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Inept Interviwers At My Firm...

People in my firm have been interviewing for a programmer.  This can sometimes be a simple damn task, especially when your requirement is for a straighforward programmer with certain skills.  This is not rocket science.. 

Yet they've wasted at least 2-3 months (that I know of) scrutiniziing resumes for half the day, weatherproofing candidates,  and yapping non stop with headhunters, repeating the same shit about what they need, etc,,,,They've probably brought in dozens of people to interview....wasting everyone's time.I know several very talented people who are out of work.  The job market is FILLED with qualified, this is the BEST hiring season in the last 8 years, hands down. 

Typical napoleon programmer's, using this opportunity to aggrandize themselves ad nauseum.  "See? Everyone out there just sucks..."  I doubt these people are very good themselves... I'm not even sure if they do any other work for the firm !!  I hear NOTHING but talk about filling this spot...  What an absolute joke.  These people should be fired,  if you can't screen resumes and like a few people of the 50 that you being in, you're an idiot who can't  screen resumes, or have no concept about how to hire, or have no clue about the real world and it's supply of labor.   

I think its a ploy to make themselves seem scarce,,,,,"Sorry, mr. director, we cant find ANYONE who's even HALF decent...Yup, we are a rare find"  It's getting REAL annoying to hear them all day.  I may suggest to the higher ups that they get booted if this doesn't end soon.

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Its one of those weirdnesses.  The more people that are available the tighter that requirements become, so they end up asking for experience in some bit of software or technology that is so specific either in its version or combination that only the guys currently working there could qualify, and not even them in some cases.

And yes you're right some of the motivation behind that might be their own sense of insecurity.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, January 31, 2002

Ah yes, we want someone with at least five years experience using MS C#.

Actually, it used to be Java, but now Java has been around a while, so it's actually possible to find people with five years experience.

Steve Barbour
Thursday, January 31, 2002

Personally, I've found the "sprawling requirements" to be the case. It used to be that places wanted a C++ developer. Occaisionally they'd be platform specific.

Now we're finding that well over half of the requirements need a genius C++ developer, who's also a genius VB developer. Even the "UNIX C++" requirements. What's *THAT* about?

The only conclusion I can come to is this:

It's so hard to recruit in a market where there's HUNDREDS of possible people to hire and agents are desperate to place people {read "annoying as hell"}, that you want to do this as little as possible. So you want to hire someone who can: Install and admin a unix system, build an oracle database, write a server in C++ on that machine to serve XML to the ASP scripts on the IIS front end boxes, which will need setting up, and do the Javascript/HTML for the final UI.

Rather that several specialists in each area. What you get are either liars/fibbers/exagerators/experienced-contractors who do one of those things /really/ well and will be doing the others from "How-to" books while you're not looking, or someone who has actually used each thing. Probably once. Bear in mind, that you won't be hiring anyone over 35 or anyone without a degree, so they'll have had, at best 35-21=14/7ish = about 2 years experience of each.

I'm not sure which is worse, but an awful lot of companies seem to want to find out the hard way.

Katie Lucas
Thursday, January 31, 2002

Katie got it right. I've seen plenty of companies having some weird requirements. Last ad I saw, they wanted "PHP, ASP, JSP, Apache, IIS, mySQL, Oracle, VB". Sure I can do most of the things but I'm no expert with PHP or JSP. That's the problem with most companies, they want someone who can do it all. That person may produce a good product but a person who have a speciality will make a great product.

In a competitive market, a good product is not good enough.

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Yes, this is happening a lot. I see many adverts wanting people with Delphi, C++ and VB.

...when no Delphi coder worth his salary would touch VB with a bargepole, and would run screaming from a C++ vacancy.

Needless to say most of these ads run for months and months. Strange eh.

Thursday, January 31, 2002

I got a call from someone looking for C++, Java, UNIX, and COBOL experience.

Bill Ruppert
Thursday, January 31, 2002

Well, it depends on how much COBOL they want. DO they want someone to do new development or (more likely) they want someone who can read COBOL and produce the same functionality in C++ or Java.

The problem with most job ads is that they don't specify how much/what kind of experence they're looking for.

OTOH, I did have a job once that involved new development in C on Unix and COBOL on a Tandem at the same time.  The two boxes were exchanging data and they figured it'd be faster to have one person do both sides.

