Tech workers have to endure the most rigorous interview processes of all professions, according to research out today.

The research comes less than a month after Google's eighth employee, Urs Hölzle, told Techworld how important it is for technology companies to hire the right talent.

Google's understood to be more competitive than Harvard University ©Flickr/RobertScoble
Google's understood to be more competitive than Harvard University ©Flickr/RobertScoble

The study, carried out by specialist recruiter Randstad Technologies, found that 60 percent of tech professionals went for more than one interview before being offered their current job – significantly more than the UK average of 35 percent and the highest proportion of any sector.

However, there are benefits to going to so many interviews, the research suggests, with 39 percent of tech employees polled describing themselves as a “well practised interviewee”, compared to 27 percent across other professions in the UK.

Mike Beresford, MD of Randstad Technologies, said: “The most successful tech workers are masters of a broad range of skills, meaning they often have to jump through more hoops in the interview process before getting a job offer. As technology evolves, so does the range of expertise needed to match – from cyber security to big data analytics to app development. The technology sector encompasses so much more than in the past – and taking advantage of the opportunities it opens is becoming increasingly crucial to a company’s success, meaning experienced IT professionals are highly sought after.

“But while many professionals may find this daunting, tech workers are rising to the challenge. They are used to adapting to new technology and learning new skills – they’re not fazed by the multiple interviews required to secure the best jobs.”

However, 32 percent of IT workers said they are yet to go to a good tech job interview, compared to an average of 26 percent across the whole of the UK.

Basic mistakes

Despite gaining interview experience, the study also showed that tech workers are still making basic mistakes during interviews with just under half (48 percent) of IT and tech professionals admitting their mind had gone blank in previous interviews, while one in four confessed to inadequate preparation.

Eighteen percent of tech professionals reported turning up late to an interview (compared to a UK average of 9 percent), while 12 percent of tech professionals admitted making the mistake of dressing inappropriately (compared to a UK average of five percent).

Beresford said: “Many tech firms are promoting a casual and fun environment, but this shows that workers still need to be mindful not to overstep the mark. Turning up late or dressing inappropriately are automatic turn-offs for employers. Tech workers may be rushed off their feet in the office, but it is important that they don’t allow this to tar their first impression at interview. When it comes to inadequate preparation there is no excuse: candidates should know their own CV and the requirements of the role they are applying for inside out.”

Google case study

“You let the pressure of meeting someone overcome your selectiveness and that’s a great way to die,” Google’s Hölzle told Techworld at the Web Summit technology conference last month. “Being really focused about a single, really talented person, might be much more important to your startup than two or three really average people.”

In order to find the right people for the company, Google typically gets candidates to go through four rounds of interviews.

“We used to have six but we showed statistically that the accuracy of the decision wasn’t getting better with the extra two so it was a waste of time for us and the candidate,” said Hölzle.

During one or more of the interviews, Google presents candidates with a problem and asks them to solve it.

“The main thing we’re doing is skills-based interview so it’s not what have you done but ‘Hey, here’s a problem - what would you do about it?’” said Hölzle. “You work with people and understand how they apply their skills to actual problems.

“We’re trying to remove the interviewer in being too dominant in the outcome because some people are more outspoken and some people are more timid. That doesn’t mean the more outspoken ones are more right and so we actually make the hiring decisions separate from the interviews.”

The interviewers write up their feedback and a separate group of Google employees look at it, before making a final decision.

Google first developed its interview process in 1999, a year after the company was incorporated.

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