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Things I was asked to do while job hunting (kylenazario.com)
112 points by apozem 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 183 comments

I find that the experience one has recruiting is directly related to where that person is interviewing which in turn is related to their caliber.

On one extreme, a very desirable dev has the luxury of ignoring all but the most thoughtful recruiter pings on LinkedIn. He can also tune out companies that are too small, not tech-focused, don't have a good reputation, whatever. The small remainder of recruiters and companies that he will speak to are much more likely to have their shit together and provide a solid recruiting experience.

On the other hand, if someone doesn't have a ton of options, they end up being much less selective about whom they speak to and where they interview, in addition to being less likely to be recruited by the top players to begin with.

I think this explains the dichotomy of why some people consistently have horrible experiences and some never have them. And then there's the "hint" that if you only have the horrible experiences, there is something you need to strategically change.

> On one extreme, a very desirable dev has the luxury of ignoring all but the most thoughtful recruiter pings on LinkedIn.

You've set your sights too low. A very desirable dev doesn't need to interface with LinkedIn at all.

Even worst: a lot of the best devs out there are completely invisible.

They get offers long before they even decide to switch jobs. They simply never had a LinkedIn account to begin with. It's a friend that calls them to tell them about the new project they are about to hire for.

Companies can either spend more on recruiting fees, or more on better devs that will try to get their friends hired...

>Companies can either spend more on recruiting fees, or more on better devs that will try to get their friends hired...

Yup, half of the team I'm on is made up of people who have worked together in the past and are good. That's how I got the job and how I get all my gigs. I haven't had to really interview for a job since 2002. LinkedIn is entirely unnecessary when you have a large enough network of people who enjoy working with you. The jobs come to you.

This is not so much the case in my experience (Europe). People here do not start new companies that frequently (as is the culture in the US, I think). Many people switch companies and while they can refer you at their new company (and they do), you still have to go through the interviewing process. My own experience: My first job I was approached by one of my Uni professors that had a small company, to work for them. Second job (while still doing my masters at Uni) I had to go through an actual exam for a big company in my country. I found out about it at the Uni (they'd post everywhere they were looking). Third job found on Stack Overflow. Current job found on LinkedIn.

> This is not so much the case in my experience (Europe). People here do not start new companies that frequently (as is the culture in the US, I think).

In Europe? No. European founders? There are so many in the Bay Area. For some reasons they don't seem to stay in Europe.

I keep it up-to-date with at least my employers because there are enough FAANGs and well-known unicorns on the list that that alone gets me recruiters emails. A few of the FAANGs have a recruiter check in with me every year. Basically, I interact with it enough so recruiters know I'm out there and desirable.

I have responded to a few recruiters over time. But every job since the one I was recruited on-campus for in grad school came from reaching out to someone I knew at the company. (Not a developer but in tech.)

ADDED: I've been in a sufficiently specialized subset of the industry for a long time that random recruiter emails aren't likely to be interesting. And I know a lot of people at different companies. So I have pretty much a bare bones profile on LinkedIn as I'm not really looking for inbound pings.

I can see how that could be true although seems silly to limit your inbound opportunities that way (my last 2 roles came via a LI reach-out so I am biased)

What has been your path that landed you amazing highly paid roles and why do you think you're not missing out by not hearing from a broader set of companies?

Went to a small college in Milwaukee cause I knew someone going there on IRC and they had low admission standards.

Got my job at Yahoo Travel via Topcoder referal (before LinkedIn existed). Worked there for seven years. Got many many many spams from LinkedIn to my yahoo-inc address when people uploaded the corporate address book and LinkedIn wouldn't let you unsubscribe without making an account. Made enough to pay a mortgage on a bay area house with a single income.

Got recruited to WhatsApp by Brian Acton who was breifly my boss's boss at Yahoo. Worked there for not quite eight years. Made enough to retire comfortably.

Could I have been more highly paid? Probably when I was working for Yahoo, I got a bigger salary when I moved to a startup. I doubt I could have found anything better post 2014 though.

If I was looking now, I would probably look at selected company's hiring pages and/or through niche sites like HN's who's hiring etc.

Excellent story! My strategy is "the more inbound opportunity the better" so LI is my friend (with plenty of saying "no thank you") but it would be very hard to argue that your approach doesn't work well.

I purposely put very little info on LinkedIn to look like a desirable employee and to avoid clueless people from looking for career advice from me.

I don’t know if I’m desirable, but definitely selective. I targeted a few dozen roles I found, all of them at companies I was interested in. I got replies from a dozen or so, and ended up interviewing at 8. All them were very pleasant, even interesting in some cases. These were all places that are well-known here so maybe there is a correlation?

I don’t like the take-home assessment trend, but I do understand it from a hiring perspective.

Classic “rich get richer” effect, should be a law saying that it’s as common in society as the normal distribution is in nature

I am not even saying that. As technologists, we have a TON of impact into our own hire ability and incomes. More than people realize.

For example, I looked at the blog author's LinkedIn profile. Regardless of his level, it's not a good profile in terms of presenting his maturity as a technologist and ability to deliver outcomes. Which lowers his odds of being noticed by good recruiters even at his current caliber of dev. To at least some degree, this contributes to the negative experience he is having.

You're essentially arguing for a bimodal distribution which does, in fact, seem to exist to at least some degree in some professions, including law.

It's known as "The Matthew Effect".

I'm pretty selective although I'm fairly low caliber. I have alternative income so I'm never in a rush to get hired.

I'm sometimes surprised by weird hiring practices at a place I didn't expect. Even different positions at the same FAANG can be completely different experiences.

I’ve had a very bad recruiter experience with Google. It comes down to the organization, I think: if they care about which people they hire, the experience is good. G is so big they can’t possibly care too much.

> Pass a cognitive test asking me to do basic arithmetic and convert fractions as fast as I could.

