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    Unfortunately, @michaelochurch seems to have removed his post, but in one of his long ones he had a small quote that I think is quite good in this context:

    The claptrap about technical excellence is marketing

    I’ve worked at several companies, every one of them fall into this “only hire the best” attitude with absolutely zero introspection on what that means or how it is accomplished and most importantly: if they even need the best.

    On top of the “we only hire the best” attitude, the internal mantra is almost always about how whoever is working there is the best (they got hired, right?) regardless of what those teams are actually accomplishing. In many ways, I feel like the software industry is going through what many people talk about with kids days. Rather than face the harsh reality that maybe they aren’t the best, or even that good, and need to work at becoming better, many companies seem to put a lot of effort into making sure no employee feels like anyone else is better than them, and much more that they aren’t worse than anyone else.</rant>

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      I don’t think it’s so much “everyone is special” as it is internal marketing (kinda back to what moc said).

      If you are a company that says “We hire programmers that are good enough to do what we need done”, you tend to have two problems: first, hotshot programmers don’t think highly of you because you’ve admitted that you don’t really care about programming unto itself (though few actually do, they at least hide it); and second, then the question becomes “is your business stable/successful enough that you know you don’t need programmers?”.

      Most companies (especially startups) are at an utter loss for the question of the second part.

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      … but the one thing I keep coming back to, that I believe has enduring value in almost all situations, is the audition project:

      The most significant shift we’ve made is requiring every final candidate to work with us for three to eight weeks on a contract basis.

      I don’t doubt it’s effectiveness at generating a realistic work sample, but I can’t imagine ageeing to a multi-week project as part of an interview. Even if I were between jobs, just one of these projects would uncomfortably limit my time for generating competing offers. Maybe I’m an outlier, but I have the feeling this would really shrink the application pool, retraining those who are more desperate or star-struck.

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        Shrinking the application pool may be acceptable or even desirable, if they’re telling themselves that they’re eliminating the not-best applicants…