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I don't get it -- was this at an operating company hiring people, or at the author's recruiting company (which seems to be a depressingly common way to hire people in Europe)?

If a recruiting company is so incompetent as to require personality profiling, and worse, enforce it so rigidly, it would explain why Europe lags so far behind the US in tech startups, despite having at least as many (if not substantially more) brilliant developers per capita.

If it's an operating company, then it maybe explains why European companies use recruiting agencies so much. Still seems like a huge tax on companies -- having decent internal HR would go a long way.

It was at a (large/medium sized) company I used to work at, not the company I work for at the moment (recruiter). To be honest my interview for this position was just a really good conversation - my interviewer started out with a bunch of technical questions and eventually I said to him "Don't you have anything harder?". And then after that we just chatted about tech, it ended with him saying "I'll give the good news to your recruiter"

I wonder if recruiters recruiting recruits for recruiting are substantially better at it than when the same recruiters recruit for clients -- the way real estate agents tend to be substantially better when selling their own houses vs. for clients, and how doctors tend to make better medical decisions (less painful, better holistic outcomes, less cost) for themselves or family vs. regular patients.

Maybe part of it is that a recruiter should fully understand the role of a recruiter, but very few really understand the developer/devops/etc. roles they recruit for.

I wonder if recruiters recruiting recruits for recruiting are substantially better at it than when the same recruiters recruit for clients

Here in the UK that's called 'rec to rec' and I promise you, they are generally shockingly bad. If you think tech recruiters are incompetent and greedy then you would be horrified at the standard of rec to rec.

In my experience Agency recruiting (on behalf of another recruiting agency) is indeed usually done because the original recruiting agency couldn't fulfill the entire contract. So they find whoever will give them the highest markup from the smaller agencies and contract it out to them.

Kind of like picking the lowest possible bidder for a construction contract, it doesnt usually go well.

This has not been my experience - this is not intended as a slur against my employer (who are fairly awesome). But when you're in a recruitment company you get to see all the processes and the problems with those processes. I would probably recommend that all companies do their own recruitment.

it would explain why Europe lags so far behind the US in tech startups

The primary reason Europe lags behind is the substantial lack of investors & VC's.

The case highlighted by the author is typical of large corporates but if you look at any decent tech company in London for example, this case would sound ridiculous and extreme.

It's not the lack of invetors and VCs in Europe - it is the lack of ability to invest in RISKY companies - the very definition of "startup".

European investors are just bankers (with a few exceptions).

lol. London does quite a lot of risky financial shit.

Also you might have heard of a little company kicking the shit out of Intel... ARM. Based in Cambridge UK, that is also where most tech investments in Europe are happening (not London or Berlin).

Also, Germany and Switzerland are much more quiet and private about investments. You won't hear about many of them.

These days you can invest in a UK startup, and have the government pick up 100% of the tab if it fails. Not to mention insane tax breaks (100%+) for r&d and for exploiting patents. The UK already has crowd equity.

If you get all your news from YC then you're probably stuck in the silly valley echo chamber.

Don't developers in London get paid crap though? I've heard horror stories about ridiculously low London salaries here on Hackernews. Are the low salaries just because their is a surplus developer talent in the UK?

It really depends on your definition of crap. London dev salaries range from £24k for absolute juniors to £120k+ for the top 2%. Contractors fare substantially better. In my recruiter days I placed a Python developer who had experience with a particular trading system on a contract with a large trading firm. His contract was £1,100 per day for 6 months.

Keep in mind the other notable differences between here and the US such as free health care, a larger number of paid holidays etc.

Yeah, that's definitely a possible rate. A high end one though. I think contract rates for Python devs average around 500/day ($772 USD). Base salary seems to average at 45-50k.

Also bonuses. Bonuses in London can be 100% of salary or more.

National health insurance is not really free in the UK... but UK contractors pay less tax than US ones generally. German freelancers get paid more, but pay more tax (and get more holidays).

Developers outside of London can earn less, but many prefer it.

And a much higher cost of living...in London its insane.

How much you pay in London really depends on how/where you want to live. It's far cheaper if you're happy to spend an hour or more commuting each way.

I need to earn £50k to cover just childcare costs and the mortgage (looking forward to both of those going down soon). I could sell up and buy a similar property 5 miles away and those costs would both halve. I could sell up and buy a similar property 10 miles away and have no mortgage at all. Neither of those would make us happier as a family (no matter how much I'd love to have no mortgage); we want to live where we're living now, so I just get on with it.

100+k only really applies for people who work in finance... it's pretty hard to crack 60-70k as a salaried employee.

I disagree. We have a handful of senior devs being paid in excess of £70k. There are plenty of non-finance companies paying similar salaries. £80k-£90k is relatively common for a senior developer in London.

Another way to see things is that the US, and especially Silicon Valley, have ridiculously high salaries. I'd say that compared to the rest of Europe, developer salaries in London are probably on the high side.

The service prices (health, education, banking, communications, etc) are generally much lower than in the US, though, so it's hard to get an accurate comparison of cost-of-life.

UK Developers seem to have no idea what they are worth, and work for peanuts. IMHO.

