5 minute read

“I’m a people person, very personable. I absolutely insist on enjoying life. Not so task-oriented. Not a work horse. If you’re looking for a Clydesdale I’m probably not your man. Like I don’t live to work, it’s more the other way around. I work to live. Incidentally, what’s your policy on Columbus Day?”

You, Me and Dupree (2006)

This is the interview every recruiter would want at 17.00 on Fridays, so fast to let you step out soon for the forthcoming weekend, plain and clear in the outcome.

Usually it’s not so an easy job for the Head Hunter, selecting people and finding the right ones to slot into the pending position might be hard. The challenge would be more difficult when they are seeking to recruit through controversial methods, which hardly could achieve the wished result. As human beings, we have the natural tendency to think that our choices are rational, while we underestimate the effects of the undercurrents that, in a way or the other, affect our decisions. We believe to be steady inside the boat in the middle of the sea, even if we are at the mercy of the weaves. We are prone to get swayed.

Fortunately, the good recruiter studies books deeply and prepare himself in the training workshops to get rid of those diversions, and then finally he can apply scientific methods to his job. Progresses in this field could be checked when they act like CIA agents asking questions as “What will you do when you grow up?”, “When was the last time you were happy?” and again “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” rather than “Tell me about yourself, describe yourself in one word”. But, dear recruiter, I can’t describe myself in one word, unless it’s both hyphenated and a metaphor.

What comes first, if I’m talking with the interviewer for the job, is that I want to check if his expectations match with mines. I’m talking with you to show my professional skills, not to talk about my hobbies, neither about dance nor motorcycling.

All those requests never end to astonish me for their futility, even if those make sense just for HR department, I’m not going to dig into the matter.

Behaviour interview

A much more effective approach is to conduct very structured interviews where the questions are focused on experience, skills and ability rather than vague things.

What recruiters sometimes try to follow is the behaviour interview assertion, which declares that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations. It would be enough to fright any financial mentor but it finds logical basis for canditates’ evaluation. Perhaps the behaviour of a single man is easier predictable than a stock index. HR specialists claim that with this method of leading interviews, it’s much more difficult to get responses that are untrue to the candidate character, because these should be detailed descriptions of past events, or experiences faced at work.

I agree on the idea that past experiences are indicative on how people react under certain circumstances, but I’d put less emphasis on that, first of all because challenges are always different. Whatever technological issue the company is facing right now, it would be far from any candidate experience, recruiter may figure out something else by the applicant. What someone has done shows the ability to execute; personality is important, intelligence naturally more so, but improvisation remains the key. Knowledge workers must adapt their knowledge to the situation, but if during the interview the candidate isn’t projected on a real scenario to show his capabilities and past learned lessons, how the recruiter actually could form an objective opinion?

I was rarely asked advices or opinions about real technological matters involved on development, is that the reason the recruiter doesn’t know much about what the new employee is going to resolve?

Maybe sometimes interviews are not used for hiring people, but just to gather information on candidates, to create statistics on salaries, skills and to estimate how long does it take to search for a special kind of professional in the market, I guess.


Recruiters may discard people based on salary, of course they can; especially if the point is that the people are interchangeable, low cost and easily replaceable like a natural resource. usually this happen when the target candidate is junior.

Salary is a complex issue the more senior the target is. Seniors want to discuss the context of the job before they ask about money. Answering the salary question in a phone screen or in an interview before building rapport drop me to the disappointment, as the recruiter is telling me “We want the cheapest on your position”. That’s ok, but do you want to save money before you know what I have to offer? Or, why are you looking for someone senior?

HRs usually match your CV keywords (better know as buzzwords) with their table axis to define your salary box, framing candidates in a very simple way. Although the salary offer is equals among peers, a fascinating metric highlights that 5% of programmers are 20x more productive than the other 95%. Now, let me know in your opinion which section of this statistic is firstly discarded.


I don’t see anything wrong with the interview questions with multiple choices, sometimes they are as funny as filling in crosswords, but some other times these questions upset me for I realized I forgot some exponential functions since the school… Damn!

Although it would be helpful to filter out applicants without a basic education, in several years of work I never had concerned about exponential calculus to strike a business requirement.

What's the bottom printed row of this function?

for(int i=0; i<30; i++){
   System.out.println("line: "+i);

a) line: 29
b) line: 30
c) none of the above

These requests end up by annoying their prospective employees, any company would lose appeal, dropping any willingness to get hired by the company.

This is a newbie question, then the recruiter answered me telling that every technical employee in the firm had filled such a questionnaire. Really? I don’t think any of the experienced programmers I know would waste time crisscrossing questions like that on a job interview unless they are hopelessly unemployed, and if the hiring manager is looking for an experienced developer, why ask these first-level programming questions? If the recruiter can’t read the resume, why would a hiring manager?