Phone screens are broken

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2021-12-06 21:30:05

I fail phone screens pretty often, which limits my job prospects and is embarrassing for someone with ten years of industry experience, a pretty extensive Github account and a publicly available list of difference-making projects. 1 In theory a phone screen is supposed to evaluate whether a) this person would be good at the job being hired for and b) whether it's worth investing another five hours in trying to hire this person.2 In practice I think phone screens are pretty poor at screening candidates for fixable reasons.

I spend a lot of time setting up my development environment to get a fast feedback loop. If I write a little bit of code I want to know immediately whether it works or not. There are a lot of components that go into this, but generally, this involves being able to type quickly, have builtin editor support for building code, checking function definitions, and being able to background and foreground the terminal constantly to run tests or test scripts. All of that means I'm constantly able to exercise the code I'm running and get feedback about whether I'm headed in the right direction or where problems are. This is a pretty significant advantage for me and I can work more quickly than most engineers I know.

A lot of this effort was inspired by Gary Bernhardt, who has a video series that really changed the trajectory of my career and might change yours as well. Gary is extremely fast and is obsessed with test speed. Fast tests mean that he can get feedback on whether the code he wrote works a few hundred milliseconds after typing it.

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