For employers/How to hire better

How to write (actually) good job descriptions

The audience paradox

When you start writing a job description, the first question you should ask yourself is, Am I trying to attract the right people, or am I trying to keep the wrong people out? Then, once you answer it, write for that audience deliberately, because it’s really hard to write for both…

The technical interview practice gap, and how it keeps underrepresented groups out of software engineering

I’ve been hiring engineers in some capacity for the past decade, and five years ago I founded interviewing.io, a technical recruiting marketplace that provides engineers with anonymous mock interviews and then fast-tracks top performers—regardless of who they are or how they look on paper—at top companies. We’ve hosted close to 100K technical interviews on our platform and have helped thousands of engineers find jobs. Since last year, we’ve also been running a Fellowship program specifically for engineers from underrepresented backgrounds. All that is to say that even though I have strong opinions about “diversity hiring” initiatives, I’ve acquired them the honest way, through laboratory experience.

Technical phone screen superforecasters

“The new VP wants us to double engineering’s headcount in the next six months. If we have a chance in hell to hit the hiring target, you seriously need to reconsider how fussy you’ve become.”

It’s never good to have a recruiter ask engineers to lower their hiring bar, but he had a point. It can take upwards of 100 engineering hours to hire a single candidate, and we had over 50 engineers to hire. Even with the majority of the team chipping in, engineers would often spend multiple hours a week in interviews. Folks began to complain about interview burnout. Also, fewer people were actually getting offers; the onsite pass rate had fallen by almost a third, from ~40% to under 30%. This meant we needed even more interviews for every hire. Visnu and I were early engineers bothered most by the state of our hiring process. We dug in. Within a few months, the onsite pass rate went back up, and interviewing burnout receded. We didn’t lower the hiring bar, though. There was a better way.

No engineer has ever sued a company because of constructive post-interview feedback. So why don’t employers do it?

One of the things that sucks most about technical interviews is that they’re a black box—candidates (usually) get told whether they made it to the next round, but they’re rarely told why they got the outcome that they did. Lack of feedback, or feedback that doesn’t come right away, isn’t just frustrating to candidates. It’s bad for business. We did a whole study on this. It turns out that candidates chronically underrate and overrate their technical interview performance, like so: Where this finding starts to get actionable is that there’s a statistically significant relationship between whether people think they did well in an interview and whether they’d want to work with you. In other words, …

No engineer has ever sued a company because of constructive post-interview feedback. So why don’t employers do it? Read more »

3 exercises to craft the kind of employer brand that actually makes engineers want to work for you

If I’m honest, I’ve wanted to write something about employer brand for a long time. One of the things that really gets my goat is when companies build employer brand by over-indexing on banalities (“look we have a ping pong table!”, “look we’re a startup so you’ll have a huge impact”, etc.) instead of focusing on the narratives that make them special. Hiring engineers is really hard. It’s hard for tech giants, and it’s hard for small companies… but it’s especially hard for small companies people haven’t quite heard of, and they can use all the help they can get because talking about impact and ping pong tables just doesn’t cut it anymore. At interviewing.io, …

3 exercises to craft the kind of employer brand that actually makes engineers want to work for you Read more »

You probably don’t factor in engineering time when calculating cost per hire. Here’s why you really should.

Whether you’re a recruiter yourself or an engineer who’s involved in hiring, you’ve probably heard of the following two recruiting-related metrics: time to hire and cost per hire. Indeed, these are THE two metrics that any self-respecting recruiting team will track. Time to hire is important because it lets you plan — if a given role has historically taken 3 months to fill, you’re going to act differently when you need to fill it again than if it takes 2 weeks. And, traditionally, cost per hire has been a planning tool as well — if you’re setting recruiting budgets for next year and have a headcount in mind, seeing what recruiting spent last year is …

You probably don’t factor in engineering time when calculating cost per hire. Here’s why you really should. Read more »

What do the best interviewers have in common? We looked at thousands of real interviews to find out.

At interviewing.io, we’ve analyzed and written at some depth about what makes for a good interview from the perspective of an interviewee. However, despite the inherent power imbalance, interviewing is a two-way street. I wrote a while ago about how, in this market, recruiting isn’t about vetting as much as it is about selling, and not engaging candidates in the course of talking to them for an hour is a woefully missed opportunity. But, just like solving interview questions is a learned skill that takes time and practice, so, too, is the other side of the table. Being a good interviewer takes time and effort and a fundamental willingness to get out of autopilot and …

What do the best interviewers have in common? We looked at thousands of real interviews to find out. Read more »

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