Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Programming IT

Do You Tell a Job Candidate How Badly They Did? 702

Posted by Cliff
from the let-the-job-market-sort-it-out dept.
skelter asks: "I have been lamenting with friends in the industry about interviewing woes and the candidates that we find. Consider a hypothetical job candidate comes in after some how making it through screening. In the team technical interview they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is he (or she) not as adequate as he thinks he is, but has demonstrated that he is a danger to any code base. Do you tell them? Quietly step away, usher them out and say nothing? Play with them on the whiteboard the way your cat plays with injured mice? Should you leave them as their own warning to others? Is there any obligation to guide them to gaining real experience? Can you give them any advice or is it all liability?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Do You Tell a Job Candidate How Badly They Did?

Comments Filter:
  • by celardore (844933) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:46PM (#17548716)
    I say this for two reasons. There's a genuinely nice kind of feedback, no feedback, and a vicious kind too. If I interviewed someone and they weren't up to scratch for whatever reason, I could say that they're not up to scratch for what I want and I don't need to give a reason. I could be more specific, but only when it suits me, the employer. They haven't got the experience I need, I could tell them that. Not suited to the job? I could tell them that too. I can be as vague as I want, it's my choice. Maybe their asking salary is too high. These are all reasons I could genuinely give to a candidate when rejecting them. Would I be specific if they were a threat to my codebase? No. And if I was a complete dick, I'd just reject applications with no feedback whatsoever, not even a rejection letter. They're applying to me, I don't owe them anything, right?

    Most of my job applications in the past have never got a response. It's a lot easier if you don't want to employ / deal with someone to simply ignore them after the failed interview etc. There's no obligation to respond to every application you get with helpful tips for next time. If you get as far as interview, it's nice to know why you didn't succeed but you shouldn't expect it.

    As for playing with them like your cat plays with injured mice, I don't want to even apply for your company. What the hell? If you're asking about liability, that might be a sticking point. Or, more seriously, how do you think telling an applicant the reason for not getting the job would make you liable? Unless you don't employ people who are black, disabled, female and so on as a matter of course. If you told someone they were the best damn whatever you ever saw, and afterwards they didn't get a job as a whatever, maybe - just maybe you could be liable. It would be very, very weak though.

    As a company, you don't owe anyone an explanation, at all in most countries. So long as you're doing things in accordance with law anyway.
    • by alienmole (15522) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:24PM (#17550018)
      As for playing with them like your cat plays with injured mice, I don't want to even apply for your company. What the hell?
      Perhaps it's just my dry, ex-British-colony derived sense of humo(u)r, but I rather think that was an attempt at levity by the submitter, what?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by galimore (461274)
        Interviewer: "You're not very technical are you?"

        Interviewee: "Oh, yeah, well... I read slashdot religously."

        So naturally the correct way to inform them is as an anonymous coward... No company liability. ;)
    • Be kind rewind.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tempest69 (572798) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:40PM (#17550228) Journal
      Really you dont want to alienate applicants. The dumb ones may very well move up the mangerial chain somewhere else. They will have control over spending, wondering if your product suits them.

      Anyway since their application, resume, and references were adequate for them to get to the interview, it would be a good time to figure out what they actually know, and how they wound up confused about the requirements for the job (Even if you know theyre just lying). Sometimes when 8 usd/hr is mentioned the applicant expects near zero experience to do the job. Five extra minutes of good PR time can help the image of your company /department.

      Storm

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Maximilio (969075)
        Sorry, who the fuck in IT is going to create a position for $8 an hour? I've seen interns get paid more than that, for fuck's sake. Any dolt can flip burgers for better pay.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by networkBoy (774728)
          IIRC Base Pay @ McDonalds in the heart of San Jose is $14/hr
          -nB
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by StarvingSE (875139)
            How much is a Big Mac? $10.00??? Is the damn clamshell box gold plated????
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iamhassi (659463)
        "Sometimes when 8 usd/hr is mentioned the applicant expects near zero experience to do the job. Five extra minutes of good PR time can help the image of your company /department."

        I disagree to some extend. It depends on the applicant. If, like the article said, the applicant "is a danger to any code base" than he either probably already knows how bad he did or if he's truly so dumb to not know then definitely do NOT tell them they screwed up just so the moron can go down the street, pass the interview
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:06PM (#17551170)
      Companies need to be better at telling someone what they're doing wrong or what they need. It took me nearly 18months to find work after getting out of college. I was pretty close to suicide at one point. The always optimistic, never tell you anything bad attitude of the human resources people was probably the worst thing. Negative feedback is far more valuable, and is actually far more comforting than a HR person continually telling you that things are in process, that there are more candidates to consider, then getting a letter dated from a week earlier telling you that the position has been filled.

      When companies did tell me what I was lacking, it was always work experience, never education. I was really left wondering how on earth I would ever obtain experience as none of them were willing even to give me an entry level position. Of course, part of that is that an entry level position today is not what an entry level position was a decade ago. The real entry level positions have been farmed out to Asia, and the ones left tend to require 5 years of experience or more because of the glut of people with 20years who are unemployed. I really lucked out, I happened to be at my class reunion when an old teacher of mine happened to wander in, asked me how school had gone, and what I was doing now, and then told me that he was now the CEO of a little software company and that he could use my help.
      • by nmx (63250) <nmx AT fromtheshadows DOT net> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @01:04AM (#17552238) Homepage

        I happened to be at my class reunion when an old teacher of mine happened to wander in, asked me how school had gone, and what I was doing now, and then told me that he was now the CEO of a little software company and that he could use my help.

        And thus you learned what they didn't teach you in college - it's not what you know, it's who you know. I got my first entry-level position the same way; I knew the CEO because I had interned for his previous company while I was in school. Making contacts is everything.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:14PM (#17551254)

      And if I was a complete dick, I'd just reject applications with no feedback whatsoever, not even a rejection letter. They're applying to me, I don't owe them anything, right?

      Sure, but a little courtesy does no harm. If they have given up some of their valuable time to respond to your invitation to interview, the least you can do is send them a brief letter saying sorry but we're not going to offer you the job. You don't have to give reasons (and indeed your lawyers may ask you not to) but you don't have to leave a candidate wondering, either.

