Sorry Google, Your Programming Test Is Not A Valid Measurement Of My Skills
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I’ve been talking with a very nice recruiter over at Google over the last couple weeks, and she has been so kind in keeping me updated about opportunities for evangelism at Google. This is the 3rd round of talks I've had with Google while being the API Evangelist, talks that historically go nowhere because of their programming test, which is a super silly aspect of their HR process.
I was straight up with the Google recruiter a couple of weeks ago when she first emailed me, and again when we talked on the phone last week—I do not take programming tests to open up doors for employment conversations, sorry. ;-( It is a waste of my time, and yours, and it doesn’t measure shit. I understand that you have to qualify large number of folks, at your very algorithmic-centric company, but when it comes to measuring what I do, a programming test isn’t a thing.
If programming a tic-tac-toe game on a live screen share is what you need to open up a conversation with professionals around evangelizing your platform, you need to look elsewhere. Nowhere in my role as the API Evangelist do I have to code under time pressure with someone else watching, sorry. I would even say, having hacker skills, trumps programming skills in a public facing evangelism role, and speed, quality of code go out the window. This is about making connections through hacker storytelling, something that doesn't always pencil out to producing the best code and is more about helping people understand what is possible using a platform, in the most meaningful way—requiring more focus on the person and their problems, not the code or algorithm.
I’ve managed to have man very meaningful conversations with other tech giants like Intel, IBM, large institutions like UC Berkeley, BYU, and establish fruitful relationships with partners like 3Scale and API Spark, and across federal agencies like Department of Education, Energy, NASA, and the White House around APIs--all without taking programming tests. I talk to startups, SMBs, SMEs, organizations, institutions, and government agencies all the time, and I never have to code under pressure in front of an audience.
I’m not under the illusion that I will change your hiring practices, Google—you are a very smart, and successful company. All I’m saying is you are probably filtering out some pretty talented folks who are extremely passionate and knowledgeable in what they do, and connected in their space, and when you won’t engage in meaningful conversations without a programming test, your missing out.
I actually prefer working with organizations from the outside in. I think it better reflects the essence of API Evangelism. The companies who have trouble working with outside entities that don't have traditional HR processes are probably not going to lead when it comes developing an API driven ecosystem.
If your company doesn't have the time to research me, and understand what I bring to the API space, and what my skills are, we probably aren't a fit. Everything about me is available online at API Evangelist, Kin Lane, Twitter, and Github--you just have to look. If you are only looking at resumes, and making people take tests, you will probably get what you are looking for!