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The Technical Interview

By Gregorio Rojas - August 27, 2015 1 Comment

The Problems

You cannot find good developers fast enough and you cannot keep the good developers you do find from leaving.

The Solution

What is one to do? Glad you asked. Below I present to you an interview process that is sure to shake things up and leave us in much better place than where we started.

The Hiring Process - A Step-by-Step Guide

Remove Engineers

You do not let the developers, engineers or whatever you call them screen anyone out. Not one soul. Developers are assholes. They are the biggest, best gatekeepers in the game. You have to take them out of the hiring equation. 

A Skills-Based Screening Process

Your engineers should give you an outline of the general skills and experience they need and your HR and or Product people should proceed to identify candidates. These are general guidelines and not exact requirements. For example “experience with Angular 1.3.1” is too specific. “Experience with client side MV*M frameworks like Angular, Ember or Backbone etc..” is ideal.

Again, developers love to make themselves feel special by declaring there are few that can do their job. This is false. Remove them from the hiring equation as much as possible.

No Names

Resumes have no names. No first names, no company names, nada. Just skills and experience. We love names. Names tell us so much about a person. They provide for so many ways for us to artificially put people into buckets that automatically qualifies them or disqualifies them. Names be gone.

In-Person Screening 

Anyone that gets past the Skills Based Screening process via resumes moves on to in-person interviews the Product or Project Management departments. Developers who cannot talk to people are so 1970's. Great developers, even the ones on the dorky, introverted side can hold a conversation and talk shop. Again, Engineers are on the sidelines for this one.

Code Review 

Candidates are then given 1 hour to sit with the in house development staff to look over the company’s code. Candidates ask questions. Your interviewers answer questions.

Developers worth their salt will reveal themselves. Where did they dig into the code? What interested them? What threw them and confused them? Did they have meaningful questions? Did they notice how fucked-up our spaghetti code was? Did they provide any insights and recommendations for improvements? This hour will yield much fruit.

Again, developers do not remove anyone. They stack rank the candidates.

The Offer

The terms:
  • A 5 week contract-to-hire position. Five. Weeks. 
  • At the end of week 4 you give the new hire notice if you will be picking them up.
  • You do not make a decision about hiring until the evening before you must tell the new hire
Anyone can have 1 bad interview hour. Anyone. It is very easy to find a reason not to hire someone and that is the wrong way to hire. Hiring for strengths makes so much sense,  but that is too hard for most people to exercise. So we need to put a system in place to facilitate this practice.

Four weeks is enough time for someone to fill whatever shoes they signed up to fill. If it is not, then they were not right for the job and no one knew it better than they did when they accepted the position. 

Simultaneously, once candidates find out your hiring process the number of job applicants will plummet freeing you up to spend time on fewer candidates and on other things like running your company. In fact, only two kinds of people will ever apply to your postings:

  • Those are have nothing to lose like Jr level people and people in between work. The process will be able to filter many of unqualified from this group.
  • Those who are extremely confident in their ability to get past the 4th week. The people are worth a look at

Bonus Benefit

If candidates would present their past performance based on this process we could learn a great deal about the value they deliver. I am sure someone could build a tool to anonymously and accurately capture data and recommendations from participating employers


If there were enough companies using this process there would be significantly less turnover in the industry. We could debate weather or not this is good thing or not. It gives more power to companies in many ways and puts employees at risk. But I tend to think it would be a good thing because I am a fan of competition. Competition breeds excellence and who does not want to be excellent? 

Over time, and not much time we would weed out the 80% of the industry that are doing only 20% of the work. That leaves a great big void to fill by many women, Latinos and African Americans who are currently sidelined. In the process we create more diversity and that as we all know leads to more innovation.

Fewer gatekeepers. More excellence, diversity and innovation. Who is not down for that?

1 comment to '' The Technical Interview "

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