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RFD 151 Assessing software engineering candidates #114
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!
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: 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!)