I would fail this. I have had a lifelong inability to do simple arithmetic mentally. When I had to learn multiplication tables I finally memorized them by using flash cards and a payment schedule set up by my parents.

In fourth grade we had "time tests" where you had to do a page of sums and were graded based on how quickly you completed it. I never finished them in the maximum time allotted because I had to count on my fingers. Even today I will sometimes do that, or I will use offsets from a few sums that I do know. For example, 7+6. For some reason I know 7+7 is 14, so 7+6 is one less than that. Hence 13. Anyone else think this way as an adult?

I also had trouble memorizing arithmetic/multiplication tables. To this day I have no idea what 7*8 is (I can spend a few seconds figuring it out but I just never memorized it like most people). For some reason my university math courses disallowed calculators, and I vividly remember sitting in my Calculus III course counting those "number dots"[0] on every exam.

[0]: https://64.media.tumblr.com/uwQaNeR4EjfyqysnvQFexD3vo1_400.j...

I never bothered learning them either (apart from the squares, which stuck quickly for some reason) - I just got fast enough at working them out from known values (squares, 10x is trivial, 5x is half of that) that no one could really tell the difference. I think it actually helped me in some ways, because those "tricks" (mentally breaking it down into simpler steps) generalise to larger numbers quite well.

Exact same thing here. I'm actually having a moment realizing this is more common than I thought. Everyone always acted like it was the easiest thing in the world (even the ones that hated math) and that I must have brain damage or something. But to this day, if you put a gun to my head, I could not tell you what 7*8 was in any less that a minute (and possible not at all without some paper to work it out).

You don't happen to work with software anyone of you? I wonder if this "math dyslexia" has caused any tricky situations at the workplace

I failed tons of those timed tests in school and have gotten better at basic math only somewhat recently, by practicing with a calculator.

I don't work with software per se but I do write some software in the course of my work, and haven't had any issues from my difficulty with math. (At least, not since having to re-take Calculus and reshuffle my major back in college.)

One of the reasons I originally decided I wanted to work with computers was that (in a general sense) I could tell the computer to do the math for me. I always loved playing with calculators and seeing what I could get them to do.

Ok :-) thanks for the reply

I only program as a hobby, but the math issues have certainly never caused problems there, which I've always been a little amused by, since everyone seems to assume amazing math is needed for programming. I DO comment the living hell out of my code though, due to memory/concentration issues, just so I can remember what each chunk does 15 minutes later.

Yes maths is rarely needed (unless one creates a 3d game engine or a neutral net implementation or airplanes for example)

> comment the living hell out of my code

I like comments too, the "Why" type of comments :-)

I’m an engineer (embedded systems and graphics) and it has never once been an issue.

Graphics? Hmm when I was coding 3d graphics there was matrix multiplication and rotation etc,

makes me wonder if comparatively hard things like that, work fine, although some of the easy things don't?

And someone with dyslexia can write an amazingly good novel, I presume.

I'm in the same boat. 8*7 is naturally 8 squared (64) minus 8. :D

Or 7 squared (49) plus 7. Which for some reason is stuck in my brain...

Think 5-6-7-8. 7 times 8 is 56.

Or use a calculator, who cares. Arithmetic is mostly memorization.

I don't understand how those number dots are supposed to help with multiplication.

I break 7 * 8 down into 7 * 2 * 2 * 2, which is much easier to do in my head.

> I finally memorized them by using flash cards and a payment schedule set up by my parents.

This was my exact experience learning to the multiplication tables in 4th grade. Although my payment was watching tv or playing video games. The only one I really learned was multiplying by 8 bc my dad made more effort for me to learn it (he was programmer).

I also use random "tricks" for arithmetic, like when multiplying 6 and 7, I'll do (37)+(37) instead because I've memorized 3*7=21 and the addition is easy with no carries

I just abhor the fact that teachers never gave students the intuition to approach problems and solve them. Not that I blame them - but my eyes watered when a visiting lecturer derived formulas we'd used in High school and told to memorize as absolute truths without knowing why. You finally get to appreciate mathematics as a discipline and a tool.

One of the problems, especially but not exclusively at the high school level, is that you often haven't been exposed to the math (or other foundational information) that you need to derive things from more or less first principles. Physics is probably the most obvious example. You need Calculus to derive many of the formulae in high school physics but the average student probably hasn't had Calculus yet so they're just equations to memorize.

This is why I think a lot of pre-collegiate curricula is misguided. The ultimate goal of a high school science or math course should be to teach logic and critical thinking ("learning how to learn"). If a student doesn't have the ability to understand why a formula works, we should take a hard look at why we're teaching it, even if that means radically rethinking which subjects are offered.

I don't disagree.

Math is the real challenge though. When I was in business school I tutored a group of students who were... struggling. They simply lacked the ability to handle things like basic graphs in economics, solving equations, never mind the most simple differentiation to find a maxima/minima. It was a frustrating experience. I couldn't make up for a general lack of even high school math.

And read any number of books out there on first year bschool experiences and you'll find similar.

There are absolutely successful people who are in that category. But Math is a major roadblock for many people.

> In fouth grade we had "time tests" where you had to do a page of sums and were graded based on how quickly you completed it. I never finished them in the maximum time allotted because I had to count on my fingers. Even today I will sometimes do that, or I will use offsets from a few sums that I do know. For example, 7+6. For some reason I know 7+7 is 14, so 7+6 is one less than that. Hence 13. Anyone else think this way as an adult?

When it comes to adding and subtracting, that's definitely me!

It's both relieving and stunning how accurate this is to my own experience. I did TERRIBLE in high school (and college) math, almost entirely because I would constantly make little mistakes in the basic arithmetic. The broader concepts? No problem. But then I'd try to do a problem, slip up a few times on the basic math, and get the wrong answer. And there went the points (and test). I took to calling it "Math Dyslexia," although they're only really similar in that both involved unusual last-mile problems rather than fundamental knowledge or intelligence issues.

