It’s 2019 and Technical Interviews Have to Change

I remember in the early days of my career, I had to submit resumes for jobs. Since I go for tech roles, some companies require a tech interview to assess your programming skills. As a person also recruiting for developers, I understand the importance of this. Resumes can sometimes be sketchy so this process is one way of figuring out the applicant’s technical prowess. However, nobody has talked about how flawed it is. In this day and age, perspective has evolved and given us new ideas to improve our judgment. Unfortunately, a lot of recruiters look too much on skills that they forgot about attitude. We need to change this type of thinking.


Normally, a tech interview is composed of one or more of the following:

  • Asking general theory programming questions
  • Language-specific questions
  • Coding on a whiteboard
  • Coding on an online platform with a real-time compiler
  • Code with your preferred language/tools then submit via GH/Gdrive/Dropbox


Then imagine doing those for more than one round. Don’t forget that it becomes more difficult as you progress. How tired can you possibly get only to find out that you didn’t make it? All those time and money wasted. As I observed, this doesn’t prove to be an indicator of a companies success. They forget about culture and hire “robots” only to produce deliverables.


Don’t get me wrong. I get the importance of tech assessments as this serves as a first layer of weeding out applicants. It’s just that things need to change how we assess people.


Not solving one program doesn’t mean you’re worthless

I don’t like that this process is black and white. People automatically decide whether you can answer perfectly a complicating problem. When I say problem, I mean solving machine programs, not real world problems. Are you already bad once you don’t accomplish the assessment? To judge someone’s capability due to one overly-complicating problem is just wrong.


Let me put this in perspective. Say you are applying as a construction worker then your interviewer tells you:

Hey, please make a 10-story building with a garden rooftop, helipad, and a parking lot within 3 hours”


If you were that construction worker, do you think that’s feasible? In essence, your interviewer wants you to do the impossible on a given timeframe. For others, they don’t look through an accomplished output rather through your thought process, which should be the case.

Most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4% of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds.

– Wired


Another is the problem. Some tech interviews are mainly focused on algorithms wherein you are required to create programs like searching binary trees. Does your job really have to do that? Why do recruiters have to make it complicating? Trying to be like Google? Squeezing out the person’s mental prowess only to look for the small flaw you could you against?

Unless your job requires those astronomical formulas, there’s no reason to complicate. As if successfully constructing complex algorithms are conducive for success.

Observe the person collectively and ask yourself will this person do well for the long term? Is he/she teachable?


Build culture than talent

By having a great culture means you can build good talents. If you hire solely on talent, you are missing a huge piece of the pie. The people you hire reflects the kind of culture you build. If you hire pure-talent introverts, then your company is introverted. If you hire diverse characters, then you are well-rounded. Be conscious of your team’s chemistry as not all people work the same.


You don’t need the best programmer to win the game. You need the RIGHT person with the RIGHT attitude.


Not all jobs are exactly the same

Just because you are good at creating motorcycles doesn’t mean you are also good at making cars. A job is not only limited to your role so doing an assessment on only one area may not give you the perfect picture. People may not perform well on the interview but can do well on the job. A job is not just about tech but a mixture of culture.


Lastly, attitude and willingness to learn should be considered. It’s not fair for those new grads and career shifters who will enter a new career. Everyone deserves a chance. I’m not saying to keep the bar low for their own sake. Just don’t forget to consider their attitude.


At the end of the day, no screening process is perfect. Your process is a reflection of the culture of your company.

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