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Discussion on: What are your biggest frustrations in the hiring process?

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Alex Sarafian

I didn't learn like it was taught to me. I just had to do it and I tried to avoid the pitfalls I had encountered. I also spend some time to prepare and read the CVs of the candidates and have points of interest that I wanted the candidate to expand. Lets say that I do it a bit on instict. When it comes to the honesty, I just understand where there is a lie or not because I connect the small things where people get comfortable. We tend to be well organized and lie on the big topics that we know we are evaluated. But are true selves are mostly represented in the smaller things.

I've also learned over the years that a question is a bidirection flow of information. The way you ask a question and what you focus on, conveys what you are interested in. Dry checklist questionaire reveals lack of relevance but if formalize the questions to be more personal and you can add and inject into the story line with more specific questions or paradigms with issues from your own company, then that connects and engages the candidate besides extracting information.

So this is how it happened. We were going to hire some people and we had senior and junior applicants. With the juniors it was easy. I early realized that I had to help them tell the story. I was more experienced, new what matters and I had to guide them into them telling their stories. I did this for example by asking them what else did they do during their thesis. How much more than the assignment they did. I implicitly asked them to tell me if they found the challenge interesting and why and if at the end it tought them more than the official curriculum. This is particular to the Greek culture but to my knowledge applies to the rest of europe. Let me explain this differently. If you are not willing to hire code monkeys, you want people that can step up, take responsibility and be proactive. If a junior profile did the absolute minimum for a given assignment, how would that ever be?

I had spoken with the juniors afterwards and they had said to me that they chose that company because of the interview. it was different and interesting and taught them a lot.

Overall I try to offer a challenging experience during the interview. An experience where the applicant at least had fun. If the applicant is into the technology as a passion, the exchange of information, challenges and experiences would feel as fun and not a chore and another repetition of the same thing.

In general I think is wrong to approach a candidate with a checklist of specialization. 5y of .net and 3 years of javascript and blah. I strongly disagree with quantifying people like this. What you need to look for is potential. Everything else the one with potential and passion will learn. Maybe it will take a bit longer but I would always trust for a long term relationship the person with the potential over the dry checklist. Not that knowing things is bad but it can't be your only conditions. But potential is the hardest to evaluate because it is based on how the person explains former challenges, what went wrong and what went bad. Admission of failure is also something that dry interviews don't understand but for me the important is what did the person learn because we all make mistakes. Understanding all these requires affiliation with the subject.

I can expand more if you are interested and your question for serious. Maybe with some more particular questions.