It's exciting when you leave an interview with a developer feeling like you've finally found someone you want to hire. If that person has also met with a handful of your colleagues who all have similarly positive things to say, you're probably on the right track.
But there are a number of potential pitfalls when you've made a snap judgment about a developer after a short personality interview or a minimal amount of code review. To avoid making a bad hire based solely on one or two "good" developer interviews, here are two tendencies everyone has when evaluating tech talent.
We would all like to believe we have mastered the art of interviewing developers, and there obviously quite a few people who can do it very well. Because of the confidence most technical talent evaluators have in their abilities, it's easy to believe that our first impressions tell you everything that you need to learn when you're interviewing developers. Lazlo Bock, Google's Senior Vice President of People Operations, told Wired Magazine that many interviewers have a habit of trying to confirm their initial impressions of candidates, which he believes renders 99% of interviews useless.
To avoid falling into this technical hiring trap, our CEO Joel Spolsky prefers not to hear anyone else's feedback about a candidate until he's had a chance to interview the person himself. He goes further, describing an example in which a recruiter told him that he would love a candidate just before he was scheduled to step into the interview. This did two things: it annoyed him, and colored his impression of the person so much, it led him to advance a bad candidate that his colleagues ultimately saved him from hiring.
To win at developer hiring, companies need a structured interview process. Fast Company reemphasized this in a recent article, quoting a study that found that nearly 70% of companies surveyed pointed to a flawed interview process as one of the biggest contributors to bad hires. Of course, this can be expensive if it happens a number of times, but what impact is this lack of structure having
Without a clear structure, there’s a natural tendency to ask questions that won’t actually give you the evidence that a developer can write quality code. Additionally, when interviewers get the answers they think they’re looking for, it’s easy to fall back into the pitfall of making hiring decisions based too strongly on first impressions. While learning how to conduct developer interviews that give you evidence that the candidate is right for the job, start by reevaluating how structured your current interview process is, and how it could be optimized in the future.