Any Questions for Us?

There was an article yesterday about a software developer who had been turned down by 38 companies and went through 120 interviews in a 2-3 month period, and then finally was hired.

It was framed as an uplifting story about this person's determination that he finally convinced a company that he was worthy of being hired.


I sometimes feel that stories like this perpetuate the "we're up here / you're down there" mindset that some folks take into interview situations.

I'm not the first person to say it, but I believe that as a job candidate, you should scrutinize your interviewers at least as thoroughly as they're scrutinizing you. Many articles about interviewing advice will tell you to ask questions, because it shows interest.

Um...no.

I'm trying to decide if I want to work here or not--that's why I'm asking questions.

CX: Candidate Experience

I’m not the first person to compare technical interviews to hazing—you know, those painful and arbitrary rituals that fraternities and sororities put pledges through because well, they had to go through them, too.

Don't be O'Bannion

Hiring is hard; we all know that. But just as empathy is at the core of user experience, I believe it’s equally as important to how you treat candidates that are interviewing at your company.

I’m always heartened to read articles and blog posts by software people who are trying to replace the punishing whiteboard hazing that so many tech companies put developer candidates through.

In a recent blog post, Phil Cal├žado wrote about going the extra mile to improve the candidate experience while hiring at SoundCloud:

But we’ve also done something else. Something that would improve the candidate experience…

With the problem description, we sent to candidates a functional test suite, a binary that when started would try to connect to the candidate’s server implementation, open lots of sockets, sends lots of messages, and verify the results against what the problem description stated. The candidate was instructed only to send their submission once it passed the functional test on their local box.

Now, there is some controversy about whether asking candidates to code side projects for your company at no cost as part of the hiring process is appropriate. But I just wanted to highlight here by choosing the “on your own time” programming exercise as an alternative to the whiteboard grill-session, there are still ways to improve the candidate experience. I’m glad that people like Phil are actively working on this problem, and I hope to highlight on this blog other similar efforts that I come across of people consciously applying empathy to improve the candidate experience.