Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2017/ Tech Interview Screening Gripe

Tech Interview Screening Gripe

Okay, tech companies. I get it. Your tech people are too busy doing tech things to screen out interview candidates. "Cultural fit" (oh boy what a loaded concept that is) is super-important, so you want to screen out unemployables like me early on. Fine. By putting the barrier of non-technical or semi-technical HR people in front of your tech applicants, you are doing yourselves a disservice.

On the one hand you pay lip service to "ever changing technology" and "culture of learning". On the other hand your HR people ask questions like "Tell me your experience with Technology X" and are wholly unprepared to hear about my experiences with Technology Y, and how skills from one are transferable to the other. As a result you are making the same mistakes as the established companies you are pretending to disrupt: providing a series of tickyboxes that can be filled with credentials and buzzwords. Candidates who check off these tickyboxes have a chance of proceeding; those of us who learn as we go and do not have the specific technologies you are looking for stay unemployed. Then you want us to go to bootcamps so we can put Technology X on our resumes.

Or maybe this serves your agendas very well, because nobody is actually interested in training staff. You want to hire people who are infinitely adaptable and already know the technologies you use, so that new hires can "hit the ground running". Your interest is in externalizing those training costs to the candidates and their previous job experiences so that you can maximize your productivity and minimize your investment. As for people who would like to gain such experience by taking on short term internships? If they are not young fresh university students enrolled in co-op, we can forget it. (There's that "cultural fit" coming up again.)

I get it. I understand the pitfalls of hiring people who claim that they can learn technologies without demonstrating that they have done so. But you are also ruling out people who HAVE demonstrated that they learn new technologies by doing so again and again and again, because your HR staff are not able to understand how transferable skills work.

I feel strongly that pre-screening candidates with semi-technical or non-technical HR staff is a mistake. Cultural fit is important. Soft skills are important. Including semi-technical and non-technical people in the hiring process is important. But semi-technical HR staff who are not fluent with technology should not be asking technological questions in screening interviews. They should not be asking about skills history unless they can actually evaluate those skills on a technical level.

(Yes, I am grumbling, and I would grumble less if I was better at interviewing and/or more employable. I still feel there is a problem here.)