Jeff Pleimling
Thursday, January 31, 2002

When I'm employed (like now), I find job postings like that amusing. When I'm not (like this time last year), I find them very frustrating. Fortunately I'm not with a .COM anymore.

Dave Rothgery
Thursday, January 31, 2002

I laugh when I see REDUNDANT skills required.    eg: 

Skills needed:
* VB, Delphi, Powerbuilder (R.I.P.)
* Sybase, Oracle, Informix, Access, Ingres
* Unix, Linux, HP-UX, AIX

Any shop that actually uses all of these, is full of IDIOT sales pitch suckers who need to be purged.

PS: Well, C++ Java Unix COBOL is a perfectly reasonable req. 

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Note., my post was more about the annoying people doing the hiring, not out of control requirements.  They seem to get a kick out of spending 1/2 their day filling this spot (interviewing, critiquing resumes, talking like big wigs to headhunters, etc)    I don't think they do any real work.  They should be transferred to the HR dept !!

Thursday, January 31, 2002

get in, where you fit in...

Guy Incognito
Thursday, January 31, 2002

Ran across ad for a sw engineer recently which amused me.

"Proven experience with Radar Systems Engineering for the design of systems for Navy ships. Superior knowledge of radar theory and radar systems design. Expertise in one or more of the following areas: search, surveillance, tracking, target classification, discrimination, ECCM, Space Time Adaptive Processing, digital beam forming, antenna/receiver/signal processing analysis. Thorough understanding of radar system design concepts, definition and management of system requirements and experience with SPY-1 and a solid understanding of Aegis Weapon System preferred. Working knowledge of MS Office tools, unix operating system desired. Candidate must have excellent oral and written skills. Ability to obtain a Secret Level security clearance is also required. "

I'd hope that someone who met those technical requirements could learn how to use MS Word even if they didn't know how already :)

Friday, February 1, 2002

i friend of mine who got laid off from his dot com in the east bay went and interviewed for some job in oakland or something-it was for an some small retail store for an all around in-house programmer. 

anyway, they asked him how much internet experience he had, and he said 4 years.  they said they were really looking for someone with all least 8-10 years of *web* experience (this was in mid-2001, do the math).

go figure.

razib khan
Friday, February 1, 2002

I feel an idea coming on.

A place for employers to have their person specifications validated _before_ going to the knobhead recruitment agency. 

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 1, 2002

I've resolved to never take a job in which the interviewer is more interested in what I've done than what I can do.  Specifically, this eliminates jobs which have "hard" requirements of nn years working with xxx technology. 

This may be an easy resolution to keep, seeing that I only have 2.5 years in the industry, I probably wouldn't have gotten those jobs anyways.  =-)

Obviously one's past experience is relevant in trying to figure out if a candidate is a bright fellow or not.  But a company that flat-out says "the candidate must have worked with xxx technology this long" is thinking one of three things:

(a) "We don't have the in-house expertise, and we'd rather take our chances on a guy we've only known for less than a day rather than promoting and retooling one of our own."  If a company is so full of bozos they can't retrain one of their own, I don't want to work there.

(b) "We're hiring for a doomed project, and no one in their right mind in this company WANTS to work on it."

(c) "We need to get a project done in a hurry, so we're going to spend two months conducting a job search because we can't afford the ramp-up time.  We haven't thought of what to do with the guy with the specialized skill set once the project has ended."

So far I've worked for two employers.  The first employer said, "hire smart people and turn them loose.  Smart people can learn to do anything".  The second employer hired me because I had experience in xxx technology, and they thought the job required xxx experience.  Turns out xxx was completely irrelevant and I needed to know yyy, which I had never seen before in my life!  (In addition, it was one of those doomed projects mentioned previously).  Needless to say I *far* enjoyed working for the first employer than the other one.

Experience means very little, in my estimation.  As Jeff said in another thread, "I've interviewed many applicants who have 10 years of job experience listed but I find out in the interview that it's really 1 year of experience that they repeated 10 times".  And there's no way to guarantee that their experience was good experience, or whether they were sheltered from the "hard work", or if their experience was just one failure after another, without learning anything new each iteration. 

Cutting-edge technology is all about the ability to solve new problems that you've never seen before -- not to grind out the same solution millions of times.