      I submit this personal anecdote, for whatever it's worth. Last time I was applying for a job, I only interviewed at two places. For one, I'd applied speculatively six months earlier and been turned down politely; I now work there, and have since discovered that there genuinely wasn't a vacancy at my level before. In the other case, after spending much of a day visiting the company and talking to their staff, I was not sent so much as a courtesy "Thanks but no thanks" letter. As it happens, I wouldn't have taken the job anyway; I obviously wasn't going to like their corporate culture for various reasons. However, I know that at least two other people haven't even bothered applying since then because I mentioned my experience to them, and those two people might well have got on there if they'd been offered the job. In other words, it's a small world, and being an ass with one interview candidate may cost you another you'd have liked to recruit.

    • by ggKimmieGal (982958) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:21AM (#17551848)
      Here's a piece of advice that fits any situation in life.

      Never burn your bridges.

      First, if the candidate doesn't fit what you need right now, that doesn't mean things won't be different in a couple of years.

      Second, you'll never know if the tables will be turned. Let's say he/she becomes the senior software engineer at some company. Your company goes all Chapter 11, and you're suddenly out of a job. This person is working with HR to do the hiring. Depending on how you treated him/her that may affect their decision (if they remember you).

      Third, you don't want to be the reason why your company gets a bad reputation. Stuff gets around, fast. Let's say you interview a student fresh out of college. You give them a really hard time during their interview. They go back, have lunch with their adviser/head of the department), and tell them what happened. The adviser stops encouraging students to apply there. He/she then also tells his/her buddies at other schools. Suddenly, you're finding that entry level programmers just don't even want to bother with your company. Now, it's not going to be like a widespread pandemic, but you still don't want to give your company a bad name because you have little to no control over your personal feelings.

      Finally, if the candidate just didn't work out, oh well. At least you took the high road.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You could always give them feedback because, well, ya know, it would be a nice thing to do? You shouldn't go through life doing what you *have* to do, sometimes it's good to do things because it's *nice* for someone else.
  • Pass the trash... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by isaac (2852)
    I never tell a rejected candidate how badly they did. First off, once they're rejected (assuming they're really rejected rather "reply hazy, ask again later"), there is zero reason to spend another second more on them.

    Second, from an employer's perspective, it may in the narrow self-interest of the company for such a person to go be a drain on its competitors. Where's the rational economic incentive to discourage that?

    -Isaac

    • Re:Pass the trash... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:00PM (#17548902)
      Second, from an employer's perspective, it may in the narrow self-interest of the company for such a person to go be a drain on its competitors. Where's the rational economic incentive to discourage that?

      How about "I don't wish my shareholders to go to hell for owning shares in an evil company". ?
      You can have self interest and still not be a dick. You lose very little, while this other person may get helped a lot. Furthermore, maybe the person will actually improve themselves and reapply for the job and you'll have a good employee then. Or, the person will work within the given industry and not bad mouth your company. The more good workers are in the economy the more services can be provided to each other and quality of life of people can improve.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by susano_otter (123650)

        Second, from an employer's perspective, it may in the narrow self-interest of the company for such a person to go be a drain on its competitors. Where's the rational economic incentive to discourage that?

        How about "I don't wish my shareholders to go to hell for owning shares in an evil company". ?

        That's not a rational economic incentive; it's an irrational moral incentive, reflecting a moral belief system that may not be as effective a universal motivator as profit, plus it might not even reflect reality i

        • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:46AM (#17552080) Journal
          Perhaps in treating this entire affair as a zero-sum game, the employer is being irrational.

          Let's say you call a spade a spade, tell him he sucks, and should try something else. Rather than trying to be a codemonkey who couldn't pass for a code algae, he decides to become an elementary school teacher, a fire fighter, or assembly line worker. Even were I completely selfish, it's in MY self interest for things like teachers, fire fighters, and assembly line workers to exist because they benefit me by increasing the labor pool for those jobs and thus lowering their cost to ME. I could not say anything, have him wallow in the labor pool, eventually get welfare, and make me pay him MY tax dollars.

          But hey, I'm just conservative, not an ass.
    • by bladesjester (774793) <[moc.daehsgnillohsemaj] [ta] [todhsals]> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:26PM (#17549214) Homepage Journal
      First off, once they're rejected there is zero reason to spend another second more on them.

      That opinion is just plain wrongheaded, and I'll tell you why.

      Even if the candidate doesn't get the job because they weren't qualified, you want them to be excited about the company. It's good PR for *you* and that most certainly is a good reason to treat your candidates respectfully.

      If they still like your company even though they didn't get the job, they will direct other people they know to you (many of whom may be more skilled than the person you turned away), and they may even try again down the road when they have more experience themselves.

      You may not realize this, but even developers and other technical people are social animals (no matter how much we sometimes deny it) and word gets around pretty fast. The bad companies get pointed out to friends who point them out to their friends (and on down the line). That's something we all know too well. However, the other case is also true - the GOOD companies get pointed out too.

      Treat your candidates poorly (and treating them as a disposable commodity that doesn't deserve "another second more" is treating them poorly), and after a while, you will only get poor candidates.
      • Re:Pass the trash... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by isaac (2852) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:42PM (#17549472)
        Candidates that aren't quite there yet ("reply hazy, ask again later") may get a little guidance. I have certainly advised flawed but promising on what to study before they apply again (or we call them again) in the future. Candidates of the sort the article poster was asking about ("a danger to any code base") get a polite rejection from the recruiter and that is all.

        I am not in the business of career counseling. I don't think that makes me evil.

        -Isaac

      • Re:Pass the trash... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:25PM (#17550022) Homepage

        Even if the candidate doesn't get the job because they weren't qualified, you want them to be excited about the company. It's good PR for *you* and that most certainly is a good reason to treat your candidates respectfully.

        Maybe, but offering criticism could just as easily turn into an incident that makes your company look bad. Even if you fully intend to offer kind, thoughtful, constructive criticism, the recipient might not take it well. Then, not only will you be dealing with a PR problem, but possibly a legal problem as well.

        • by bladesjester (774793) <[moc.daehsgnillohsemaj] [ta] [todhsals]> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:42PM (#17550254) Homepage Journal
          First off, I have to say that I really hate the mess of things that litigation happy people and a lot of HR people (not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them) have made of interviews. One or two incidents occur to some other company, and HR at your company goes "just don't say anything and they can't sue us."

