Hiring process part 4 · after the interview

Arseni Mourzenko
Founder and lead developer
November 6, 2014
Tags: hiring 15

In 2013, I was search­ing for a flat in Paris. For peo­ple who are not fa­mil­iar with this spe­cif­ic task of search­ing for a flat in this spe­cif­ic city, I should ex­plain that flats are huge­ly ex­pen­sive there, but there are still many per­sons who search for a flat com­pared to the num­ber of flats to rent. This im­bal­ance means that a per­son look­ing for a flat doesn't make a choice: the own­er does. The own­er re­ceives a few dozen ap­pli­ca­tions, each ap­pli­ca­tion con­tain­ing the per­son's ID, the re­cent payslips and a dozen of oth­er pa­pers, and then a lucky ap­pli­cant re­ceives a no­tice that he can sign the con­tract.

Dur­ing my search for a place to live, I vis­it­ed a small flat near Ver­sailles. Dur­ing the vis­it, the wife of the own­er ex­plained me that I'm one of two per­sons she replied to, be­cause only me and the oth­er ap­pli­cant con­tact­ed her twice. This sound­ed WT­Fish, but I quick­ly un­der­stood that I would bet­ter shut up and play a role of a very mo­ti­vat­ed guy who will kill to have this flat. What re­al­ly hap­pened is that by mis­take, I wrote twice to the same ad­dress with­out notic­ing it. She in­ter­pret­ed an ac­tu­al mis­take for a sign of mo­ti­va­tion.

Peo­ple from hu­man re­sources are also look­ing for mo­ti­va­tion through mys­te­ri­ous signs which, if they were show­ing any­thing, would rather in­di­cate lack of at­ten­tion or stub­born­ness. For ex­am­ple, many of them are con­vinced that you should con­tact their com­pa­ny twice be­fore they deign an­swer­ing. I didn't know there are peo­ple who ac­tu­al­ly en­joy be­ing spammed.

I once re­ceived an un­so­licit­ed ap­pli­ca­tion from a French pro­gram­mer who want­ed to work at Pel­i­can De­sign & De­vel­op­ment. His pro­file was not the one I'm po­ten­tial­ly look­ing for, so I replied, telling that I can't ac­cept his ap­pli­ca­tion, ex­plain­ing why I can't do that. A year lat­er, I re­ceive the same ap­pli­ca­tion one more time. Un­for­tu­nate­ly for this per­son, I have a good mem­o­ry of hun­dreds of can­di­da­tures I processed; I went and checked—in­deed, this was the same per­son. I replied, ask­ing why is he ap­ply­ing again, while he re­ceived a clear, de­fin­i­tive re­fusal. He an­swered that he just want­ed to re­call me that he ex­ists and that he's still look­ing for a job.

Was this man wrong? I don't think so. The ones to blame are those per­sons from hu­man re­sources who teach can­di­dates to spam com­pa­nies un­til those com­pa­nies re­ply, and when they re­ply, spam them again.

In the same way, many com­pa­nies are ex­pect­ing the can­di­date to get in touch with them af­ter the in­ter­view, in or­der to show that he's in­ter­est­ed. But what about the com­pa­ny? What if I ex­pect the com­pa­ny to show in­ter­est in my pro­file and con­tact me with a pro­pos­al? Should we re­main like two kids who sulk at each oth­er, ex­pect­ing the oth­er one to make the first step, or maybe it would be bet­ter to be­have like adults, get in touch (no mat­ter which side first) and de­cide if we can move the world for­ward to­geth­er?

This was the first rule:

Rule 1: don't sulk in the cor­ner like a child

Some com­pa­nies re­ply to the can­di­date they've cho­sen, and to this can­di­date only. This is un­for­tu­nate, be­cause it means that among 25 de­vel­op­ers you in­ter­viewed plus 175 can­di­da­tures you re­ject­ed with­out an in­ter­view, 199 will re­mem­ber you as be­ing too lazy to ac­tu­al­ly no­ti­fy them that they are not se­lect­ed. Those 199 per­sons have tens of friends each. The next time you are look­ing for a can­di­date, don't ex­pect those thou­sands of de­vel­op­ers wast­ing any time to con­tact you.

An ex­am­ple is Kan­tar Me­dia. They pub­lished a job post­ing on Ca­reers.SE, look­ing for a pro­ject man­ag­er. Since my pro­file cor­re­sponds to their needs, I con­tact­ed them, tak­ing time to writ­ing the cov­er let­ter with links to source code, to my pro­file, etc. They didn't both­er to an­swer. Why? They tell on their page that they have be­tween 501 and 1 000 em­ploy­ees. Among 501 per­sons, there was no one to just tell me: "Thank you, but we have al­ready se­lect­ed an­oth­er can­di­date for this po­si­tion." or "Thank you, but your pro­file doesn't seem to cor­re­spond to what we ac­tu­al­ly need." The next time Kan­tar Me­dia will search for a .NET de­vel­op­er, I won't be among the can­di­dates. Nor would any of my friends be, be­cause they read this blog and don't want to waste their time for a com­pa­ny who hadn't found ten sec­onds for ba­sic po­lite­ness. If those friends talk to their own friends, Kan­tar Me­dia re­duced their tal­ent pool by a few hun­dred of per­sons.

This leads us to the sec­ond rule:

Rule 2: mul­ti­pli­ca­tion sucks, so no­ti­fy every can­di­date about your choice


That's all I have to tall right now about the sub­ject. As you can see, hir­ing process is a com­pli­cat­ed task, but there are sim­ple pat­terns, prac­tices and rules you can ap­ply to avoid many er­rors. We have seen that you shouldn't write job post­ings and in­stead fo­cus on so­cial in­ter­ac­tions, and if you do write them, in­clude three key el­e­ments: pre­sent your­self, your com­pa­ny and the con­text (part 1). Don't re­main pas­sive, wait­ing for tal­ent­ed peo­ple to come to you: con­tact peo­ple you know, pre­pare a flaw­less pre­sen­ta­tion of your com­pa­ny, be con­vinc­ing and stay fo­cused when a po­ten­tial can­di­date re­sponds (part 2). Con­sid­er an in­ter­view as a busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ty and for­get about boss-sub­or­di­nate re­la­tion, keep hu­man re­sources away from the in­ter­view, and spend enough time dis­cov­er­ing the per­son and his skills (part 3). Fi­nal­ly, when you have found the right per­son, don't for­get to no­ti­fy oth­er per­sons that they are not se­lect­ed: it doesn't cost too much to look po­lite (part 4).

A few ideas tran­scend those four parts. The most im­por­tant ones are:

If you fol­low that, I don't guar­an­tee that you'll find the best de­vel­op­ers out there, but I'm pret­ty sure some­thing, some­where in this world will im­prove. At our hir­ing sys­tem, would it be in France or Unit­ed States, has so much to im­prove!