Chase Kosher

SE Radio 491: Chase Kocher on The Recruiting LifeCycle

Chase Kocher, the Founder and CEO of aim4hire, a technology recruitment agency talks about the need for Recruiting firms and a personalized approach to hiring. Host Kanchan Shringi speaks with Kocher about the recruiting lifecycle from the candidate, the company and the recruiter’s point of view. They discuss what a fresh grad should do to enter the job market, how many companies to expect to interview with, tools they should be familiar with and what the interview steps look like. The discussion then drills into what constitutes a good job posting, importance of training interviewers, tools used by the recruiter and the role of AI in the hiring process.

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Transcript brought to you by IEEE Software magazine.
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Kanchan Shringi 00:00:16 Hi all, welcome to Software Engineering Radio. This is your host, Kanchan Shringi. Our guest today is Chase Kocher. Chase is the founder and CEO of Aim4hire, a technology recruitment agency that partners with tech startups in Austin, Texas. Chase founded his company when he realized that startup companies need a different approach for sourcing and recruiting for the competitive market. Welcome Chase, really looking forward to our conversation today. What I would love is to explore the recruiting lifecycle from the candidate, the company, and the recruiter’s points of view. Is there anything else you’d like to add to your bio before we get started?

Chase Kocher 00:00:54 No, that was fantastic. And very excited to have the discussion from all sides of the recruiting lifecycle with you.

Kanchan Shringi 00:01:00 So in the show notes, I’ve added a related episode that we did on this topic five years ago. So, my first question to you is, has anything significant changed in the recruiting lifecycle in the last five years? And why is there still a need for recruiting firms?

Chase Kocher 00:01:19 Yeah, so over the course, obviously the last five years and with kind of COVID intervening and part of that, I think there’s certainly a major, digitalization or utilization of different software tools and technical advancements around recruiting, around finding jobs, around interviewing and getting jobs. I think you’d find probably that a lot of the larger companies are utilizing things that can save them time, save them resources. So, whether that be a system that when you apply for a job, it helps filter through who might be the best applicant that job. On LinkedIn there’s algorithms set up that will actually try to match you with the right job or the right company that might be applicable to you based on your background or based on certain nuances of companies or skills that you have. So, I think in the last five years, like really to summarize the integration of, before recruiting was very transactional is very resume, is very a lot of phone screens and personal interaction.

Chase Kocher 00:02:21 Whereas now, you know, technologies continue to kind of advance and find ways to maybe make that process more efficient. Sometimes there probably are deficiencies with software, as we all know, it’s not always perfect. Sometimes you might get led up, you might not get the interview that you think you deserve, and it might not even be your fault. There might be an algorithm that, that somehow kind of deleted you from the process, with that said, those are the advancements that are occurring. That, you know, I think five years ago, we would’ve never really thought about, whereas now, you know, we have screen recordings, we have video interviews, we have all different types of kind of filters to use, whether we’re recruiting on LinkedIn, where we’re recruiting through resumes on Indeed or Dice. It’s just a lot of advancement that I think enables a better scope for recruiters to find talent and hopefully for talent to find opportunities. So overall that, thatís how would, that’s kind of how I would cover the five-year advancement for recruiting

Kanchan Shringi 00:03:16 With all the advancement and algorithms, why do we need recruiters?

Chase Kocher 00:03:22 I guess I failed to answer that part. So, recruiters, you know, the thing that any recruiter would probably argue is that, you know, with an AI platform or with an AI software application, you know, you can teach intelligence, can you teach consciousness? Can you teach that human decision-making? And you know, I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer, but in my, in our minds, in my mind as a recruiter, there is a personal relationship development that is created that does happen in this world. In that if people are looking for a job that they often want to speak with maybe a human being versus a computerized voice or a computer of some kind where they’re just inputting data. Other times, sometimes it’s hard to put into words what you do or why you feel like you might be a great person for that role.

Chase Kocher 00:04:09 You can’t just type up a little paragraph describing why you’re the perfect fit. You’d rather be able to have the personal relationship, personal connection, neutral interests, besides just the job that you’re applying for. But what recruiters bring to the table is that they do this full time. They spend 20, not 24 hours, but 40 hours a week connecting with prospective talent. But also speaking with companies that are hiring. They’d end up developing kind of a network, a spider web of connections that, you know, if I’m a company and I’m looking to hire, or if I’m a recruit, trying to find a job, I want to go to someone that’s well connected that can get me in front of a hiring manager at a company that I didn’t know about, but might be a great fit for me, or, you know, various other reasons. So, I think recruiters for one it’s the network they develop, but two it’s that they can be advantageous to a recruit just by helping them with their resume, helping kind of guide them through the interview process.

