2

I am a JavaScript developer as well as Linux Systems Administrator, but don't necessarily have more experience in one over the other.

As I gain more experience in my craft, specifically my application development side, I am starting to get frustrated with the lack of consistency in the interview process in the tech field.

For the latest experience, I passed every single round they put me through, pre-screen, technical interview, coding challenge and team interview and then I was given some type of emotional and motivational assessments.

I am guessing its because I am still a tie with another candidate, not sure.

I know of some colleagues that say this is why they only apply at well known tech companies, but then you have the problem of everyone applying for the same jobs at the same company and I don't believe in generalizations.

Would anyone say there is an aspect of the tech field where this kind of Wild West show does not exist? Where hiring practices are more consistent? If I focused more on the set of skills as a SysAdmin would I experience more stability in the hiring process on that track?

  • +1 because I’m interested in the answer(s), but this post is 80% rant, 20% actual content that pertains to your core question. I would say edit to remove some of the noise. – Chris Cirefice Dec 24 '18 at 10:17
  • 1
    @ChrisCirefice, edited the question to remove the rant. – Daniel Dec 24 '18 at 10:26
4

I have been interviewed by big companies and small companies, I have also conducted interviews at most of those companies.

My experience is that in many of those situations the people doing part x of the interview have zero training for that part. We are handed a resume and asked to do a phone screen. We are sent the resume and the job description the night before conducting a face to face interview; which we were selected to do because we were available. In some cases we are involved in all the candidate interviews for the position in other cases we are only doing this one.

I don't think you will find a job type, industry, or field that the companies can agree what parts should be in the hiring process.

I don't think that there is any standard way of completing the hiring process. I have never participated in a whiteboard coding challenge, or any homework assignments. I have never seen a psychological test used. Even background checks and drug tests haven't been done consistently. I have never reviewed any GitHub accounts not has anybody ever asked if I have one. The interviews have ranged from non-technical to extremely technical. Some were for office staff, but others were developers, engineers, or were published scientists.

  • Thank you for your honesty and insight, this is helpful. I will say as someone that has worked in a couple of different industries that there was some consistency in certain protocols, follow ups and processes. One thing I learned since my very beginning in the world of work is that to leave a candidate hanging because you decided not to hire them has always been considered rude and unprofessional, but perhaps I am expressing some old school ideas, perhaps things have changed across all industries. My wife was offered a job via text message, which is so unprofessional I thought it a scam. – Daniel Dec 24 '18 at 12:01
  • And vice versa, I have had basically anything you can imagine in various interviews through the years - but never the same thing in two separate places :) whiteboard, remote design, homework, good cop/bad cop, no technical stuff, nothing but technical, only C language allowed for something that does not use C, using any language I like, working on a real ticket with two employees, having HR ask unrelated questions for a good 90 minutes, a full day psychological test for just-a-developer position... The only constant has been that nothing is consistent :) – Juha Untinen Dec 25 '18 at 10:13
2

Unfortunately, only the fad interview questions seem to be consistent.

For example

program fizzbuzz

how many tennis balls fit in an (insert model) airplane

why are manhole covers round

if you have one boat, three chickens, and a fox, and the fox cannot be left alone with a chicken, how do you cross a river when the boat can carry only two animals.

reverse a singly linked list

And so on. None of these questions (except possibly the last) were particularly useful in my field, that said, I've yet to find a need to reverse a singly linked list in code. The correct answer in employment is "you convert the data structure".

I agree, there are few people who interview well; but, there are a lot of people who are tasked with interviewing. To list a few

Division Managers

Product Owners

HR Personnel

Scrum Masters

The occasional "trusted" Senior Developer

The point here is that the interview process is loaded with a lot of people who don't always have the tools to evaluate a good answer. So, the people rely on the Internet to find questions, and follow a script. Typically this script is one they've developed to apply consistency and spare them the task of creating off-the-cuff questions.

