The Job Resume Myth

Last year or so has been filled with interviewing developers. If I’m to summarize one learning from them, it has to be this: Resumes are useless.

There are very few carefully crafted resumes that I’ve come across. Even those haven’t been entirely true, once you have a chat with the concerned person. There are times when it gives you an impression that the guy knows a lot of things, turns out that he can hardly write any code. So then what are resumes for?

1. Filtering purpose (incase of large numbers of applicants)

Well, ask them to write some code. They’ll filter themselves. It needn’t be very difficult problem too. Just throw in a basic problem, and watch their submissions.

2. Pay more attention to code and less to stories.

One thing I like to discuss with people during interviews is their code. I believe a developer resumes should have some references to their code. Without that, its utterly incomplete.

Once you look at people’s code, you tend to have an idea of their style and maturity in that area. The presence of tests, clear separation of concerns, will clearly indicate the proficiency one has in coding maintainable programs. Then, the interviews could be filled with discussions on their design choices and alternate ways of achieving the solution.

Ignoring this, you’re left with a list of technologies listed in the resume. Most of it he’d have only heard of. Some he’d have actually written a ‘hello world’ in. And a small portion, which he would have really used and knows something about.

3. My HR doesn’t know any better.

You deserve poor candidates. Hire Them. Seriously, engineers can’t be hired without rigorous engineering sessions. HR role is book-keeping. Nothing less and nothing more.

These are my thoughts and not of my employer or associates.. Please share if you have any thoughts regarding this.



Interviews – Two at a time.

One of the factors that you look for in a candidate during interviews is his collaborative skills. How good is a person when it comes to carrying a conversation with a fellow colleague. How about disagreements? Does he respect arguments or gets aggressive..

How do you do that?

Here’s a proposition..

I was once in an interview session, and were short of interviewers. Lot of people showed up and we had limited time. So we decided to have paired-candidate session. This is where two candidates would appear together in an interview session. It was fairly effective and surprisingly pleasant experience. Here’s my observation from the experience..

1. There was a basic comfort during the session.

Since interviews have gone on to become this huge one-sided affairs, its become really difficult to gauge a person’s original nature during the interview. Getting a person into a proper discussion is quite a challenge. There are hardly any constructive arguments or discussions. Just questions and answers which are not a good representation of a person’s capability technically, leave alone his collaborative skills and interpersonal skills.

With another candidate in there, it is more comforting for the candidates and when they discuss, it can be more natural. This also spawns many useful discussions and arguments.

2. Simulate a typical work like setup

At work, you’re faced with similar situations fairly repeatedly. You are always discussing technical solutions with your colleagues. Either looking for support or challenging a solution. However, this situation is not repeated effectively during a interview session.

Two candidates at a time can help simulate a typical work-day, and can help gauge a person’s interpersonal and technical capabilities.

3. Interviewer as a moderator

I’ve always felt that interviewers should be doing more of listening. Just get the candidates talking and listen to them. With one-to-one interviews, mostly the sessions end up becoming a quiz situation. If that is all you want, there are many softwares which might do a better job at it.

With two folks in there, it can be really useful to have a good moderator as an interviewer. One would need to get both of them started in an argument or a discussion and observe how people react to individual points.

Knowing each of the candidates before hand can help a lot in moderation. Look up their details on the web and fit the right candidates together to get opposing views and opinions.


In all, its a nice session to add to your interview plan. It’ll not only help you gauge the technical abilities but will also assure you of how the person would behave during the actual work. This coupled with initial research about the candidate can be a wonderful combination to add to your plan.

Have you ever conducted a ‘Two at a time interview’.. Please do share your learnings from the experience.