Before joining Sonos (I guess now is a good time to state that my opinions are my own), I interviewed at a lot of different companies. Companies that were looking for rock star developers or unicorns or full-stack developers, whatever. Every company I interviewed with was a little different, had a slightly different twist to whatever it was they were looking for, except for one common thread. You had to be a rock star.
Most companies wanted extroverts. Some wanted a human calculator. Others wanted specialists. Still others wanted a general jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none, sort of thing. Recruiters didn't care if my skills actuallylined up against what the company needed, only that I had some word comprised of the Java- prefix in my LinkedIn profile. Recruiters, I've discovered, are mostly horrible at their jobs. There are exceptions, but I haven't met many.
It was, to be honest, just one continual disaster.
More often than not, the primary problem I experienced with every interview process, no matter the company, was the interviewer proverbially trying to prove who was smarter. In the crassest of urban dictionary definitions, I think the kids refer to this as a dick swinging contest.
For example, why in God's name would you ask anyone to polyfill the
The only thing you've done is made yourself feel valuable and smart and you didn't care if you had to dismiss another human being completely to do it. The problem is, how many great developers did you pass over because your interview bias tends toward self-gratification or in the belief that you avoided a secretly terrible engineer?
In my experience as an interviewer, I can tell you that there is a huge bias towards hiring candidates who areextroverted rock stars (rock star is subjective here) over candidates that are less experienced or introverted or just not as confident.
I'm horrible at interviews. I freeze up for no reason. It's not that I can't write loops. I can. I know the difference between
Part of this is my personality. I speak slow and think slower. And doing anything with someone staring at me or looking over my shoulder is next to impossible. It makes me itchy and it's all I think about. Not the problem at hand.
Recently, we had the same sort of intern candidate come through at Sonos. Nervous guy. Quiet speaker. By the time it was my turn to speak with him, you could visibly tell he was spent. It had been a long day, the poor guy was tired. I'm an introvert. I could tell.
So I spent the interview talking about whatever he wanted. We talked about his projects for school and I narrowed in on a single problem. Just a question or two. I let him take as long to think about my questions as he wanted to. He would posit some ideas and I would pose new questions. About ten minutes of this and he started to relax and focus on the problem. He left our little conference room with a smile. He thanked me for the new ideas (they were his own, he just needed some prodding).
Not all of his interviewers could see his potential, at first. I approached his hire like Moneyball. He was good where it counted. I had to explain why. In the end, I brought everyone around.
He's an intern now. Doing good work.
As I mentioned before, there have been a lot of articles on this topic in recent years, positing a lot of greatideas. I'm not attempting to define some universal solution, but merely add to the conversation. This is how I do interviews, no matter what the company. This is also how I tend to judge the process of any company with which I interview.
How you interview a candidate speaks to the quality of the organization.
If I encounter any of the shenanigans I described in the article opener, I immediately start to wonder if there are larger problems in the organization.
My results with this kind of approach towards the interview process are still being tested. But if you read any of the articles I've linked to, you'll find that these ideas are becoming more and more common. Every company wants to hire the best talent possible. We all want to work with other great developers. But it's time we start to seriously question how we go about accomplishing those goals.
There's no need to make anyone feel small and unworthy. Candidates that are not ready for the position need to leave with a positive experience. Anything less is just doing this industry a disservice. And honestly, with all sexism, misogyny, and racism in this industry, it's not like we don't have enough problems that we need to fix. Let's not make more for ourselves.