I suspect you won't reply, this being a throwaway, but was there any ADHD involved? That's what I've gradually settled on for myself, not the "bouncing off the walls" bit, but the bit where you have trouble focusing on anything but the things that are "interesting" to you (and then HYPER focus on those things).

Sounds a bit more like you may have dyscalculia:


I think what the prior poster was describing is more what I have which I've taken to calling "having shit memory". Can't remember numbers or names, can't learn foreign languages well at all. Had trouble in elementary school with doing multiplication tables fast because I couldn't memorize 7s and 8s, so I'd solve 8x8 by doing 6x6=36 (easy) and then 36+6+6+8+8 to complete the square.

I can teach myself optimal control theory, but my speed and accuracy at arithmetic is just getting worse as i can use google as a calculator. I did fine in physics and math courses in college because you can use calculators, and because I always picked the easy questions first, and then ran the answers back through to prove they were right in order to find sign errors and such.

I've considered dyscalculia in the past, but it seems to be more a fundamental inability to understand numbers at all. That article even directly lists having trouble with math CONCEPTS, and basic things like which of two numbers is bigger, rather that constantly making small errors in arithmetic.

What about probability calculations? Like, calculating how likely X is to happen Y times in a row? If you can use calculators

Btw from that Wikipedia article, about ADHD:

> In 2015, it was established that 11% of children with dyscalculia also have ADHD

That's easy because its just P(x)^Y. So with a fair coin its just powers of two so 4 in a row is 1/16, which is... 0.125/2 or 0.050 + 0.025/2 or 0.0625... That's fairly easy because those kinds of numbers are very recognizable. 1/16th is also between 1/10th and 1/20th so the answer better be between 0.05 and .10 as well. Kind of simple but 125/2 I have to break up a bit to do it, I don't know it lightning fast, although I very much recognize it after I'm done.

And yeah, I don't really have ADHD and don't have dyscalculia. You said you have ADHD and sounded like you were describing dyscalculia.

Ok :-) Seems you a bit like probability calculations, can be a bit fun I think too.

(Actually I also don't have ADHD -- I'm something else than the other ones who replied earlier in this thread.)

I have trouble with basic arithmetic as well, never learned the multiplication tables and employ all sort of tricks like the one you mention. I still blank out when someone wants me to do basic arithmetic on the spot. It's a bit embarrassing.

Oh gosh me too!! I’m so embarrassed to do mental math. Unless I have a pen and paper or use of my fingers, I can’t do it. It feels like the numbers start disappearing from my head as soon as I start calculating.

Does this happen also if your're at home alone, and trying some arithmetics?

Yup! If I can write my work down, I’m okay, but I feel like the numbers slip if I calculate in my head. If I’m trying 9+8, I’ll think 9 is close to 10, so I’ll +1, now I can do 10+8=18. As I work this in my head, I’ll start to forget that I originally started with a 9, and I have to figure out what number I used (+1) to make the problem easier, which often makes me restart the problem. It’s like a loop. I can’t do word problems very well either. There are so many numbers, then you have to figure out what they’re really asking. It’s frustrating because I can tell it’s simple stuff, but I just can’t hold on to everything at once. I guess it’s like a learning disability.

That said, for every pain I’ve had with math, I’ve breezed through with English and writing. When I was younger doing my SATs, I completely tanked math, but had a perfect score in the English and writing sections.

I honestly hate interview tests like this because you never want a developer to do this in their day to day job. Code needs to be clear and simple to be maintainable, so anywhere a developer has done work in their head and just put in a magic number (eg const foo = 763; // I did the math in my head) you would always reject that in a PR and ask them to show where the number came from.

If anything being asked to do mental arthimatic in an interview should be a red flag that the company has a code base that could be full of horrible undocumented nonsense.

Yeah; or it’s a sign they just have terrible judgement. “What makes a good programmer? Programming is like math right? Let’s assess that!?”

The trick for code readability is to always make the compiler do the math. const time_ms = 30 * 1000; This is much easier to read and maintain.

Same here brah. I use finger tricks for much of my quick on-the-spot arithmetic. When I was young(14-24) I could do it in my head, as the years went on I started to rely on some rote memorization and the aforementioned finger shortcuts. These days (in my 50's) I unabashedly use the shortcuts and don't care what wtf anyone thinks...of course the gray in my beard stops most people from razz'in me.

I'm not sure you need to memorize the tables to do multiplication in your head.

The 10s are a freebie, and the 2s can be done by most people without much effort, for numbers under 100. 5s are just half of the 10s. 9s are just 10x - 1x. 11s are adorable. I'd wager most people internalize little tricks like these for all the multiples of single digit numbers and the lower double digits. Of course, if you do math in your head all the time, eventually you memorize frequent combinations.

Anybody who can trivially multiply high doubles digits or 3 digit numbers in their head is exceptional.

Yes this is how I do the compression of the multiplication table in my head as well. I'm great on the perfect squares, 2, 4, 9, 10 - there are big holes in the rest, and I just add or subtract from values I do know.

Fortunately I don't need to use my fingers.

> For some reason I know 7+7 is 14, so 7+6 is one less than that. Hence 13. Anyone else think this way as an adult?

I also reason 7+6 by going down or up from 14 or 12, but I would not characterize myself as having dyscalcula of any severity.

I do it by getting to 10 first: 7 + 3 is 10, 6 - the 3 I just added to the 7 is 3, and 10 + that 3 is 13.

I was quite gifted at math, first place out of a school year of 250+ students. I know as an adult that I have all nm for all 0<n,m<10 memorised. When I see something like 79 I use memory and not logic.

I feel a lot of math is made easier once some facts become so simple they're memorised. I can do large arithmetic quite easily in my head due to having the basics memorised.

