Job interviews in tech gone haywire

Published on 2019-12-25. Modified on 2020-04-13.

A bad trend is becoming a standard at more and more tech companies when interviewing candidates for job positions.

If you, the reader, is a person who interview candidates for software development, or just tech in general, you need to understand that if you're mainly focusing on the technology rather than people, you're doing it wrong.

The tech stack of our modern age has become huge. No normal person comprehends or memorizes every single aspect of the entire stack they work with, and they shouldn't have to, we have search engines and we utilize personal notes.

There is always trust involved and there is always a risk when you have to hire someone, but no lengthy code quiz or white board quest is going to guarantee that you have found a good candidate. Perhaps the person you are interviewing has memorized the answers to your questions because someone at Glassdoor has exposed your entire interview process.

You shouldn't be asking questions about search algorithms or framework abstractions. Do you think that if a person knows the answers to such questions that he or she is somehow more valuable to your company? What you need to figure out is whether you're dealing with an obnoxious person. I say that because almost anyone with a genuine interest in technology, especially someone who is self taught, can get up to speed pretty quickly, especially if your company has good documentation - and of course you do have good documentation right?

I suspect that the bad trend is becoming a standard in the industry because it is reported that this is how Google does their interviews. Just because Google does something, doesn't automatically make it good.

Of course a candidate has to know the basics, but even a good programmer might not be working with programming all the time, some do a lot of system administration or network administration too. The person can perhaps not remember how he or she normally solves a particular problem. This is not important at all.

The only real problem you might be facing is if you're dealing with a fraudster, someone who is lying and who wouldn't know the difference between a variable and a function, but these guys are usually easy to catch, you hardly need a code test to figure that one out.

So, unless you're from CERN or NASA and you actually do need an "algorithmic genius", you should reconsider your interviewing process, you will get much happier people working for you.