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Simon Barker
Simon Barker

Posted on • Originally published at careerswitchtocoding.com

Stop playing Big Tech's hiring game

The hiring process is broken, companies find it incredibly difficult to hire the technical talent they need to do the job. There simply aren’t enough skilled developers out there to work on the perfect magical systems that the collective genius of even a mid rate regional tech firm has made. In fact it’s so unlikely that you have the technical skills required to meet their high bar that you probably won’t get hired. So don’t apply.

Seriously, don’t apply to companies who think the rubbish I just wrote. Or that copy the hiring practices of those companies because they think it's what they should do.

The truth is that very few tech companies need the level of technical perfection that they think they need. The reason they find it “so hard to hire good talent” is because they have multiple rounds of interview that absorb hours of your personal time and brain space requiring you to solve puzzles and do backflips all while dealing with the stress of an interview and where one miss-step blacklists you!

So stop applying to these companies, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Big Tech broke tech hiring

The tech hiring process is broken because Big Tech broke it:

  • take home tests
  • technical deep dives
  • presentations
  • pair programming sessions (that are really just more technical tests in disguise)
  • and follow up call after follow up call

"But that's what companies need to do!" I hear you cry! How else will they find the right people?

Well, I’ve been through 11 interview processes in the last 2 years, receiving 10 job offers, and only one required me to do more than 3 rounds. Some, including my current role at an EduTech startup, didn't require a coding test at all.

The one long interview process I went through was 5 rounds across 7 hours and ended with a follow up call from the recruiter where they said "it was a really tough call but your solution on test 4 wasn't as elegant as the interviewer would have liked" he did then chuckle and say that the final interviewer asked if they had seen the same candidate because I "smashed it" and "I think this will be our loss".

If after 7 hours of tests a role isn't offered simply because in 60 minutes someone couldn't write Conway's Game Of Life as elegantly as possible but everyone else thought they were a good fit for the role then the problem isn't "lack of tech talent", it's their hiring processes.

What's the developer hiring process alternative?

The reason only one required me to go through more than 3 rounds is because I actively avoid applying to places that require more than 3. I made an exception in this case because I have used the company's product a lot and have a genuine affinity for it. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered.

Multi stage interview processes where one person can kill your chance of getting the job are a waste of your time. Stop playing their game and start applying to companies who actually understand that not every developer on staff needs 20 years experience and a PhD in Computer Engineering from Stanford, and instead realise that people come from a variety of backgrounds, with a range of skills and most of what you do each day can be learned on the job as and when required.

Find that local digital agency who struggle to find developers and want to grow their client base. Or, that regional e-commerce retailer with a home grown order management system that they need modernised who will appreciate you and your time.

Most developers never work in big tech. Not working for Apple or Facebook or Google isn't a bug, in fact it could be considered a feature for many companies. You can have a wonderful, interesting and fruitful career without being bounced from pillar to post going through the hoops that jumped up Big Tech bros put up for you.

Ask how many rounds of interview there will be at the start, if it's more than 3 and they're not paying you for your time then "regretfully pass on their process" and move on. If we all stop playing their stupid game, they will have to adapt.

Discussion (1)

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Andrew Myers

Yeah problem is, even the smaller companies make the same demands and put you through the same process. I heard the only way to get hired is by referral...but that means you'd have to know someone in the industry already, and to do that, you have to be very lucky and bump into the right people...and even then, that doesn't guarantee they will refer you. It's a catch 22