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Dunning-Kruger Effect #event

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Dunning-Kruger Effect

In two week I will be going to a Hackers and Founders event discussing Startup Opportunities & Recruitment, so I thought I would remind myself of a few of the biases and pitfalls that occur when recruiting. As this event focuses on start ups it is even more important to have the right mix of knowledge and competence for any new members to the team.

by Adrianus Warmenhoven 

Peer assessment and the Dunning-Kruger effect #hr #management

What about it? Whilst having discussions on a ‘thinkers’ board that I infrequently-frequently visit, someone mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect in relation to specific politicians. So I looked it ….

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Hiring Developers And Others… #hr #developers #hiring

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Hiring Developers And Others…
Some handy tips for hiring a developer, and it doesn’t just apply to hiring developers. Take it from me, read this because you ore probably doing it wrong.

NB: There are some interesting comments on the original, so click through!

On hiring developers…

I’m looking to expand our technical team at Plexus Engine and so I’m spending some time learning how best to hire developers.  I asked a virtual assistant at FancyHands to pick out 5 articles from Hacker News search results on the topic and this is what they sent me.  I’m reading them now…
8 Things You Ought to Know If You Do Not Know Anything About Hiring A Software Developer… 
Hiring Developers: You’re Doing It Wrong 
I also liked this comment, thought you might like it too:
Anybody else got favorite resources you can share?
8 Things You Ought to Know If You Do Not Know Anything About Hiring A Software Developer | 8th Light

We write beautiful web applications that are durable and free of defects in workmanship.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

June 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm

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Picking Employees from Job Candidates #hr #jobs

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I can tell you that the way I pick candidates to be interviewed is probably wrong, and the way I hire people is probably worse. It’s not that the people I pick are the wrong people for the job, it’s that I pick them based on my gut, rather than based on the metrics. Let me explain…

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

May 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Posted in business, risk

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Peer assessment and the Dunning-Kruger effect #hr #management

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What about it?

Whilst having discussions on a ‘thinkers’ board that I infrequently-frequently visit, someone mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect in relation to specific politicians.

So I looked it up and something started to dawn on me.

Of late I have seen quite a number of companies adapting the ‘Google method’ of peer assessment when it comes to hiring new personnel, but for some reason those companies were having rather a decline in technical competence instead of getting the increased benefit of adding more ‘brainpower’.

As I understand it, and as related to my own observations in the peer assessments, the problem lies here in points 2 and 3 of the hypothesis put forth by Kruger and Dunning:

2) Fail to recognize genuine skill in others;

Oftentimes the higher skilled candidate is being dismissed because “he talks about weird things and can’t communicate properly” or variations thereof.

Now what I have seen Human Resources do is not recognizing this problem but rather projecting a form of ‘insecurity’ on the assessing employee ‘He may be afraid of his position’, whereupon they start complementing and ‘securing’ the assessing employee. It would go too far too add Pavlovian conditioning to this story, but it may not be too far from it.

3) Fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;

Dunning has drawn an analogy to someone having an impairment, but I think a much clearer and less insulting explanation can be given by the concepts of Flatland (when read without the Victorian context, that is).

What does that mean for the business?

As for the origin of the inadeqacies, I leave that for the respective physicians and psychologists, but there are a few common mistakes companies make that help in attenuating this effect within their ranks.

The HR departments are not sitting at the table when the peer assessments take place

This has the effect of ‘ganging up’ on a potential candidate; remember that the assessing employees will subconsciously defend their comfort zone, so no fresh blood that dares to challenge even the group of ‘old hands’ will ever be given a good mark.

And in technology, zealotism is stronger than in religion. Mention the wrong editor somewhere and you are classed ‘unqualified’. Mention that you do not have a fascist adherence to Linux/MacOS/Windows/Anythingatall and you are classed ‘incompetent’.

The way to remedy this is to have a properly prepared (as in read up, albeit cursorily, on the subject matter) HR staff sit at the table and support the candidate in matters of confidence and to ‘call off the hounds’ when needed. Also, the HR staff should ask questions like ‘why is this editor thing important in our company?’ so as to prevent the technology policies becoming the pre-conditions for a personal playground of the techs.

Sitting personnel has gotten to the position on merits of ‘employment years’ and ‘being there first’ or ‘helping to set it up’

Often, because ‘in the land of the blind, one-eye is king’, a manager or ‘chief’ of a technical department is someone that has been a long time in a company. This is a tradition that stems from the old ‘Foreman’ habit; a senior gets to lead his peers because he knows very well what the work entails and he knows the peers very well.

But in ICT, I really have to say this, a lot of technically competent people have problems when interacting with the rest of the world. I will even go so far as to say that some of these people are in ICT because of their Rainman-like qualities; they simply are prone to defend against anything that threatens the world they have created in their own mind.

