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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Followup on yesterday's "well-calibrated interviewer" post

Wow! Yesterday's post about being tagged a "well-calibrated interviewer" has attracted quite a bit of attention. There have been some issues and questions raised in various venues (Hacker News, the "contact link", ...), so I figured it would be a good idea to do a followup post.

One person laughed at my "two interviews a week" and mentioned doing "... about five to six a week and had three in a single day". I'm not going to compare my numbers to theirs. Instead, I'm going to mention a few other things which may be interesting.

First, say hello to TMMM. Throwing people at a problem is not always the right thing to do.

Second, I'd like to introduce everyone to a post of mine from November 2011, which implores you to "run the numbers yourself". In short, if your hiring bar is high enough, there might not be enough people on the planet to fill your quotas.

One commenter said I was "needlessly vindictive" when I did my best hair-twisting ditzy thing and strung the guy along while pretending I didn't know anything about the questions I was asking. According to this person, "if you don't like the guy that much, just stop the interview".

Here's why that wouldn't work. We were told to leave a candidate feeling good about themselves no matter how badly they were doing. The idea was that they'd think they just had bad luck on that given day and would still think kindly about the company. They wouldn't go on to say bad things about us and wouldn't scare off other candidates.

As a result, when I got to a point where someone was clearly out of their league, I'd just start throwing them the really dumb and simple questions. At the same time, I wouldn't do the usual "drill down" thing on them. They'd wind up answering it and a few others, and would walk away feeling they actually got somewhere. Their rejection would come later, when the recruiter said "sorry, but no" some days or weeks later.

Another HN commenter asks why I ended up with such a large workload of interviews. The answer is complicated. Besides the "well-calibrated" aspect which basically set me up as a lightning rod for incoming candidates, there was another rule which seemed to exist. I don't think it was official, but it sure seemed like it happened this way.

Apparently, all candidates had to have at least one woman on their onsite interview slate. Now consider that there were very few of us in this part of the company, and it stands to reason that I'd be called up more often than an average guy in the same division.

I think it was a PR thing. That way, a candidate would think the ratio was miraculously different at this company and might be more inclined to think it was a "balanced" sort of operation.

I doubt anyone will ever confirm that sort of thing. Thinking back, maybe I should have worn a purple shirt with a big yellow T on it...

I should point out that none of this was hiring for people on my team. It was for a gigantic chum bucket of candidates who would go through some kind of black-candles-and-goats ceremony to figure out where they would wind up. I did quite a few interviews for people who were applying to offices in other countries. Maybe I had a better time zone match than the people who actually worked in those offices. Who knows.