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    This is very hard to do because of liability. Any hiring decision is going to involve some subjective component but a candidate who is rejected may be able to take you to court if there is bias in the process and this bias is the reason that they are rejected. The more information that you give them, the easier it is for them to substantiate a claim of bias especially if you put it in writing.

    In my ideal world, we’d be able to define a set of objective criteria for the people that we want to hire and design an objective assessment that let us rank our candidates based against this metric with a reasonably high level of confidence. The industry has a very long way to go before we’re there: even the first step of informally defining what we want is hard (what three characteristics are most important for a good software engineer?). As a result, almost every hiring decision is going to be open to accusations of bias.

    Given how much companies spend on hiring, I wish they’d spend more on identifying the measurable skills and characteristics that correlate with good performance. This is hard to do though because the current set of employees are there as the result of a biassed selection process and so it’s hard to find the things with a causal relationship to performance. A few years back, Amazon tried to filter submitted CVs based on an AI model trained on their existing staff and found that it was rejecting qualified women because they don’t have many women in their engineering staff.

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      I tried giving feedback about ten years ago. Almost every ex-candidate took it as an invitation to demonstrate that I was wrong. The worse the interviewed candidate was, the more insistent they became.

      On the other hand: I workshopped a want ad for a sysadmin with a bunch of current and former sysadmins who did not work for me. That was an incredibly helpful process.

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        A few candidates do take rejection rather badly, and with a few I felt they were baiting our patient HR person so that she would lose her temper and let something slip, and then they could have something over us. Fortunately, she vented to us (the engg team doing the interviews) about their rudeness instead.

        “So hard not to engage,” was how she put it, and she was right, because the emails were full of button pushing.

        Thing is, it made us even more convinced that the rejection was correct, because we would be working with that person. Lack of technical knowledge you can train, but a bullying character is harder to accommodate and more harmful to the team.

        That said, feedback is extremely useful, not only to newer candidates, and it is a signal both ways.

        I’m not tech genius, but I have experience working with version control systems, continuous integration, debuggers etc. - things you just get to know when you’ve been coding for a decade or two. I once got feedback from a third party recruiter about an interview (this is from the time when the job market was hot, and recruiters were pampering candidates a bit by calling back after rejections too). The feedback was that I was terrible at everything related to software.

        If I was more insecure/inexperienced, I would have panicked and questioned my life choices, but having been around the block a bit, I realized it meant that a) either it was a terrible fit or b) the person doing the interview was not someone I’d want to work with (same as a, actually).

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          “So hard not to engage,” was how she put it

          And on the other side: I’ve only received feedback after one rejection, and it was useful, but it also made me realize an interviewer had misinterpreted one situation. It was so hard to not try to correct the record!

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          Yeah people who can receive the feedback are the ones you probably didn’t reject..

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          what three characteristics are most important for a good software engineer?

          Patience, simplicity and compassion… it’s in the dao.

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          I actually got a lot of feedback in my most recent round of interviewing this spring. Every final-round rejection I got (three of them, in total), the recruiter or hiring manager called me to personally deliver feedback from the team. Found it super helpful, not least because the feedback was remarkably consistent between all three and made my areas for improvement very clear. I also saw it as a positive culture signal for those companies – but ironically, one I only got once it was too late.

          So I think the industry is moving toward this, as software companies finally develop more mature hiring processes. I’ll note also that all of these places (as well as the one whose offer I accepted) had “practical” exercises in their coding rounds rather than irrelevant leetcode bullshit – I imagine there’s a correlation here.

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            My company (reaktor.com) always gives feedback on interviews, and from what I’ve seen and heard, applicants really appreciate it.

            It helps show how we value honesty, there is no hiding behind vague rejections.