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'[OT] Hiring process'
2009\04\24@021250 by Vitaliy

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Peter wrote:
Subject: Re: [OT] Hiring contract programmers
> Vitaliy <spam <at> maksimov.org> writes:
>> in excess of one hour. I can afford it because we rarely interview more
>> than
>> two people for a position, even one that has several hundred applicants
>> (the
>> rest are eliminated during the resume sort, or a phone interview).
>
> Could you elaborate on the 'resume sort' that eliminates 98% of the
> applicants,
> and, thus, should be 98% accurate (for 100 applicants) ? Or is it the
> phone
> interview that eliminates most of them (and achieves the high accuracy) ?

The resume sort is the first thing we do, after the resumes are in. We
usually take two passes.

The first pass is the easy one, it eliminates the obvious no-hire's.
Examples:

   - Applicant lives 300 miles away
   - Objective does not match position applied for
   - Salary requirements are too high

At the end of the first pass, we are usually left with a handful of resumes
that meet the basic requirements. Sometimes a second pass is required, where
the resumes are compared. The goal is to end up with a small number (<5) of
resumes.

The next step is phone interviews. There is a list of about 10 to 20
questions, but if at any point it becomes obvious that the candidate is a
no-hire, the interviewer is free to thank the candidate and terminate the
interview right there and then. So it could last only a minute, or take
longer than one hour.

As with the second resume sort, the notes are compared, and the top
candidates (normally, one or two) are invited for an in-person interview
(which is normally conducted by more than one person, and may include a
test). If someone makes it to this round, it is a virtual guarantee that
they will be offered the job.


[and later]
{Quote hidden}

I'm not sure what you mean by "accuracy" in this context. My goal is to hire
the right person for the job, using the most efficient means available.

Is the process perfect? No. Is it possible that a perfectly good candidate
will be overlooked, because he can't write a good resume, nor has friends
who can help him write one? Sure. But the process works reasonably well to
help me achieve my goal (see above), and after seven years, I haven't found
a better one.


> Given that f.ex. a full length professionally designed and administered
> university exam will reject only about 20% of candidates at any given
> level, and
> take well over three hours per test (with several tests per exam usually),

Peter, do you not see how ridiculous your comparison is? Are you suggesting
that employers should administer three-hour university-level exams to every
candidate, and hire 80% of applicants?

A company is not a university. If I have one job opening, it does not matter
how many resumes I get for that position, one or five hundred -- I only need
to hire ONE person to fill the opening. Last fall, we received over ONE
THOUSAND applications for one CS position. We could not interview every
single applicant, even if we wanted to. Businesses can afford to be picky
when it comes to hiring, I would say they cannot afford not to.

If you ever had the opportunity to participate in the process, you would
know that the majority of resumes/applications submitted for a given
position, are chuff. This is because most people nowadays use a spray gun to
submit their resume, often forgetting to even check to see that the company
is located in the same city, much less to make sure they're qualified.


> the
> hiring testing/screening standards must be very good by any measure, be
> 'designed' ad-hoc by engineers and hr employees who do not design exams
> for a
> living in a few hours,

Our standard is higher than any university's, by definition. If we have 100
applicants for one position, we only admit 1%.

Who do you think knows better what the standards should be: the person who
knows what skills and experience the candidate needs to do the job, or a
person who "designs exams for a living"?

For the record, I spent hundreds of hours sorting resumes, and interviewed
dozens of people. As with any task, one gets better with experience. And I
try my best to supplement it with the experience of other people.


> and must carry a very high level of confidence.

Why? So we don't commit injustice by turning away a good candidate, because
his resume was sloppy? You need to remember what my goal is (hint: it is
_not_ to provide due process to all candidates). Joel Spolsky has this to
say:

"On the other hand, if you reject a good candidate, I mean, I *guess* in
some existential sense an injustice has been done, but, hey, if they're so
smart, don't worry, they'll get *lots* of good job offers. "


> Interesting numerical and psychological insights into hiring policy :)
> They sort
> of sum up the current 'superiority' of Western manufacturing and
> engineering
> companies, as well as their economic 'success' in not so many words. Not
> that
> I'd have a solution for that. It's just the way things are, I guess.

