The Aussie company Appster has an interview process that rivals that of NASA or the Manhattan Project. They spend 22 hours on average vetting and interviewing candidates before any semblance of an offer is even uttered. It’s absurdly higher for senior positions which are typically 150-hour ordeals. The process takes 3 weeks or so and then the candidates find if they have an offer or not. Talk about a low tolerance for mistakes!
Appster starts the hiring process before they meet anybody. First they imagine the person. They dream up an ideal dream-girl or guy and then start parsing social media profiles based on their criteria. The criteria involves everything from experience and skills to tastes in entertainment and sense of humor. The hiring managers use this set criteria to rule out all the people who wouldn’t be a fit at Appster. After the initial telephone call to candidates, only about 15% typically meet enough of the criteria set forth. Picky, picky.
The next 3 weeks are spent on exams. Appster develops a lot of these tests in-house but also uses some outside help from companies who specialize in competency exams. Nobody under the global 95th percentile is able to proceed to the next phase of the interview and usually only a quarter or so of the original applicants do. The ones who are left get to look forward to a 6-hour session where applicants are brought in and tortured by potential co-workers and higher ups who pick them apart emotionally in an effort to make them crack. The applicants have to answer to a questionnaire of over 100 inquiries and psychological proddings.
If they survive the psychological conditioning and are able to walk out of the building, the next phase of the interview process commences: discussing the candidate behind their back. The team keeps notes on all the prospects and, like a group of 3rd grade girls trying to pick the cutest boy in school, determine who the top picks are and who needs more research. Then they schedule another 4 hour interview for each candidate with 2 Appster employees. One body language expert and one technical interrogator. So you have one guy studying your body, taking notes while the other tries to stump you with tech questions. Every squint, sigh, quizzical look, arm-crossing, leg-crossing, and fart is documented. If one of those is interpreted as a lack of confidence, be prepared for some follow up questions.
I have to stop for a second to acknowledge how crazy this all sounds. Does this company actually get any real work done? How is Appster actually building any apps? With interview timeframes like this, they must be booked for the rest of the year at least. They now have 150 employees. If each one spent 3 weeks being interviewed that means 450 weeks right there. And by at least 2 people at a time. So it would take something like 9 years of their collective time to get to this number of employees? What the hell? I’m starting to think this is just a media stunt or something and they don’t really actually do any of this.
Anyway, there’s more to the story.
The next phase of hiring involves background checks, social media stalking, and try-outs. By try-outs I mean the candidate is paired with another employee to get some real work done for the day. After their day, the established employee is able to give feedback on the performance of the potential hire.
They can determine from that if someone is a fit for the company and it has often led to a decision to not hire. This is great because your first day on the job is a perfect example of how you will perform months or years down the line /s.
Somehow, they’ve managed to hire 50 people in a 3 month period and intend to continue hiring at that rate for the rest of the year. Appster is hiring!
The Good and the Bad
It’s a good idea to have a general idea of the candidate you are trying to hire so I agree with the imagining step at least. The rest of it though? Meh.
With such a shortage of software engineers out there you’re likely to get people who are like “well screw this” when they’re told about a 22-hour block that they need to schedule for this illustrious opportunity. Programmers kind of get to call the shots these days and I’m surprised Appster has found as many as they have. Historically, developers have been a very particular population when it comes to bullshit tolerance.