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Ask Programming Superstars: Do you have to interview?
19 points by freework 923 days ago | 11 comments
This is aimed at those of you out there who are programming superstart. That is to say, people with popular open source projects with 1000+ github stars.

When you start a new job, do you have to go through the interview process? Do those companies make you bang out FizzBuzz on a whiteboard in front of the team? Or do they just pretty much take the fact that you authored a popular project as an endorsement of your technical skills?




If you're at the superstar level you don't generally apply for a job, you get headhunted. Typically someone who you know will be used to reach out to you to setup an informal conversation to test interest which is generally followed up with meetings with other senior staff, etc. before a formal offer is made.

References are generally taken much more seriously at that level as well (i.e. taken from mutual acquaintances who have incentives to be open).

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Yes, for two reasons. Almost all bad hires come from some exception to the hiring rules. If everyone goes through the same process it limits that risk. I wouldn't want to work at a company that didn't seriously and exhaustively vet candidates.

The second reason is cultural fit. You're going to be spending a lot of time with these people, you want to make sure you're going to get along.

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I completely agree with this. I would be very hesitant to join a company that doesn't do a thorough job at evaluating potential employees, even if they have a sparkling reputation this would be a huge red flag for me.

As well an interview to me is two way. As much as the company is evaluating wether I am a good fit for the company, I'm evaluating wether the company is a good fit for me. If I am actually good enough that I should be offered the job without an interview then I certainly should be good enough to prove it in an interview.

Also anybody who feels above going though a company's interview process should be a massive red flag as an employer.

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Absolutely, many people don't realize that interviews are a two way street. Not only is the company interviewing you to assess your technical skills and cultural fit, but you are interviewing the company as well to see whether you'd like to work there.

If you're a "superstar" (I don't really like that term), you want to work with other talented individuals. So if the interview process is non-existent or overly easy, it sends a negative signal about the "potential" quality of other hires.

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I'm not referring to the high level conversations that occur between company and employee. I'm more referring to the "nuts and bolts" process of doing fizzbuzz and writing out binary tree parsers and things like that.

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I've often wondered what it was like, for example, for Google to recruit Eric Brewer. I would imagine it was something similar to http://www.quora.com/How-Was-X-Recruited-to-Facebook/How-did... , but it could really be anything.

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I've only been on one job interview where the hiring manager looked at my github account prior to the interview

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If there is any on line code I can reference I will always take a look. Looking at someones code is a great way to see how they approach and structure problems. The code as well as the problems they choose to tackle tell a great deal about the candidates level of maturity and the kind of code that they are going to write once they start working with you. One of the last candidates I interviewed, when I was corporate, was a great talker but when I looked at his code on github it was full of AbstractDefaultFactoryProxyDecoratorBuidler's...Mehhhh, my boss hired him and loved him anyways (and now he's working at LinkedIn, so what do I know)....But he did fill up our code with the above types of garbage classes.

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Same. Nobody gives a shit about your open source stuff on Github unless you are known for some other reason already. It's worth commenting on because of how often job seekers are told "do Open Source," as if this were an actual advantage in practice

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I always check github when it's included. It's a great way to determine a person's follow through, ability to organize a problem (or set of problems), code quality.

Oftentimes, the great coders are so anal about the code they write, that it's highly refined, well organized and thorough (mostly because they can't attach their name to bad code, especially when it's public). Those are the guys you really want on your team.

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That surprises me - if I get a resume with a github url on it, I always look at it. Maybe it would be different if they all did, but to me it signifies that they do interesting stuff.

Of course, I've gotten ones with a github url with no repos in it or some piddly little thing, and that sends a different signal.

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