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Ask HN: Interview mistakes startups/companies make that cost them the candidate?
7 points by SkyMarshal on Mar 23, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments
Plenty of folks at HN experienced with technical interviewing from both sides of the table. What mistakes do interviewers make that result in the candidate passing on the company/opportunity?

If people give me a programming test or assignment before the interview, I usually pass now. I am currently employed and don't have time to waste on a stupid pre-interview screening test. It's also insulting.

Do you mind if I ask why you find it insulting? During my last job search such tests were pretty typical. We use one as part of the screening process at my current job. It's just a low pass filter and saves us from wasting time on someone that looks good on paper but can't actually do the job well.

It's insulting for an experienced candidate who graduated with honors. The interview pre-screening test says that I'm not worth 15 minutes of your time on a phone screen to figure out if I'm competent or not. If my experience and education doesn't justify 15 minutes of your time interviewing me, then you are disrepecting me by making me pass an additional test, USUALLY LESS MEANINGFUL THAN THOSE I TOOK IN SCHOOL, for the privilege of MAYBE getting a chance to talk to you. (There are lots of times I did the stupid screening test AND STILL NO ON-SITE INTERVIEW.)

Even more insulting, someone just gave me a multiple-choice personality pre-screening test, the "Predictive Index" (http://www.piworldwide.com/solutions/predictive-index-system...). Fuck you for asking that. I know I'm "INTJ". If you aren't a complete social retard, you could figure that out by talking to me for a few minutes. The next time someone gives me the Wonderlic test, I walk out of the interview. Also, I know that only a corporation run by twits would ask such a thing, so I'm not missing anything by passing.

Interestingly, it's gotten better since I started contracting/consulting. The key seems to be when you're interviewing with someone non-technical, instead of someone who likes to show off by asking obscure language trivia questions on interviews.

I've known plenty of CS majors that couldn't write good code when they graduated. There are plenty of people with years of experimce that also aren't very good. I don't know anyone that can judge your abilities just from reading your résumé.

For the written screen my current company uses it does take time from an experienced engineer to assess it. It doesn't mean you're not worth 15 minutes of time. It means we'd like to spend the 15 minutes deciding if we want to put you on the phone with two engineers for an hour.

Interviewing and hiring is expensive and time consuming. Can you blame companies for trying to weed people out as early and cheaply as possible? If you can't write a production quality version of fizz buzz why would I want to talk to you? When you end up on the other side of the table asking the interview questions you see that those stupid programming assignments, that any second year CS student should be able to do, have value.

Knowing you're INTJ isn't useful. Obscure language gotcha questions aren't useful. Knowing if you comment your code is. I think you've been through some bad written screening tests. That doesn't mean that they can't have value as part of the interview process.

There are other means of finding out if someone can code other than taking a test. A list of projects, apps, or code on github would be a better gauge for filtering for higher quality candidates.

Yes, but people who work on proprietary codebases can't post their portfolio on the internet.

This is true but there are many people who do projects outside of employment.

I wouldn't call it a mistake but when I'm interviewing I look for a good fit. There are lots of reasons why a company or position in a company might not be a good fit. If you're interviewing and people decide that they're not a good fit that's probably a good thing. It's better for them to not take the job than for them to be unhappy and leave six months or a year later.

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