I don't understand why you put those words in quotation marks. The system
allows the world's leading companies to be profitable, while paying their
employees salaries that seem astronomical to the rest of the world. Your
sarcasm is misplaced.


> In any case, non-Western management style still has a long way to go to
> match
> the Western managerial teams on the green turf and in spending power.

It sounds like you haven't been exposed to non-Western management styles,
comrade. Where are you from, and where have you been?


> PS: I am well aware that one cannot talk about 'statistics' when
> considering one
> or two job openings and hundreds of applicants, but waving some numbers
> instead
> of just hot air over it is still something, as opposed to nothing imho.

IMHO in this case the statistics are worth less than hot air.

Vitaliy

2009\04\26@123624 by Peter

picon face
Vitaliy <spam <at> maksimov.org> writes:
> > In any case, non-Western management style still has a long way to go to
> > match
> > the Western managerial teams on the green turf and in spending power.
>
> It sounds like you haven't been exposed to non-Western management styles,
> comrade. Where are you from, and where have you been?

I have been, and regret that the revolution that ended that came too late and
hanged too few to send out the right message to the survivors, figuratively
speaking. And plase don't call me comrade, I never was one, and that's a really
bad thing to call one where I come from. Still have problems with that in the
family.

My sarcasm applies due to what I know, it was not meant to be offending.
Consider it procrastination. I am not such a sour-puss usually.

The non-Western managerial teams spend their spoils in other ways than golfing,
although they are working on catching up there too. I even learned how to play
mini-golf ages ago, too. Can't stand the real thing though, the sun would boil
me alive. Heh.

Peter


2009\04\26@144223 by Alex

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Hi,

Well, sorry to join this debate in the middle, but ...

I live in Finland and we use non-Western standards, I assume. I've
never been any kind of manager or HR person. But, being a grad-student
in a quite a big polytechnic and having a nice SWD position and thus,
consulting number of students on a daily basis about employment and
everything like that (well, they ask - me answers), I believe I can
voice my opinion in this discussion ...

1. I totally agree with Vitaliy about % of badly written resumes.

Most of our students want to have any kind of job what so ever in IT,
no matter what it includes, so they just submit their CVs to every
possible company and for every position available, without even
bothering to change it. Which is a _BIG_ mistake number 1!
In quite a few cases they don't even bother to fine-tune the cover
letter. So, I assume that it is really nice from HR point of view to
receive the letter asking to consider the application for SWD
position, even though company is developing analog electronics. (seen
exactly that kind of case!!! Guy was blaming the company for not
calling him ... Well, no surprise ... )

2. If invited to interview, don't expect that most of technical
questions really do have technical matter behind them.

I've been on number of interviews and I can tell that sometimes (read:
in most of big companies), the main asset is to be able to work in a
team and according to company rules. So, this is checked always.
As one of my coleagues said: "in school, you will never have any kind
of course about our proprietary hardware, software, ways of working,
etc ... just because, they are _proprietary_!" So, it is expected that
there will be some "on the job training" involved.

So, having said above, I believe that 99% of applicants just don't get
the idea and, obviosly, they don't get a position. There are more
reasons, obviously, however, failing to accept 2 above mentioned facts
means 100% failure in getting a position in a big company.

BR,
Aleksandr.

2009/4/26 Peter <spam_OUTplpeter2006TakeThisOuTspamyahoo.com>:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2009\04\26@193008 by Jinx

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> no matter what it includes, so they just submit their CVs to every
> possible company and for every position available, without even
> bothering to change it. Which is a _BIG_ mistake number 1!

A friend who hires gets those and says they are just like junk mail
or spam. It doesn't help the applicant's chances at all. Sometimes
the CV is not completely relevant to the position but there's a letter
and references about the applicant's character and work history, so
they'll get a consideration

I've heard one time-saver is to simply throw half the CVs into the
bin unopened. This eliminates unlucky people ;-)

2009\04\26@231240 by Vitaliy

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Jinx wrote!
> I've heard one time-saver is to simply throw half the CVs into the
> bin unopened. This eliminates unlucky people ;-)

B R I L L I A N T ! ! !  :-D

ROFL!....