          It's almost like saying "If my eyes are closed, you can't see me."

          Personally, I think that's a bad practice, but I'm not in much of a position to change it.

          Now that I have that out of the way, I just want to say that my comment wasn't just about providing meaningful feedback (which some of us ask for and honestly want), but also about his attitude of "anyone whom I don't deem worthy is not worth another second of my time."

          That sort of attitude bleeds through into the interview and it really turns off potential candidates. As a result, they let their friends know (who, as I said, let theirs know, etc). Deapite what he seems to think as evidenced by his response, treating a person like a real person is not just for career councilors.

          I've walked out of interviews at places where the technical people displayed the "I am god and you must impress me, pesant" mentality, because I don't want to work in that sort of an environment. I know a lot of other really competent people who have done the same.

          You want your company to present a truly positive face to potential hires (and, as an interviewer, you *are* the face of the company to the people you are interviewing) because that is one of the things that make people *want* to work for you. If they're excited about the company, whether or not they got the job, they will tell other people.

          In the end if you can make your potential hires excited about your company, you have a lot better chance of getting really solid, quality people even if you don't hire that particular person, because word of mouth is extremely important.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by yog (19073) *
            You the business are not in the business of making potential hires excited; your job is to make the best company you can, the best products, the happiest employees, the most loyal customers, etc., and people will flock to apply for employment. Google, for example.

            The original poster was correct--there is zero reason to bother with a failed applicant. The proper, truthful, and polite response to their application is, "Sorry but you don't completely meet our requirements for this position. Good luck with y
            • Re:Pass the trash... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by rcw-home (122017) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:05AM (#17551748)

              You the business are not in the business of making potential hires excited; your job is to make the best company you can, the best products, the happiest employees, the most loyal customers, etc.

              "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry [wikiquote.org]

          • Re:Pass the trash... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by sewagemaster (466124) <sewagemasterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:13PM (#17551240) Homepage
            I've walked out of interviews at places where the technical people displayed the "I am god and you must impress me, pesant" mentality, because I don't want to work in that sort of an environment. I know a lot of other really competent people who have done the same.

            I swear I would have walked out in some of these I've had.

            Examples:

            Nvidia - This is at a career fair. They ask if you have a GPA > 3.5 to start with. If you don't, they put you off immediately and tell you in your face that you're not good enough. If you "pass" that question, they sit you down at the back of their booth and ask you to solve a technical question for an hour - as if you don't already have better things to do or, *gasp* classes to attend. I know people working there, and the only feedback I've heard is that it's a sweat shop over there.
            I'd say no thanks rating: 4.5 of 5 (www.nvidia.com)

            Xilinx - Interview. Manager constantly interrupting what you have to say. The man was the most impatient man I've met in my life. If you answer a question incorrectly he would say some pretty negative things. One of the employees asked a simple unix command line question. I've been using it for 8-9 years at that time and I was sure I was correct in the question. There are million different ways of doing things, but he wouldn't accept my answer eventhough I went step by step explaining clearly how this crazy 'find' command works. Me not getting that job - my gain.
            I'd say no thanks rating: 5 of 5 (www.xilinx.com)

            Marvell - The guy was asking technical questions that had no relation to the job technical requirements, responsibilities or my background. Answers had to be exact. Solving these equations over the phone interview. I even asked him in the end if the job would be related to this field, and he admitted that there were no relations. What an idiot.
            I'd say no thanks rating: 2 of 5 (www.marvell.com)

            Analog Devices - Career fair during year of dot com bust. Had a booth but told everyone who came by they weren't hiring at all. Feedback from students - why bother showing up at all? Next semester - decided it wasn't a good "PR" thing to do, they scheduled interviews with a large number of candidates for on-campus interviews, only to found out they weren't hiring at all. How do I know, you'd say? Like parent post said: the word gets around QUICK. Thank you for wasting our time, Analog devices. They did this for 3 straight years.
            I'd say no thanks rating: 5 of 5 (www.analog.com)

            Teradyne - Sometimes, alumni from your school returning as people representing their companies would turn you off from applying there too. I recognize these jokers. They're the ones that copied assignments and cheated through tests in some class you took together. Would you want to work with these jokers, or even a company that hires these people? No thanks!
            I'd say no thanks rating: 4.5 of 5 (www.teradyne.com)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by coastwalker (307620)
        Its common courtesy to explain what you wanted from them what you were looking for and didnt find. Given that information they can either reassess what skills they need to work on or which roles they should be applying for. You might learn something useful about the efficiency of your own hiring processes and target it better. In these days of qualification inflation the skill list in job advertisements often looks more like a supermarket stock list than a job specification.
               
    • by Stile 65 (722451) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:30PM (#17549266) Homepage Journal
      > Second, from an employer's perspective, it may in the narrow self-interest of the company for such a person to go be a drain on its competitors. Where's the rational economic incentive to discourage that?

      He COULD go to work for one of your vendors... :)
    • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:32PM (#17550122)
      First off, once they're rejected (assuming they're really rejected rather "reply hazy, ask again later"), there is zero reason to spend another second more on them.

      Building relationships is key to business success, and today's losers have a way of turning into tomorrow's winners. They tend to be highly motivated.

      That does not mean you have any obligation to candidates who are clearly not qualified at the current time. But history is full of people who could only get jobs a lowly patent clerks and yet wind up revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. Or who drop out of university and found companies that change industries.

      Not every loser grows up to be a winner, but enough do, and they are hard enough to recognize, that it would be extremely foolish to say that you have zero reason to spend another second on someone. epsilon reason, maybe. But not zero.

      The rational incentive to help others is so obvious that it hardly needs pointing out, but one place to start is: do you want to live in a world where there are people who help others? If so, there is exactly one way of ensuring that you do. Think about it for long enough and you'll figure out what it is. And companies exist embedded in the social landscape, so despite not being human they share similar incentives.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:35PM (#17551436)
      When you do offer a job to a candidate do you expect to get a reasonably prompt reply from them, even if they are turning the job down? Because according to your philosophy, if they've decided not to take your job, they shouldn't waste another second opf their time to inform you of this decision. There's no economic incentive for them to do so. So you're left waiting, not knowing whether the job offer has been accepted or not.

