The other side of the hiring process

This issue we're bringing you a special, guest edition of the newsletter. This issue was written by one of the people who went through our hiring process. We hope it provides a different and valuable perspective.

Job hunting is hard, thankless work. 

Companies have very little incentive to treat you like a fellow human. Doing so takes time and money, so common human courtesies are completely eliminated.

If you have been on the job hunt - ever - you likely know the pitfalls: Companies ask for a lot of time and effort from job seekers. (What else do you have to do, anyway?) 

  • They expect you to put hours of work into the process. (All unpaid, of course.)
  • They expect insane qualifications: 7 years experience (with a software product that is only 6 years old), plus a bachelor's degree, plus knowledge of half a dozen mostly unrelated software products, all for a "junior" position. 
  • They tell you very little and the job description is usually inaccurate.
  • They don't update you on the status of the position and you're left wondering whether you got the job or not.

Reading stories from others tells me this is a ubiquitous, ugly affair. And I get it; it's all economics for the businesses. 

That knowledge, however, doesn't make it an any less dehumanizing experience for the job seeker.

Krit provided a different experience

On a sort of random whim, I decided to apply for a remote developer role that sounded like a great fit. Let me be clear upfront about something, Krit decided not to hire me, but the process was so stunningly pleasant that I offered to write this newsletter for them

Krit was upfront, straightforward, and...human about the entire process.

1. They set expectations

Take this for example - the hiring process varies greatly from one company to the next and you often have no idea what to expect. 

Here is what Krit said, right in the job listing itself:

"How to apply First, submit an application. If we think you might be a good fit, we’ll schedule a short, 30-minute phone interview with Andrew. During this time, you’ll get to know each other and dive into your background. If the phone interview indicates you’re a good fit, we’ll schedule a more in-depth 1-2 hour technical interview with our team.

The technical interview will consist of 3 parts: Get to know the other Kritters and talk about your past projects. Code review - you’ll review code that we’ve written and
talkthrough how you would improve it. System design - we’ll present a project and talk through the design and architecture of the system with you.

There isn’t a coding portion of the interview, but you will be expected to communicate effectively, interpret code, and discuss architecture trade-offs.

We’re looking to fill this position by August 1st. During the 
process we’ll do our best to let you know if it’s not going to be a good fit. Thank you for taking the time to read this far, we can’t wait to meet you!"

This sets up expectations right from the start!

2. They provided clarity

Most job listings won't tell you the salary of the position. Why? Because it's advantageous for them not to! 

Krit acknowledged the salary for the job ($70,200), but they also explained exactly why the salary was set to that amount. The company - which currently consists of 3 people - generated $260k in revenue last year and is on pace to make $350k this year. 

(Any developer worth his salt is instantly doing the math to see that he would be receiving a 1/5th portion of the company's revenue as salary at a 4 person company.)

3. They explained why they didn’t hire me

The biggest insult during the job hunt is sometimes this: you are rarely told why you didn't receive the job, so you have no way to evaluate and improve yourself for future opportunities. 

When Krit informed me they had selected someone else, they gave me a simple and easy explanation as to why: they wanted to hire locally. 

While there's not much I can use from that explanation, at the very least, I'm not left wondering what I did wrong.

Two things Krit can improve next hiring cycle

While this has been mostly a Krit love-fest, it's important to point out where they could improve their process. In my opinion, they made two mistakes: one minor, and one sort of major one.

1. Updating candidates more quickly

Krit's transparency led to the sort of awkward situation transparency sometimes leads to. During my interview process, they had been writing about hiring in their newsletter, to which I'm subscribed. The July 21st newsletter mentioned they had moved 3 candidates on to the technical interview and were excited about their prospect. This was before they let me know I was out of consideration. 

It wasn't until two days later Andrew followed up to let me know they had moved forward with another candidate. Oops.

2. Refining qualifiers before the interview process

The bigger mistake Krit made was opening the position for someone working remotely. 

It was clear to me they had opened the position to remote candidates without thinking through and understanding the difficulties that come along with this. So when they told me they had decided to move forward with someone local, well, it wasn't really a surprise. It did, however, make me feel like the whole process was a waste of time since they weren't prepared to hire a remote worker in the first place.

Still, I can chalk this one up to inexperience on Krit’s part, rather than a deliberate lack of respect for job applicants.

Takeaways for other businesses 

If I were to boil this whole experience down into a few takeaways that businesses can use for their own hiring process, it’d look something like this:

  • Be forthright: let the interviewee know what the process will look like and how long it will take.
  • Be transparent with salary info.
  • Give an explanation for why you didn't choose the candidate so they can improve themselves.
  • Remember the person applying for the job is a fellow human and deserves some respect.
  • Be prepared for the process, and have an understanding of the job, so you don't waste your own time and the candidates' time by interviewing people who will never be hired. 

This was a special guest edition of the newsletter, kindly provided by Matthias Hager. Matthias is a programmer who often gets mistaken for a marketing consultant. He writes about these topics and more at https://matthiashager.com/.