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Ask HN: Any startups solving for software engineering hiring?
37 points by allanmacgregor 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 40 comments
I'm curious if anyone on the Ycombinator community is working or knows of any startups working to try to improve the software engineer hiring process.





so many its not even funny. AI this and that. Personality and behavior assessments. Automate everything. chatbots to save recruiting. BLAH BLAH Fucking blah. Some have certainly made sourcing and outreach better but as iwang mentioned very few of these address the personal side of hiring engineers.

The idea that you can assess an engineers ability to code AND collaborate with your team in a 3-5 hour window is just a losing battle. Hackerrank and triplebyte are good for the very large corps to rule people out and slim down the funnel. Not a real reflection of the work, code, or problems you will be solving in the job if hired.

15yrs tech recruiting corporate and agency. I have seen almost every tool out there and I will say very few have stood the test of time. Hiring is really hard and the fact remains there just isnt a one size fits all solution. Find the tools that suit your goals.

Personally I think small companies would be far better served investing in sourcing tools to attract and located the right talent. Have your leadership pitch these people directly hunt talent versus tools to automate volume (95% of which are not the people you are seeking any way).


> so many its not even funny. AI this and that. Personality and behavior assessments. Automate everything. chatbots to save recruiting. BLAH BLAH Fucking blah. Some have certainly made sourcing and outreach better but as iwang mentioned very few of these address the personal side of hiring engineers. The idea that you can assess an engineers ability to code AND collaborate with your team in a 3-5 hour window is just a losing battle. Hackerrank and triplebyte are good for the very large corps to rule people out and slim down the funnel. Not a real reflection of the work, code, or problems you will be solving in the job if hired.

These tools are fine if you are a top 5 firm in your area and offering a 6 figure salary. Everyone does the Google take-home.

If you aren't Google, your completion rate for whatever assessment you use is going to get lower and lower the less you pay or prestige you have. Because strong candidates are already moving to the next stages at better companies.

> Personally I think small companies would be far better served investing in sourcing tools to attract and located the right talent. Have your leadership pitch these people directly hunt talent versus tools to automate volume (95% of which are not the people you are seeking any way).

Spend less on tools and more on signing bonus. Campus career fair is probably the best place to start, along with referral for more senior positions. Also, keep in mind HR is there to sign documents and offers, not to screen technical candidates.


I found that I had to just put in hours on LinkedIn searching and sending notes myself as the Director of Engineering.

That's also a good way to go.

For an engineer, getting a random non-technical recruiter's message is almost always spam.

But getting one from the CTO, no matter if job hunting or not, is always worth at least a response.


I used to think so too but now it's become obvious that someone else is sending on behalf of the "CTO" or I've just been added into an automated funnel.

That's how I felt as well. I even got one from a Cloud Kitchens that "cc'd" Travis Kalanick. Give me a break

> Personality and behavior assessments. Automate everything. chatbots to save recruiting.

Literally every one of those things I would dismiss a company for using.

During my last job search I even politely called out a couple of companies for using them. I did get a nice response that could be summed up as: "yeah we figured someone would say they are bullshit and we agree"

I did get interviews with those companies but declined

It's not like having a bad date, it's them fucking up even asking you out on a date

Now not politely I would say that assessments and personality tests and all the other BS thrown an applicants way are stupid, easily game, a downright waste of everyones time and give an immediate indicator the company sucks. The person that thought it was a good idea at the company should be replaced.

Ideally candidates should be able to toss an assessment back to the person doing the hiring to take on the companies behalf

What's good for the goose after all


I have 12 years of Tech recruitment experience and was about to write exactly this (with worse grammar and style though).

Most'solutions' that claim that recruitment is broken, don't understand recruitment.


This is interesting, from what I have seen the solutions are trying to solve symptoms but not the fundamental root problem.

What is the entire interview process to solve, the problem is trust. Can we trust this person to know what they claim they know, can we trust this person to be a good member of the team etc.

The reason we do code interviews, whiteboard exercises, culture fit assesstments is to make sure we want trust that hire.

Every company tries and checks for different things, the question that I been asking is there a model for someone to provide 'trust by proxy'


Tech recruiter from Switzerland here.

YCombinator funds startups, and startups need scale.

Hiring is very personal, very hard to automate and scale.