This means that the interview process is biased towards "fad" questions. For example, fizzbuzz became famous for making the bold statement "At least 90% of all programmers can't pass this simple programming test", when in reality, anyone with one semester of Computer Science under their belt can pass it.

fizzbuzz should be used as a research subject, as it shows the effectiveness of a completely unsubstantiated claim, based on personal anecdote, amplified by the Internet, which managed to lower the bar for entry, while claiming it filtered 90% of the unsuitable candidates. It's pure baloney, and yet I was asked it just a couple of years ago (oddly enough at a company with the weakest programmers I've encountered in a while).

Why the canned questions and answers?

  • People interviewing don't typically have the skills they are seeking
  • People interviewing need to provide something to the process
  • People interviewing search the Internet for the questions, instead of building it in-house.
  • Thank you for this insight. I have only been asked the fizzbuzz algorithm once in my life. I fumbled through it out of typical nervousness, but actually successfully completed it. Then I got asked a ton of questions on different Git commands, the next more challenging than the other. I never got the job and wondered why so many questions on Git commands when the successively obscure Git commands only get known as we need them. Anyway, it makes your point I think. – Daniel Dec 24 '18 at 15:56
  • 1
    @Daniel Ah yes, I forgot the git questions. They are good examples. Again, you're being tested on someone's obscure posting of "how to perfectly avoid this one (rare) problem with this amazing git command!" Instead of being tested on the effective use of git which almost always includes the real world advice of "don't get fancy, or git will burn you." Odds are they have had in-house git training, and are copying the answers meant to be supplied after the training. Yes, the process is sometimes really that lazy. – Edwin Buck Dec 24 '18 at 16:05
  • @Abigail Consistency (precision) is only part of the problem, accuracy is the other part. 1.bp.blogspot.com/_PyvjcvYfRLk/SWHumaQY-fI/AAAAAAAAAW8/… If the process was consistent, you'd always fail to hire the right candidate, or always succeed in hiring the right candidate. Since neither one of these things happen, let's just agree that the process isn't consistent (even if the questions are). Yes, consistency is a good thing, provided you are accurate. Otherwise it can prevent you from ever finding the right candidates. – Edwin Buck Dec 24 '18 at 22:09
  • @Abigail If you can figure out which question didn't work, and adjust such that you have both accuracy and precision via of consistency, then my hat is off to you. All I would like to note is that if you use the wrong process, you'll never fix "it", by improving the wrong process. I don't know if lists of questions are the right tool, but I do know that so far, in the last 10 years of interviews (and not too many of them, so it is anecdotal) the process has worsened as it has become more consistent, and that's a shame. – Edwin Buck Dec 25 '18 at 0:37
2

The adage goes that larger corporations will have more consistent interview processes because larger corporations will know what they're looking for.

At a lot of smaller companies, you find recruiters and managers that don't have the appropriate skills to evaluate employees, or the right guidance on what type of employees they're looking for.

To compensate for this, they shot-gun everything they can at you - multiple interviews, personality assessments, perhaps some 'do this free work' or a skill based challenge.... Then they just select the person that seemed to do the best on these, overall, even though it may not accurately measure their ability to do the job.

My previous job was like the latter; multiple different personality assessments, interviews with many different people (like, 5 face to face interviews with different team members), a skill assessment, you could tell they really didn't have the process 'down'.

My current employer's interview process was much, much more efficient - Phone screen interview with recruiter, hour long phone call with hiring manager who explained their goals for my position in the first year and asked very pointed questions on my experiences in areas that related to those goals, flying me down to in-person interview my manager's director and a team member, and then an offer (after background check) -

It was a very simple process and at no time were there any shenanigans.

To me, that's the difference... A larger corporation and/or a skilled hiring manager will be able to gauge the information they need to ensure a successful candidate, whereas many other companies will try to just 'buy' or 'download' an interview process that doesn't work well.

  • 1
    All companies have what it takes to give a good interview: the just need to have the interview performed by the peers they will work with. The problem is that hiring is that it is seen as "so critical" that only the higher echelon is invited, and the lower echelon is too busy working (or too disconnected from the process) that they don't interview (and haven't built any interview skills). – Edwin Buck Dec 24 '18 at 15:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.