Friday, February 1, 2002

Alyosha says:

So far I've worked for two employers. The first employer said, "hire smart people and turn them loose. Smart people can learn to do anything". The second employer hired me because I had experience in xxx technology, and they thought the job required xxx experience. Turns out xxx was completely irrelevant and I needed to know yyy, which I had never seen before in my life! (In addition, it was one of those doomed projects mentioned previously). Needless to say I *far* enjoyed working for the first employer than the other one.

So why did you leave the first employer?!

A.Nonnie Mouse
Friday, February 1, 2002

RE:  Malcolm’s post

I worked for THAT company (Computer Sciences Corp.) on THAT project (US Navy AEGIS) for three years.  Their job postings are typical of what this thread is discussing.

The ironic thing is that I was hired for a position like the one you described straight out of college with a physics degree (and *minor* comp-sci exposure).  They trained me for everything else.  They had too.  That project used hardware, operating systems, and programming languages proprietary to the US Navy that were developed in the early 1970s.  The group that position is listing for (SPY Radar) usually takes 12-16 months before new hires become productive on their own!

As for the MS Word comment, you’d be surprised.  I was working with a “Senior Developer” who had just written his 50+ page masters thesis in the vi editor.  He was given a CD with MS Office on it and came back a week later demanding a manual.  What’s worse, our project involved redesigning tactical displays in a WinNT environment.  The guy had no GUI skills whatsoever and he’s “senior”!?!?

I could write a very Dilbert-esque book about that place.  Thanks for the trip down amnesia lane! :)

Brandon Knowle
Friday, February 1, 2002

It's a supply and demand economics thing.  I've had my consultant business for 4 years and since the downturn, have not been able to find a client.  I'm shutting it down and living off of savings.  Before, I couldn't turn away offers fast enough.  Now, employers are requiring the ridiculous as stated in the previous messages.    But what can you do...

If you like programming, you'll do it whether you are paid or not.  When you work for a place, you program what you are told to.  When not, you program whatever you like or your curiousity fancies.  A smart employer would know this can can tell by casual conversation the difference between someone bullshitting and someone who is honest.

Hoang Do
Friday, February 1, 2002

A. Nonnie Mouse wrote: "So why did you leave the first employer?"

Because I always wanted to move out of the state, and the new employer was paying for my move.  All in all the move was the best thing for me, the job just could have been a little bit better.  =-)

Friday, February 1, 2002

Some of the overly-specific job adverts are because hiring visa workers requires posting the job and finding no qualified Americans or residents. Because they don't want to find anybody (visa workers are cheaper), the specifications are tailored to the one person they've already chosen.

Of course, most of the overly-spefic job adverts are just a sign of an incompetent writer.

For many jobs, I just want to say "knows lots of computer-related stuff; smart; gets things done; writes great code; does great design; knows when to go home at night; isn't too annoying to work with." I find that knowledge of Smalltalk, Lisp, Prolog, ML, or similar things is a fairly good proxy for this, even if the job requires grotting around in C++.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

This thread is so pertinent to my life at the moment that I can't help but respond.  Most posts seem to be from the perspective of those currently employed so here it is from one who recently left (oh was that a mistake) an interactive firm in Chicago to move back to California.

Now I don't have 10, not even 5, but almost three years of (work) experience in software development, six months of research, and an honors degree in CS.  Right after school I started at an entry level position.  Before I left I was one of the top developers (official title was now Technology Architect) within a fairly large group.  I have a great (I think) letter of recommendation from my previous boss.  Guess what, none of it seems to matter.  I can't get an interview.  I can't even get a return phone call!

Enough griping.  Here are some of the more interesting things I've seen recently.

- Requires 5 years of experience with JSP.  It was released in late 99!

- I send my stuff to a recruiter about a job they have advertised.  I have everything they ask for exactly (rare I know).  This job is still posted (or should I say reposted every 4 days).  No response.

- 90% of the jobs on Dice, hotjobs, and just about everywhere else I look have been there for months.  They just repost the job every few days to make it look new.  I don't think they exist!  I think it is a conspiracy of runaway cron jobs somewhere.

Anyway, for anyone else crazy enough to consider quitting their job.  Don't let the hundreds of apparently open jobs fool you.  They don't exist.  It's either that or I have a typO is my resume :).

PS:  Ten years of experience with the Internet is not so far fetched for people who started with gopher in '92.  Course that doesn't seem to matter either if it was just the hobby and fascination of a high school sophomore.

Kevin McLaughlin
Thursday, February 14, 2002

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