I Have a Cunning Plan (or, Making Money by Doing Good)
If you've ever posted an ad for a programmer, you'll know just how much haystack you have to sift through to find a few needles. At least half of the people who send in resumes cannot write a simple FizzBuzz program, and filtering the ones who can is always a headache (and a big drain on a company's technical resources, since most HR staff don't know enough about programming to do it themselves).
Enter Stack Overflow, the premier technical Q&A site on the interweb. Lots of people spend lots of time being helpful there, and smart companies have taken notice: I know of at least two that ask applicants for their SO scores as part of the resume-screening process. My question is, could companies outsource technical interviews to SO? More specifically:
- A company wants to hire someone who can do some technical task program in Django, administer a large database, whatever.
- They submit their request to SO, along with the candidate's contact info.
- SO matches the request with someone who has a score over 1000 and has ticked the box saying "will interview people".
- The candidate and the interviewer rendezvous on a private portion of the SO site at an agreed time. The candidate shares her desktop with the interviewer, and they can chat voice and text.
- The technical interview takes place. Everything is recorded for C's HR department to review later.
- The company pays a standard fee; SO keeps a commission, and passes the rest on to the interviewer.
Crucially, the candidate and interviewer don't know each other's identities: they both log in to SO to get connected, and since everything is recorded, HR will know if they gave each other a way to connect via another channel. That makes it hard (not impossible, but hard) for the two parties to conspire with each other, and that, plus a sufficiently large pool of interviewers, keeps the system trustworthy.
I've been interviewed this way (though I knew the identity of my interviewer), and it worked pretty well. It solves a real problem that a lot of companies face, and it gives people an incentive to keep being useful on SO (which I think is a good thing). Do you think it's workable? Or is there a variant that would work even better?