Why don't app developers respond to my email? Why do they drop out of the hiring process? Not knowing the answer to these questions makes improvement difficult.
This exclusive interview with Jim Dusseau gives the developer side of the recruiting process. I met Jim a few years ago when we were colleagues at Evernote, where he was the lead developer on Evernote for iOS. Jim is the perfect developer to ask about hiring since Jim has a very in-demand skill set and has extensive experience in the interview process.
My name is Jim Dusseau. I’ve worked primarily on iOS and Mac software, most recently for Evernote on their iOS client. I’ve developed software and led teams for companies specializing in screen recording and automotive testing.
It’s always via an email. I’m never clear on how they get my email, but my response is usually a polite “no”.
I look for companies that are doing interesting things and share my values. While it’s hard to tell from outside of a company, I’m attracted to companies that work collaboratively, aren’t afraid to take risks, and have attracted other great talent. I’m happiest when I’m challenged and learning, so I seek companies that will provide me with those kinds of experiences.
Over the course of the interview process, you should come to understand the expectations you have for a company and the expectations the company will have for you. Any time those expectations don’t line up or there’s a sudden change, that’s enough for me to break things off.
For example, honesty is a value that I feel strongly about. I expect that a company will behave honestly with its customers, partners, employees, and candidates. If there’s an indication that we have a mismatch in values or expectations in that area, I won’t be moving forward with the process.
We spend the vast majority of our waking life at work, so it’s really important for that time to be enjoyable. Any indication that I won’t enjoy the work or the team is an indication that it’s not the right position for me.
The reason we’re choosing to add to our team is either because we have a deficiency in some area or we believe that adding another person will make the team stronger. This is the single most important question: Will this person make my team more effective? Outside of that, I also try to evaluate candidates in a number of areas:
Testing for these things is tricky and I could probably write paragraphs about this. I start by trying to get a feel for how a candidate views themselves and where they want their career to go. I then explore their expertise and experience to see how closely their self assessment matches my understand of them. The last step is to try to set up a scenario where we are solving a problem together. True collaboration is very difficult to pull off in an interview, but I think it’s important to strive for if that’s something you’re looking to find.
This sounds ridiculous, but I’m most impressed when a company understands what they’re looking for. I’d rather hear about the kind of person they need or the goals they’re looking to achieve rather than a laundry list of skills. The most impressive companies are able to answer this question: “One year after you’ve hired me, what has your team accomplished that they otherwise couldn’t have”. Hint: “More” is not a good answer.
I think everyone’s going to have different criteria, but I feel that I have enough experience to know the kinds of projects that I like to work on and the kinds of people I like to work with. I’m looking for opportunities where:
Explaining why I chose these factors is difficult. The simple answer is that I’ve been the most happy when all of these things are true.
I think job descriptions do a decent job of listing which skills and level of experience a position may need. A job description is a conversation starter between a company and a candidate. When I read a job description, I always ask myself if these are a list of skills I will have within six months. If the answer is no, that’s a good indication that there will be a mismatch of expectations somewhere in the process.
I recently received and email from a company I was interested in, but the job description didn’t match my skills at all. Rather than ignoring the email, I sent a message back to thank the recruiter and to give them a better idea of what my strengths were and where I wanted my career to go. This job description was the standard for their team, but they were looking to take the team in a different direction and brought me on-site anyway. I was blown away by the team leadership and management, and it was clearly a great fit.
I think that depends on your experience and career goals. When I had almost no experience, I found the broad job sites to be pretty good. As I’ve narrowed my focus, I rely more and more on my professional connections and community to help me find a position that best fits my personality and skills. Former coworkers are amazing for this. They’ve worked alongside you and have helped you to reach your professional goals. In a sea of opportunities, it’s great to have one handpicked for you.
I do keep an eye on job sites that are focused on my area of expertise. Job postings can tell you a lot about where your industry is going, even if you’re not actively looking. I’ve been especially impressed by the job boards focused on iOS development.
I recently had a recruiter who didn’t have a clear understanding of my career goals and experience after a lengthy conversation. Even after I communicated that I didn’t want to go forward, I continued to receive mass emails about informative sessions about their company.
During a technical coding session over the phone, I was recently asked to code fizz buzz. (For an explanation, see http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?FizzBuzzTest) I do agree that a surprising number of candidates are unable to solve problems in code and I agree that a simple test has value for those who haven’t demonstrated this in some other way. However, I try to ask questions commensurate with a candidate’s level of experience and skill. A candidate completing fizz buzz doesn’t really tell me much about their level of experience, and I’d prefer to use my limited time with them to learn as much as possible.
December 13, 2015