      Sucks when other people are assholes to you, doesn't it?
  • There's a lot of competition for tech. jobs. Blunt honesty might push some people out who weren't sure anyway. What are you doing looking for work if you can't handle rejection? My experience with interviews is that they either don't tell you anything, or they make up something that sounds nice but isn't very specific. How you treat each candidate reflects more on your company than it does on the IT industry as a whole.

    mandelbr0t
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:17PM (#17549102)
      "What are you doing looking for work if you can't handle rejection?"

      People who don't deal with rejection well have bills to pay too, you know.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:59PM (#17549720)
      What are you doing looking for work if you can't handle rejection?

      You start believing crap from people less able then yourself because they have a job and you don't. I've seen very able people give up looking and take jobs in different feilds because each rejection makes them think they are less capable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by soft_guy (534437)
      There are too many people in tech as it is, that's why I shoot to death anyone I choose not to hire.
  • Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryanr (30917) * <ryan@thievco.com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:52PM (#17548786) Homepage Journal
    If I decide against a candidate, I've arrived at saying nothing beyond "Thank you for your time, we've decided not to extend an offer." Anything else, and I've had people keep bugging me with things like they can change, or give them another chance, or would I...
  • Mum's the word. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NNland (110498) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:52PM (#17548790) Homepage
    Do whatever is standard for your organization when you decide not to hire someone. Doing anything else, from throwing their resume in the trash the next day to telling them that they should brush up on skill X, could be seen as litigation fodder.

    Also, don't post on slashdot about it, he may be incompetent, but he may still read slashdot.
  • Not a word! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LibertineR (591918) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:54PM (#17548810)
    Although it sucks, since the person will continue to bounce off potential employers until finding one with inadequate screening, it is not in your companies interests to give reasons for rejecting a candidate. You never know when some insecure geek is going to return with a weapon, based on his momma telling him he could code better than God, and anyone who doesnt know it, should die.

    You thank them for coming in, validate their ticket, and hope you never see them again.

    • by megaditto (982598) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:13PM (#17549882)
      based on his momma telling him he could code better than God, and anyone who doesnt know it, should die.
      Oh, don't be so cocky. I am fortunate to know a guy who awhile back was told -in writing- that his research sucked and was a complete waste of time.

      That guy went on to get a Nobel Prize for the said research in 2005 and now he opens his talks by showing the "fuckoff" rejection letter...

      Luckily for the idiot that wrote the letter, Dr. Marshall magnanimously blacks out the name and the sig!

      The lesson here is: be nice to "insecure geeks."
      • Re:Not a word! (Score:5, Informative)

        by shanen (462549) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @01:14AM (#17552312) Homepage Journal
        But it only took a few moments of Googling and reading to determine that it was signed by...
        Turn the page and there is the society's blunt rejection letter, signed by the Honorary Secretary at the time, Terry Bolin, now Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. Terry Bolin must feel like the person who said Einstein was dumb or that the Beatles couldn't sing.
  • before doing anything drastic. If someone is qualified on paper and you choose to interview them, it's not really your place to lambast them. If you mention things that aren't in the job ad for a reason they weren't picked, that seems kinda dangerous to me, this day and age.

    To answer your question, though, yes, you can do so. Don't offer them the job. :)
  • Just... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:56PM (#17548858)
    act crazy... bitch slap one of your coworkers in front of him. Cut up some fruit in the kitchen and use a really sharp knife. Grin while you're doing it. Then show him your scarification.

    Scream something random to people in the next room at unpredictable intervals.

    By the time the interview's over, a callback will be the last thing they're wondering about.
  • Discrimination? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zonnald (182951)
    I saw a job ad yesterday that clearly stated that the application must have 2-6 years experience. Then went on to state "Candidates with 7 years or more of commercial IT experience are unlikely to be considered by this particular organisation".
    Knowing that 18 years experience was just a little over that, I opted not to try.
    I can imagine that they probably would have stated the reason for rejecting my application. (This was not advertised as a junior role).
    It seems a fairly disturbing trend that most IT j
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      Then went on to state "Candidates with 7 years or more of commercial IT experience are unlikely to be considered by this particular organisation".

      Depending on how sweet the job sounded - Just whittle your experience down to the upper end of their range (some might call that "lying", but I've heard (IANAL) that employers can sue for everything they've paid you if you outright lie about your qualifications, so you might want to avoid outright lies; You can say a lot without actually lying, though).

      Do the
    • by Loco Moped (996883) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:35PM (#17550174)
      It seems a fairly disturbing trend that most IT jobs now insist on candidates having experience that would seem to preclude anyone over 30.

      How's that?
      I'm over 60, and I've been in IT since the late '70s.
      I have less than 6 years of experience.
      (between naps, lunch, and endless meetings)
  • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:00PM (#17548910) Homepage
    Certainly, I think an interviewer has zero obligation to spend his time explaining to somebody what they did wrong. Certainly not for free.

    That said, I think in many circumstances, it can be a good thing to explain to somebody why they didn't get the gig. If they undertake a course of self improvement, they could potentially apply for a different position in a few years and prove a really valuable asset. Before I left my last job, there was a huge amount of bitterness related to internal job applications for position transfers. People would be rejected with no idea why. It was killing morale. I don't know if they ever improved the situation, but it would have been really easy to say,
    "Look, Suzie Q, when we open up to public applications, most of the people applying for this type of position have qualifications X,Y, and Z in these amounts. You only have X, and only in this amount. So, it's not personal, but I think we are going to keep looking. If you really want to move into this position, we really think that only A and not B will be the best route to getting Y and Z."

    Instead, with really vague requirements, people thought they were perfectly qualified, and had no idea how to get better-qualified. They also thought that it was just a matter of personal grudges.

    With external applicants, I think it is less important, but it doesn't usually hurt. I suppose you might consider it valuable to keep some of the stunning idiots in the industry in hopes that they will work with your competitors. But, you may eventually work with them too. And, you will have to maintain their code. Probably safer for everybody just to point out to them how clueless they are.