Often, tech hiring startups start in a creative way but later become a database of profiles where recruiters can source, similar to Linkedin. Aline Lerner, founder of https://interviewing.io, wrote about this problem here: https://blog.alinelerner.com/ive-been-an-engineer-and-a-recr...


I'm sure there's some parts that can be scaled. I loved that Toptal handles the tough technical filter, as well as removing anyone who has been troublesome from their pool.

Looking at the link you just shared, she says there's a 45 min recruiter screen, 1 hr technical phone screen, 6 hr engineering onsite, 1 hr recruiter onsite.

That's four different parts that can be outsourced and specialized in. Codility probably replaces the technical phone screen. Onsite doesn't necessarily need to be in-house; both sides dread technical interviews.

I'd rather do a 15 hour interview with a middle man like Triplebyte who can forward my details to multiple startups, rather than do two 6 hour interviews with different companies with a 20% chance of getting accepted. As a hiring startup, we also dread doing those interviews, because we could be filtering out a perfectly good person and it's already hard enough to convince people to join a startup.


Not having to go through dozens of companies crummy web apps to enter the same information that's on your resume would be a start.

Someone close to me was recently hired as a new grad at Amazon. He only had one 30 minute conversation with a human to verify he was real before they extended the offer! The rest of the process was automated (virtually proctored coding sessions, multiple choice behavioral assessments, etc.).

Value judgments aside, you have to respect Amazon's efficiency.


Why do you have to be real to get an offer? If an AI was capable of going through the interview process, I would definitely consider this AI deserving and hire them immediately. I think Amazon is completely overlooking this fact, here.

I have been part of the process. Real is the wrong word. We want to make sure the person who did the virtual rounds is the same person who is on the call. We check for id match and dive a bit deep into the solution to make sure they understood what they were coding. This is a huge departure from how we used to hire a few years ago and personally, I am not sure if we are doing the right thing.

A process like this may work for new grads or entry level roles. With the rise of bootcamps and greater popularity for programming, the trend seems to be going towards "Let's put everyone possible into the funnel and see who makes it out."

On the one hand, this opens up opportunities for people with a non-traditional background who might not have made it through a resume screen before. On the other hand, it can be dehumanizing. I also only think this process applies to entry-level. When companies try to use it for people who have experience they run into pushback since the experienced person is not just looking for any job in the same way a new grad would normally be.


You could pay someone else to take the tests for you. Now I wonder how widespread that is.

You don’t need to be real. Get your bot to imitate the video call. What would be funny is if the AI was running on AWS

I find the current process quite strange. My wife works in civil engineering and they don't do technical interviews. If you have a degree, you're technically certified. If you need professional experience, there's a professional engineer certification that works too.

For some reason, degrees and certifications in software are not reliable. You could have a PhD in math and they'll still make you do algorithms on whiteboards. It sounds like the proper solution isn't to improve the interviewing process, but to improve education, or rather have a better certification process that makes these things unnecessary.


It seems like a near impossible problem to solve. Who is to say what any random company/manager is looking for in an engineer? I don't see how that could be abstracted. I think the best hope in this area would be an organization that had certifications. If you need an iOS developer, they provide whether they are class I, II, III, IV or V and you go from there. It is the only way to get rid of managers wanting live red/black tree implementations on a whiteboard for a CRUD website for insurance.

It is also hard to solve because there are two sides of the story, with differing needs. A great experience for the person being hired is not the same thing as a great experience for the hiring manager.

Hi,

We are a startup trying to improve the software engineering hiring process. What we are doing?

- We are standardizing the way of evaluate the engineering tech skills - Our tech Mentors Community design cool and real world challenges - We analyze the code and give feedback to all the candidates and as a company you get access to the code and a tech report like this--> https://bit.ly/2ZLzNKY - If you are a candidate looking for a new project just with one code challenge you can apply to multiple companies --> https://bit.ly/vetteddevs

https://rviewer.io/

We just launch our MVP, if you have any doubts I will be happy to answer any question.


https://devscreen.io/

found from / more info here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25790355

"a system that will automatically sin up a github project with a pull-request to review, or an issue to fix. Further test-types are planned but I will launch with these two. No matter the skill level of an IC engineer, they will need to carry out effective code reviews and fix bugs. I think that the PR test will be good for senior candidates while the bug fix test will be good for junior - mid-level engineers."


interviewing.io, hackerrank, triplebyte are all trying.

