The History of Hiring: Mistakes

*Disclaimer: This blog comes from a biased angle – I not only work for Greps, but wholeheartedly believe in their mission in changing the way developers skills are analysed.

Skill analysis isn’t just for hiring, it is of course the most important type of feedback for anyone looking to improve individually or at a team level.

Hiring solves a more immediate problem than the longer road of skill development and so this excerpt below from a newsletter (The Exponential View : link ) I received yesterday contained quite a statement.

It discusses Silicon Valley and its historical hiring practices. Hiring for personality trait versus proven ability…sounds like a problem Greps solves to me 🙂 What do you think?


“Figuring out whom to hire as efficient and focused engineers proved tricky for technology companies at the birth of the tech industry in the 60’s, as Birgitta Böckeler writes:

They needed programmers to be really good, because they were panicking about errors. At the same time, they had no specific idea of the necessary skill set. How do you recruit people for a profession like that, when at the same time the demand increases rapidly?

The companies began using aptitude tests. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, upwards of 80 per cent of tech companies used measures such as the IBM Programmer Aptitude Test to screen millions of applicants and identify those they believed would be the most skilled. Psychologists, William Cannon and Dallis Perry, were hired to build a ‘vocational interest scale,’ which would profile computer engineers and assess them for common skills and interests. Their seminal 1966 paper advised tech companies to focus on hiring engineers who ‘liked puzzles’ but ‘disliked people.’ As Nathan Ensmenger laments in The Computer Boys Take Over, Cannon and Perry’s measures were used to select engineers for decades!”

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