2009\04\27@002001 by Jinx

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>> I've heard one time-saver is to simply throw half the CVs into the
>> bin unopened. This eliminates unlucky people ;-)
>
> B R I L L I A N T ! ! !  :-D
>
> ROFL!....

Hehe, I know, terribly twisted logic isn't it

2009\04\27@023602 by Ruben Jönsson

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Unless the unlucky one is you.

One of the problem with hiring is that you have to judge someones skill set
(the skill set you need) based upon another skill set (writing CVs). Sometimes
these go hand in hand but often not.

Perhaps there is a new market niche opening up here: Hiring mediums. Just give
them the unopened applicants letters and resumes and have him/her pick one out.

Here in sweden it is quite common these days that you let an outside firm do
the initial parts of the hiring process. The firm that needs the new employee
then gets a couple to choose from. Very often this new employee is then hired
as a consultant, employed by the hiring firm. If all goes well for a while he
can get a permanent job or be kept on as a consultant. If things don't go well
the consulting contract is simply terminated. This is probably also because
there are some stringent rules about firing people here in Sweden so a lot of
companies don't want to have employers of their own.

/Ruben

> Jinx wrote!
> > I've heard one time-saver is to simply throw half the CVs into the
> > bin unopened. This eliminates unlucky people ;-)
>
> B R I L L I A N T ! ! !  :-D
>
> ROFL!....
> -

2009\04\27@085831 by Tony Smith

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> >> I've heard one time-saver is to simply throw half the CVs into the
> >> bin unopened. This eliminates unlucky people ;-)
> >
> > B R I L L I A N T ! ! !  :-D
> >
> > ROFL!....
>
> Hehe, I know, terribly twisted logic isn't it


It's not far off how it works in HR anyway.

I have heard claims that the whole resume / interview thing is a waste of
time, you might as well pick a name from a barrel.

Not hard to determine if it's true.  Get a list of all employees (past &
present), and grade them.  How many fall into the 'great resume / great
bloke but useless in the end' category?  50%?  Next time flip a coin.

Microsoft, with their 'A' grade staff only attitude, describe it as if you
hire a 'B' grade person, they'll hire 'C' graders, and it's all downhill
from there.  

One place hired a bloke who was referred to as 'the village idiot' by a
sales rep, and everyone instantly knew who she meant.  He'd been hired by a
someone who had a 'management technique of the week' approach, I never did
find his copy of 'Dummies Guide to Management'.

Tony

2009\04\27@144435 by Peter

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Ruben Jönsson <ruben <at> pp.sbbs.se> writes:
> Here in sweden it is quite common these days that you let an outside firm do
> the initial parts of the hiring process. The firm that needs the new employee

This is so totally brilliant! Why randomly throw out 50% of the CVs when you can
have someone else do it for you, and you can pay him for that, without kowing
whether his randomization process does not bias towards throwing out the perfect
candidate's resume.

The point about Swedish employment laws is noted.

Peter

2009\04\27@150100 by Tony Smith

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> > Here in sweden it is quite common these days that you let an outside firm do
> > the initial parts of the hiring process. The firm that needs the new employee
>
> This is so totally brilliant! Why randomly throw out 50% of the CVs when you can
> have someone else do it for you, and you can pay him for that, without kowing
> whether his randomization process does not bias towards throwing out the perfect
> candidate's resume.


Australia is exactly the same, in not worse.

Very few companies advertise directly for staff, they use recruiters.  They all have HR departments, of course, I'm not sure exactly what they do; they sure don't get involved in the hiring process, that's between the recruiter and the area of the company that's hiring.

Same process for permanent & contractors.

For contractors they bill the company, keep a 1/3rd for themselves and the contractor gets the rest.

Tony



'[OT] Hiring process'
2009\05\05@015745 by Vitaliy
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Tony Smith wrote:
> I have heard claims that the whole resume / interview thing is a waste of
> time, you might as well pick a name from a barrel.

