8 votes

"The Hiring Post" - How to hire exceptional engineers

3 comments

  1. [2]
    rosco
    Link
    I have some pretty serious feels about this. I'm diving into a very anecdotal rant, so please take it with a grain of salt. I think the intentions of the author are on the right path, but like so...

    I have some pretty serious feels about this. I'm diving into a very anecdotal rant, so please take it with a grain of salt. I think the intentions of the author are on the right path, but like so many engineers they have focused on the task and missed the bigger picture.

    I'm currently hiring engineers for my company and my partner just started as a PM at Google. I think this article articulates the current status quo: If you have the high technical capacity you don't have to be a pleasant or functioning human being. You can be misogynistic. You can be unhygienic. You can be an asshole. While the rest of the world is progressing, engineers seem to have entrenched themselves deep into the archaic boys club the rest of us are trying to shut down. Parts of this article perpetuate it.

    When my partner was interviewed she fielded questions such as "What do you do if a developer says they have no need for your role here and you have to justify your presence?", or "How do you handle a potentially hostile engineer?", or "Tells us some ways you engage with 'prickly' teammates?". It boiled down to, convince us you can work with and control an self-righteous, sexist team. So far, the work experience has mirrored the questions.

    My own experience has been equally disappointing. My background is in remote sensing, and while there are similar issues of sexism in our field, a general lack of social skills is not tolerated. While hiring for an ML engineer, the interview was our only opportunity to weed out candidates who otherwise excelled at the technical problems they were given. One was openly hostile to our female technical lead, two were dismissive, and a large percentage were terrible communicators. The point of an interview isn't to understand how competent an engineer is at writing code, it is to understand how they will work within the greater team. How will they respond when they hit a roadblock? What is their communication style like? Will they be defensive of their code? Can they take direction from someone who doesn't look or think like they do?

    In 5 more years there will be a hit piece about this article written by someone similar on how we need to move away from strictly data driven results and I think I'll be more inclined to agree with them. I know plenty of folks who are incredibly talented engineers, and I wouldn't want to work with most of them. I believe 'data driven' metrics allow engineers to maintain anti-social behavior and with all of the effort to get women into stem, why are we ignoring the anti-women culture this behavior creates?

    That said, I really enjoyed their perspective on aggressive or hostile interviews. Those truly need to be a thing of the past. I also fully agree that preparing candidates for their interviews and giving them a reasonable understanding of timeline and expectations is largely overlooked.

    With that in mind I'd like to take a go a refining their message. When structured correctly and carried out with openness and positivity, interviews can be a truly enlightening process and provide candidates with the runway to show off their personality and skills (regardless of confidence). Employed in tandem with technical problems, interviewers can get a well rounded picture of what to expect when their candidate starts with the side benefit of stymying problematic team culture (if that is a priority of the team).

    12 votes
    1. mtset
      Link Parent
      I massively appreciate this input, and thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm definitely going to incorporate this into my report and, hopefully, move at least one company's hiring practices...

      I massively appreciate this input, and thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm definitely going to incorporate this into my report and, hopefully, move at least one company's hiring practices in a more positive direction!

      5 votes
  2. mtset
    Link
    I'm currently in the process of redesigning my company's hiring process for engineers, and I've been reading just about everything there is on the 'net on the topic. Turns out, the vast majority...

    I'm currently in the process of redesigning my company's hiring process for engineers, and I've been reading just about everything there is on the 'net on the topic. Turns out, the vast majority is vapid, obviously wrong, blogspam marketing, or all three, but this post is absolutely wonderful, well-written, and well motivated. Take a look!

    11 votes