I can relate to John's feelings of resignation. When someone I know is great at their job recommends another person, I trust them. It's pretty straightforward to gauge if someone is competent once you've worked with them for a little while. Contrast that with the many interview debriefs I've been in where the difference between hire and no-hire turned on subtle impressions or trivial technical details.So here's the proposal: companies should designate a set of technical employees as trusted referrers (for example: the set of senior engineers or higher with a tenure of at least two years). And when a trusted referrer submits someone for a software engineering role, the technical interview loop is waived. That's it! That's the whole plan! There are a couple details to iron out (you shouldn't give out referral bonuses; that's a messed up incentive. And you should still do a couple non-technical interviews as well, both as a sanity-check and to sell the role. After all, any half-decent candidate is sizing up you as much as you're sizing up them.) Is this a good plan? More specifically, is this a plan which will allow your company to hire good and great software engineers more quickly and cheaply, while keeping the rate of bad hires unchanged? What we've done here is create an alternative path to a software engineering role at your company. It won't be the most common path: most people you hire probably haven't worked directly with your trusted referrers. But for a small set of ostensibly low-risk candidates, it creates a low-friction route. Her's why that's a good thing:
1. The market for skilled candidates is extremely competitive, and companies that move quickly in the hiring process have an advantage. How frequently does your company lose out on a potential hire simply by moving too slowly?2. It creates a no-lose situation for highly-skilled candidates investigating a job with your company. Technical interview loops, on the other hand, come at a massive cost to the candidate. Just a few of the risks a candidate takes on:
- The risk that they will waste a day on a fairly stressful activity which provides no benefits.
- The risk that they will be humiliated at some point during the interviews.
- The risk that they will get rejected after the interviews.
- The risk that their contacts at the company will think less of them because they were rejected.
But I suspect that in the right organization, this would work pretty well, and actually be a pretty effective innovation in the technical interview space. A little less friction can go a long way.