I'm curious who you've heard this from, and how much HR experience they
have. I've been doing HR duty for almost seven years now.


> Not hard to determine if it's true.  Get a list of all employees (past &
> present), and grade them.  How many fall into the 'great resume / great
> bloke but useless in the end' category?  50%?  Next time flip a coin.

50% would actually be pretty good. Remember, you're not presented with two
candidates, you're selecting from hundreds (sometimes, thousands) of
applicants. The odds of hiring the right person for the job, are usually
less than 1:100.


> Microsoft, with their 'A' grade staff only attitude, describe it as if you
> hire a 'B' grade person, they'll hire 'C' graders, and it's all downhill
> from there.

Not sure what you mean.


> One place hired a bloke who was referred to as 'the village idiot' by a
> sales rep, and everyone instantly knew who she meant.  He'd been hired by
> a
> someone who had a 'management technique of the week' approach, I never did
> find his copy of 'Dummies Guide to Management'.

I can't speak for other managers, I'm simply sharing my experience. There
are lousy managers, just as there are lousy engineers. Hiring is not more of
a voodoo than engineering. You can learn to do it, and you get better with
practice.

Vitaliy

2009\05\05@172139 by Tony Smith

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> > I have heard claims that the whole resume / interview thing is a waste
of
> > time, you might as well pick a name from a barrel.
>
> I'm curious who you've heard this from, and how much HR experience they
> have. I've been doing HR duty for almost seven years now.
>
>
> > Not hard to determine if it's true.  Get a list of all employees (past &
> > present), and grade them.  How many fall into the 'great resume / great
> > bloke but useless in the end' category?  50%?  Next time flip a coin.
>
> 50% would actually be pretty good. Remember, you're not presented with two
> candidates, you're selecting from hundreds (sometimes, thousands) of
> applicants. The odds of hiring the right person for the job, are usually
> less than 1:100.
>
> > Microsoft, with their 'A' grade staff only attitude, describe it as if
you
> > hire a 'B' grade person, they'll hire 'C' graders, and it's all downhill
> > from there.
>
> Not sure what you mean.


I remember it from something I read years ago, some bloke complaining about
recruitment companies, and the whole hiring process in general.  It's not a
1 in #resumes choice, you do filter a bit.

His basic idea was that you can quickly wind up with a list of people all
who are capable of doing the job, and there's really no way to pick the
'best one'.

Say you get 100 resumes.  You discard half to weed out the unlucky ones, and
of the remaining 50 you ditch about 40 more, as these were written on the
back of a beer coaster, are from job spammers, not enough experience, have
photos of them in interesting attire* and so on.  The remaining 10 all have
their credentials checked out, and you eliminate a few bullshitters.  Give
the rest a short test, that leaves five.

So, you reckon you can pick the 'very best' from an interview?

His point was at this stage you might as well draw from a hat or flip a
coin, any one of them can do the job.  You might wind up hiring the guy who
stared at his shoelaces all the time, rather than the jovial ex-NASA guy who
spent all of his working hours telling war stories.

The recruitment agencies seem to work along these lines anyway.  Keyword
filter & pick the first five.  I must admit I've been hired at the interview
a few times - I guess they weren't overly fussy, or I was the first person
they'd seen who wasn't a raving lunatic or something.  Always a weird
experience.

The Microsoft thing is along the lines of you hire someone as smart or
smarter than yourself.  A Dilbert cartoon sent this up as according to the
logic, the CEO is the dumbest person in the company.  What you don't want is
people hiring mates, relatives and yes-men.  Basically the no-so-smart (or
insecure) hire people dumber than themselves, and so on.

Tony

* One place was hiring a receptionist.  One woman strolled in wearing a low
cut leopard print blouse, not much of a skirt and very high heels - "Well,
it's not going to be her."

2009\05\06@041419 by Alan B. Pearce

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>* One place was hiring a receptionist.  One woman strolled in
>wearing a low cut leopard print blouse, not much of a skirt
>and very high heels - "Well, it's not going to be her."

