On both sides of the barricades: hiring mobile application developers

    We could talk about whether you can hire a mobile developer without a test task, whether you need to conduct an “exam” on knowing all the keywords from the resume and what mistakes you should not make, we spoke with Alexander Cherny, one of the speakers of our AppsConf.

    Alexander Cherny is the head of mobile development at Pandao, one of Mail.ru e-commerce projects. In his submission a team of 15 people: part in the state and part in contract. Recruitment has always been engaged in himself.

    - What role do you play in mobile developer interviews?

    I received my first official programming money in 2006. For the next 5 years, I acted only as an interviewer. Then there was a natural step in the form of a lead in one of the directions - on iOS, then, apart from several one-time episodes, I began to select people into my own and adjacent teams on a regular basis. So I have been participating in interviews for quite some time. In the role of the employer, I conducted hundreds of interviews; I looked at just the last position just over 50 people.

    - Is there any difference in hiring exactly in mobile development?

    In development, in principle, there is a shortage of personnel. I can superficially assert that in mobile development this deficit is higher than the industry average.

    - In general, there are not enough specialists or precisely qualified ones?

    Both options. And if we are talking about the lack of skills, then the “lame” is mostly technical.

    - What kind of specialists do you focus on when searching?

    In hiring, we mostly focus on middle level and higher specialists.
    In principle, we also take June. Here, the last one was taken about 1.5 months ago - and for him this is the first place of work. But in general, our focus is middle +.

    - What mistakes are made by employers in this area in the process of finding employees?

    The first problem I see is that companies are poorly formulating the requirements for a candidate, not fully aware of why a new person is hired at all. As a rule, everyone tries to hire a specialist at the highest border — as steep as possible, without trying to select an employee to solve his particular tasks. Or they are trying to find a developer “for growth”, without having enough evidence that this growth really will be.

    The second problem: a banal non-compliance with the agreements (and the list of these violations is huge). The most popular one is nonobservance of the response time. You are told that they will call back and do not call back. Or call back, but after a long period of time. Another example is the lack of information. You are told that something is wrong, but they do not tell you what is specific and whether you can do something about it.

    - Is there an obvious source for these problems?

    There is no ready answer. Each case must be dealt with separately. As a rule, an employee of the personnel department performs a certain connecting function after the interview. He does not have the qualifications to evaluate what, specifically, technically, the candidate did wrong, that is, he cannot answer the candidate's requests if the person who conducted the technical part of the interview did not provide him with the necessary information. And rarely anyone provides this information for a variety of reasons. Some fear that it may be somehow carelessly used against the company, and therefore it is better to get off with a neutral wording. But more often it’s just the effect of an accomplished action: we already know that this person will not suit us, why waste any additional forces on him by making a list of his answers, pointing out mistakes and suggesting some kind of development plan? More on this moment I will stop in my report.

    - Who should participate in the interviews of mobile developers, and who should not?

    In my opinion, any people whose presence you can justify to yourself and the candidate can take part in the interview. Theoretically, you can drive in a negotiation and a crowd of 60 people, if you can make it so that it does not affect the outcome of the interview for the worse.

    - And who should influence the hiring decision?

    Anyone interested in this hire. At least these are three people: a candidate who came (I want to believe that he doesn’t care), a manager who is looking for an employee, and, possibly, an employee of the personnel department, because he also has his own personal goal.

    - Does the process of hiring specialists of different levels?

    In the interviews that I spend, there is no such difference. We talk about the same about everyone: the depth of the questions is different. Regardless of the level of the specialist, we start with some kind of “top”. And then we check how deep a person can deal with this issue. Junior will have one level of immersion, the senior will have another.

    - Does Pandao have experience interacting with remote employees? Does the interview need to take into account this format of work?

    I have remote workers in the team right now. Some of them are sitting in the Moscow office of Mail.ru, chat - in St. Petersburg, and another employee in Irkutsk. There were even several completely remote teams distributed in different time zones with a shift in time up to five hours. And in my experience, there are no special chips for interviewing remote developers. We have a list of common agreements that all abide by, including remote developers. Therefore, in fact, there is no difference. There are features of the work, for example, how to provide access to test devices, but this is not a stage of the interview.

    - Do you use any mechanisms to entice employees from other technology companies? And is there any sense in this “bounty hunt”?

    Personally, I have never done this. The only ethically acceptable option that I see is that if you know a person personally and you know that he has dissatisfaction with current work, you can offer him some alternatives. For example, you can recommend him to talk with your employer on this discontent. And if he doesn’t find understanding there, offer to come to his team, noting that they already know how to work with this problem.

