My experience interviewing 40 students

We’re hiring 6 developers. Our recruitment partner, CareerForce suggested we hire from one of the best private Universities in Bangalore. So, we agreed after much contemplation. I interviewed about 40 MCA and M.Sc. Computer Science students for the 6 positions on Tuesday and Wednesday. What follows is a summary of the experience.

The Aptitude Test

After realizing that there were about 45 students in all to be interviewed in one day, I thought it’ll be good to have an aptitude test to screen out at least half of them. I hate aptitude tests, but we had to resort to it for the sake of time. So, I quickly cooked up 15 questions. The result was shocking. Only one of the 45 students that wrote the test scored 9/15 (he wasn’t selected after the interview). Another one scored 8. About 2 scored 7. Others scored between 1 – 6. At this point, it became clear that we had to ditch the test and interview each candidate one after the other. This stretched the interview by another day.

Zero reading habit

None of the students I asked knows or reads any top technology blog in India or even the world. I asked one if he knows He lied. I then asked him a follow-up question about YourStory. He said “It’s a site that allows one upload their stories online”. I ended his interview with that. TechCrunch? NextBigWhat? TechInAsia? These guys don’t read any of those sites. I don’t even know who to blame for this. I noticed the same trend when I was hiring a Technology Associate role in Nigeria.

Non Academic Projects

In my opinion, any serious developer should have at least one pet project they are working on. It might have been abandoned due to several reasons, but at least there’s always some personal idea/project they work on to learn new things or just for fun. All the students had to show were academic projects done in groups. In most cases, they couldn’t even find the source code again. This forced me to ask if they are really developers. Again, this shows they aren’t hungry enough.

Everybody learns fast

We were hiring for specific skillsets. When asked about it, most of the candidates said “I learn very fast. If you hire me, I will learn it very fast”. One of them even said he could learn AJAX, JQUERY and Python in 3 days. No jokes. Very few of them accepted that the skill we were hiring for wasn’t their thing and they would rather consider other opportunities. For me, those are the true heroes. I marked their CVs and I will call them first should we be hiring for any of the skills they listed. My point is if you learn that fast, then you should have learnt it well enough all these years or even before the interview, since they had like a month notice.

As I stated in my feedback to the placement department of the University, I see a great disconnect between the students and the industry. It is critical to bridge this gap. That’s another discussion for another day.

Interviews are mostly subjective. So, I have no judgement whatsoever about these students. The above is just a summary of the experience. We have selected the ones we consider good enough for us. Others may proceed to do incredible stuff elsewhere. As for the ones we shortlisted, we’ll be grinding together over the coming months.


***I left out the name of the University intentionally so as not to defeat the purpose of this post.

Technopreneur. Chief Hustler at 1Plify. PhD scholar [Technology entrepreneurship]

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