Archive for February 2009

Interviews Stink

February 26, 2009

Update: Nah, it will never work. I still like the concept but Tom Calloway’s comment below is right. No one would share. I still think that if we replaced interviews with something else we’d be happier. But I have no answers.

I’ve had this nagging sense, for years, that there has to be a better way to find good programmers to work with. This article put words on my angst:

Computer programming job interviews are a disastrous waste.

1. What’s ROI stand for? Have you ever used this concept?

You’re interviewing for a management position, and you get that question. Do you really want to work there? I would not. Yet, that’s the state of the art for interviewing a developer.

What if we didn’t interview at all? What if I had to make a recommendation on my next new coworker, sight unseen? No interview. No phone call. No email. Cover letter, resume, references, decision.

You know what? I think I could do it.

If I had the power to run the next interview gauntlet, I’d try something new. I’d look at the resources spent by a normal interview. Probably about 6 people, 90 minutes each, studying resumes, waiting for their turn to interview, pontificating during the interview, blah blah blah. 6 people, 30 minutes, 3 days.

Here’s how it would roll.

Break into 3 sets of pairs. Make a few reference calls for 90 minutes. Find their old managers, try to get a coworker. Ask the impolite tough questions you wouldn’t dare ask an interviewee directly. Find out, does this clown blow smoke or does this clown get stuff done?

Supposing we put those kinds of resources on those kinds of tasks, and didn’t bother with an interview, what kind of person do you think we’d hire? Would they be better or worse than the average new hire