Uncompetitive wrestling: how Crossover tournaments have changed in their first year

    Last Saturday, March 10, Crossover held another Moscow Hiring Tournament for the vacancy of Software Engineering Manager. It was a quite ordinary event in the series of our events, not distinguished by the topic of the vacancy - the SEM position is at the middle level in the hierarchy of our specialists, - not by the format. Many have already heard about tournaments for Crossover vacancies - and many criticize them. Moreover, they beat tournaments even not according to their passport as an idea, but in the face - for the name itself. The combination of the words “vacancy” and “tournament” evokes different, more often difficult associations among people, and different, sometimes, real formats of events under the general brand of tournaments disorientate and, probably, frighten away some number of potential applicants. And we agree with this criticism.

    However, we will remember something on March 10th: we launched a “publicity booth” on it, urging all its participants from among the habrausers, who would like to speak up, to share their impressions for the Crossover blog. And today we publish them for the first time - without censorship, edits and notes.

    Ab ovo

    The idea of ​​the tournament as a new format for the selection of developers was born in the Crossover global creative team at the beginning of last year. Russia, in which the first tournament was held in February 2017, entered the four of the first countries in which this idea was launched first. The idea was as follows :

    the programming process can be made more interesting by introducing elements of socialization into it, solving atypical problems and setting limits, the framework of which, like the shrinking walls of the garbage compartment of the imperial cruiser, give the actions dynamics and stimulate focus in finding a solution.

    The idea was fascinating, and the name Hiring Tournament then seemed perfectly appropriate ... (but no, the contradiction of the idea and the example is striking: the tournament implies everyone's struggle for personal success, and in the garbage compartment the team of Solo and Skywalkers received just the lesson of survival thanks to team work - approx. picky geek).

    Nevertheless, the essence of the new format: a set of qualification tests packaged in a competition between applicants - the name of the tournament represented well. The strengths of this idea were instant feedback in the form of a standings and motivation with sports excitement and lively competition, as an alternative to having to pore over faceless tests.

    Come back next week

    But the purpose of the events remained the same: not just tournaments, but hiring tournaments - that is, not just an adrenaline rush, but the selection of the best candidates; and even the new format has not eliminated the need to evaluate professional skills of participants as accurately as possible.

    In order to ensure a higher level of testing, it was necessary to add “creative” tasks to tournaments in which the calculation of “points” in them cannot be algorithmized (before connecting to the AI ​​verification, at least) and therefore require manual processing. But when even the smallest offline events gather dozens of participants, and 700 people were simultaneously recruited in online tournaments - the inability to meet the assessment of all answers within the framework of the tournament day is almost guaranteed.

    Work story: In addition to offline events, which are limited for purely physical reasons, we also actively conduct online tournaments. On some Saturdays, app.crossover.com hosts up to 20 or more (!) Online tournaments for a variety of positions, the winners of which are placed on the internal marketplace with subsequent employment. On one of these Saturdays, an influx of participants from India happened to us of incredible power, breaking up the numbers to such numbers when it’s not a sin to remember who actually invented the Arabic numbers - and putting our resource with tasks, of course. But the site support team switched from HighLoad practices to “you” - we are ready to receive new multi-million generation generations of developers who have already grown up with tablets under a belly in the foreseeable future.

    Delayed announcement of the results reduces the dynamics of the event; the motivation of users to give everything up "here and now" falls when they know that the result will be next week.

    Only the rational desire to gain enough points to go to the next stage and be on the Crossover marketplace remains in effect. But this is already far from the ideology of tournament motivation - as if Han Solo, instead of shooting, sits down against Jabba in chess.


    Even slowed down by a delayed debriefing up to lethargic dynamics, the tournament still contains the most important factor in distorting the results of any objective assessment of abilities: stress. The very secret weapon, which was supposed to accelerate the creativity of the selection participants to Jedi speeds according to the original idea of ​​the tournament authors, is a no less powerful braking mechanism for many people. This is a factor affecting the effectiveness of selection at times.

    Therefore, the current tournament regulations for Crossover are very liberal:

    • by default, four to six hours (depending on the position) of continuous work are allotted for test tasks,
    • although no one forbids passing everything in two hours and "dropping off into the sunset",
    • or you can simply continue working on a task from home in the environment of the same app.crossover.com . But already in its atmosphere.

    The main thing is to finish on time, keeping within a single deadline until 11am Sunday in Moscow.

    Because the tournament is voluntary, and the objective assessment of the applicant is mandatory.

    It is easy to see that all this finally erodes the action component of Hiring Tournaments - at least as closed not only in space but also in time of the event. But at the same time, this does not leave a stone unturned from the existing notions of Crossover tournaments as the “Royal Battle” for developers.

    The first Crossover tournaments were biathlon: the participant ran in races with others, but at the same time everyone had to get to their goal. Today's Crossover tournaments are high jumps, where everyone only has a goal: the bar he chose for himself to overcome.

    Translation difficulties

    But it’s joyful to throw the word tournament out of the name, renaming itself to some Hiring Events, a couple of circumstances prevent us. For example, Crossover is an international company with a dozen key markets, developers in the literal sense from all over more than 130 countries in the world and certain regulations, including common end-to-end names of applied practices. And the reform initiated “from below” in such a situation can become a completely global (company-wide) problem.

    And we really do not want to say goodbye to the gaming component of our tournaments - it would not be too modern in the era of universal gamification of processes to return to the format of a simple exam to increase their efficiency. Now we are working on the gamification of tasks not at the expense of their indicativeness for evaluating the skills of tournament participants, i.e. candidates for the vacancy announced by its topic.