This can be remedied by not giving them decision powers. They should have all the execution powers, or put differently; they should be allowed to decide on ‘how’ to do things, but never ‘what’ to do.

Here then comes a gray area; it is sometimes hard to see when it is a ‘how’ and when it is a ‘what’. But there’s a good rule of thumb for it (this is just a marker, not a hard fact): if it involves anyone outside of the inhouse technical crew, treat it as a ‘what’. All activities done by that technical crew can be treated as ‘how’.

Obviously it never is going to be that simple, but think of this as having a race-horse pulling a gurney; the horse pretty well knows how to run by itself and given practice it even knows how to turn etc. But because the jockey has more information (i.e. the strategy, the strength and endurance of the competition) and has the ability to make judgements on that information (i.e. if the others are conserving energy, if the other horses are at their peak, when to fully go all-out) it must always be the jockey who is in control.

The horse can do things the jockey can not, but the jockey can do things the horse can not. And if the horse decides that it knows the course better than the jockey, the race will be lost most of the time.

The horse does not see it’s inadequacy in decision making, because it can outrun that little jockey even on a bad day…

And now what?

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Well, just because they know more about technology and about the work they do, that does not mean they know more about healthy and proper assessment procedures.

When assessing new personnel, have the tech department set up a kind of exam with a scoring method. That way they can ask anything they want and open questions can be scored ‘double blind’ if wanted (although simply anonymous is usually good enough).

This test can then be sent to an outside consultant or other tech company to verify both the validity of questions and the standard answers.

You can have candidates (give them fair warning though that you are going to do this) take this test and have it objectively scored. This makes for an up-to-date questioning and it also gives the candidate the possibility to defend his/her answers against the scoring because it can be done fully in writing. Sometimes that will yield that the candidate is overqualified for a certain setting. But that leaves the candidates dignity in place and gives the tech department a chance to work on themselves.

The HR staff can assess the social qualities and all other properties after a candidate has gotten through the test.

I sometimes hear that ‘it is hard getting good personnel’, but I do not think so. I think it is hard breaking down the little kingdoms that have come to be and that in an open and social world, there really should be no place for them anymore.

This article is a guest written article, and was originally posted here.

Image source: AttributionNo Derivative WorksSome rights reserved by Sebastian Fritzon

Written by Adrianus Warmenhoven

April 24, 2012 at 11:48 am

Posted in business, risk, science

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A catalog of this year’s risky articles #2010

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Programming Hands

Risk is something which can be difficult to evaluate for the average person, there is a lot of work which goes in to learning not to do the two things that people usually do when they are confronted with risk:

  1. Ignore
  2. Overreact

It looks like every man and his dog needs to have a Facebook page, even banks…

It has been almost 1.5 weeks since Google’s FeedBurner removed the Frie…

Some days ago I tweeted to Prosper, a personal loan marketplace, whether they…

I don’t really think most people get “it” when it comes to …

Just noticed that Google Translate translates the name of the Dutch social ne…

I find a 400 plus page manual of office policies and job descriptions for eac…

In the last two days I’ve not been posting so much, and focussing on up…

I started playing with Google Scribe and wanted to see if patterns emerged so…

I have my Google account set up with English as the preferred language, my br…

For the last 2 years LinkedIn has been running a bad poor IT management depar…

When I just started I too had trouble with getting all the items I required t…

On August 11th 2007 I exceeded my GMail quota, I blogged about it here. At th…

Brian Szymanski send a reply to me concerning another bank implementing SMS b…

I don’t understand why url expansion after url shortening is such an is…

I just read an article Web Coupons Know Lots About You, and They Tell in the …

This morning/night China’s networks were sending rerouting messages to …

The lack of trained and experienced computer security people working in small…

Last week I saw an episode of a popular Dutch Ombudsman program Kassa, they r…

After seeing a program about a lifecoach trying to find the time to get his p…

Image source Radio Nederland Wereldomroep


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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

October 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

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Company Policy or People #hr

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Looking through the lens of HR

I find a 400 plus page manual of office policies and job descriptions for each position in the office slightly excessive, I know few people who read manuals like that back-to-back unless they are finding ways to make a company policy work in their favour, or a loophole. You’ve just given them 400 plus pages of potential loopholes, unless it’s written by a lawyer, then you have given them 400 plus pages of information which is impenetrable to them, and in which they will have to pay a lawyer to find the loophole which is almost certainly in there.

Even if the average employee could read, understand and recall 400 plus pages of information at 1 page a minute it would still take them 6 2/3 hours to read the manual. Do they get paid for these hours? What if it takes them slightly longer?

Employees are often asked to go above and beyond the call of duty, these job descriptions and policies are a disadvantage for the company also. I’ve seen companies give detailed job descriptions – including a specific location – and then have a policy which contradicts this by saying that location and duties are determined by the company. I’ve seen high-value producers leave because overanxious HR departments following policy without using judgement have send official warnings on first offense policy violations, they go to competitor companies were the working environment was less hostile.

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I’m not saying to have a 400 plus page manual which covers office policies and job descriptions isn’t helpful, it can be very valuable. Although I’ve found that companies who give their employees manuals which stretch to 400 pages are usually companies, and specifically HR departments, who need a way to exercise control which they do not have. Perhaps it is wise to look at the company structure and size, and regain the control by having control.

(Image source: stikone)

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

October 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

Posted in business, risk, work

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Educating Recruiters: The Recruiter’s POV #jobs #career

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If you are a recruiter reading this this is not an indictment of your profession, but a guide for your clients.

After my article Educating Recruiters: Gatekeepers to the HR gatekeepers I was not asked to clarify, nor was I put in my place. Julie Holmwood wrote a well augmented piece noting the omission and posted the recruiters point of view.

We [recruiters] get limited opportunities with a client to ‘impress them’. Sending CVs of candidates that can do the job but don’t match the spec mean that our lifespan with that client is likely to be coming to an abrupt end.

This is a serious issue, for our clients. (The recruiter and you have the same clients!) In the short term the client must be convinced that the product must be able to perform the task that the client requires, with in the terms the client has set. This means that a recruiters need to have a good match, but the client is the final judge, so to pass the client’s gatekeeper the client must be a paper match too.

You would be astounded to know how many candidates send brilliant emails stating that they can do specific jobs standing on their head and then attach a CV that doesn’t mention any relevant experience at all.

I’m not easily surprised, but I have been in charge of processing resumes that people send to companies, so I know how bad it can be. This is why it is so important to not just have a generalized resume that you send using the buckshot approach. For each position you apply for a custom resume is as important as a cover letter. And where a resume is broad it is the task of a cover letter to highlight the specificity of the match.

If you have already contacted a company within the last twelve months then there is no way we can represent you with that company. Typically a company’s terms state that candidates belong to an introducer for twelve months. Hence if you introduced yourself to them and we then reintroduced you they would say ‘we already know him’ and would discount you from our submission list. Part of our remit is to speak with candidates about the client as well as the role and re-submitting a candidate they know is another black mark against us and something we are typically briefed by the client not to do. Of course, there are always candidates that don’t tell us. In my experience it doesn’t do the candidate any favours and they are still discounted from our submissions.

This is a matter of contract law, and although this is a point of note for the recruiter a candidate should ignore this in my opinion. (Sorry Julie!) When a candidate is refused by a customer this could be for a completely different reason, it could just be that he/she is not a good match for the position. Case in point is when I was asked by a management recruiters to be a candidate for a consultant Business Analyst for a large Dutch ISP, the ISP felt I didn’t have the marketing experience for the position. Two months later when they needed a consultant role to advise the Business Analyst the HR department didn’t make an issue of the fact that I had applied previously for a different role.

Julie replies:

Should a candidate continue to directly approach Company A time and again for different positions that they feel they are qualified to do. If they want to work for Company A then yes, absolutely.

Should a recruiter submit the above candidate when they are already known to the company because they made an application a few weeks ago, either directly or via another recruiter, no. We are briefed by the client in the majority of cases not to do this and it is bad recruitment practice. In many cases if the recruiter ignores this and re-submits a candidate that is known to the client they will not be allowed to make any charge.

I think this can be a win-win-win process for clients, candidates and recruiters but all parties have to believe that everyone is working for the greater good. When the candidate sees the recruiter as their enemy that they need to conquer to get to the good job they are probably not starting from the right place!

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I need to note here is that the recruiter is NOT the enemy! The recruiter is a service provider, I may not always agree with the way they provide the service, yet I respect the service they provide. I am a true geek hacker, and social engineering is part of my portfolio.

Your opinion is most welcome!

Published with permission of Julie Holmwood

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Educating Recruiters: Gatekeepers to the HR gatekeepers #jobs #career

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If you are a recruiter reading this this is not an indictment of your profession, but a guide for your clients.

I’m unlike many people who work with recruiters in that I’ve never gotten a job via a recruiter, usually I find something under my own steam. This doesn’t mean that recruiters don’t help me to keep my resumes up to date and my skillset relevant. When a project has finished I often go to appointments set up by recruiters. And there are a number of reasons why I mostly don’t match with what the customer is looking for. So why is this?

  • Recruiters are looking to match keywords not people
  • Recruiters are looking for certificates not knowledge
  • Recruiters are limiting themselves and you
  • Recruiters are selling you, not working for you

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 23, 2009 at 7:32 pm

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