Memorization of numbers generally, but yes to the above.

How I hire: review applications and any portfolio attachments or links (yes, putting links to prior work on resumes is a good idea!). I then take the top 5 candidates out to lunch (pre COVID) or virtual face to face. This meeting isn't an interrogation, it's a conversation between adults to see if there is a good overlap with my needs and your needs. I typically ask philosophical, open ended questions, many of which have no relevance to the domain I'm hiring for. If this goes OK, I prepare an offer with a 14-30 day contract period to make sure they can do the work and the work is what they want to do. After that, I let them be hired on or continue contracting.

Astute readers will notice I don't consult with anyone underneath me--I may have them review anonymized applications or meeting notes, but I think having the peers you'll work with involved in the hiring process causes too much nepotism, cargo culting, and embarrassing displays of "stump the chump". As a leader, I know the skills I need, and I know who will jive with the team structure. I don't need people wishing I had hired X over Y or turning down people that may be smarter than them.

So basically you do a variation of personality quiz except “informal” and then fire candidate after a month if they don’t work out. I don’t know where your market is but where I am you simply won’t be able to hire anyone with options unless you have netflix level pay or super hot domain.

Unless I were already out of work, a contract period would pretty much be a non-starter--unless, as you say, it was really exceptional and I was able to confirm to my satisfaction that just terminating after the contract period was something very out of the ordinary. But it's very unlikely I would leave a position I was reasonably happy with for something like this.

Most companies have some kind of probationary period, either formally or informally.

That is incorrect. In 13 years the fastest I’ve seen anyone let go was 6 months. Most sw eng jobs don’t expect you to be fully productive for a quarter at least. Again once word gets out that you’re trigger happy on firing you’re looking at top of market pay to close anyone half decent

Defaults matter though. Hiring someone and having an informal probationary period feels a lot different from giving someone a contract with no guarantee of a job at the end.

There is a guarantee of a job at the end of the contract, I think you're arguing semantics.

What's the point of the contract then, just to make things complicated?

In the US, it's easier to end a contract than fire someone (unemployment, COBRA, taxes).

So basically you just want to shift the risk of a bad hire onto the employee. The things you're avoiding are precisely the things that make it easier for them to bounce back if the new job doesn't work out.

As someone mentioned below, the contract period typically comes with a higher hourly rate. Also, some candidates have been able to take a leave of absence or PTO from their current job, work the contract, then give two weeks notice after it works out.

Making it easier makes it less secure than a normal full time position. The only candidates who would apply would be people out of work.

In other words, there isn't a guarantee? Also, how is health insurance handled since you mention COBRA? I was on another thread today where people were saying that health insurance is one reason they didn't take time off between jobs.

COBRA lets you continue your insurance plan from your employer for a time period after you leave.

However, your employer no longer contributes to the premiums, which are very difficult to personally front if you dont have an income.

You can buy temporary health insurance to cover yourself between jobs, but it typically is only useful for catastrophic injury, as the deductibles are extremely high to keep the price down.

Usually when I've been offered this arrangement (which I like because it reduces the risk on my side, too), the pay has been on the higher side for the contracting part, to cover the reduced benefits/security.

Given a choice, I'd recommend taking the contract period because if either party chooses to end the relationship, the candidate can honestly report it as a short term contract on their resume.

To a first approximation, no one is looking at employment gaps at that level of granularity. Now if you can't find a job for another year, that's maybe something different but you're back to switching jobs without really having a job.

Wow, I don't know exactly why, but this made my skin crawl.

There's so many red flags. I hate these philosophical questions, you're just trying to prove you're clever. I hate contract periods, it's just firing people with cover. I hate that you make these decisions unilaterally, you clearly think you're good at hiring but this just means you're not asking others to help with your blind spots. You refer to yourself as a leader, which just makes me cringe.

But most importantly, you clearly have no respect for your team because you don't believe they can interview without being horrible humans. If nothing else, wouldn't the candidates want to meet their peers?

Everyone's allowed to hire however they want, and that's a good thing... means there's lots of jobs for different types of people. But I have a strong feeling you have high turnover and a pretty bad company culture based on the way you talk. Or, you've never really built a team, just hired a few one-off people.

If you're reading this, please don't hire this way.

Most of these are only red flags if you're hiring robots and not people.

I generally have very little professional experience in the fields that I apply for and no education so, for me, getting hired has usually been a matter of showing that I have a work philosophy that aligns with the goals of my peers and an ability to quickly learn the actual work.

I think your view on this comes from a bit of privileged perspective where you're looking moreso to fulfill contractual obligations in a field that you've already proved yourself in and not one where you're looking for a culture-fit that fosters development.

I agree with the concept of getting to know the person; that's not my problem. And a hiring manager advocating for someone that has untraditional qualifications is awesome. There's just so many red flags in the way this guy talks about hiring.

I personally definitely aim to hire awesome people regardless of their experience.

I write a lot about how I hire, if you wanna read more! https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24457170

So...there's no data involved in your decision to hire, it's entirely based on non-job-related philosophical questions.

There's also no review - you mention wanting to avoid nepotism, cargo culting, etc. but how do we know that you aren't doing that?

How do you ensure you are not applying bias (unconscious or not) to your hiring?

Studies have shown that most people hire people who are like them, which reduces diversity - and studies have shown that diversity is a net benefit to teams.

nepotism is a problem for me if people below me do it against my interests. it's also a problem for my superiors if i do it against their interests, but it is in my control and my responsibility so if i mess that up i have to deal with it myself.

the best way to avoid bias is to get recommendations from people outside who do not benefit from my choice.

if i hire people like me then asking those same people who else to hire will not help to improve diversity. the only way to improve diversity is to explicitly select for it. asking the team won't make much difference here.

the only time where asking the team is useful is when i want to make a technical evaluation, but even there i need to be careful that the feedback does not allow team members to reject candidates who are better than them.