Chase Kocher 00:05:05 And then at the end, which has become even more of a bigger thing is kind of help with the negotiation to where, you know, if the recruit is seeking a certain amount of money or a certain salary or whatever that might be, and maybe they’re afraid to bring that up, or they don’t want the confrontation to come up with the company, they can use the recruiter kind of as the middle person to hopefully navigate and get the best, you know, best results. So, I’d say, you know, I could talk for hours about how I think recruiters are important, but I think those are two of the areas that are just going to be hard for software to replicate, but you know, we’re starting to see more and more of it. So, you know, who knows.

Kanchan Shringi 00:05:44 That makes clear on what recruiting firms provide to the hiring company. What about the candidate?

Chase Kocher 00:05:51 Yes, from a candidateís perspective, I think you must understand that that recruiters are in the know. I mean their

Chase Kocher 00:05:57 job is to be in contact with the people that are hiring all the time. So, I think from a candidate perspective, it’s a great resource to connect with recruiters, just to be on their radar for potential positions that might come up. With that said, the one thing to keep in mind is that recruiters do often get paid. If you take the job that they get them, or that they get you, or they get you positioned for. So sometimes there’s a slight bias there towards, they might steer you in a direction that might be favorable to both of you. And that’s just something to keep in mind contextually, but the connections that our recruiter would have, it’s certainly something I would always suggest kind of trying to build those relationships. They’ll give you more opportunities and more jobs that maybe you weren’t aware of just from job boards or other types of things.

Kanchan Shringi 00:06:44 What was the gap, you observe that led you to start your own firm?

Chase Kocher 00:06:49 Yes. I, I think there’s a very, you know, like any industry, there’s this kind of cookie cutter volume type of recruitment where it’s, it’s very, it isn’t very personalized. It’s not very customized to, to a recruiter or to a recruit or to the company that you’re recruiting on behalf of, it’s kind of more of a broad brush of we do it this way and we’re going to do it for every company we work with. So, for us, especially being in Austin, Texas, which is a huge tech startup community, I just identified a way to be a bit more boutique, a bit more specialized. And, and in a market like this, where the demand is so high, the mass messaging outreach to recruit doesn’t cut it anymore. For that type of talent. It takes someone that full time is investing their time and establishing relationships, getting in front of candidates and telling them about companies. And then on the flip side, representing those candidates, when those candidates have four or five other interview processes going on, so it can be a lot to juggle. It’s certainly a full-time job. So that’s really where I identified just being a bit more specialized in the way you go about doing the recruitment cycle.

Kanchan Shringi 00:08:00 Letís now talk about the steps of the recruiting lifecycle.

Chase Kocher 00:08:05 The steps of the recruiting lifecycle, from a recruiter’s perspective, it’s from a company’s perspective, it is you were looking at sourcing that’s the top of the funnel when it comes to prospecting for candidates. So, sourcing can be a lot of using LinkedIn job boards, other types of things to develop a pipeline of talent. And then from there there’s, there’s outreach, there’s getting a hold of those people, which can be unique. And if it’s on Facebook, if it’s on email, it’s via LinkedIn, but doing your best to get in front of those people. And then from there, it’s, it’s usually a screening of some kind or letting them know about the companies they represent, the positions that that recruiter might have for them. From a candidates perspective, it’s a lot of positioning yourself to be sourced, to be, to kind of fall within that recruiting lifecycle of a recruiter, obviously to get seen and to get potentially more opportunities looking at jobs.

Kanchan Shringi 00:09:00 Yeah, the talent pool? My question to you is how do you ensure that this pool work?

Chase Kocher 00:09:06 Yes, I think you’ve got to look at where your applicants are coming from. You know, if you’re a company that’s hiring and looking to diversify your pool of candidates, posting that job in different places, aside from just your website can, can ensure that you at least get a diverse pool, at least from different job sites and kind of maybe some folks tend to use certain job sites versus others. So, I think that helps diversify your pool, but also distributing your job amongst organizations in town, amongst kind of community groups. If there’s a Java group or there’s a Ruby on rails group, I think that it helps you as a, as a hiring manager, as a company develop kind of a unique, different avenues of talent that can apply to your job. So, to make sure you’re not missing out on certain pockets of talent or, or certain communities that might be a great fit and a great addition to your company.