    And, when I'm away from my day job, I do theater stuff. I was recently involved in some auditions to expand an improv troupe I am in. Not everybody got individual commentary, but the folks dismissed in the first round did at least get a general explanation. Everybody who made it past the first cut got an explanation of what impressed the director, and what he thought they could most work on - both the folks who made it and those who didn't. Personally, I wish we could have taken a little more time to offer personal advice to some of the folks in the first round. I would have liked suggesting that the hot chicks take classes that I can sit in on and watch them learn. Especially one blonde. I tried to convince the director that she should join the troupe and just not be allowed to say anything. I would have been cool with that.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:11PM (#17549842)
      It can be counterproductive and depressing. I had HR people say to me - "we didn't hire you becuae we wanted someone who knows about somewidget" and then I correct the way they pronounce it or some other glaring error that showed they didn't understand the selection criteria. There is no way you can still get the job in this situation even if the decision is wrong since it makes the contact person look incompetant - if they have already told others you do not have the job so they can't go back on it. If recruitment agencies or HR is not involved it can be a different story.
  • They almost always seem to zone in on the technically inept.

    He could end up the CEO of the company that buys out your company..

    Burning bridges, that sort of thing.
  • by Clay_Culver (583328) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:02PM (#17548930)
    You should definitely not say anything to this prospective employee. I am not a lawyer, but the reason that these interviews are setup in such a manor that the interviewer is not the person telling the interviewee that they do not get the job is for legal reasons. Telling them this would potentially open up your company to a lawsuit (frivolous or otherwise). This is not to mention the hot water you could be in for stepping around HR in the interview process.

    You may feel you have an ethical obligation to set this guy straight, but you also have an ethical obligation to your company to not expose them to a potential lawsuit (or to bad PR from this guy telling others what you have said). Also, as crass as this may sound, would this action result in increasing shareholder value for your company? Professional ethics requires that you at least consider that question before taking an action such as this.

    It sounds like your heart is in the right place for wanting to tell this guy the truth, but really it isn't your job. It's the job of this guy's professors in school (through grades), and the job of his colleagues when he does land a job (through peer review or otherwise) to tell him that he is not as good as he thinks he is. Besides, if someone is that full of them self, do you really believe he would listen and not take offense?
  • True Story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by El_Smack (267329) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:04PM (#17548948)
    I was hiring a programmer for a project, and had one I liked. I Googled his name, email address, got nothin'. Then I Googled the *newsgroups*. This guy posted on alt.drugs.hard that he had just moved to my city, and was lamenting how hard it was to find good heroin. He had also posted to something like alt.alien.contact, how aliens had been contacting him, and he had picture proof, in the dust patterns on his T.V. He linked to the pic on the web, but it was less than convincing.

    So what did I tell him? Nothing. Just that I had hired someone else, and thanks for his time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      and what if someone posted fake information about you on the web and employers used that as a reason to not hire you?
    • Re:True Story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:54PM (#17549658)
      Let the record show that Sean McLachlan:

      Is addicted to crack.
      Fucks his mom.
      Can't program worth a shit.
      Is a fucking idiot.

      I'm too lazy to make an account, but do you see how that works?

      Asshole.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by siufish (814496)
      How did you look him up in newsgroups? Using his REAL name and REAL email address?

      If he really posted his REAL name and REAL email address on public newsgroups, he should never be a programmer anyway.

       
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alienmole (15522)
      This from a guy whose Slashdot profile has a URL which links to gay porn?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Punk Walrus (582794)
      I also worked for a group that declined to hire one guy for similar reasons, although that wasn't the only one. We noticed he had an AOL address, and on a hunch, we looked up hometwon.aol.com/hisusername. And were shocked. I mean, the web page was horrible to begin with, style wise, and had a sort of a gansta-meets-renn-fest theme ("Wenches and bitches, welcome to my m'lord's sweet dungeon!"). Judging from his wealth of photos, we estimated he graduated high school not more than three years ago, so his
  • by binaryDigit (557647) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:04PM (#17548950)
    I, like others have posted, typically don't tell the interviewee how they did. The standard line I use for those that inquire is "after the interview, I make an assessment of your skill level and appropriateness for the job, I then give this to the hiring manager (which sometimes is myself) and it's up to them to figure out if those variables meet their criteria". While it would be nice to tell everyone how they did, from a practical standpoint it often leads to bigger troubles (I know this from experience). One other aspect is that this day and age, one has to be very careful about what you tell a candidate, it could be that "you didn't think they were a good fit", which often means that you thought they were a putz, but of course you can't say that (that they were a putz). So I just leave the legaleeze to those that are trained in it (HR).

    BTW, I never "toy" with candidates. AAMOF, I try to go out of my way to keep them relaxed and not discouraged if things aren't going well. The point of the interview is to try to assess their abilities and appropriateness for the job, not to make myself feel superiour or have a team of folks that "interview well" but can't code worth a darn. I also don't want to exclude people because they "don't interview well". Some folks just get nervous, and I would hate to pass on someone good just because of that (after all, how many of us know other techies that are awesome at what they do, but have a few issues with their "social graces").
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:05PM (#17548958)
    A lot of employers are not even contacting you AT ALL after the interview. I mean, I can understand why you can't contact everyone that sends in a resume, but jeeze... if you've shown enough interest to interview a person, you should at least tell them that they DIDN'T get the job.
  • Eventually they will get more experience and a job, and may even do well at it eventually. Let recruiters tell people what mistakes they have made. Besides that, some people come away knowing where they had trouble in an interview/job/contract and do their best to get better in the deficient areas. Unless you are there coach or teacher, then just let them be.
  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@@@sbcglobal...net> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:15PM (#17549076) Homepage Journal
    There's a story about Art Rooney, long-time owner of an American football franchise in Pittsburgh -- the Steelers. He had to fire his quarterback, who wasn't getting the job done. As the QB was leaving, Rooney saw him from his limo and shouted at him: "I hope you become the greatest QB who ever lived!"

    The QB's name? Johnny Unitas [wikipedia.org].

    If I've learned nothing else in life, it's that building good relationships with people will get you further than anything else. I've also learned that it's important to serve as a mentor to people.

    If you tell them in a kindly manner that they're not applying for a job they're qualified for, and that they should modify their job searches to meet their existing skill sets, you saved them tons of job-hunting trouble. (If you express it well and they still don't pay you any heed, it's their own damned fault.)

    Having been on both sides of that interview table, I know how much it matters to that individual. And both your personal success and your company's success depend on the relationships you build.

    The key thing about building relationships is that you have to have that function activated all the time; you can't just turn it on selectively. If you're selective, you become a two-faced suck-up, and people will know that's what you are -- to say nothing of the opportunities you'll miss when you treat someone like shit and they one day turn out to be big-time.