A lot of what you're saying translates, at least in my reading of it, to "I don't trust the people that work for me". I don't know that I could work with a team like that.

It's worse..., it's: "I don't trust people that work for me, but my leadership should trust me".

There's no reciprocity of respect going on, it's all about "I'm perfect and everyone else is broken".

that is not what i meant. at a certain stage of growth in a company, hiring decisions are no longer made by the top leaders but are delegated downwards. leaders of divisions are empowered to make those decisions. if i am at the top i (or we, if it's a team of founders) will choose those leaders carefully, but then expect them to make their own hiring choices.

if i am one of those chosen leaders, then this is not "my leadership should trust me because i am good" but "i became a leader because they trust me"

if hiring is my responsibility then it's just that. i am responsible, hence i make the decisions. if i hire the wrong person, then i have to take the responsibility for that too.

if i ask my team, and follow their recommendation, it is still my responsibility.

that is a very good observation. one that wasn't even consciously on my mind. so thank you for pointing that out. you are right. i don't trust the people that work for me to understand what are the best hiring choices to achieve my companies vision. not yet, anyways.

but please consider where i am coming from:

i mainly work with junior engineers who don't have enough experience to judge others.

i work in a country where personal favors to friends and family are the cultural norm. it's not even considered corruption, it is expected, and almost required that someone recommends their friends or relatives regardless of the actual qualifications.

because of that, embellishments of qualifications is also common.

in order to trust someone with hiring recommendations i need to work with them for a while to be sure we understand each other and know the goals of our company. especially when it comes to decisions about diversity.

that said, if you can make a good case why we should hire someone, i am not going to dismiss that, but i'll listen. i'll consider recommendations, but i am not giving the team a vote. this is not a democracy.

You make some good points, but I would point out

> that said, if you can make a good case why we should hire someone, i am not going to dismiss that, but i'll listen. i'll consider recommendations, but i am not giving the team a vote. this is not a democracy.

Asking the people who work for you to talk to the person and give your their thoughts on them doesn't need it make it a democracy. But it can help you make better decisions.

As a parallel example, I commonly discuss issues of my project with others in my company; people outside the project (the reverse is also true). When it comes time to make a decision, it's _my_ decision, but having their insights allows me to make a better decision.

oh absolutely, getting insights from people outside is always very helpful and welcome. whether it's for hiring or other questions.

and of course for any technical decisions i do ask my team, because i want them to take ownership of their work. i'll have to have a good reason to override a teams preference on how to solve a problem.

with hiring it is rather that, unless i can't decide myself between multiple candidates, the teams input is not going to make much difference, and it might make things worse if they don't agree with my choice. (asking them and rejecting their preferred candidate feels worse than not asking)

> review applications > portfolio attachments or links > prior work > overlap with my needs and your needs

Maybe not exhaustive or rigorously scientific, but seems like there are plenty of valid data points that can be collected from these activities.

Funny. Just yesterday a young friend of mine was complaining about people who ask open-ended, philosophical questions that don't have anything to do with the job at hand. Some people over-analyze and then freeze on that kind of question. Doesn't mean they can't do the job.

Sure, it might not mean they can't do the job. But it might indicate they don't like working under pressure, they don't like learning new skills, they don't like working with women, or any other kind of bias or preference everyone has.

It turns out you are right, this certainly did end up telling us a lot about you.

I'd ask you to expand on this but I'm not sure I'd care for the answer. If you're judging me because I wouldn't want to hire folks who can't work with women, you may need some self reflection.

Did it again! I think you are mostly looking to hire yourself.

I find it highly unlikely that there's an open-ended, philosophical question that is really that likely to ferret out closet misogynists.

Wtf that has to do with working with women? Asking as woman whose e experience definitely is not that people must be philosophizing to be able to work with me. Nor comfortable with open ended questions.

In fact, plenty of women themselves would fail this test.

There is also nothing about your hiring that would not be biased. This sort of "let's chat and see how we feel about it" is the most biased way of inteviewing - it tends to produce hires that are from similar background, preferences and personality as interviewer.

Wow. Philosophical question does not mean desire to discuss Socrates vs Confucius and how different genders would be compatible of that.

It's about deeper, more open ended questions usually acting as ice breakers to understand their experience better and to steer into follow-up discussions and into more casual conversation. This will naturally lead to opening up more and revealing more about themselves. It's not the ability to answer the question, it's what the answer might be that potentially reveals any such bias. And yes, you will need to counter your own biases for this, but so will any interview format unless you are a robot.

I've met and worked with quite a few engineers who aren't comfortable working around women. They're typically very dismissive of them. Some conversation topics that surface these kind of details revolve around their experience with diverse teams and their opinions on meritocracy.

Again, as I said in a separate thread, I don't have a standard checklist of questions and just go with the flow of conversation.

How do you start these conversations?

For example, you ask "what du you think about meritocracy?"

I'm curious about some of the questions you ask / things you say to get the conversation going

(Btw seems a bit random to pick different topics with different people, then how can you compare?)

I try to keep things pretty playful, I have a bunch of ice breakers I've learned over the years (stranded on island, what do you bring, what would you do if you had a million dollars/what would you do if you had only one dollar). From there, I dig into things that may lead to more interesting dialogue. This sounds really one sided, but I try to provide my own input if the candidate doesn't ask for it (nerves, just shy, it's all good).

The more open I am, the more open they are, and we both leave with a better understanding.

I find your "playful" system interesting.

Personally, when I interview I try to observe the physiognomy of the subject. I look for defects like weak chins or sloping brows.

An informal survey of social opinions is also useful. If the candidate asks "How old is your grandmother?", he's inquiring after your Freemason's lodge number, which is a reliable sign of a good fellow.

