The Golden Middle Path - a blog by Amit K Mathur


We recently closed a very interesting round of hiring. Biggest so far for us – we hired 5 developers. I wanted to share the details of how we ran the whole process. Hopefully, it will be helpful to others who want to hire the very best of the developers.

Firstly, hiring in India (perhaps in other places too) is hard. There are many, too many, candidates available. But, most of them are mediocre. Unless you just want chair warmers, you have to literally dig for a needle in the haystack

We structured our process so that a candidate had to go through these steps:

  1. We put up an online application form with 4 simple fizz buzz type programming questions. If you are interested, here are the questions that appeared in the form. We put ads on several popular job portals and social media sites. Every ad asked the candidates to fill this form to apply.
  2. Once the candidate passed the initial screening based on their responses to the questionnaire, we sent them a programming test with 2 long questions. Here, they had to write code, design a database and provide some supporting comments and documentation.
  3. If the programming test answers were good, we called the candidate over for an on-site interview. Here we did at least the following:
    • discussion of the programming test problem; we expanded the problem to make it more difficult to assess how far the candidate can extend it
    • we asked them to solve some more problems and write some more code
    • we often asked to tighten their code for production use
    • sometimes we asked them general non-programming questions like their hobbies, side projects, likes and dislikes etc.
    • of course, throughout the whole session we tried to judge their personality and how well they fitted into the company culture
    • after the interview, we would meet to discuss our feedback and opinions and then inform them if they got rejected. We also provided pointed feedback about why they got rejected if someone asked.
  4. If they got selected, we sent them the offer letter, set the joining date and got started!

Throughout this whole process we learned a lot of lessons. Here are some of the important ones:

  • Resume does not have much value – at least in India. Screening candidates based on their educational background and past companies is almost useless.
  • Many, in fact most, candidates can’t write even simple code. So, don’t assume any skill unless demonstrated.
  • April to July is a good time to hire. You can expect a lot of applications. Perhaps because many candidates would just finish their annual review and appraisal cycle at that time and looking for a change.
  • If you ask, most people do answer honestly. Only near the end of the process we realized how important the application form answers were.

but rejuvenated
With a job well done


3 Comments Added

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  1. Bhavesh Furia
    Bhavesh Furia Jul 31, 2012 at 4:05 AM
    It was really nice to see an article about how do you guys hire.
    Rarely I see such clear cut description about hiring process.
    Plus the lessons you learned are also true in most of the cases.
  2. Sunand
    Sunand Aug 01, 2012 at 7:35 PM
    Thanks for sharing..
  3. Mohit
    Mohit Oct 15, 2012 at 6:40 AM
    Nice info.
    1st & 3rd points are really great. I will keep them in my mind.

    I am completely agree that educational qualification in India is just useless.

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