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Discussion on: What's your ideal interview process?

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Mike Overby

The interview process has no business assessing anything beyond "can they learn to do the job?" and "are they utterly unpleasant even in controlled environments?" Anything else is just an excuse to let the hiring process come down to the biases of the hiring committee, and I don't think that has to be inherent.

For one, under the current system, we might implement sortition to create a pool of candidates and filter out only the most obviously unqualified. After that, we could do informal, non-technical (or minorly technical) interviews similar to what we have.

IMO, a better solution would be to take the hiring power out of the hands of businesses entirely. Companies discriminate because we allow them to discriminate, we empower them to choose. We might do something else, like establish one of a few national software developer organizations that distribute the supply of developers. This could obviously get more complicated than this comment has time for, but I don't think it's a ridiculous option. If we did that, we could even do things like mandate employee cycling (e.g., an assignment lasts 2 years and then developers go to new ones) to prevent any one company from developing the exclusionary culture we see at major software companies today. It would make discrimination against contract workers a thing of the past.

I anticipate the first comment to be "but how does this interview process find the best candidate?" There is no "best" candidate. The meritocracy is a lie we tell people to launder biases. And even if it wasn't a lie, why does any business deserve to hold out for a "best" candidate? People are starving on the streets for lack of work. All workplaces have hired people who most agree "shouldn't" be there, for one reason or another, and companies survive. The logic even shifts to protect those "lackluster" employees because getting rid of them is more trouble than keeping them. If the current process kicks hundreds/thousands of capable people to the curb, in search of "the best," then the process is meaningless and should not be respected.