April 22, 2019

Finding interview candidates

Hello, Indie Hackers!

This is my attempt to begin my transition from a wantrepreneur to entrepreneur.

The idea for the product I’m about to start working on grew from my personal experience of interviewing software engineers. There were simply too many people who made it through recruiter’s screening and who couldn’t code. So 4 out of 5 candidates would be like that.

I believe creating a platform with assignments close to real-world problems can help both recruiting companies to reduce the number of unprepared candidates and also people to refresh their hands-on coding skills.

Nevertheless, I have a rough idea on how to reach out to companies who’d get on board, however, finding candidates is what I’m puzzled with. I already tried asking this question on one of those question-answer platforms but that didn’t get me any leads.

What do you think are possible strategies for finding those candidates?

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    Gosh, I cringe when I read this kind of stuff :-)

    You are putting the blame wholly on the candidate (they can't code).

    Sorry, I call bullshit on that.

    You have zero context as to what that candidate is going through in life, how they're affected by quick/snap judgements from random employed people who are not under the same duress.

    I believe creating a platform with assignments close to real-world problems

    Gosh, yea, because what candidates are super thrilled to do is spend all day, every day, doing real-world take home projects for random no-name companies without getting paid.

    Sorry, my comments are harsh and totally out of line. I'm sure your company is "special" and only hiring the "top engineers" and simply won't settle for anything less :-)

    That said, I'm almost positive they won't offer to pay them a good rate, won't participate in any rev share, but will maybe offer some bullshit stock shares (but of course can't disclose their value).

    ...and also people to refresh their hands-on coding skills.

    Oh gosh... I just heard someone scrape their fingernails across a very long chalkboard ;-)

    ...finding candidates is what I’m puzzled with. I already tried asking this question on one of those question-answer platforms but that didn’t get me any leads.

    Did my snarky comments above help to answer any of this? I hope so... If not, maybe reading below will help? Fair warning, and apologies, they'll be just as snarky :-)

    What do you think are possible strategies for finding those candidates?

    You are NOT solving THE problem.

    Most people think the problem is that "there aren't enough experienced engineers to hire" - nope, that's not the problem. Many exist regardless of the hype you read online.

    Largely speaking, the problem is with the companies, the recruiters, and the hiring practices.

    Fix that, and you'll be flooded with candidates, that will become a non-issue for you. You will be very rich :-)

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      Wow, thanks for your honest take on the subject!

      Something I can agree with but not everything. E.g. I heard many people say no-one would do work for free solving take-home projects, however, people still do. ¯\(ツ)

      I wish someone found a way to fix THE problem, but I feel it's going to take a while..

      In the meantime, I think I'll try to bootstrap my little side-project that can attempt to relieve candidates from the "CS fundamentals fun" (they will for sure need for their work) and hopefully help companies decrease the number of engineering hours spent of failed interviews.

      But, if seriously, you gave me some food for thought. Thanks for that! 🙏

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        Glad my snark had some healthy food for thought :-)

        I heard many people say no-one would do work for free solving take-home projects, however, people still do.

        Gosh, I haven't anyone say that. The opposite actually. Kind of sounds like companies are taking advantage of candidates don't you think?

        People need jobs. Almost EVERY job interview now-a-days asks to complete a free take home project. But don't worry, we cap it at only 4 hours max ;-)

        Just because people do something, doesn't mean they like it, or that it adds value to their lives, or that they'd be excited to do more of it given the choice (hence your lackluster response from candidates).

        It's a necessary evil in most cases. See some of my other comments about "duress" above.

        to relieve candidates from the "CS fundamentals fun" (they will for sure need for their work)

        It's statements like this that you have riddled throughout your post that tell me you are not understanding your market. Most software engineers do NOT need CS fundamentals, in-fact, most don't have a CS degree ;-) Such a common misconception.

        Anywho... good luck with your side-project. I know I've been a snarky jerk in my replies :-) but it's with good intentions.

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    When you say the candidates "couldn't code" were they legitimately unable to write code, or did they just not pass the interview? I conducted 100+ software engineering interviews at my prior company and I don't think I would categorize any candidate as not being able to code (despite passing on many). That sort of sounds like a potential miscommunication about the technical bar required for the position or an issue particular to how that recruiter was sourcing candidates.

    That said, the offer rate for many tech companies is so low compared to how many candidates come into the top of the funnel. It's a waste of everyone's time if the vast majority of candidates who apply ultimately are rejected. So definitely a big problem.

    In terms of finding candidates, I've seen Hired/Triplebyte run a ton of ads across Reddit/Blind/etc. so likely they are having some success with that.

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      I'm not pretending that we had the most effective evaluation system in place but, anyway, candidates were given homework which we then had a chat about together. During that chat, we'd ask them to make certain changes to their solution. And surprisingly most candidates couldn't do it. There was always a stress factor, however, the changes were not that drastic.

      I guess the problem for us was related to the nature of the challenges that we provided as homework. Most of the solutions were googleable.

      Reg. ads - a good option when got some cash already. 🙂Not my case yet though..

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        Just a thought but there would be a lot of value even just focusing on the company side of this, for example if you provided a question bank to the companies to pull from. Then you don't have to reach out to candidates.

        Our internal question bank had pretty high variance and training other engineers to proctor the interviews is another non-trivial time sink. Sometimes I was on the hook for many interviews in a given week simply because there weren't enough other engineers that were trained on giving interviews (despite some being Senior+).

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          @francisjohn Would you mind sharing what kind of the company it was (industry, size)?

          I've now reached out to multiple startups and a few bigger ventures and essentially got zero interest in such an idea (it's possible that I was bad at pitching, of course).

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          Hm, I like the way you put it. Focusing only on the ones who pay sounds like a reasonable strategy. Like providing infra for automated assessment. Thanks for the hint! 👍

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    To me, it would be about going to the places where people who code or want to code hang out. Perhaps not as easy to catch them when they are specifically job hunting, but making people aware that you exist, so that when they are job hunting they think of you.

    LinkedIn? Dev.to? Stackoverflow? Hackernews? IH?

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      I like your idea about proactive people acquisition. I believe it might work if executed properly. Thanks for the hint!

      Btw, as for LinkedIn. Did you mean getting a premium account to be able to reach out to folks directly?

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        I've never had a premium account.

        Personally, I'd just recommend hanging out on LinkedIn, it could be perfect for your target market. Post updates and content that will benefit your audience, doesn't have to be yours. Participate in other discussions. Find groups (though they tend to be spammy). Connect with people that you converse with or sound interesting, don't try to directly sell them stuff though (there is quite of a lot of that on LinkedIn and it mostly sucks). Find people in your target market who are sharing content and participate in their stuff. Make sure your profile is well written and links back to your website.

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          I actually didn't event know LinkedIn had groups. 😄But it makes perfect sense to land there as the main platform for targeting leads. Thanks for the hint!

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            Do come back and share your progress :)

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    I am working on a similar problem. Are you open for collaboration? Mor like co-founder

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      Chances are I'm going to be your bottleneck due to my current time limitations. 🙂 Although, I appreciate you offering your partnership.

      I kindly wish you great success with Zohunt!