The varied answers you get about London salaries is because the financial industry pays pretty well, competitive with SV or NY money. Everyone else gets paid peanuts. Or goes contracting like me.

I was speaking to a Welsh comp-sci grad who was moving to London to be a programmer, for £19,000 p.a.

There's something mysterious about the low wages for programmers.

Please tell me more about "have the government pick up 100% of the tab if it fails". I'm aware of some incubators here and there (which are mostly a way to create artificial markets for well-connected "advisors" and Euro-funded "trainers"), and I know about the new R&D legislation (which is mainly benefiting BigCo, like anything else patent-related), but I don't see how you could drop the whole bill of your private enterprise on the Chancellor.

If you invest under a certain threshold you can actually deduct the full amount from taxes in case of failure. Don't recall the details, but it makes for a pretty sweet deal for angel investors.

If it's fully tax deductible, then you simply don't pay tax on that amount (not reduce your payable tax by that). It saves you about a third of the money, but doesn't make it risk-free.

I was thinking about the EIS scheme. There's some explanation here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_Investment_Scheme

I believe the most important part is this:

If EIS shares are disposed of at any time at a loss, such loss can be set against the investor's capital gains or his income in the year of disposal.

So basically, if you take a loss, you can deduct it against any other gains you have.

Exactly, so what it says is if you have 10.000 loss on share-A, and 10.000 capital gain on share-B, then you can set the loss against your gain and not pay tax on that 10k of income. I.e., purely for the share-A you still lose the 10.000 but gain a "tax credit" worth some % [whatever your rate is] of that. A common misunderstanding is that you'd get "tax credit" of 10.000, which you don't.

Yeah, I didn't mean to say it was the sole reason or even a primary reason, but it's a contributing factor. The risk-averse culture (investment and employees), and lack of exemplars of successful entrepreneurs (vs. going into banking, government, etc.) is probably the biggest problem.

I get the general perception top tier Sand Hill VCs are now willing to invest in Series B or later (and some Series A) in Europe. Costs have dropped, even in Europe, so you can get pretty far on $50-100k in savings for a seed round. So the big problem in the long term is probably risk-aversion in hiring, vs. raising money.

Agree with the first bit.

Doubtful about the second bit - beaurocracy seems to become magnified in London.

Magnified in large London corporates yes but there are only a tiny percentage of 'decent tech companies' that fit that criteria.

I was referring to the likes of Facebook UK, Google, Badoo, Songkick, etc.

I was interested in applying for a job here in Norway, but it turned out the company had 2-3+ interviews (which would mean spending the day at their offices) over several months, as well as some sort of IQ test and other things.

That was in the spring and they expected to have picked out some people by the end of summer.

I didn't apply, mostly because I am happy where I am, but also because a 3-5 month interview process is completely ridiculous.

The entire process just put me off from applying. If they can't talk to me once or twice and look at my resume/past projects then I do not know if I want to work there. I understand the need to find the right people, but there are limits to how many hoops I care to jump through to get the honour of working in their company.

Is this a common practice?

I can understand if you have another job and end up interviewing somewhere else while working, but if I was without a job I probably wouldn't be able to wait 5 months for someone to decide I've passed their tests.

My friend ended up applying and he was also one of the few that got hired, which is why I've heard a bit more about their process than I think I normally would.

I think using a recruiting company is more common around here. Where I work now, quite a few of us have started out working part time (as I am now) through a recruiting process, and occasionally those who work full time get picked up by our company to work directly.

My boss worked the same position I work in now, back when he was in university.

> Is this a common practice?

Yes. Looks like 3 Interviews, 3-5 months of interview process is pretty normal in Europe. I have applied for a job in Norway as well once.

> I can understand if you have another job and end up interviewing somewhere else while working, but if I was without a job I probably wouldn't be able to wait 5 months for someone to decide I've passed their tests.

Well there is another common practice that if you are unemployed without a serious reason (freelancing, relocation, family matters etc.) you are turned down immediately by a logic "If he couldn't get a job, something must be wrong with him". That's even worse if you were unemployed for a prolonged period of time.

> you are turned down immediately by a logic "If he couldn't get a job, something must be wrong with him"

It's even worse, even if you freelance most people will assume there is something very wrong with you to the point that they are not turned down, but not even considered for the job.

> Is this a common practice?

I've gone through two interview processes in Norway – none of them took longer than ten days and I can't say I have heard about anyone else that has been through months-long processes either. (I'm a software engineer.)

>Is this a common practice?

No, a 3-5 month interview process is not common.

I interviewed for Sybase here in Portugal, and the process took about 3-4 months as well, after which I dropped out of it before getting an answer. The interviews didn't take a full day, though, just a couple of hours each.

The main reason we lag so far behind is that most of us don't have a "Let's do something prone to failure and find out if it will actually work!" mentality. In general we pay too much attention to thoughts and too little to feelings when it comes to business ventures. Add to that a dash of extreme risk avoidance and you've got the perfect recept for a very weak startup culture. Of course, the ones who are the opposite of that get struck down relentlessly by the collective mentality.

These wacko interviewing processes are just another symptom of this. Don't think any comptetent business leader actually believe these scores matter at all. In the end it's just another safeguard against (gasp!) taking a risk.

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