As you know, Hired has been sponsoring the site for the past few months. I went “behind the scenes” to have a brief chat with Michael Mitchell, a full stack web engineer focused on their “Candidate Experience” features.
To ease in, I started with the only truly important question about life at Hired: how’s the coffee. “It’s amazing,” Michael replied. “We have an operations coordinator that worked at a few large coffee roasters, so she takes care of coffee and makes large batches of cold-brew for the office.” That last is an important one- I’ve had too many cups of “iced” coffee that were just, well, hot coffee with ice in it.
Michael was an electrical engineer before becoming a web engineer; while high voltage might kill you, NPM will make you wish you were dead. “I’m partial to the story Overpowered,” Michael said. While he never used angular momentum to destroy a hard disk drive, he did build the automation for an industrial packaging line. That automation was entirely run through a single Arduino.
“I wasn’t a complete idiot,” Michael said. “All of the safety critical systems were hardwired in a fail-safe manner, and didn’t depend on the Arduino.” It operated for years without incident, and as the line grew, that Arduino ended up running a multi-million dollar business. Eventually, the support contract for the line went elsewhere, and the company taking it over wanted to know what that tiny little board running the line was, and how they could interface with it. “I told them to rip it out and replace it with a PLC, because they really didn’t want to hear the answers to those questions.”
Michael isn’t in the business of hacking together millions of dollars of business on hobbyist equipment. Their current stack- mostly Ruby/React.js, with Postgres on the backend, and a bit of Scala/Python data-science for matching/ranking- doesn’t have any of those kinds of hacks. “Our code review process is fairly well enforced- culturally, not through tools. Probably, the most horrific stuff I’ve done is commit some pretty tortured CSS.”
Despite that, there are lots of growing pains. When Hired was in its early startup phases, it was “move fast and break things,” but as their customers grew, they needed to shift gears. “When you have large client teams relying on your product, moving a button can break an entire HR team’s workflow.”
The upshot is that Michael works with a strong team. “Everyone here is incredibly collaborative and easy to work with.” How do they build the right team? Using Hired, of course! At least half of the engineering team were placed through Hired. “The founders started Hired because they had issues hiring good talent for their previous companies. The company was practically founded to dog-food its own product.”
Speaking of, Michael’s team is tackling a lot of work- in addition to two web engineers, they have two mobile engineers and a single designer. Five people supporting web, iOS, and working on delivering an Android app. “That’s with only four engineers, so I’d say our bottleneck is mainly engineering resources. We’re currently Hiring!”
Hired was also Michael’s chance to dodge a bit of a bullet. When he was last job hunting, he was shopping around, and interviewed with another startup. The CEO may have been the subject of many an article here: the “I know better than you, and you’re lucky I’m even talking to you,” sort. Michael explains:
There were some other red flags I picked up on. He disliked developers who negotiated salary, instead of valuing the “experience” and “opportunity to work hard”. When it came time for the “sell dinner”, he pushed fairly hard to close, and asked, “What would it take for you to accept this job, right now?” I mentioned that I was considering other offers, and his face just dropped. We quietly finished dinner, and I never heard from him again… but I heard about him. One of his engineers got a job through Hired. The engineer said one of the reasons he was looking for a new position was because his previous company ran a bit like a sweat shop. I dodged a bullet there, and Hired was able to get that engineer into greener pastures.
Speaking of bad interviews, I asked Michael what he saw as some of the “don’ts”. “The biggest mistake,” he said, “is not having a well structured interview process.” What you don’t want to do is rely on gut instincts and personal biases about what a “good engineer” looks like.
Hired uses standardized criteria, and gets the entire team involved in the interview loop. “Our candidates are well screened, so we rarely have a ‘worst candidate’ contender,” Michael said. Their worst example was one candidate who, while they technically fulfilled one of Hired’s coding challenges, their solution wasn’t clean or robust enough for Hired’s standards. When the candidate was told that he wouldn’t be progressing, he proceeded to argue with the hiring manager. “He told her that he had finished the problem, so they shouldn’t be kicking him out, then pleading to know what he did wrong, and getting extremely upset and losing composure. We had an open plan office at the time, so I ducked behind a desk when he was walked across the office and out of the building.”
Hired’s core selling point, and the main reason that they do what they do, is to “flip the script”. “Instead of candidates searching through a list of jobs, candidates list what they’re interested in or good at, and potential employers send them interview requests. As a candidate, jobs come to you. As an employer, you get to reach out to high-intent, pre-screened candidates and get a go/no-go answer in 24 hours or less.”
And if someone doesn’t use Hired? What’s the best advice for a job-hunter?
Know what you’re worth. I don’t care if you use Hired, one of our competitors, or just reach out directly, but the market moves quickly in tech and if you haven’t looked around in a while you’re doing yourself a disservice. I’m not advocating for random job hopping, but you should definitely test the market every now and then and keep a look out for smart moves.
Finally, as per my tradition, I gave Michael a chance to tell us his favorite stupid joke: “What’s the best thing about telling UDP jokes? I don’t have to care if you get them.”
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