Tech company hiring practices skewered in pitch-perfect satire

The Cooper Review highlights the sad and funny reality of today’s high-tech interviewing process. How many of these “best practices” have you experienced?

man and women executives sitting in office shaking hands and interviewing
Thinkstock (Thinkstock)

The way most tech companies do their hiring today is a perfect target for juicy satire. And the jokes are extra delicious when readers instantly identify with them because they’ve dealt with them in the real world.

Maybe that’s why The Cooper Review scored a perfect hit last week with its piece on the outrageous hiring practices—and malpractices—common among top tech companies. The takedown, innocently titled Here are Google, Amazon and Facebook’s Secrets to Hiring the Best People, purports to share the “secret hiring strategies” that go far beyond the “list of popular Google interview questions” you can Google on Google.

Forget “rudimentary queries on algorithms and quantum physics.” Instead, author Sarah Cooper offers 10 perfect bon mots, starting with “Begin phone screens 15 minutes early, 15 minutes late, or not at all.” That way, she writes, you can “find people who are always ready for the job.”

If a candidate manages to pass the phone screen even though it woke them up at 5 a.m., the in-house interview offers another chance to use innovative interview techniques to suss out the A players. Cooper suggests “Mak[ing] the interview schedule as confusing and unpredictable as possible” in order “to find people who don’t need instructions.”

And then there’s my personal favorite, “Ask the candidate to solve your own, specific problems.” Why? “Because you really need help with this problem” and what better way to solve it for free than to ask jobseekers to do it for you?

In my career, I’ve been asked to spend tens of hours prepping strategies for potential employers. Sometimes they’ve been for hypothetical situations, other times they’ve shown up in the real world long after the company told me I “wasn’t the right fit.” At least once, after I got hired, I was handed the strategic plans created by the candidates that didn’t get hired. (No, I didn’t use them.)

Hardly hypothetical

I’ve been in the tech industry a long time, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that I’ve encountered both of these hiring “techniques” over the years. Heck, I may have even used them myself once or twice, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. (Despite my best efforts, for example, I am guilty of Cooper’s No.9 pretty much all the time.)

But you don’t have to be a technology veteran to run into this stuff. It happens to folks right out of school. In fact, I guarantee that anyone who’s ever interviewed at a tech company—large or small—has run into this one:

“Make the interview schedule as confusing and unpredictable as possible.”

Making sure that “neither the interviewers or interviewees have any idea what’s going to happen during the interview… is a great indicator of who will perform best when no one has any clue what’s going on.”

This happens all the time, and as anyone who’s actually landed a job at a tech company knows, it’s often an indicator of ongoing chaos and confusion once you get hired. Sure, the interview turmoil may not happen on purpose, but it’s hardly a good sign, either.

Funny because it’s true

You can’t make this stuff up, of course, and The Cooper Review didn’t have to. The site’s tag line is “Funny because it’s true,” and if you ask me, Ms. Cooper nailed it with this post.

I urge you to check out the original post, and feel free to share your own tech hiring stories and secrets.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10