As you say, you should always keep the atmosphere light and informal. A snifter of brandy, for example, never goes wrong.

Why so negative? I wonder if you didn't like some of the other things in that job application process -- but that doesn't mean that this part, about asking "unexpected philosophical questions" would be bad.

You'll meet the candidate anyway, right, for a walk, or over a lunch, and what are you going to talk about anyway, then. Might as well make that conversation a bit "deeper" so as to get more info about each other (goes both ways I suppose).

There are two issues:

1. a disrespect for psychological boundaries.

2. a system that seems primarily to probe for cultural markers.

Ok, sounds like (well, like you said) questions that speed up the getting to know each other process, in that one doesn't talk just about the weather and "what's your favorite language".

Seems like a useful tool, to me, if combined with more standard things like coding skill tests etc. Thanks for the idea.

Do you answer such questions too? If the candidate later asks you "What would you bring? And do with a million dollars"

As a women he responded to, I have met these people too.

Plenty of them who tell you from their own initiative, quite quickly. Like they could not wait for opportunity too tell me about my inferiority. So he likely does not have to fish all that much.

The other complicating factor is that people who are smooth and don't talk about these openly, pretty often are on practice even more biased. But in ways that are harder to prove, but do very real damage.

> Plenty of them who tell you from their own initiative, quite quickly

I wonder what are ways to trigger people to show off they have such opinions, during a job interview, but not come off as sexist oneself (in case instead they're kind and good judgement people)

> people who are smooth and don't talk about these openly, pretty often are on practice even more biased

I'm curious about if you have some examples

If they're smooth talkers, I'd guess you'd notice such things via what they do not what they say?

I get the first one (under pressure), but how do you get to the other ones?

You don't, not always. They are just examples of the kind of stuff you find out when you talk candidly with people. The kind of stuff no one puts on their resumes, but when you ask philosophical and hypothetical questions unrelated to the job you tend to find them.

Not all of them are bad, and some of them can be fixed, but it's naive to think the only relevant discussions are related to skills.

It sounds like you are looking for a friend.

Wow, I can't meet any of my coworkers, the interviewing process is totally opaque, and I'm quitting the job I already have for a two-week trial at your place? Where do I sign?

I don't think I'd be too thrilled, as a team member, with having zero input into the folks I'd be working with.

When you work with international applicants, it's not worth it (and not possible) to do their visa work for 30 days contracts. Most people won't relocate on the basis of 30 days contracts.

So this process doesn't really scale to companies competing for talent globally.

I've always worked on remote teams, so I don't see this as a problem (YMMV if you're onsite).

The obsessed guys devouring computer science books and maniacally solving leetcode exercises 24x7 are not going for a remote job. They want to change their life.

This is nonsense, because the "change your life" for the better factor is actually enhanced if you work remote instead of working for the same company in-office. Do you really think a leetcoder getting a job with a FAANG in the Philippines isn't going to have a dramatic financial, social, and status surge if he is working from his home country instead of relocating to the Bay Area, where he has to compete with all the other leetcoders for real estate and other resources?

Your company appears in LinkedIn search results but nobody lists it as an employer, either current or past. That tells me you probably don't hire many people, and therefore probably aren't very good at it.

I like your system.

I dont think theres any one perfect foolproof system but yours is closer to the "more good than bad" end.

I agree having their potential coworkers interview them is tricky and prone to traps. There are upsides to it, but downsides too -- depends on those individuals. For an applicant, one is very much walking thru a minefield where just one misstep or "thumbs down" can blow it up, and if that happens one's time gets wasted, and both sides can miss out. Its fine to result in "legit" rejections, but an ideal system tries to minimize the chance of bogus ones.

its tricky

Does this work better than the standard process? How do you evaluate whether it does?

Wow, that makes too much sense. It must be illegal.

The problem with that strategy is mainly just that you lose access to the best candidates, who won't accept a period of offer uncertainty because they have as many other solid offers as they care to take interviews. You run the real risk of biasing your process towards the worst candidates, who are constantly on the job market and are happy to take any shot they can get; that said, you also lessen the risk of one of those people getting into your company as a full hire, so it isn't all bad.

It's a great way to do "fresh out of school" hiring, though, where there's no meaningful signal to look at (grades and school are trash) and good people aren't self-selected out the way they are later.

How much are you going to know about a "fresh out of school" hire after 2 weeks, though? The less work experience they have, the longer it's going to take for them to really get up to speed and show that they will become valuable assets to the company. A 6-month contract might make sense there, but not a short-term one.

I just went through a job search and had most of the same experiences. I even had a recruiter, one that headhunted me, recommend an opportunity only to pause and remark that my experience as a business owner was a “problem”. I couldn’t help myself but to laugh and ask “then why did you call me to tell me how great of a fit I am???”

Add those experiences to daily visits to the bizarre, cargo-cult world of virtue signaling, victimhood, and motivational quotes that is LinkedIn and you have a recipe for career despair. LinkedIn is like Mos Eisley mixed with Initech from Office Space.

I hope I never have to job hunt ever again.

Personality tests are really not ok for a multitude of reasons. Almost always are they used to eliminate outliers or fish for personalities which are almost similar to the ones already present. Extremely ironic, as many personality tests emphasize people of different strengths cover weaknesses as long as they don't clash (personal favorite: companies only hiring happy-go-lucky people who won't question things, and then wonder why they critical issues aren't found).

Also, companies who "want to hire for inclusivity" but then eliminate candidates based on a few petty personality differences screams the opposite of inclusivity.

Having similar / compatible personalities within your team is absolutely critical.

Diversity is valuable in so far as having diverse skill sets or diverse backgrounds. Not diverse personalities.

There’s no value in putting people who won’t get a long together in a team. Forming a tight bond and shared culture is ideal.

>Not diverse personalities.

