About the interview room series

time to read 4 min | 688 words

The posts about our interviews seems to have strike a nerve in some people. So I thought I would respond here to all the comments at once.

Some stats about our hiring process:

  • We worked with 2 recruitment agencies, looking for a 5+ years experience in C#/.NET, Server Side work, OSS experience / NoSQL experience, multi threading, TCP/IP, REST…
  • We got 23 CVs to review, and did phone interviews for most of them.
  • We actually interviewed 9 candidates, had 3 potential hires and made an offer to 2 of them.

Unprofessional – I don’t know about you, but a large part of running a business is finding good people. And having people that are severely under qualified show up is a problem. In the same way that I talk about problems in code or silly patterns or horrible processes, the part about hiring people is just as important. I am quite careful about not giving away any details, but that is about it. I’ve had people comment that I am gloating. But nothing could be further from the truth, if anything, those are mournful posts. Because if that is the state of the industry…

Those are insulting questions – a few people said that they thought that the questions were insulting. Look at the numbers, we had two thirds of the people fail to answer them. I had a candidate with 13+ years of experience who looked quite promising get up and leave mid interview because the candidate couldn’t solve a string sort problem with full internet access. I had people submit code that made my eyes bleed.  And I think that people don’t understand something about those questions. The coding questions won’t get you hired. The coding questions are there to keep you from getting hired. The assumption is that you should be able to solve those questions blindfolded while dancing the cha-cha and typing with your left earlobe.

Due to the large number of people who can talk the talk but not walk the walk, I am assuming all candidates incompetent until proven otherwise. And yes, I absolutely agree that this is a sad state of affairs.

Those are not relevant questions – “In these days on the Internet, I'm not at all sure I do care someone knows how to sort a string.” Well, we are building databases, we actually care quite a lot about things like sorting. But leaving that aside, we don’t actually care how you do the sorting. Most candidate uses List<T>.Sort, and that was fine. But I think that the key point is, if you have internet access and an hour, and you can’t implement a sort algorithm, you don’t get to work here.

You should be mentoring them, not discouraging them – I think that someone just missed a turn in the road to reality. I didn’t show up at a Teach Kids to Program and laughed at their inability to do three stars code. I was conducting interviews for a senior position. That meant that I was limiting candidates to 5+ years experience. Actually going through the interview process cost us. A lot. It effectively shut us down for a day or two, and took about three full days just to do the interviews.  There is a serious cost here.

And having people that are drastically unqualified show up and take our time is a very costly waste. Look at the number above. Out of 23 people, I posted about 3, because they crossed all the limits that I can think of. In contrast, we had a bunch of other people we talked to or even interviewed that didn’t make the cut for being potential hires. They weren’t bad by any means, but they just weren’t what we were looking for.

I am not sorry, if you don’t show up ready to answer stuff that a first year student should be able to, you are cheating. Certainly me, and probably yourself. At that point, I’m going to stop wasting my time and move on to more productive avenues.