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Hiring process part 4 · after the interview

Arseni Mourzenko
Founder and lead developer, specializing in developer productivity and code quality
September 20, 2014
Tags hiring 14

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:

  • Be proactive.
  • Forget about boss-subordinate relation.
  • Don't let people from human resources talk to the candidates.

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!