Interviewing candidates for a job is a very expensive process. If your intention is to hire only the best people, as it should be, you will probably have to interview dozen of candidates until you find one good match. And this of course is after the screening process, in which the potential candidates were already selected through careful analysis of their skills and experience, and perhaps other filtering mechanisms such as phone interviews.
What is the cost of each interview? There is the obvious cost of the interviewers’ time, including their preparation before the interview and the time spent writing their conclusions after it. Companies differ in their selection methods, but in general the entire hiring process will always include a series of interviews with people with rising levels of seniority. Thus, to find one good match, the people involved with the hiring process need to invest dozens of work hours, many of them dedicated to candidates that will be rejected. Clearly, we would like to make this process more effective, both to save money and to make it less frustrating for all the people involved, including the interviewers and the candidates.
There is an additional cost if the candidates are coming through job placement agencies. In this case, the agency will normally get one full month of salary for each candidate that is hired. Of course it would be much more cost-effective if we could attract good candidates without the help of these agencies. Better yet, it would be great if we could get the interest from people who are not actively looking for work. We want to hire the best people, but the best people normally already have good jobs and are happy with them. Unfortunately, the truth is that the pool of people actively looking for work is below average, either regarding their skills or experience.
To summarize, we would like a hiring process that:
- Is extremely cost-effective.
- Requires a minimum number of personal interviews.
- Is able to attract good candidates without the help of placement agencies.
- Is able to attract good candidates that are not actively looking for a new job.
This is exactly what was idealized by Hola, an Israeli Internet start-up. They have created a promotion in which software developers have to solve a programming challenge in order to win money prizes. A programmer submitting a “perfect” solution gets the top prize of 2000 Shequels (~500 US dollars). Their idea is viral since people can also win prizes if they forward the challenge to their friends, and if their friends solve it. If you are a programmer, you can try their challenge.
According to Ofer Vilenski, Hola’s CEO, several hundreds of Israeli programmers already tried to solve the challenge, but only a few were able to do it perfectly. These few ones that won the prize are considered by Hola to be top programmers, exactly the kind of people they would like to hire. The entire process so far cost to them only a few thousand Shequels, plus the time required to check the solutions, which they claim is very small for each solution. The prize winners are being invited for interviews, even if they were not actively looking for a job.
I’m personally very impressed with the efficacy of this model, which is also very original. But I’m not sure if I would consider adopting it in the future. As I said in a previous post, I believe in the importance of soft skills, but that cannot be measured in a programming challenge.
What do you think? I will be glad to hear your opinion about this idea. Please leave a comment below.
I also invite you to check my previous posts about the hiring process. And if you are a candidate looking for a job, I wish you good luck!