    Every person who ever succeeded faced rejection at some point by someone else. Be damned sure that they remember those things. They remember who gave them assistance along the way, and those who did not.

    Moreover, when that one rejectee does succeed, and tells all his admirers and fans about that time you shot him down for a job, is he going to talk about how you helped steer him in the right direction, or how you were an asshole?

    Don't be that asshole. Be like Art Rooney. Help the candidate out.
  • by PurifyYourMind (776223) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:16PM (#17549084) Homepage
    ...I would love to get feedback from employers. It's too bad that we live in such a litigious society where you can't even give advice to people who don't make the cut.
  • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:27PM (#17549222)
    That's not the way to go about it. You hire these failures, and then you slowly crush their soul and destroy their lives, then sue them. Isn't that what business is all about? As if I'm going to hire the best and brightest. That's no fun.
  • by dedazo (737510) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:28PM (#17549230) Journal
    Definitely tell them - in a nice, constructive way - that they sucked. Just do it afterwards, in a post-interview follow up email. You should always do this anyway, as it is the right thing to do. Even if they simply weren't a fit for the job and didn't necessarily suck. But don't do it immediately after the interview.

    When I was starting out I would have appreciated employers contacting me after an interview and telling me "you're good, but you got to get better at X and Y". I do the same now every time I go through a hiring cycle. I've found that most developers (that's who I hire, obviously) are by and large grateful at you for doing that. There's always going to be the occasional dick that replies with "well fuck you I didn't want to work at your stupid company anyway", but I could really care less.

  • by mark99 (459508) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:32PM (#17549292) Journal
    1. You might be wrong. Maybe what you think is important is really not the key factor in other jobs that are related. For example there are many very successful VB shops, but few Java and C# people out there who will give them the time of day. And programming techniques and methodologies vary widely.

    2. The candiate may have had a bad day. I know I have had some bad ones, where I was tongue-tied on occasion and just did not see what my interviewer (or customer) was getting at, though it was clear as daylight later.

    3. There are misunderstandings. People hear one word, and understand another. Accents, culture, word usage vary widely and interviews are usually too short to establish contexts and get used to one another.

    Once we hired a guy who interviewed brilliantly, even had fanstastic code samples (impresive video games he had written on a basic PC - that later turned out to be very buggy). After a year we concluded that he could never write enough "if" statements to special case his bugs out of existence, and he would never be able to tackle problems in any other way. But we missed it in the interview.

    Basically hiring people is risky business :)
  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:42PM (#17549468)
    I've had an interview, was nervous but relieved when I got the job. Then shortly after saying I had the positions he said "you were the worst interviewee I've had in a long time, I almost didn't give you the job". I was completely crushed by that, especially considering it was a pretty crappy job (night filler at tescos) and it made me feel down for a long long time. It was just such a nasty thing to say to someone whether it was true or not (I'm extremely shy and introverted and that kinda thing does nothing for my confidence).

    First of all: Tell people they haven't got the job, in a letter preferably. Nothing worse then not knowing. If you have critisism, disguise it and make it in regards to other candidates (the successfull applicant showed a much stronger knowledge of xyz). Chances are they know their skill shortcomings but occasionally they won't and you have to be sure that you don't critisize something so heavily it destroys them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dcw3 (649211)
      I've had an interview, was nervous but relieved when I got the job. Then shortly after saying I had the positions he said "you were the worst interviewee I've had in a long time, I almost didn't give you the job". I was completely crushed by that, especially considering it was a pretty crappy job (night filler at tescos) and it made me feel down for a long long time. It was just such a nasty thing to say to someone whether it was true or not (I'm extremely shy and introverted and that kinda thing does nothi
  • YES!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:49PM (#17549580) Homepage Journal
    Please, as a candidate for interviews, I hate it when companies have some sort of super secret policy regarding how well I did in interviews.

    This is especially true given us poor college candidates. Understanding the finer points of interview etiquette is not accomplished instantly. (I have been criticized for dressing up too much and for not dressing up enough!)

    Also, think about it: Don't you want other companies doing the same thing, so that you get better candidates coming in through your doors as well?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ckaminski (82854)
      One job I was interiewing for a year or two ago came down to me and another guy. Nearest I can figure, the owner took one look at my white sneakers and not black dress shoes (silly thing on my part, I know), and when it came down to equal technical skills, chose the other guy on appearance/detail (reasonable). Silly thing is, they replaced that guy six months later with my coworker from the company who eventually hired me.

      Tiny little things...
  • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:52PM (#17549632) Homepage
    One time we had a candidate that looked good on paper, but when we brought him in to meet with the team, it was oil and water. Very badly. This guy was absolutely the wrong personality for the rest of the team even though he brought the technical goods.

    He emailed us and asked why he hadn't gotten the position. We made the mistake of politely explaining what our issues with him were. He used that explanation to kick off some sort of lawsuit against our company.

    I actually have no idea how it ultimately turned out. HR told us never to do that again, legal took charge of the matters with every expectation to fight this tooth and nail (especially to avoid a precedent against our company). I presume it's either still outstanding, he lost, or he gave up, because I think I would have heard if it had gone against us.

    If someone asks us how they did in an interview now (and we're not planning on offering them a job), it's, "Well, we have a lot of candidates to examine, we'll contact you if we're interested in a second interview or need more information. If you have questions about your performance in the interview, we suggest you contact a career counselor who is better equipped and has the appropriate training to answer questions like that."
  • Taking Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:09PM (#17549822) Journal
    I like to give candidates some feedback during the interview, even if it's only in the layout of their resume.


    The lesser reason is that they deserve some help in their job seeking, given that they have gone to the trouble of attending the interview.

    But reason #1: I want to see how they respond to friendly advice. I don't want to hire people who can't take advice.

  • by GWBasic (900357) <slashdot&andrewrondeau,com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:10PM (#17549830) Homepage

    Consider that the problem could be you. When I've been "corrected" on coding problems in the past; it typically indicated that the interviewer was asking the wrong questions. Don't expect people to write perfect error-checking, choose your favorite algorithm, naming convention, ect.

    For example, I once had to write an algorithm that had to handle money. I chose a slow and reliable algorithm, and the interviewer chastised me to not writing the fastest once possible. (He never told me he was looking for speed.) When I politley explained that I always choose a reliable algorithm that can be replaced with a fast one, as needed, he refused to listen to me, and probably thought that I was a risk to his code base.

