Why I do not interview

Original author: Jason Freedman
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Translation of Jason Freedman's article "Everyone Sucks at Interviewing. Everyone." The original article can be read here .

The idea of ​​conducting job interviews seems vicious and meaningless to me. Each employer blindly follows the standard path, consisting of posting vacancies, processing resumes and interviewing candidates, without ever having to think if this is really what he needs. I believe that this standard path is completely inapplicable in today's realities.

Over the past few years, I have been studying with great interest everything related to the selection and hiring of employees. Finding a good specialist is insanely difficult, and I can hardly name a lot of companies that do it well. Even the most successful companies in this regard have a terrible secret, which consists in the following: no matter how well the selection process is organized, it still cannot guarantee that the hired employee will succeed in a new place. Rumor has it that even the most sophisticated candidate assessment systems used by Google's HR department are not able to accurately predict the effectiveness of a future employee. Some companies note that the only indicator that somehow correlates with the success of young developers is their results in the SAT test (the American analogue of the USE) .

According to Paul English, technical director of Kayak, a company developing an online platform for booking hotels and airline tickets, he has to fire every third employee hired - and he considers this a pretty good indicator!

That is, a company manager with many years of experience working with candidates is still mistaken in 33 percent of cases? That's bad! But at the same time, do not forget that Kayak is a large and stable company, and parting with one or two employees, as a rule, does not create special problems for it. But many startups, due to the instability of the situations in which they work, cannot simply dismiss an ineffective employee.

“We have the first release on our nose, we cannot afford to kick one person out of the team ...”
“Investors have just started financing, the dismissal will raise many questions ...”
“Let's give him another three months and see what happens ...”

I do not say that I am a guru in finding and hiring good employees. But I can share with you a simple trick that I successfully use.

I do not interview. Absolutely.

I believe that the hiring process should be similar to courting a girl before starting a serious relationship. Serious working relationships are best started by working together for a while. Before hiring (or not hiring) a person, I do a small joint project with him. I try to identify tasks for such projects that can be completed in a few weeks and whose results are clearly visible and easily measurable. The work carried out as part of this project, I pay at the prices of the average contractor.

If the candidate completes his project “excellently”, then he receives a job offer from us. At this point, we no longer ask ourselves questions about what qualifications this person has and what tasks he can be given: we have already tested him in practice. By this time, the candidate also knows all the pros and cons of our company and the style of work of our team. And he will accept (or not accept) our job offer, perfectly imagining all our features.

And it happens that the candidate does not cope with the project. Then we wish him all the best and in addition we give him a couple of tips on how to find the position that suits him best. And we safely pass through all the bureaucracy associated with the dismissal of a person from the state, do not spend six months on fruitless attempts to work together or “pull up” an employee and avoid uncomfortable conversations about his fate behind closed doors.

It happens that for some reason the candidate we are interested in cannot allocate three weeks for a pilot project. In this case, we try to find a smaller project that can be done in the evenings and on weekends, or we are looking for an open source project that is interesting to both of us, or we offer the employee to take a three-day day off for the main job, so that in total with the weekend we get five full working days, which can be spent on our project. For those candidates who are still studying at the university, we offer to work with us during the holidays. Well, if the candidate cannot find the right amount of time in any way, then, alas, we say goodbye to him, wish him all the best, and, if possible, give him recommendations where else to go.

But we never, never conduct tedious interviews with quick wits and questions on algorithms. Why? Yes, because neither one nor the other is useful to a person when working with us.

My position is this: the only true way to select classroom specialists is through trial projects that they carry out on a contract basis. This approach is gradually gaining popularity among startups, and it seems to me that startups themselves and their future employees only benefit from this. This technique is of little interest to large companies: their HR departments are used to more formal processes and are unlikely to abandon them in the near future. But small companies should definitely at least try to change their approach to the selection of employees.

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