Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recruiter Are Filters, Not Experts

Recruiters sometimes forget that they aren't the experts in positions they are trying to fill, except for perhaps other recruiting positions. I try to avoid falling into this trap, but it's not always easy.

Take hiring for technical positions, my specialty. For a recruiter, I'm highly technical. I know how to write basic programs in Ruby, and I know a little HTML and CSS, but I'm not a hardcore computer scientist. For a few minutes I can have an interesting conversation with just about anyone regarding technical topics, especially when it comes to software engineering. However, I'm not capable of doing a deep level technical interview because I'm not an uber engineer.

If you talk to anyone who's interviewed for a job recently, they've quite likely dealt with a recruiter. Often the recruiter will ask questions for which they will not understand the answers. This is extremely frustrating for job seekers, because they don't know what context the question's original writer had in mind and they can't trust the recruiter to properly capture the spirit of the answer.

When I ask questions, I do my best convey the meaning of each question, but what I really do well is figure out who has the strongest experience in a certain skill or experience relative to the other applicants. I'll never know if a Java programmer is really, really good, but I know that a Java programmer who has successfully built three Java-based products that were all successful is more likely to know Java well than someone who studied Java in college for two semesters.

Recruiters should focus on capturing answers that the real experts can analyze rather than pretending to be experts themselves.

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