    In another internview, I was chastised for not performing extensive (and redundant) input checking. Typically, in whiteboard coding where the goal is to demonstrate an algorithm, one does not worry about minor details. Again, the interviewer probably though that I was a risk to his code base because my first reaction to his problem wasn't to follow his error-checking style.

    So, perhaps instead of correcting someone's code, ask them why they wrote it the way they did. The answer to, "Why did you choose a slow algorithm?" or "Why aren't you performing null checking?" could be valid because the interviewer thinks you're looking for something else.

    • by susano_otter (123650) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @02:17AM (#17552778) Homepage
      The flip side of this coin is, part of the interview may have been finding out whether or not you do due diligence when receiving a new project.

      The hiring manager may not be able to train his customer base to give a complete specification, but he can always try to hire people who make a habit of getting a complete specification before they begin working. You may have lost the job because you failed to ask what kind of code the manager wanted, not because you failed to read his mind or guess his intent.
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:12PM (#17549848) Journal
    In the team technical interview they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is he (or she) not as adequate as he thinks he is, but has demonstrated that he is a danger to any code base.
    Or you just proved that the candidate does not perform well in environments that are unrelated to actual job requirement. Really: "team technical interview"? Most programmer positions require an analytical mind which is unrelated to the quick-fire response situations most interviews (and especially team interviews) create.
  • It's tricky... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by koreth (409849) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:14PM (#17549886)
    On the one hand you want to be a nice person and help others improve their weak spots.

    On the other hand, a lot of the time you'd just be inviting the person to come back with, "Ah, great! So if I go learn more about XYZ, then I'm hired?" Maybe you can't really fully grok this until you've been on the hiring side for a while, but most often the lack of a particular skill or expertise is not the problem in and of itself. It's an indication of deeper problems, which are not usually easy (or even possible) to give people constructive feedback on without taking lots of time talking it over with them.

    For example, if I'm interviewing an engineer who claims to have both Java and C++ experience, one of my typical initial easy questions is, "Tell me some of the differences between the Java and C++ object models." The ultimate point of that question is not to find out how much you know about the differences between Java and C++. If your answer goes no further than describing which keywords are used in which language, then chances are you aren't the type who likes to dig beneath the surface of the tools you use and think about why things work the way they do. And if you give me a really thorough answer without having to stop and think about it, it tells me you probably know what you're talking about, at which point I dispense with most of the other easy questions on my list.

    The trouble is, if someone completely flubs that question (and I don't get the sense it's just due to nerves or whatever) then what am I supposed to tell them? "Sorry, come back when you're more inquisitive" doesn't exactly work as constructive criticism. And "Sorry, you don't know the difference between these object models" is even less useful because that was never the point of the question to begin with -- and what's more, it implies that if only they had skimmed that chapter of their "Java for C++ Programmers" book the night before, they'd be walking away with a job offer.

    It sucks to be turned down for a job without knowing why. I have very smart friends to whom that happens over and over again and they find it intensely frustrating. But at the same time, the "why" is not always easy to describe, and is even less easy to describe in a way that doesn't come off rude or condescending and that doesn't give people false hope. And of course as an interviewer, you're trying to fill a job position, which probably means that every minute spent helping out a rejected candidate is one you're not spending reading the next resume in the stack on your desk.

  • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:19PM (#17549970)

    I've been in the position of not getting a position several times, the form "sorry you have not been successful at this time" letter is one of the most annoying things in the world. I want to know why I wasn't successful. Did my interview technique suck? Did I lack confidence? Was I presenting a bad attitude? Was I plain under qualified for the role? Was I over qualified? OK that last one has probably never been a reason for me, but you get the idea. There are so many reasons why you might not get a job it would be nice if they'd narrow it down.

    Knowing what's wrong helps you to address the problem. If you're aiming for roles that are above your ability you need to know, so you can aim lower. If you lack confidence - as I know I do; one employer did have the decency to tell me that was why they decided not to hire me, even though I got through the HR interview, tech interview and the second sift - it's moderatly annoying, but at least it means you know you're not unqualified for that kind of role, you just need to work on presenting a more confidence persona.

    If the candidate refuses to accept the reason then it really should be their problem, not the company's. Unfortunatly giving someone a reason as to why you didn't hire them, especially those with a bad attitude, just gives them an excuse to blame you. But to be honest, they're probably going to try and blame you anyway.

    It always kind of amused me that, if you apply for a civilian role at Essex Police, and you're registered disabled, you're guaranteed an interview and will also get a debrief on your interview if you're not succesful. Of course they're only doing it so that they can't be accused of descrimination. Which is exactly why other employers won't give you a reason.

  • by krunk7 (748055) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:57PM (#17550478)

    There are two assumptions I make once I get as far as the interview process:

    1. My resume itself is within the competitive range of other applicants for this position
    2. If I don't get the job offer, it's because I screwed up the interview.

    Given these assumptions, at the end of every interview I always ask:
    "Would you have any suggestions on how I could improve my interview or any areas of expertise that could increase my desirability as an {IT,developer,Crack Dealer}?"

    I've found this to be an extremely useful question. It helps you as an interviewee improve with each consecutive interview. It also provides a saving throw. For example, perhaps you eliminated a bit of experience you had with Solaris systems in an enterprise environment on your resume (something has to go or it ends up being an autobiography)...and it so happens that they have a Solaris server and were looking for someone with at least a passing familiarity with that OS.

    So yes, I think you should tell them in a non-prickish way what areas they could improve in to become a competitive applicant for the position they applied for with your company.

    I've seen several posts here from employers saying *they* are the ones giving a job...why should they do anything for the interviewee. I found this outlook to be pretty amusing. I go into every interview with the attitude that its the company who needs me. I have a valuable skill set, the employer advertised because they need someone with my skillset. I've never gone for more then a week or two without work and I've never been fired. I've left jobs because employers had the attitude that they were doing me a favor by employing me. . . . and then that employer was stuck sifting through incompetent applicants for the next several weeks to find someone they now need once again.

    You should never treat your applicants like your doing them a favor. Provide helpful advise to those who don't make the cut and the next time around you might see him with the {certification, education, experience, etc} that you wished he had the first time.

