is this hiring manager too strict?

First, an announcement:  There’s been some wonkiness with the commenting system this week (comments appearing out of order on one post, people getting system messages that they are “commenting too fast” (?!), and other weirdness. I’m working on it — and by that, I really mean the wonderful Laura Moore is working on it. Thanks for your patience!

Now onward to our next letter.  A reader writes:

My company’s IT department is hiring for a new programmer and has been looking for 10 months. We’re in the Seattle area, so there is no shortage for available candidates, given our close proximity to Microsoft. During the preliminary phone interviews, they’re asking candidates to rate their skills in different areas (like .asp or .net or whatever type of programming it is that they’re looking for) on a scale of 1-5. Any candidate who rates themselves a 5 in all areas (and there are only 3 or 4 they ask about) is automatically rejected for being “too arrogant.”

Not only that, but for a 5 in any area, they’re also mocked around the office and it’s “noted.” 

I’ve never heard of this before (and frankly, I think it’s really stupid), and feel like if someone is a skilled programmer in all areas, they would want to let a potential employer know that. Is the general belief that if someone rates themselves high in all categories then they’re arrogant, or is our hiring manager just being too strict? Perhaps this is why they’re 10 months in and haven’t hired anyone yet…

The hiring manager is an ass.

Seriously, what the hell?

Some people are indeed 5′s in some areas. Some people are 5′s in multiple areas. Some people are not, of course, and it’s the hiring manager’s job to figure out when that’s the case. If she wants to note this as a signal to keep an eye out for potential arrogance, that’s fine — but that’s all it should be, not an automatic rejection.

But she might be doing these candidates a favor, because she must be a joy to work for.

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