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Hiring hackers

No, this isn’t a post about Interviewstreet hiring programmers (even though we are :)). There are a lot of companies looking to hire hackers and these are some of my observations if you’re hiring a hacker

Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/specialkrb/3253320581/sizes/m/in/photostream/
  • Hackerish founding team – If not both the founders, at least one of them should be a full-fledged geek
  • Working alone – Hackers like to work in a place that’s filled with people who are smarter than them in programming. Asking them to work alone or putting them in the middle of 5 sales guys is a turn off
  • Mix of infrastructure and feature requests – If the job involves only coding feature requests from customers, it becomes boring. They should have an opportunity to solve scaling issues / redesigning the web architecture / introducing a caching layer (memcache / apc), etc along with coding interesting features
  • They’re likely to start on their own – It can be as soon as 6 months, but they’re likely to build something on their own and launch their own startup
  • Freedom and belief – The cheapest hack in a hacker’s textbook is modifying files in server with the root password already known to him. Greater the freedom and belief given, higher the output you receive from them. Don’t hide any code, passwords, etc. – be open
  • Interesting problems in interview – The problems asked in the interview creates an impression about the company. The tougher (and challenging) the questions, the respect and interest to work in the place increases.
  • Pay / salary – I have seen both types of people – one who’s stubborn about the salary and the other type who doesn’t give a damn about the pay. But I don’t think any conclusion with respect to culture fit could be drawn based on this

Comments (7)

  •  Vivek, awesome post, and I agree with all of your conclusions here.

  • If hackers don’t like to work alone and work with sales guys or the non-interesting scaling part, they would never be happy as a founder who ends up doing lots of the non sexy tasks most of the time, hence a contradiction in providing such environments to hackers wanting to startup

    • Techie
    • May 16, 2011 at 7:21 am
    • Reply
  •  And where do you find these people?

  •  You missed “Don’t use PHP”, though ofcourse it can be overcome :)/s

  • A hacker exposed to business/customers loves the company of (smart) sales guys.. Try it.

    • Lalit, CF
    • May 17, 2011 at 5:14 am
    • Reply
  •  Excellent article. A related article here describing why hackers should not join companies which do not ask good questions in the interview: http://blog.susam.in/2011/05/infosys-tcs-or-wipro.html

    • Anonymous
    • May 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm
    • Reply

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