    Now you have an applicant that is not only qualified, but has demonstrated a deep desire to work for your company, acts on constructive criticism, and self motivation.....sounds perfect? Don't you think?

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:36PM (#17550866) Homepage
    I'm frequently looking for a job (I do a lot on contract) and the standard reply is: We're sorry, but we currently have decided not to extend you an offer. We encourage you to please apply for any future openings...

    Be nice and friendly, but keep it short and simple. You don't need to give a reason or maybe you chose somebody else, the job market is fierce. The nicest thing that one company did for me was reimburse me for the gas and hotel.
  • Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pestilence669 (823950) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:38PM (#17550880)
    I inform people of their lack of talent rather frequently. You are being no friend at all to let someone continue down a path that only causes death and / or destruction. Sometimes... that happens. Many software bugs have indirectly killed people.

    I've told friends that they bombed the interview, why they bombed, what areas need improvement, and if they have any hope. Sometimes they don't, so I put it out there bluntly and honestly. There's always time to change a career.

    There's a fairytale that says something about accomplishing anything you set your mind to. It's a lie. I will never be an NBA player no matter how hard I try. I will never be able to do matrix multiplication in my head. People need to get rid of this childish notion and recognize their limits. Focus on what you actually have a hope of being good at.
  • A long time ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tjp($)pjT (266360) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:06PM (#17551168)
    Fado, Fado ... I once was interviewed by DEC for a job doing compiler development. I had my minimal college compiler development experience against another candidate interviewing the same day. (They flew me out half way across the country, he was local) The other candidate got the job and they told me why. "Another candidate is being hired. He has more experience in compiler development." Turns out he actually had 5 years of compiler development. Although I understood the job went to someone else, it was still pretty cool to be considered for it. And a different group that had my resume found out I interviewed for Technical Languages and interviewed me rearranging their schedules, my flight back home, and everything else to get me to stay over. I got that job, so all in all it was a great day! Latter I worked with the same group on some "off the scope" projects. So burning bridges from either side is not warranted ... The guy you turn down for one position may be sitting next to your cube the very next week anyway!
  • by stmfreak (230369) <stmfreak@gm a i l .com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:57PM (#17551658) Journal
    ... is to find good people.

    You're not there to educate every schmuck that applies for your position. You're supposed to simply find the best candidate (that meets your bar) in a reasonable amount of time.

    A secondary purpose of interviewing is to get people excited about your company. EVERYONE should leave your interviews wanting to work with you. That generally fosters good will in your area prompting qualified people to apply. A great way to make people not want to work with you is to be critical without the pretense of looking out for their best interests the way a friend, peer or mentor might.

    I never let on how poorly people are doing. I simply alter my approach, simplify my questions and wrap up early. I always ask if they have any questions for me about the position or company. I always take a moment to tell them something exciting about what we do. I always thank them for coming. I always show them out with a handshake and a smile and then inform my recruiter regarding how I want to follow-up.

    With a little luck, those that don't get invited back know someone who will.
  • by malus (6786) * on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:08AM (#17551762) Journal
    I love your statement, "... dangerous to any code base". that's just flawless, really.

    I'm currently working for a company I interviewed for out of desperation. I really needed a job close to home, as I was about to have a baby. The job was mine, easily, based on my skillset and their desperation for someone to 'bail them out'. After 6 months of doing basically nothing productive at this company, I find myself, on a daily basis, watching my manager, errrr "DIRECTOR!" [don't steal his rank from him!] tearing this company to shreds with his empty promises and lack of self control.

    "My cock is HUGE! And behold as I whip it out, and write magnificent code! I will solve all of your problems with one swift stroke!"

    This poor COBOL bastard couldn't tell me the difference between preceding-sibling and ancestor-or-self, let alone the difference between a private or public var, yet, this fuckmonkey is in charge of this small family-owned statistics business. Ridiculous.

    "I am the Bratt and you shall beat On me with your baseball bat!" ... sometimes the prospective employee isn't the dangerous one, rather, it's the inflexible management who is dangerous to the codebase.
  • No (Score:3, Informative)

    by kabdib (81955) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:38AM (#17551996) Homepage
    Dangerous territory. Feedback could be actionable. This is lawyer territory.

    Unfortunately it seems to be the bozos and flatlines and know-nothings who are vindictive. Much safer to give no feedback for someone who's clearly a waste of oxygen.

    I've told people who seemed good but weren't good matches, "Look, you'd be better off doing X, Y or Z, rather than what we need at the moment." But the clearly unqualified get a polite letter or phone call and that's it, no matter how much I want to say "If you were flipping burgers, I'd cross the street and eat at Taco Hell."
  • by Kaboom13 (235759) <kaboom108.bellsouth@net> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:00AM (#17553430)
    No matter what business your in, being a jerk and telling someone they are a "danger to any code base" is just bad business. The cost to you of being a professional, and telling them they are not qualified in a polite manner is 0, the cost to you of being a jerk may be 0 or it may be all the business you would have gotten from whatever company he does end up at, or all the business/potential recruits of his friends. In fact it never pays to be a jerk to anyone, from the janitor to the idiot you just fired. You never know when you are going to have to work with someone again, or need something from them. Being rude or playing game with someone because you are in a position of authority over them and they can't do shit about it, doesn't make you a big shot, it makes you an asshole. If someone has no chance at a position, tell them so as politely and directly as you can, and stop wasting their time.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @12:33PM (#17557712) Journal
    I know *plenty* of people who applied for positions they knew full-well they weren't at all qualified for. They were, however, good talkers and experienced in telling the H.R. "gatekeepers" all the standard things they like to hear, in order to move them forward to the interview.

    When you're out of work and grasping at straws to find a way to get your next paycheck, you'll sometimes try things like this - just to see if a potential employer is clueless enough to hire you anyway. (Or in some cases, you may REALLY want a completely different position with that company that you think you won't have much chance of getting without having a foot in their door.)

    Sometimes, it actually works. (Years ago, I knew a guy who did 48 hours of crash-course studying on Oracle database administration, in order to try for a tech. support job with Oracle. He really just wanted the job because they were located in Colorado, and he loved skiing.... He got it, and managed to learn enough while he was there to fool most people into thinking he knew the stuff all along. Last I heard, he still worked for them a few years later.)

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

Working...