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    Everyone agrees interviewing is broken; no one agrees on the fix.

    In my younger years, I failed multiple interviews by virtue of knowing more than the interviewer. The #1 advice I give to younger devs is to think less about the problem and more about what the interviewer wants to know.

    I’d love to tell my 19 year-old self that if you qualify a statement with “…assuming hash table operations are constant,” some people will take that as “Of course hash table operations are constant! Silly kid” and not as “Everyone knows hash table’s are log-time, but O(1) is a useful fiction.”

    The OP’s suggestions sound like an expensive way to hire very junior devs. My current philosophy is: There are so many things to be an expert in that you never want to be in a position where the lead can always tell a team member how to build or fix something. Everyone needs to have the skills and initiative that they can dig into a part of the system and say “I have a 10x better way of doing this.”

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      1. Bring them in for a few days, see if they can set up the dev environment, assign them some bugs nobody else wants to fix, have them meet everyone.
      2. Pay them.
      3. Decide if you want to keep paying them.

      This is, of course, the obvious way to select people for any field, not just programming. The problem is that if you won’t do 6 then few candidates will want to do 5 (they can’t leave their job to come in for a few days) and companies seem allergic to 7 (which is essential for 6).

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        In the UK, it’s pretty common for new employees to start with a period of ‘probation’ (typically a few months, though it can vary), during which the notice period is much shorter (e.g. a week’s notice, for both sides), so there’s less commitment until the employer and employee are satisfied that they’re a good match. I suspect some companies don’t take full advantage of probation (i.e. they think of it as a backup in case they make a hiring mistake, rather than an opportunity to try someone they’re not sure about after interview), but some do.

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        My personal experience from the last two jobs (as both interviewer and interviewee), was that interviewing in a relaxed manner (drinking coffee, going for a walk) and talking about prior experience, challenges and current interests in technology, tools, etc. works quite well. It cannot replace actual coding ability, for a lot of people having a conversation rather than a test seems to be a better indicator of potential (if not necessarily raw skill).

        This does require the interviewer to be in a good state of mind and does not lend itself well to “bulk” interviewing, but for small companies looking for a few good candidates I found it to work well.

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          What interviewing should be, since nobody seems to know how to hire anyone in this field

          Are there any companies that follow these guidelines? Or is every place hell to get into?

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            I’ve met some who did this, and it worked remarkably well for a while, but at some point, stopped being scaleable. For this to work, you need your team(s) to be on board, and have the resources to work with potential hires. There will be quite a lot who fail miserably after a day or two, thus wasting the teams time. There will be much fewer, who ace through it and make the team go “whoa!” to even the balance. Sooner or later, motivation declines, and the few days you bring in potential hires becomes a drag for everyone.

            Unless, of course, you only need to hire a few people, and then not hire for a long period of time. That works for smaller shops, but once you have 1000+ employees, there will always be a pretty constant flux, new people coming and leaving every couple of months. That’s frequent enough to disrupt the teams that are involved in the hiring process.

            At least, that’s what I saw. At one place, I was hired like this, I took part of similar processes, but it became old, and annoying very fast. It took away time from doing our actual jobs, which increased frustration and stress. :/

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          1. Interviewing is Broken via av 6 years ago | 3 points | no comments