Garbage in, garbage out and why companies find it hard to screen and recruit good tech talent

It is common to hear companies complain that it is hard to find good talent. A lot of the reason for that is that the companies don’t have an efficient way to screen candidates fast. They waste weeks interviewing the wrong candidates because they don’t really know what makes a good engineer. Is it their impressive results that they claim? Is it their fantastic superhuman brain that just got them to be naturally born rockstar developers? The reason companies are wasting their time is because they screen based on output (resumé and claimed experiences) and raw intelligence and neglect the most important thing. What is that? Inputs.

In software development, there is a common phrase “garbage in, garbage out”. What that means is that no matter how smart your overly buzzworded AI-machine-learning-blockchain, the system is, it will only produce good outputs if you give it good inputs. The same applies to humans. No degree of the super brain will produce excellent outputs without also being given excellent inputs, and a guy with average raw intelligent but with awesome inputs will beat the guy with excellent raw intelligence but bad inputs.

What does this rambling have to do with recruiting?

In your screening, have awareness of what is good input and screen the candidate for taking in good input. Start asking your candidates these questions:

  • Who are your idols/main influences in software engineering?
  • Which books/blogs/courses have thought you the most about software engineering?

You can’t lie about these questions. When you are sure that the candidates are taking in good input, you can start to trust that the outputs they claim are actually true. If the candidate says they can’t recall any of their influences or they don’t have any, you can politely thank them for their time and move on. Good output needs good input.

Standing on the shoulders of giants are the core ingredients of all geniuses in history, so start screening for that instead of being overly fixated with raw intelligence and their past experiences.

If you are looking for better talent in your team, you should either improve the inputs by doing a workshop for the team or recruit new talent using these kinds of input focused questions. If you are working with Angular development, then I recommend taking a look at this case study: https://christianlydemann.com/case-study/.


Originally published at Christian Lüdemann IT.