If everyone on a team has the same sort of personality, you run the risk they will all leave at about the same time for the same reasons, if they become dissatisfied.

If you have at least one 10x person with social phobia who hates interviews, then you can at least dump all the work on them.

I failed a personality test once, by which I mean I decided any company that gave a flowchart reading test for all programmers wasn't a "cultural fit" for me.

I feel for him but honestly what he's been through is small potatoes. Been looking in earnest for 1 month now. I've done about 10 take-homes, 20 codility-style, a couple personality and IQ ones, numerous screens...

Yes. Hiring is totally broken. And/or there is an glut of devs out there to the point where landing a decent offer is really hard if you're going the traditional way (i.e. not having someone from inside rooting for you).

My job market is EU.

I've been looking since the end of October, since getting laid off. Had quite a lot of interviews, passed the majority of technicals given, etc, but did not receive any offers. At the end of January I said fuck it and am now in the process of building the foundation for my small business. The job hunting process is incredibly disheartening and stressful, and I'd rather put that energy to use rather than waste.

US/NY market here

I've come to the same conclusion, that it's easier and more profitable to create and sell your own application than to do the hiring song and dance, especially in the long term.

Good luck if you think it is easier! By the way, have you created a profitable business before?

I have never made a profitable startup before, wish me luck.

I know, because if you had, you wouldn't have said it was easier than a stable job. Good luck becoming profitable before you run out of cash. And if you think getting a job is hard, wait till you try to raise money when you do run out of cash!

Not at all. Making a profitable business is super hard and you need a lot of luck. I have done it and it is hard work.

Best of luck with your endeavor.

If you have not done so already buy a copy of Cracking The Coding Interview and take a few weeks off applying anywhere to work your way through it. Most modern interviews are tests of how recently you have read this one book. Good luck!

That's not much of a problem. At least not for me. I pass most of these interviews. But still... Anyway. It's probably too early to get to conclusions but I just wanted to highlight that it has been abnormally hard, long and at times surreal up to now.

Where in the EU? Where would you be willing to move to? What role would you like to have?

Looking for either a remote or Germany-based role. Either SRE or Backend dev.

While going through the interview process for a government-owned agency tasked with developing IT products for my city, I was told that as per regulation I had to pass some kind of test organized by a third-party HR company.

The interviewer explaining that to me was like "we're sorry but you'll have to go through this test even though it's annoying, but that's the rule and we all had to" (big red flag).

So next week I went to that HR company expecting some kind of technical/programming assignment (it was a Python position). Instead had to take part in some weird theater play in which I was playing as a clerk at the municipal office. I was given 30 minutes to study documentation about an imaginary new regulation (related to noise pollution IIRC), and then some actor entered the room and pretended to be a stubborn and angry citizen complaining about that regulation.

After that confusing and embarrassing experience, I tried to explain that I didn't understand the point of this thing since I was applying to a programming job with no customer/citizen-facing component. But they were adamant that it was relevant, because it was a government job, and apparently everybody in government is a city clerk.

The full thing went on for 3 hours (I hadn't been informed it would take so long). As a compensation for my time I was given a tuna sandwich (I wish I was joking).

Sounds like it was a case of them trying to hire somebody who was smart enough to program in Python but too passive or desperate to walk out on a test it was clearly irrelevant.

Did you end up taking the job?

No, don't know if it was because of this test (I did complain when they asked me for my opinion of the test). I found something else some time later and I think I dodged a bullet.

I think the blame for this test might lie on government mismanagement rather than the would-be actual employer. There is a rule making vetting by a 3rd company mandatory in the hiring process (to avoid nepotism), but they do the same kind of test for completely unrelated kind of government jobs. I have two friends who had to go through something similar when interviewing for a different local government employer (not IT-related for them, but still unrelated to a clerk job).

>Work as a contractor because the company forgot I said I’d be moving and didn’t want to file the paperwork in two states. At the time, I did not know the school or state of my wife’s residency.

That seems extremely reasonable to me.

Last time I was looking, there was a lot of bullshit, but I just ignored it. There are (and always will be) a lot of stupid, difficult people out there. Life will always be miserable if you feel obliged to do what they ask.

That said, one that really pissed me off was asking me to record a self-interview.

I'm fine doing some quick screens that might help weed out spam resumes. But to blatantly say "our time is more valuable than yours" is pretty ludicrous given the state of the labor market.

> That seems extremely reasonable to me.

I actually agreed to do this. I was willing to contract for a a few months until we moved. Didn't matter :(

One of the things: "Enter my years of experience with “Problem Solving.” I am 28 years old, so I put 28."

I don't know, there were a few years in my early 20s when I just avoided problem solving the best I could.

So avoiding problem solving is a problem you solved?

Every “personality quiz” I took for the military I “popped” on and had to talk to a psych doc. After the third time, having no history of killing animals as a child or other aberrant behavior, I asked the doc, “why am I here?”

“Your answers were too normal, indicating you’re hiding something”

Can’t win with these guys hahahaha

I remember an exam in our probability class. Bayes, and all. The problem gave the probability of hitting a rabbit, but asked to compute the probability of killing the rabbit given certain premises.

I answered that there was no way to know, given that hitting the animal and killing the animal were not the same thing. Semantics matter. One of the professors was really into that debate (during the exam) and said I was right. The other said "What are you talking about... It's a rabbit". I asked what if I hit the rabbit in its tail or foot. He said "It's a rabbit", then curved his hand to mime a rabbit's foot, and said "if you hit the rabbit here, he'll die". I said what's the probability of the rabbit dying given you hit the foot?

The other professor taunted him saying I was technically right.

Anyway... I wrote that, for the exam, we'll consider that any hit is considered lethal, then proceeded to answer the question.

what's the probability of the rabbit dying given you hit the foot?

A rabbit who can’t run is easy prey for a fox or a buzzard so... pretty high?

