An Unorthodox Technical Interview and Hiring Process - Nathan Aschbacher

Don't you just love technical interviews, with someone who just saw your resume or CV 5 minutes ago asking you to write some code on a whiteboard. Probably code that has nothing to do with anything you've done before or anything you will do at the company.
No? Neither does Nathan Aschbacher. 
 So when he started building the team at his company, he decided to do things differently.
Hiring is one of the essential processes for building a great team.
 However, it's a high noise, low signal process.
Nathan Aschbacher has a relatively unorthodox tech hiring approach. 
 He's trying to make it very humane, with a better signal to noise ratio. 
Nathan is not intereseted in bizarre interview processes where the interviewer doesn't know anything about the interviewee beforehand, all people are asked the same questions, and people are asked to code on white boards.
Instead, he states "if the goal is to try to figure out if the person can do the work with your team, and your trying to build the team that you are adding this person to, they need to know what the team is like, and determine if they want to be part of the team, and the team needs to know what the person is like and if they would be addititve to the team.
So what's Nathan's process:
  • Screening resumes and CVs, looking for internal motivation to become an expert at something.
  • Basic phone screen, very informal.
  • A couple 2-3 hour pairings with someone on the team with whatever they are working on.
  • Debriefing both the candidate and the team afterwords.
  • Giving the candidate an opportunity for a second impression and following up on difficulties during the pairings.
We discuss the process, and also:
  • trying to remove the barriers to team integration 
  • treating people as humans 
And of course, there's the story of how Nathan ended up interviewing someone with Zoo experience an no technical experience for a technical role. Of course, it was a misunderstanding of a job requirement around experience with ZooKeeper. But it's a good story.

Creators and Guests

Brian Okken
Brian Okken
Software Engineer, also on Python Bytes and Python People podcasts
Nathan Aschbacher
Nathan Aschbacher
A properly specified OTP behaviour. CEO & Co-Founder Formerly of PolySync, Visa, & Basho.
An Unorthodox Technical Interview and Hiring Process - Nathan Aschbacher
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