It was like any normal day, I started my day with reading random articles that showed up on my feed. I was scrolling down through most of them as I usually do until something caught my attention.

“F* You, I Quit — Hiring Is Broken” - I wrote this story to share my tech interview experience during past several months and why I’ve decided to stop looking for a job.

The author is Sahat Yalkabov, he almost lashes out at several well-known tech companies, expressing his frustration on how broken the tech-hiring process is, criticizing the attitude of the recruiters and interviewers alike. Shortly after this article was published, there was a debate in Hacker News, almost on a personal level, with some people for and against it. There were many developers who came out and reinstated the fact that tech-hiring, in no doubt is broken.

This was the view of the developers. Now, if we see things from the perspective of a tech-company unless you are one of the giants offering “showstopper” jobs, it almost never happens that top tech talent comes knocking on your door. Good developers are quickly snapped up because as passive candidates they get subsequent offers.

According to a research by Statista, which gives the data of how recruiters reach out to potential candidates shows that we are trying to attract the same talent pool(which is limited) almost with the same amount of efforts but are expecting special results. There are many things that we as recruiters or founders or anyone responsible for the hiring process are messing up. Realizing these mistakes are often not easy and accepting them even more difficult.

tech hiring is broken

As mentioned in the post by Sahat Yalkabov, if a candidate is rejected by a BigCorp (and not in a pleasant way), there will be 100s of others lining up for the same job, but unfortunately for the rest of the product companies hunting for good engineers, it doesn’t work that way. Some very prominent startups in India often have to wait more than 2-3 months for filling up a senior tech position.

So, what can you do to avoid a mess-up (simply because you cannot afford to),

Don’t outsource sourcing to generic vendors

There are indeed a lot of recruitment firms or consultancies to choose from. As an HR or founder, you have to be very careful while selecting one of them. Many HR professionals are tempted to choose randomly, but always remember, when the quality of your sourcing goes down, Quality of Hire is also likely to decrease.

Take the time out to research on their services provided by the concerned consultant, like if they are specialized on tech-hiring, the companies they have provided talent to previously, if their team understands the tech-world well, etc. If you’re going for outsourcing, a good way to do the same would be to have separate vendors for the tech and non-tech hiring.

Have a qualified screening process

Don’t miss out good candidates who apply on your careers page, if you don’t revert back to candidates, they might feel ignored and it happens A LOT. As CareerArc study points out 36% of employers never notify candidates about their status. You have to show real interest and dedication to get real interest from good developers.

It’s sometimes good to outsource your initial screening process to a proper parser tool or scanner tool (considering you receive more than 30-40 resumes a day). Also, make sure the person going through resumes post the scanning stage understands the keywords and their substitutes. You may be losing perfectly qualified leads because you’re not getting the technicalities right.

Don’t judge an elephant on his capability to swim

Luck and chance should not be part of the tech interview process. You must be having a dedicated set of interview questions, but during the interview try to personalize the questions based on the candidate profile.

Let’s say you are hiring for a frontend developer with 4 years of experience, if you ask him Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm or breadth-first search(which was a part of his college curriculum) instead of the work that he has been doing in the past 4 years which might be javascript or frameworks like angular, node, or react, you stand a fair chance of losing the candidate.

Let’s face it, many a times people google a lot of things while coding, if the person is let’s say a 2 years experienced guy who likes to refer to google to look up at certain things, you as an interviewer need to understand that it’s only logical(considering his initial basics are at place). Most of the people who want to join a growth stage startup, do it because they want to learn more and they will pick it up on the job.

But, things change a little when the position is for a tech lead or senior architect. These people need to have been there and done that and should know their facts right. They need to lead a team and should have a sound knowledge of architecture. Like it’s easy to build a thing, but what matters is how you build it and any senior developer or architect should be well-aware of these things. So, for them, it doesn’t make much sense to grill on a scripting language.

Don’t make the coding test very complicated

After you shortlist a few candidates, the general way is sending a coding exercise after a brief telephonic chat. The problem here is that very few candidates actually end up completing the coding exercise. To give you an approximate no, out of every 10 only 2 candidates might be actually doing your test. After speaking with several candidates, here are some of the inputs we have received as to why they avoid doing a coding exercise

  1. The coding exercise might be complex and would take a while which is a burden even for active candidates.

  2. Passive candidates don’t have time, as they were quite happy with what they are doing currently(hence passive). They are often happy in their job and have their free time sorted out in the form of hobbies or spending some quality family time. For these people, nothing is a bigger buzzkill than an activity that offers nothing to the candidate other than more of the same work they do.

  3. Some of the candidates have had a bad experience with the previous companies where the HR never got back to them after the first coding exercise, so they are skeptical of wasting their time.
    Some might have more than one company in the pipeline, and they would prefer a company without coding exercise criteria so as to get the interview process started asap.

  4. These are few of the many more reasons. This is a big problem and soon we will publish an article dedicated towards this problem. There is not one absolute solution to this problem, but you can start with the interview round and conduct a 1:1 coding exercise, which also removes the chances of spoofing.

Keep all these details in mind while optimizing your tech-hiring process, ask the relevant things to specific people, else you will end up complaining like most of the startups over there on the dearth of good talent. Also, sometimes, you need to give a chance to passionate people to prove their real mettle. Vet a candidate on his overall profile and not only on his theoretical or whiteboard skills.

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