AI to recorded video statements, HackerRanks) they select is better than random - but there's no incentive for them to check that that's true.
Obviously randomness + interviews is better than pure randomness, but ultimately hiring processes are still pretty random. If you need to weed out most of your candidates, you can't do much better than throwing most of their applications away - and companies end up doing just that, only they cargo cult an "automated process" that claims to do better.
But every company in FAANGMO does use the same (or at least pretty similar) hiring process.
Source: they let me interview people at one of those fancy FAANGMO places (and I don't actually know what I'm doing). Interview success comes down to how lucky you get in the loop imo.
Hiring is doing just fine.
I think hiring is "doing just fine" and there's room for order-of-mag improvements on precision/recall.
 Some Thoughts on Interviewing and Why We Do It https://jwongworks.com/blog/2018/07/24/some-thoughts-on-inte...
 Screening developers should be easy https://acjay.com/2019/05/16/hiring-developers-is-easy/
This is a manifestly absurd claim. It is possible to improve the outcome of a hire, and almost everyone is using those kinds of processes. The firm I work for does an excellent job filtering people for skill and compatibility. The trick is that if you want to capture the top e.g. 10% of applicants, you're going to have to pay them several times more than the median applicant. Most companies are too cheap to attract distinguished talent.
I tried building spaceship and failed. Fiend of mine tried building a spaceship and failed too. However, I know of people who built a spaceship. So is building a spaceship a crapshot?
Reality is: 95% of HRs are incompetent. That's where randomness comes from. Take a random man from street and assign him for HR role after a brief training -- you'll achieve a similar performance to those 95% HRs.
Everybody's talking about hiring the engineer, but so fewer people talk about finding a good HR that would help you to solve a "simple" problem: how to find a good engineer with small experience and small salary that would not leave your company for the next few years and would become after several months just as good as 70-100$/hour engineer hired from top software company, while later most likely still gonna need some time to adapt to your product to become efficient.
Hire people with multiple pages on a resume with a variety of experences is a good strategy increasing your odds.
I see very toxic people being rejected that think its because of their gender/color/whatever <= lots of complains but the process work
I get rejected sometimes because of misalignement from me, or from them <= feels bad man.. but the process works
I've never been hired to a place where I found that this was all a terrible idea, in 25 years. Theres been places better than others, theres been adjustments after hiring.
I've seen places hire people using simplified processes and the candidates were unsuccessful and unhappy after being hired <= process fail
Word of mouth recommendations, and yes everyone uses it.
Daniel Kahneman analyzed a bunch of data that lead him to concluded that the typical interview process did nothing to help select the best candidate. There's a chapter about it in Thinking Fast And Slow  and the advice he gives is summarized in this article . I remember thinking after reading this book that it was just a matter of time until everyone everywhere would be denouncing interviews but here we are - old habits die hard.
> A vast amount of research offers a promise: you are much more likely to find the best candidate if you use this procedure than if you do what people normally do in such situations, which is to go into the interview unprepared and to make choices by an overall intuitive judgment such as "I looked into his eyes and liked what I saw."