The hiring process ; interviews and after



The big picture


One can’t possibly predict a person’s career path

Really knowing A new employees’ work progress is an indeterminate process. Some do well and push on, some flounder, some start and stop. What drives and motivates a person is hard to ascertain at an interview. Employers have to make a judgement on the person.

  1. Impossible to know how a person will progress (positively / negatively)
  2. Black swan events: Falling In love, get that dream job, visa issues, COVID
  3. Some people are good at interviewing, some not 😉
  4. Interview questions: plenty of books available, to practise, anticipate

The two parties want the same thing ~ an employee and an employer ~ work, therefore there is an incentive to say yes to the candidate, inherent bias in the process. Consultancy employment agencies exacerbate a bias, as there is a financial incentive to place people.

A biased process

The imbalance of needs: the employer needs someone and the employee needs work. Therefore there is a bias to hiring someone over not. Basically hiring “of convenience”. It is both parties interest to take the / a person. The risk of hiring the wrong person is greater than the right one. There is also positive bias of hiring candidates one likes, rather than the better one.

One solution

Zuckerberg suggested reversing the hiring decision from can they work for us, to can we work for them? (which is what happens anyway). Thus, the evaluation becomes a self-analysis question.

Number of candidates

Statistically the number of people to interview is the square root of the number of people applying, given more than 25 candidates initially. Therefore after 5 (from 25) one will have a good probability of selecting a suitable candidate. One can see all 25 but that would consume too much time and one will recognise a suitable candidate after the first 5 in this case. Conversely, 1-4 would be too few to construct a realistic picture of the larger sample set.

Risk lowering

Often hiring someone is about lowering the risk of the ‘right’ person.

Trust your gut

The TED talk (liar) and article liar2, indicate how to go about trusting your gut instincts and how to detect liars, abit harsh in an interview, but useful.

The student case

Ph.D, a 5 year relationship between doctoral student and the advisor. Treat with caution and evaluate carefully. Ask the other students what the advisor is like (and let them know you won’t hold it against them for not recommending the professor). See Ph.D. comics.

Masters. Less critical but still choose carefully, and a method for emulating a Ph.D ‘career’. Again a method of risk reduction.

Elevating the truth

It is natural to say one is better than one is.

The “post” interview

Have a chat outside the interview room or TEAMS / Zoom meeting. Sometimes people let important things out, when they are ‘relaxed’.


Swede (Spotify annoy), Zuckerberg