    However, we do not reject the idea of ​​rebranding our format - however , we do not yet see a suitable, universal enough definition for the gamified selection testing process, which would not bring even more confusion than the current “tournament”.

    Well, for dating

    The current format of the Crossover tournament is most reminiscent of an open day with career counseling tests. The tournament itself is preceded by a kind of mitap, which includes acquaintance with Crossover, the team, the position, people already working on it and their experience.

    The live questions of “what is SEM and why do they eat” were dealt with by the current Software Engineering Managers Pavel Gorbel and Aleksey Zolotarev, and Svyatoslav SlavaKulakov Kulakov connected via Skype to talk about the interior kitchen from a screen height of two meters from the floor level of VP of Engineering employment at Crossover as a whole - and, of course, work out a mandatory program on issues for your biographical post .

    The results of the tournament itself have long been summed up: from 22 applicants for SEM positions to the "market place", i.e. According to the results of March 10, two participants got inside the window of candidates recommended by Crossover, and one more - in the process of consideration.

    And now, finally, the promised habra-feedback of the surviving tournament participants arrived in time . The first of them, at the request of the user himself, we post incognito, so as not to create problems for him at his current place of work. He promised to respond in the comments from the NotSmartEnough account :

    Hi, Habr.

    If you read this, then Crossover, indeed, published a review of a live participant in the Moscow Hiring Tournament. ;)

    I attended the event for the sake of interest rather than the practical need for a job search. Initially, having stumbled upon an advertising post in VK, I was skeptical - everything painfully beautiful (and suspicious) sounds. But, the more I learn about the company, the more attractive their ideology and the opportunity to participate in their development. I recommend everyone to watch the video of their CEO - in order to clarify the situation.

    What did you like about the event itself:
    - Great organization. We chose a decent place, cookies and coffee were delicious. The convenience for the participants was ensured by the maximum: simple and clear registration, (more or less) normal Wi-Fi, everyone had enough space and sockets, the ability to fill out questionnaires both sitting at the table and in comfortable armchairs in the lobby.
    - For the introductory part’s own timings, they beat out significantly, but this did not cause discomfort - they did not procrastinate boring presentations, but answered specific questions that interested the participants. (
    Special thanks to Vladimir for the skillful and delicate management of the discussion.) - The assembled audience was rather motley, but at the same time pleasant in communication. Everyone I interacted with was more than adequate.
    - At lunch, we were given the opportunity to chat with live employees of the company (without supervision). The guys expressed honestly the pros and cons. Participants of the event were actively crowded around. I learned a lot about how everything is really arranged. Super-helpful practice. All companies that have nothing to be ashamed of should arrange such communication sessions for potential candidates!

    What I didn’t like:
    - The duration of the event (~ 5 hours) declared in the invitation is a myth. In total, at the event plus in the evening from home, I spent more than 9 hours on meaningfully filling out everything I needed. Yes, you can go home, and continue from there. But if you pre-voice the real volume of work, you can plan your day more adequately. Although, this would scare away some of the candidates.
    - The content of the questions implies the availability of expertise in the code review, which is not said either in the job description or in the invitation, and that categorically in my head does not fit with the role of "manager". At the same time, the company’s employees themselves say that this practice was abolished some time ago, the manager is engaged in resource management, not code quality. Hopefully the recruiting department will wake up soon to bridge this gap.
    - The site itself, on which testing is taking place, clearly needs reconstruction. At least some parts of it. The ease of transition between the stages leaves much to be desired, and the design of the technical issues section looks drawn 10 years ago. A development office with 3000+ employees can certainly do better!

    In general, I respect Crossover from such an event. The variety of events for developers has always made me jealous. This, of course, was not a Tournament, but the very opportunity to evaluate my managerial skills was extremely pleasing. Let's see what a competent commission thinks about my skills. : D

    Everything written above is subjective. I’m writing a detailed review about the event for the first time, so please do not scold me much. My nickname asked to hide for reasons of confidentiality, so I won’t answer any additional questions - I just read them in the comments.

    Review by ansaril3 :

    He participated in the Crossover intramural tournament for the position of Software Engineering Manager in Java specialization. There were assignments for knowledge of English, agile and Java flexible methodologies, I even had to program a little. Be prepared for the fact that there are many questions and their solution is tiring (to some extent similar to the USMLE medical exam), but the test screening scheme itself, in my opinion, is quite logical.

    The third and so far the last review we received from EmilMusayev :

    When I first heard about the tournament, everything seemed too complicated and incomprehensible, but decided to come and try. Reality exceeded all expectations!

    Pleasant people met, and in a terrific atmosphere of friendliness and convenience told about Crossover. The presentation and communication with Crossover staff made an extremely pleasant impression on me. The format and working conditions for people who prefer mobility are simply excellent.

    I want to especially note the impeccable organization, the openness of the tournament. I felt at home, I didn’t want to leave.

    Emil Musaev, Project Manager, BP

    Thank you very much for your feedback!

    Large and long projects like Crossover tournaments are a living organism that is in constant flux. We are constantly working on its development - the quality of the site and infrastructure, the study of tasks, and the involvement of participants. And we monitor what happens: including when it turns out that increasing the segment of acquaintance with the project, sharing experience with the team and just the number of breaks for a snack, we go beyond timing. Next time we will take this into account :-) No reviews are wasted. While we are solving the main task - we find people jobs, and companies - staff, then all this is worth it.

    And on April 7th we will see what we have learned this time.

    PS If any of the habrausers have any impressions from the earlier Crossover events, then send them to us at habrahabr@crossover.com - we will definitely read them the same way and will already selectively publish them.

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