The state of tech, hiring and leadership.

I generally tend to dismiss posts on hiring because they are largely regurgitated content but lately I’ve noticed an interesting trend that is oddly comforting and needed to be shared.

One the of things that I look for in an organization is maturity in leadership. I immediately develop a sense of respect for the team and the company when i see it being led by someone with the ability to make sound decisions. However, this does not imply that younger leaders are less adept at leading organizations efficiently. In fact what I’ve observed is quite the opposite.

The way interviews are conducted at these younger organizations are so much more welcoming and in tune with how we develop products/software in the real world. However, this is what I see often with traditional organizations.

Pressure Tests

These are by far the most pointless ways to judge whether a person is qualified to work in your organization. If you belong to an organization that is constantly under pressure then that is clearly a failure in leadership.

Proving a Mathematical Formulae

I’m terrible at Math but I also not too bad at designing good software systems. 9 times out of 10 I’d never be able to prove a mathematical formula on a whiteboard.

Modeling vague business problems

These are the hardest to justify as the interviewer just makes up the problem as you go along. I’ve never really managed to figure out the point behind these kind of questions and what they aim to evaluate. If you’re lucky you’ll end up saying what the interviewer wants to hear.

Puzzles

To check if you’re Batman?

frosty_trap

I used to be extremely cynical about the new generation of engineers and them leading organizations, but they’re in fact way more confident, fearless and open to trying new things. A lot of the times new ideas are brushed aside in the name of simplicity and trusted technology. I’ve had senior engineers/leaders come to me saying that they aren’t easily moved by the coolness in tech, which is a fair comment if it isn’t used in self defense.

One of the most important aspects of good leadership is the ability to wear your knowledge lightly. Truly smart people are rarely rude, standoffish or insecure about others and this usually comes across during interviews. It’s in fact the exact opposite with them. You come out enlightened after a 1 hour session. On the flip side, I’ve had experiences where the entire focus of the interview was to show me that I didn’t know enough to be part of the company. Which makes me wonder if it would’ve been easier to have cut the session short and ask me to leave earlier.

Interviews at younger organizations.

They’re more focused on knowing you and understanding if you’d be a cool person to hangout with. Learning about the things you worked on and the decisions you took. Evaluating a person based on what he knows or the circumstances in which he took certain decisions is a lot different from evaluating them based on what you know or casting a judgement on that decision in isolation.

There is a lot room for this new breed of leaders in India and I’m happy to see more organizations going this way. Understanding a potential hire has certainly emerged as an essential step towards hiring someone in your organization and is a huge step towards building businesses of the future. One of things that I hear quite often is that investors invest in people, however that hasn’t fully translated across the entire organization. Very few leaders are investing in other people (they hire). While the Indian tech scene still has way too many middle managers competing with potential hires instead of evaluating them for complimentary skill sets that allows an organization to level up faster, I expect this to change very soon.

Things are definitely looking up.

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