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Hiring Developers By Algorithm 326

Strudelkugel writes in with a story about how big data is being used to recruit workers. "When the e-mail came out of the blue last summer, offering a shot as a programmer at a San Francisco start-up, Jade Dominguez, 26, was living off credit card debt in a rental in South Pasadena, Calif., while he taught himself programming. He had been an average student in high school and hadn't bothered with college, but someone, somewhere out there in the cloud, thought that he might be brilliant, or at least a diamond in the rough. 'The traditional markers people use for hiring can be wrong, profoundly wrong,' says Vivienne Ming, the chief scientist at Gild since late last year. That someone was Luca Bonmassar. He had discovered Mr. Dominguez by using a technology that raises important questions about how people are recruited and hired, and whether great talent is being overlooked along the way."
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Hiring Developers By Algorithm

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @04:16PM (#43575877)

    Hello, captain obvious. Yes, having a piece of paper doesn't mean you're good at what you do or that you even know what you're doing; plenty of college graduates are merely imbeciles.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @04:31PM (#43575993)

    Sounds like one more boost that will give impetus for more people to become involved in open source projects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @04:32PM (#43576003)
    Whoosh. I think the whole point is that having a phd isn't the best measure of anything. I've worked with phds and high school dropouts and I've never noticed any difference except that the dropouts are less entitled.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @04:37PM (#43576043)

    My dad told me a good one the other day:

    A PhD EE had a broken 15k board doing development work at a major electronics company.

    He takes the board to his lab tech, who jokingly tells him 'All the resistors are in backwards!'

    Said lab tech has a departmental meeting to go to.

    When he gets back he finds the PhD sitting there, iron in hand, with a pile of resistors next to the board.

    Exclaiming to the EE, 'What do you think you're doing, that's a brand new 15k dollar board!'

    The EE replies: 'You said all the resistors are in backwards, so I'm putting them in the right way.'

    Never attribute to malice what can be explained by too much conceptual and not enough practical experience.

  • Re:Then again... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @04:57PM (#43576127)

    Yeah, and how is an employee supposed to get experience without having employment? Spare time projects aren't enough anymore. You've got a chicken-egg problem there.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:14PM (#43576243)

    At my old job, we had a pretty revolutionary strategy for picking someone: We talked with them.

    I've always done that too. Just get the interviewee to talk about their work, what was interesting about, the problems they encountered, etc. If a person doesn't know their stuff they won't be able to talk about it intelligently. Some people you have to coax out of their shell a bit, but that's it. If a person is reluctant I'll even ask them to pick something out of their resume to talk about instead of me suggesting a topic. I accept that most resumes have some exaggerations in them, so just let them pick something that isn't exaggerated. Also talk to them about the project they're being hired for, see what kind of questions or suggestions they have, etc.

    It's purposely a low pressure technique. Some very good technical people don't do well being drilled about nonsense or brainteasers, or clam up if the interviewer starts playing Mr. Tough Guy and tries to trip them up on everything. Remember, you're trying to hire good technical people, not good interviewees. For other type of work this technique might suck.

    It amazes me more companies haven't tried of this method.

    Too simple and obvious - takes away the mystique of being a great interviewer. Also you've got to know your stuff to use the technique.

  • by sam_paris (919837) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:47PM (#43576407)
    So, at my previous job (at a games company) I regularly worked 8.30 till 8 or 9pm. I'd get home at 10, eat, workout a little, then go to bed. I often worked full weekends (crunch time) and there was no way I could ever code outside of work, I was simply too burned out. In fact, I barely had time to do much else other than eat, sleep, and do chores. As such, if someone tried to find any open source work done by me, well, there is none, but that doesn't mean I can't program.

    I kind of hate this recent assumption that all open-source programmers with work on github must be programming geniuses.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @06:22PM (#43576575)

    You attitude is why we have abominations like Unity, Gnome3, and Windows8/Metro now.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Sunday April 28, 2013 @06:23PM (#43576585) Homepage

    I know Slashdot isn't the place to say this, but almost all programming is menial.

    Most programming work is tedious, however most important decisions have to be made constantly, in the midst of that tedious work. You can't make decisions by yourself, then pass the work to an idiot -- he will not notice where he has to make a decision, and will do something random that seems right, and those decisions will eventually destroy everything.

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @07:07PM (#43576839)
    When a company gets to the size where covering your ass is more important than success, it is time to start looking for a new job.
  • by seebs (15766) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @07:48PM (#43577051) Homepage

    Actually, bigotry creates ostracization. Modifying your body doesn't intrinsically do that. These days, most people deal with trans folks just fine; the few Archie Bunker wannabes running around calling them names are still a problem, but are rapidly becoming a small problem.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @10:41PM (#43577845)
    As much as HR would like to see "out there" people with tons of blog posts and lots of check-ins on open source repository sites the fact remains that many great programers labor on in obscurity because they're too modest to promote work that while useful isn't exactly brilliant. Just because somebody checks in a lot of code and writes me-too blog posts doesn't mean that they're a great programmer. You want to know what really attracts good developers, especially experienced ones with grown up responsibilities and families to feed? How about making them some basic promises when you hire them, like a 2 year deal with a guaranteed severance package and some time at work to either work on personal growth projects or work on new skills that will be useful in future projects? The problem with these Silicon Valley types is that they want bright young hotshots fresh out of school and not experienced enough to recognize the fact that they're being used up and thrown out by people who don't really care about their careers or their futures. The other thing about bright young hotshot coders is that you can't tell them anything. They think that they know everything and that everyone who came before them was a dumbass and then proceed to make every mistake in the well worn programming book of things not to do. If you want to relearn the programming mistakes of the past, hire that hotshot fresh out of school. If you want it done right, look for the experienced programmer described above and pay him what he's worth. It's just better that way for everyone in the end, even the blue flame special straight out of school.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @11:05PM (#43577925) Journal

    some of the best indicators were clear, intelligent, structured English and an interest in music. There seemed to be almost no correlation between those factors and their achieving a degree, or their lack of one.

    That is fascinating, thanks for the tip.

  • by xelah (176252) on Monday April 29, 2013 @06:09AM (#43579161)

    And again, oddly enough, some of the best indicators were clear, intelligent, structured English and an interest in music.

    Those would be good correlates. The English skills are an indication that they can read very well (useful for background research) and communicate (also really useful), and music skills are often associated with ability in math and logic; they appear to use the same area of the brain.

    English skills could also be about attention to detail and caring about the quality of what you do. And both, but especially music, could be about not just being able to focus for long periods on one, solitary task, building it up a little at a time until it works, but of actually getting satisfaction from it. ie, it could be substantially an indicator of introversion.

"One Architecture, One OS" also translates as "One Egg, One Basket".