I am Callum, one of the recruiters here at RedCat. In the last, nearly, two years that I have been with the company I have been immersing myself in the Data Science, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Big Data (the list seems to constantly grow) world.
Hopefully, this time has not been wasted and I have managed to make some impactful changes in people’s careers and add some value to the clients that I have worked with. Data Science and the various skill sets involved are, from my experience, the epitome of the ever growing ‘skill shortages’ within the Digital spheres.
One of the biggest debates and conversations that I have been having, with candidate and hiring managers alike, is focussed on the interview process and optimising things from the candidate and client perspective to get the best results. It is a difficult thing to get right for a number of different reasons and can have a massive impact on getting the right people on board.
There is a difficult balance to maintain. Hiring managers want to do a thorough job with assessing people throughout the process; ensuring that the people they could potentially hire are strong enough and have enough capability to come into the team to help alleviate current problems, add value on projects, and develop their skills as well. At the same time, the desperation for so many companies to get people in these areas on board means that the length of the process becomes a major problem. Most people do not want to take a week of holiday over a three week period meeting different stakeholders and working through new use cases to assess their technical skills and domain knowledge. Candidates that do not mind taking this time out are likely to be in multiple processes, leaving companies at risk of losing candidates to swifter interview processes elsewhere.
This is just scratching the surface. On top of these issues, you have the difficulties of making tests too much hard work, too theoretical or too domain focussed, losing momentum and excitement from the candidate in the process. Some try to alleviate this with setting “homework” or tasks. However many candidates think this is unfair fundamentally; one person I have spoken to recently believed that it insinuates that the company’s time is more important than the candidate’s. This is not to say there are not issues with onsite tests as well – how much insight can really be gleaned from a 2-hour onsite machine learning examination after all?
All of these factors balance on a knife edge, that’s before we even approach the subjects of “culture fit” and the other nuances that surround hiring new people into a team.
Recently I have done a lot of work in this space working with hiring managers to create an optimal experience to address as many of these points as possible, and from my experience, there is no perfect way to do things.. Each case is different and requires a different way to optimise the process and subsequently, the experience for all, based on the specification from the company and what they value in their new hires.
But of course, I could be wrong as there are always exceptions to the rules, after all, everyone in the digital space has heard of gruelling processes from the likes of Google and Facebook. Yet their hiring never seems to slow, and certainly, there is little issue with getting fantastic people on board.
In conclusion, perhaps there is no perfect process for interviewing in this domain. Certainly, they need to be thorough for both parties, and fast moving to keep momentum. Sure slower processes, like that of Google’s can work well, but an article I read recently had one of their lead engineers stating that even he would not pass it as it is now.
I am curious to know, what are some of the experiences that you have had? I welcome both good and bad, from a hiring or interviewing perspective? It would be great to hear things that have been done well and things that have annoyed or proved ineffective. This is an area that I am keen to gain as many perspectives on as possible in order to best advise the people that I work with on how to optimise their process
If you would be interested in having a talk about this subject, for advice, opinions or even general discussion then please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 0207 265 7800 or email CR@RedCat-Digital.com.
Written by Callum Reilly, Consultant – Big Data Analytics
Google+: RedCat Digital