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RFD 151 Assessing software engineering candidates #114

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bcantrill opened this Issue Oct 5, 2018 · 2 comments

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bcantrill commented Oct 5, 2018

While RFD 151 is in a "publish" state (as in reflects several iterations of internal discussion), this remains an evergreen topic on which many in the industry have different perspectives: we wish to explicitly leave this issue open to encourage discussion of the approach outlined here -- and to give ourselves the opportunity to improve the RFD accordingly! Comments and discussion welcome!

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jbogard Oct 5, 2018

Really glad to see this published publicly! Too many companies keep their interview process opaque/private, like it's a game to win.

On the coding aptitude, we've tried to create as level as a playing field as possible - accounting for different backgrounds, schedules, commitments both inside and outside of work, etc. Coding in person proved to be a negative filter - the added pressure and stress meant we were eliminating bad and good candidates.

Open-ended coding assessments were shown to be too restrictive of a positive filter - it only let the good candidates through who also had significant time to dedicate outside of their normal job. Which meant that some folks in a terrible current situation, working very long hours, did not have long stretches of time for this.

So we blended both. A take-home exercise that can be completed a little at a time. Uniform for everyone to remove any requirement on a specific technology. Problems that steadily grew more challenging in terms of design, so that we could objectively determine depth of skill. And on the plus side it proved a great negative filter for those with big egos - who thought they were too good for a coding test :)

Another thing we learned the hard way - don't give direct feedback to a candidate on why they are not moving on in the process. Even when we felt really good about doing it, it always ends badly, no matter how empathetic we are.

jbogard commented Oct 5, 2018

Really glad to see this published publicly! Too many companies keep their interview process opaque/private, like it's a game to win.

On the coding aptitude, we've tried to create as level as a playing field as possible - accounting for different backgrounds, schedules, commitments both inside and outside of work, etc. Coding in person proved to be a negative filter - the added pressure and stress meant we were eliminating bad and good candidates.

Open-ended coding assessments were shown to be too restrictive of a positive filter - it only let the good candidates through who also had significant time to dedicate outside of their normal job. Which meant that some folks in a terrible current situation, working very long hours, did not have long stretches of time for this.

So we blended both. A take-home exercise that can be completed a little at a time. Uniform for everyone to remove any requirement on a specific technology. Problems that steadily grew more challenging in terms of design, so that we could objectively determine depth of skill. And on the plus side it proved a great negative filter for those with big egos - who thought they were too good for a coding test :)

Another thing we learned the hard way - don't give direct feedback to a candidate on why they are not moving on in the process. Even when we felt really good about doing it, it always ends badly, no matter how empathetic we are.

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bcantrill Oct 5, 2018

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@jbogard: Good thoughts! And yes, this is broadly our experience as well. In terms of giving feedback to candidates: absolutely agreed -- which is why we put so much back on the candidate themselves. (Most candidates don't move forward for a very simple reason: because they lose interest. It's amazing how many candidates who are supposedly excited about working for us never bother to follow up with answers to such basic questions!)

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bcantrill commented Oct 5, 2018

@jbogard: Good thoughts! And yes, this is broadly our experience as well. In terms of giving feedback to candidates: absolutely agreed -- which is why we put so much back on the candidate themselves. (Most candidates don't move forward for a very simple reason: because they lose interest. It's amazing how many candidates who are supposedly excited about working for us never bother to follow up with answers to such basic questions!)

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