Shades of the record distribution company we had as a customer at one stage,
the receptionist looked like she was straight out of 'WKRP Cincinnati ...

When she opened her mouth, she enhanced the impression.

2009\05\06@043135 by Tamas Rudnai

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On Wed, May 6, 2009 at 9:14 AM, Alan B. Pearce <.....Alan.B.PearceKILLspamspam@spam@stfc.ac.uk>wrote:

> Shades of the record distribution company we had as a customer at one
> stage,
> the receptionist looked like she was straight out of 'WKRP Cincinnati ...
>
> When she opened her mouth, she enhanced the impression.
>

Sounds like a Monica Lewinsky story :-)

Tamas
--
http://www.mcuhobby.com

2009\05\06@050648 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Sounds like a Monica Lewinsky story :-)

Nah, wrong colour hair to start with.

If you haven't seen 'WKRP Cincinnati', with Loni Anderson as the 'Dumb
Blonde', then you can get some information here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WKRP_in_Cincinnati but you really need to see
an episode to understand the nuance.

2009\05\07@052158 by Tamas Rudnai

face picon face
This article in the Irish Times may related to this thread - just a little
bit about discrimination

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0507/breaking4.htm

Tamas
--
http://www.mcuhobby.com

2009\05\07@144426 by Vitaliy

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Tamas Rudnai wrote:
> This article in the Irish Times may related to this thread - just a little
> bit about discrimination
>
> http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0507/breaking4.htm
>

"Dr Pete Lunn, ESRI economist and report co-author, said that compared with
other countries, Ireland suffered from high levels of discrimination.
"Compared with the international literature as a whole, the rate of
discrimination that we recorded in this experiment is high," he said."

Based on personal experience and observation, I think that "name
discrimination" is much less of an issue here in the US. If only because a
lot of times you can't deduce a person's race or ethnicity from their name.

Vitaliy

2009\05\07@180425 by Tony Smith

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> > This article in the Irish Times may related to this thread - just a
little
> > bit about discrimination
> >
> > www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0507/breaking4.htm
> >
>
> "Dr Pete Lunn, ESRI economist and report co-author, said that compared
with
> other countries, Ireland suffered from high levels of discrimination.
> "Compared with the international literature as a whole, the rate of
> discrimination that we recorded in this experiment is high," he said."
>
> Based on personal experience and observation, I think that "name
> discrimination" is much less of an issue here in the US. If only because a
> lot of times you can't deduce a person's race or ethnicity from their
name.


I doubt it.  It's all about perception.  You'd assume a person with the
surname Chang or Kawasaki didn't have ancestors on the Mayflower.  Never
mind Chang's great-great-great-great-grandparents turned up for the gold
rush, they're Chinese, right?

Everyone is biased, whether you admit or realise it or not.

You may not hire the young (lack of experience), ex public servants
(outdated skills), smokers (smelly & always on a break), ex-convicts (too
risky), Australians (all convicts) etc etc.  There's always a way to
rationalise it.

Tony

2009\05\07@220940 by Vitaliy

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Tony Smith wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Kawasaki the guy who built the motorcycle, or the one who wrote "Rich Dad,
Poor Dad?" :-)

I did not say there was no discrimination or bias, I said that this
particular sort of it is "less of an issue". I was simply confirming (based
on my experience) what the article said.

The US is indeed a melting pot, and a lot of times you really can't tell
whether "John Black" has Anglo-Saxon, African, or Native American ancestors.
I worked with an Indian guy (accent and all) whose name sounds German.

Moreover, many companies are headed by/employ a large proportion of
minorities or immigrants, and people are kind of used to "weird" names.

Case in point: I have a very typical Russian name, yet people still
sometimes ask me whether I'm Italian.


> Everyone is biased, whether you admit or realise it or not.

I never argued this point.


> You may not hire the young (lack of experience), ex public servants
> (outdated skills), smokers (smelly & always on a break), ex-convicts (too
> risky), Australians (all convicts) etc etc.  There's always a way to
> rationalise it.

I don't think that *all* Australians are convicts.

Vitaliy

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