The Extreme Hiring
talk was interesting, and I think I'll take away a few idea. Some of the concepts were (admittedly) specific to Ternary's
business model and hiring needs.
Here is an outline of their process:
- Candidate find job ad and reviews website
- Candidate applies for job
- Technical Assessment
- Technical Phone Interview
- Personal Phone Interview
- In-person interview (day 1)
- In-person interview (day 2)
- Job offer
This by itself is clearly more effort than many companies go through, but the interesting points are that cultural fit and talent are more important than skill, resumes are optional and secondary, candidates must write code, and candidates must work in a team.
Brian put a lot of emphasis on hiring for cultural fit and talent over skills since you can add investment to improve skill, but fit and talent aren't as easily improved. He did admit that skill becomes more important as your ability to invest decreases.
He also talked about having the candidate solve a coding problem and then submit it as a discussion point during the technical phone interview.
This is something I've been experimenting with for a number of years now. My original concept came from Johanna Rothman
back in 2003 when she recommended auditioning developers (and testers). I've moved from having candidates pair program with me, to having them program with me in the room as the customer to sending the problem home with them after spending some time on it during the on-site interview. I think I am going to switch to giving it before the technical phone screen as a way to thin out the crowd (both from a level of effort required and the clear indicator of the kind of programmer they are).
Something I haven't done in the past that Brian does is elevate essay questions above resumes. He makes candidates respond to six(!) essay questions as well as provide a cover letter. Optionally he allows candidates to include a resume. Clearly this isn't something most HR departments will be comfortable with. The questions are oriented to expose cultural fit and talent. You can see the current set of questions here
The final unique technique is the group simulation he runs on the first day of in-person interviews. He brings in 4 candidates, gives them a problem to solve, some equipment and infrastructure and lets them go at it. He says that by lunch everyone stops trying to keep up the interview persona and really gets down to it. Brian doesn't use this technique if he is only filling one position, but since he is regularly looking for teams this works well.
Anybody ever use anything like this? Anyone ever gone through an interview like this? Like it? Dislike it?