However, afaik none of them have even broached the personality aspect, which is imo is their biggest failing and quite solvable.

Imo triplebyte/interviewing.io don't have any special objectivity, but are trying to reduce the number of interviews and barriers-to-entry.

Also none of these platforms seems to have any critical mass, or made too much progress toward a critical mass recently (afiak).


Triplebyte has done some personality work around, like, "are you product-oriented or enterprise-y". I'm not sure if that is what you mean by personality. I agree I haven't seen anything from anyone that will test candidates for "hey you might be too much of an asshole to get a job" or companies for how tolerant they are of assholes.

Well sure "asshole" is one important signal.

One example that comes to mind is I have some outstanding coworkers who seem to just care/try 2-3x as hard as others. The value difference is huge but it's not a strictly technical skill.


Hackerrank has been focused on this (beyond competitive programming)- across various technical roles and verticals. (disclosure: ex-employee).

One of the projects I've been working on is sookiestack.com for managing take-home challenges- if there's any biz-dev types who think they'd be good at marketing it I'd be open to a partnership (email in profile).

Triplebyte went through the S15 batch of Ycombinator, and Paul Graham is an investor

I often struggled as a jobseeker.

1. Why there is no consistency for hiring?

2. Why companies have to be so different in assessing values ?

3. Why standardized leetcode kind of problems? instead focus on creativity & unconventional thinking?

etc.,


I will try to answer:

>1. Why there is no consistency for hiring?

Because there is no consistency in humans. Jobseekers lie to me all the time, so do companies.

>2. Why companies have to be so different in assessing values ?

Because companies consist of humans, which are inconsistent, see 1.

>3. Why standardized leetcode kind of problems? instead focus on creativity & unconventional thinking?

That is only a SF/Nyc/big tech thing. Normal firms here in Switzerland (or Europe) rarely do this. The big brand names do it because they can.

Google et al. has a revolving door of applicants, so they can make them suffer. Also, if you show that you can study 3 months for an interview to balance a red black tree, you likely will do whatever the firm tells you to do. You likely will be a good worker!

If you are full of creativity & unconventional thinking, being employed (especially in a big firm) isn't a good bet, start your own firm instead. I did exactly that because I suffered as an employee, not because of the work part, programming was great, but because of the being employed part, and this is how I became a self-employed tech recruiter. Btw. if you look for work or career tips, my email is in my HN handle.


> Google et al. has a revolving door of applicants, so they can make them suffer. Also, if you show that you can study 3 months for an interview to balance a red black tree, you likely will do whatever the firm tells you to do. You likely will be a good worker!

Ehh, that's not what I've seen. Most engineers at Google I've met and interacted with, even worked with in the past who are now at Google - are absolutely, undisputedly and unarguably exceptional. Google is not your 1980's regimented company where the boss tells whatever and the employees just follow. I've seen that type of company culture more in Europe (esp Germany) and Japan than anywhere else. Google empowers their employees and the culture is right up there with creative and unconventional thinking. It's not as cool as it used to be but still good.

Starting your own firm sometimes is a less creative endeavor. You're massively limited first and foremost with talent pool, experts and funding. At Google, you have one of the most rich environments for creativity - you've got funding, you have PMs, you have exceptional engineers all in great morale, all the resources to make you successful while getting paid well.


Think about it like developing a application. There are tons of choices- language, frameworks, backend, frontend, etc. All of these choices have limitations, costs, and aspects that can be compromised on. Everyone thinks their way is best. Their language is the best. Some times that grows and evolves. But often its purely built on your comfort and experience (or bias).

Hiring is the exact same way.


Hiring is worse.

Frameworks/programming languages at last have some logic to it. JavaScript is good for web, C good for hardware; humans are just random!


2 - Because different companies do want entirely different people.

Some managers want a quiet, obedient, polite, gentle, patient, effective-communicator who will never embarrass or break anything.

Some managers want a self-starter genius who will solve an incredibly hard problem by himself without help (since he won't get any) and couldn't care less about anything else.

Etc.


I originally read this as question of whether any startups are hiring that are "solving for software engineering" and was very confused.

Yeah same, I was anxious to see if my job is close to be automated away.


Hired.com Hackerrank Triplebyte

Triplebyte.



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