Hiring Right

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a little over last year or so, I was involved in many technical interviews, and sometimes hiring decisions (one vote only, but a No vote is usually a No for the candidate). This is quite different from normal technical contributor’s job. But I learn something from this process too. I think overall I had two bad “Yes”, meaning I should have said “No”, but I said “Yes”. In one instance it was purely my unforced error, in another case the process went haywire.

Let me recall my mistake first. I was talking to candidate, and I noticed something unusual in the resume. Basically it appears the resume has some contradiction with what’s been said by the candidate. I have two colleagues on the phone, not sure if they saw it on video (likely not as I may not have video camera for the laptop then). But basically at that moment the candidate grabbed the resume back from me. I was stunned to say the least. I told my two colleagues No. But they somehow asked me to re-think. And they talked me into “give him an opportunity”. Things did not work out eventually, as the manager eventually let that person go as he has some personality issue.

The second bad “Yes”, was process oriented. Basically after we made “hire” decision after interview, I recall I have seen the resume. I searched email and found out that candidate was “no show twice” in last September (sept 2019). No show is a red flag. No show without explanation is even worse. Not matter how talented someone is, it’s very hard to overcome this kind of issues. My regret there is we did not have a process to flag a candidate in our system. I recall at my former workplace, due to some back and forth, one hiring manager said “enough”, let’s flag this person on our system. So basically we are unlikely to see this person again. In a way it’s a good thing, because as minimum it gives some warning: one can always over-ride computer, but computer has better memory than human beings in many occasions. This process would have helped, if we had one.

Last but not least, some interview advice from Joel Spolsky. Quote: You should always try to have at least six people interview each candidate that gets hired, including at least five who would be peers of that candidate (that is, other programmers, not managers). || (more quote) So: don’t listen to recruiters; don’t ask around about the person before you interview them; and never, ever talk to the other interviewers about the candidate until you’ve both made your decisions independently. That’s the scientific method. || I spend about 30 seconds telling the person who I am and how the interview will work. I always reassure candidates that we are interested in how they go about solving problems, not the actual answer.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *