How not to attract a WSL (or any) engineer

Canonical purportedly seeking expert who can remember high school

A copy of a letter sent to an applicant – which they say is for a lead role at Ubuntu developer Canonical – went viral over the weekend, giving some insight into the Linux outfit's apparently extremely lengthy questionaire processes.

The company, seeking a new member for the firm's Windows Subsystem for Linux engineering team, asked the applicant to jump through so many hoops that the candidate – and the rest of the world – took to various social media platforms to ask: "What's the point"?

Users familiar with processes at the Ubuntu dev firm corroborated that the recruitment effort was the work of Canonical, although the company itself has yet to confirm this.

Once past the opening fluff of the letter, which celebrates both Microsoft's newly found enthusiasm for Linux and Canonical's developer experience, one gets to the nitty-gritty. While the candidate's resume had attracted the approval of the team at OrangeCo, the applicant was told, four steps remain between them and that coveted role, starting with a list of nearly 40 questions as part of a written interview.

For some, the questions veer toward the ridiculous. How did you get on at high school? What would your high school peers remember you for?

We fear an ability to down a yard of ale nearly 40 years ago would do us no favors in the eyes of Ubuntu, nor would the amateur bit of homebrew wiring in a 1972 Mini Clubman that resulted in a minor conflagration during the 1980s.

The letter also covered topics including how the candidate "ranked in mathematics during high school"; what their peers thought of them as a teenager; their presence on Twitter, YouTube, Medium, and the world of blogging; their public speaking experience; and in which area of tech they consider themselves a "thought leader". While there are also technical questions, this massive 40-query questionnaire is not even close to the end of the process. In fact, it is the second of five steps.

After this, applicants can still look forward to a "Standardized aptitude and Personality assessment", "Culture, HR, peer interviews and tech assessments, and, finally "Hiring Manager and senior lead interviews."

The level of detail being requested is impressive and, we fear, could well be enough to put off the people Canonical is after. It is very much a case study in how not to recruit in a competitive marketplace.

As one joker on Reddit observed: "It certainly [will] weed out people. Just not the right people."

The Register contacted Canonical regarding its questionnaire, but we have yet to receive a response.

Hayden Barnes, Windows Subsystem for Linux enthusiast and former Canonical employee (now at SUSE) did, however, confirm the authenticity of the problematic paperwork in a tweet.

Ben Hillis, Microsoft manager of the Linux on Windows team, was similarly taken aback by the requirements.

With companies facing recruitment problems in certain sectors, the practices employed by IT interviewers have come under scrutiny. Potential candidates, when faced with multiple hoops to jump through or days of work to answer questions, have been correctly demanding compensation for their time or simply going elsewhere. As yet, we don't know how well this approach is working for Canonical.

At least, we suppose, its need for a Lead in its WSL team has been well publicized. Along, sadly, with the manner in which it intends to recruit one. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022