The probability of a rabbit dying is 1. Can't change that.

Depends which foot then, I suppose. Probably a rabbit missing a rear foot is going to have a real hard time getting around, but one missing a front foot may be better able to adapt. We'll probably need to do a study to know for sure.

The probability of a rabbit dying is 1. Can't change that.

Right, I mean as a direct result of your hit, not in old age of myxomatosis, having had many baby bunnies

To avenge him

That came up in the "debate" when I was explaining my position :-D

The probability of any rabbit dying is 100%, eventually.

What questions did the psych doc ask?

(Apparently included something about your childhood and animals?)

My ideal hiring system has the following properties:

1) When I am looking for a job, I get to work with people who are better than me and who will raise me up to their level.

2) When I am looking to fill a job, I get to work with people who are better than me and who will raise me up to their level.

At a first glance this suggests that my ideal hiring system doesn't exist. Thanks to multidimensionality that's not necessarily true, but it's not necessarily false either.

Thanks to multidimensionality, I'd say it's totally false. You can hire someone, or be hired by, someone who will raise your level via leadership, emotional skills, salesmanship, writing skills, and a million other "soft" things, besides the universe of technical skills that exist. I would think you only need someone to be better than you at one thing to make them a worthwhile hire or coworker.

I've had similar experiences across my career. If you have any self-esteem the process is a sad joke. It's amazing how many outfits - recruiters and hiring companies - don't realize how many yellow and red flags they emit in the most basic of interactions.

I have a phrase I like to repeat: How you hire is who you hire.

> It's amazing how many outfits - recruiters and hiring companies - don't realize how many yellow and red flags they emit in the most basic of interactions.

It's like an reverse "cast a wide net" type of situation, where the net is tiny and full of holes, but there are so many desperate people out there that they still catch enough candidates with it to never question their methods.

Right. "There aren't any good candidates," they typically say. Actually, there are. But not if they go about it they way they do, and keep doing. It's like saying, "There aren't any fish." And then casting the net back into your toilet.

I'm curious about how an interview process would work, if you got to design it? What elements would it include, and not include

Well, it would be more conversational for starters. That is, it's _not_ about hiring but fit - for all parties involved.

For example, "Tell us why we should hire you." The classic closing question. Fair enough. But then I get to ask, "Tell me why I should want to have a career here," should be fair game. It's not.

I've sat through far too many (traditional) interviews where they have a "you need us more than we need you" mindset. Ironic, eh. That's a cultural red flag. Just one example, btw.

Culture matters. And it comes out in how you hire. And that determines who you hire, who you retain, or more importantly don't retain.

Ok, thanks for sharing

> (traditional) interviews where they have a "you need us more than we need you" mindset

That's with coding interviews and such things, if I were to guess?

"How you hire is who you hire." I like that. Reminds me of "You optimize what you measure".

The thing is that they can do it. It's a buyers market - that is if you consider sellers the people selling their know-how and time for a living.

>The cognitive test actually made me laugh. Imagine a workplace where someone yells, “Nazario! Get over here, we need someone add some fractions! No calculators!!!”

Wait, that person calling him over must be an imposter - surely they had to pass the same cognitive test!

It's actually just a long-con truth test to easily catch any false-positives that got through the process ;)

Should we interpret a problematic hiring process as a red flag about the company in general? Any stories showing the opposite (i.e. poor hiring process at a great company to work for)?

Without naming names, good companies can absolutely have sub-optimal hiring processes (at least in some cases) for various reasons. I didn't experience it. But then I didn't go anywhere near normal channels.

Generally, I'd say no, but it probably depends on the types of problems.

Companies have areas of expertise and areas of weakness - their hiring process might be a weakness, but that doesn't necessarily mean that working for the company will be all bad.

That said, the hiring process is a view into the company culture, and if the view of the culture you get is not good, then working for the company is probably not going to be great.

Honestly reading about this ,none of this sounds any bad. There are worse interviews where you make videos of yourself answering questions about yourself and posting them on anonymous servers.

Then on the other side of the spectrum is the whole leetcode thing where you solve 3-4 leetcode hard questions in 45 minutes while someone is staring and judging you for asking clarifications on questions.

> Anyway, hiring is broken, we all know it.

I don’t get why people says X is broken. When processes work exactly as designed. It’s just shitty processes.

I fail "personality tests" because I am, in fact, not average, and because I don't care enough to lie on them.

I always feel like I can pick the answers that indicate the competitive, Type-A, entrepreneurial types of people that the hiring company is looking for. But I'm told the tests are actually rigged to detect that. So who knows? I've only had one job where something like that was part of the screening process.

I'm curious if there's anything more advanced to detect lying than "you scored too high"

They ask multiple questions meant to determine the same thing.

In a world built on lies, truthsaying is seditious.

If you're just average then that raises suspicion, too.

> I accepted a position with a company that had a sane, speedy hiring process.

The consultancy can hire quickly because they can immediately bill you out. It doesn't mean they're a better/more efficient employer or whatever. But I can understand OP's frustration.

Would have liked to have seen in the article what this 'sane, speedy hiring process' was

I wanted to keep my post short but it was a couple rounds of interviews.

- Initial phone screen explaining my career

- Technical conversation with team lead where we talked about the tools that would be used in the job

- Soft skill screen where we talked about how to handle workplace scenarios

- Final interview with cofounder with some technical content, some cultural

What Klarna does is immediately send you some sort of IQ test after you apply. Needless to say, I failed miserably. At least now I know that I'm cognitively challenged.

Nope. That's a skill as well. Practice a bit and you'll be flying through them.

They never responded to my application so I’m even dumber than that

I'll go through a lot of bullshit for an interview but one thing I absolutely refuse to do is personality tests.

That is the ultimate red flag in my mind.

Godaddy gave me an iq test. That was nuts.

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