Tag Archives: hiring

Hiring Engineers, a Process

The goal of the in-person interview is to evaluate the following areas:

  • Cultural fit – are you going to be a good addition to the team and work well with others? Will we enjoy working with you? Will we want to go to a conference with you? Also, as a team with remote members, evaluate your compatibility with our style and process.
  • Adaptability – we work in a mixed environment where we have control over our systems but little control over the services we consume. Working in this environment, with many legacy systems isn’t for everyone.
  • Passion – everyone should have something they are passionate about. What are you? We’ll try to find yours and chat about it a bit. It doesn’t have to be super relevant. The goal is to see how deep you dive into topics that excite you. My 2 hours interview at Yahoo! included an hour discussion about water gardens. It was awesome.

The on-site interview is usually 2-3 hours long with 3-5 team members. I usually ask each interviewer to focus on one of the areas above.

A former manager and current programmer shares his views on interviewing programers. There’s a lot of good advice here, especially on how to interview for attitude.

I hereby (fictionally) resign

I was willing to go along with things and see how they panned out. But today something went seriously wrong. I have been interviewing senior hires for the crucial tech lead position on the Fizz Buzz team, and while several walked out in a huff when I asked them to let me look at their Facebook, one young lady smiled and said I could help myself. She logged into her Facebook as I requested, and as I followed the COO’s instructions to scan her timeline and friends list looking for evidence of moral turpitude, I became aware she was writing something on her iPad.
“Taking notes?” I asked politely.
“No,” she smiled, “Emailing a human rights lawyer I know.”

A commentary on recent story (rumor?) about some companies forcing candidates to disclose their private Facebook profiles during interview.

I don’t hire unlucky people

I also don’t want to be prejudiced in their favour because they seem to be a like-minded soul. If there’s only one in two hundred resumes worth considering, quite a few people are going to be really nice people that nevertheless aren’t right for us. The best thing is to avoid reviewing anything that isn’t pertinent to the task at hand, which means code or words about code.”

A heartwarming story on politically correct hiring that blissfully ignores the issue of getting along with the new co-workers. Clearly written by somebody who has never hired a satanist (yes, I have).

What not to ask technical people in interviews

The source of this post in my brain started when I stumbled upon an article tonight entitled “Front-end Job Interview Questions“. The absurdly long list of questions in the article is exactly the kind of questions that you should NOT ask. Ever.

All these questions do is scream, “I’m an egomaniac who has spent vast amounts of time Googling this nearly useless knowledge, but will ask you to regurgitate it to me without the aid of a search engine, and then judge you on how much it makes you sweat.”

While the article sounds reasonable, it’s written from a perspective of a person who has been programming since 1980. Asking somebody like that about JavaScript quirks means that he’s being interviewed for a wrong position.

Telling for sure if somebody is a good for a team or not is NOT possible during 1 hour interview anyway. It takes months.

The GitHub Job Interview

Here’s what you do. You come up with a cool idea of an open-source project. This becomes your company’s development sandbox. Candidates are asked to then contribute to the project in some way. You want to see them code? Ask them to develop a module. You want to see them tackle a bug? Ask them to choose one from the bug-list. This works for every aspect of development work. You can design features together. You can gauge their communication skills. You can see how well they handle reviews. You can ask them to document their work and see how well they can write. But above all, you’re not taking advantage of anyone, and true developers probably won’t mind investing time into an open-source effort.

Interesting idea. It certainly requires more effort than just having few conversations, so I don’t see it becoming a standard procedure, but it may be worth trying.

8 Things You Ought to Know If You Do Not Know Anything About Hiring A Software Developer

I would ask for proof of talent. Although a degree from an ivy league university might do the trick for some, quality experience does set the good developer apart. My developer friends have loads to show to testify for their talent. For some, from past work done, for others, from apprenticeship projects, but for all, from hands on development.

How to find a programming “friend”. Tips that, when applied in real life, would almost guarantee you would die lonely.

The real reason you can’t hire developers….

I find work (contracts) by looking for interesting companies whose money I would like to take, then I look them up on LinkedIN to see how connected I am to them. Sometimes I ask my friends to connect me to them, sometimes I just google stalk them to find the appropriate hiring manager’s twitter address or email address, then I email them, whether or not they’re hiring, and whether or not they’re open to contractors. I pitch my value proposition and tell (not ask, tell) them to meet me for coffee or lunch, my treat, and offer three dates that work for me. In 15 years, be it a VC, a VP of a bank, an unfunded founder, or an incredibly busy CTO at a high growth start-up, nobody has ever turned me down for a free lunch.

Then I close them.

Excellent advice I’ve seen for people looking for a job, from a thread at Hacker News.

Don’t Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice

There’s nothing wrong with this, by the way.  You’re in the business of unemploying people.  If you think that is unfair, go back to school and study something that doesn’t matter.

Harsh but true career advice for programmers. A lot of it may seem obvious if you have been in the industry for a while, but it’s not something one can get from academia. However, the article made me appreciate the fact that I took courses in economy instead of studying computer science alone.

The Number One Trait of a Great Developer

Jack is a Rockstar. Jack talks about all the latest trends at all the coolest conferences around the world. Jack makes a point of starting each project with at least three new technologies. When asked to produce an internet-based backend for letting kitchen devices synchronize their list of recipes, Jack went to town. The result was a combination of Google Protocol Buffers, node.js, and Cassandra. Elegant, scalable, and totally unmaintainable.

Joel Spolsky nailed down the essence of good technical hiring in the title of his book: Smart and Get Things Done. Developers themselves tend to admire “smart” over “getting things done”. This article offers a counter perspective to that.