    In other words, I’m not luring away to my team, although I’m thinking that any of my employees will come up with offers of this kind at least several times a week.

    - At the interview, only the knowledge of the candidate is evaluated or, along with them, appearance, behavior, etc.? Can you be alerted by some things that do not relate to technical qualifications - for example, a T-shirt inside out?

    I think that people who say that they evaluate only technical qualities, motivating this by the fact that a person is wanted for work, are not fully aware of how exactly they end up making a decision. Literally everything matters. But it seems strange to me to refuse the candidate, because he has the wrong T-shirt. I would like to understand something more about this T-shirt: what exactly is wrong with it, what fears it causes. Perhaps, on it some insulting inscription for potential colleagues, which he considers to be his manifesto? Probably, you just need to discuss what the essence of the story is - ask about the origin of the T-shirt, the inscription, and any other dubious factors (in particular, what the candidate himself thinks about this). As straight as you can.

    In general, the average interview lasts about two hours and during this time you need to understand something about the person. It's complicated. But you have no other mechanism besides discussion.

    - Sometimes companies filter candidates, for example, in appearance (they say, the candidate goes for an interview, and could prepare). Does this make sense?

    I do not think. We do not set such requirements. But I’ll tell you in secret what exactly my team often look at social networking pages, just to understand what a person is interested in.

    - Should the candidate somehow prepare for the interview? Print a resume?

    In my opinion, we will spend this paper for nothing. I have enough links to the resume - I read, look at the projects, go to the AppStore, etc. But you can check the efficiency of links - often I come across the fact that a person gives a link to some kind of work, and there is nothing there. I see it about as often as specifying keywords in a resume that candidates don’t know anything about. It looks strange when a candidate cannot describe the basic principles of the project, which he said has been engaged in over the past few years.

    - Such "gaps" can be considered a reason to check the rest of the summary?

    Of course. But we try to check even without such reasons. My colleagues and I even had this practice - when all the basic questions were asked, we directly said: “You have a lot of keywords in your resume, we would like to talk about them quickly”. And then we poke into some word and ask: “Here is the SQL. And what exactly are you investing in SQL? ” And so on. A kind of blitz for keywords.

    - Is the algorithm of this check somehow related to what is indicated in the vacancy section of the mandatory requirements?

    Not. It all depends on how the person showed himself before. In principle, if he does everything perfectly, we may not reach this point.

    - How do you feel about the test task? What should be the duration?

    This is a holivar topic. I myself have a painful experience in this regard. When, for example, I did a test task for several days, and then I waited for a response on it for two weeks, but I received only: "It does not fit." Very informative for two days of work and two weeks of waiting.

    I know a lot of approaches to test tasks. I even formulated the test tasks myself, including those that the candidate could handle in one evening. The only difficulty with such short tasks for me personally is that I always want to do more. You sit down to program and in four hours you understand what else you can do here and think it over here. In such cases, I write in the covering letter: “I understand that you can still do this and that, but I will not have time at four o'clock; Therefore, I have covered such and such a front of work, but these questions have been postponed: a list. ”

    I rarely give out a test task for my vacancies. Preliminary tests also do not ask. But in the HR assignment I indicate the request to request any sample code from the candidate. Hiring a developer, we want to see his code.

    - NDA is not a hindrance?

    I want to believe that if a person spent a certain number of years programming, he will have at least a few examples in the store that he can show. Candidates do refer to the NDA. We do not refuse to such people in the interview. But in general, there are not so many people who for 10 years of programming have not implemented anything open at least for themselves. And I just need a link to GitHub, a zip-archive or just a few related files.

    And at the interview, we also write something.

    - What are you going to talk about at AppsConf ?

    My report focuses specifically on interviews. How to build a partnership with hr, how to make the right requirements for a candidate, how to give hr-u to the weapons answers to all the typical questions that may affect a person’s decision to come for an interview, how to conduct the interview itself and what needs to be done after its completion. I will consider in detail only this limited piece of time. The process of searching for candidates by a staff member of the personnel department is beyond the scope of our conversation, like everything that happens to a person after he has accepted an offer.

    - To whom is this story oriented?

    For any people who are directly involved in hiring mobile developers. It is desirable that these should be technical specialists - either a developer who acts as an interviewer on behalf of the team, or the head of these developers who hires an employee, because we will have some purely technical inclusions. But hr can listen. Percent 60 employees of the personnel department will be clear and, I hope, useful.

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