Chase Kocher 00:09:59 So I think it’s visibility, but also I think it’s proactively kind of going out and finding ways to search different groups in town, different universities that people come from and colleges that they got education from. I think that kind of helps you ensure that you’re getting all different types of talents to potentially come to your company. And also for female engineers and African-American engineers, like there’s different ways to go to those organizations, go to those user groups and make sure that they have your information as a company, they have their sharing your jobs to their communities. Like those are different ways you can kind of go and try to make sure that you’re giving everyone an opportunity to know that you’re hiring and generate a diverse pipeline of talent.

Kanchan Shringi 00:10:45 Let’s not just stop with the positions that startup companies began since you’re focused on startups. So, what positions do they hire to begin with? Is it the gamut of product, product development management, salary and sharing management, or do they start with some specific positions?

Chase Kocher 00:11:01 Yes, I would say, you know, depending on, you know, obviously when a startup begin, there’s a couple of founders and sometimes one of those founders might have product skills or engineering skills, but ultimately for tech startups, it’s having someone in product and someone to lead the software engineering technical part. I think those are really the two kind of boxes that must be checked to develop an MVP type product that you can take to market. And then you can bring sales, marketing, those types of things. And now some companies do it in reverse. It’s hard to sell a product if it’s not created, but I think some companies maybe try to do that, but I would, I would certainly say that the vast majority start with product leadership and then engineering management, engineering, VP type positions. And then from there, like, you know, SRE and devops type talent certainly becomes integrated as one of the first couple hires as that company begins to scale. And the infrastructure becomes essential once they kind of start onboarding big customers or multitude of customers.

Kanchan Shringi 00:12:04 What about devops? How has the move to devops change things? However, they changed the expectation and landscape for product positions?

Chase Kocher 00:12:13 Yeah, absolutely. Yes. So, devops is one of those things where I think a lot of people might say they’re a devops engineer, but maybe they, they gravitate towards back-end development or they gravitate a bit more towards like system administration type work. I think the emergence of the, you know, the devops term is always one that, that kind of just determining exactly how much time they’ll be spending on either. You know, what areas will they be working most in? I know cyber reliability certainly has become a major focus. And with a lot of the companies posting in different cloud services, microservice architectures, it just gives a greater emphasis on those types of hires than having a multi-faceted devops. SRE engineers is a huge strength for a lot of companies, if you can find the right people. So, I would say it’s just, it’s certainly shifted things, but I think there’s, there’s folks that tend to have like a bit more dev, less ops or a bit more ops, less dev. So that’s just something to be aware of when you’re hiring or recruiting for that type of talent.

Kanchan Shringi 00:13:20 One last question in the intersection, and then we’ll start talking about things from the viewpoint of the candidate. The recent forced remote work to, to co-ed, I suppose you’ve seen a lot of changes due to that. Can you comment?

Chase Kocher 00:13:33 Yes, I can comment for sure. At a remote work is I think from a recruiting perspective is going to be one of the biggest questions you have to answer to candidates for the foreseeable future. So many candidates we speak with now, won’t even take a phone call unless the role is fully remote for them, for, you know, for see-able future. And that there’s a flexible approach by that company of like they won’t ever require you to come into the office in six months or a year from now and changing that. Now it’s difficult for companies to make promises that far ahead in a world that’s changing as dramatically and quickly as ours does. But I think remote work in general is certainly a, certainly something that’s real. And we need to take very seriously in acquiring and recruiting for talent. They want flexibility candidates in general, like might be open to going into an office, but they want to hear from the beginning that there is a flexible and agile approach moving forward and that they won’t be forced to come to the office five days a week again.

Chase Kocher 00:14:35 I think COVID has just caused that shift. And for certain talent pools with as much demand as there is, yeah companies have to kind of flex around those requirements or that leverage that candidates have. So, and, you know, some smaller companies, it was an easy transition to be fully remote.
It’s a lot easier to manage a team of two or three people fully remote on video calls, but if you have a team of 20, 30, 40 people, it certainly, if you’re not set up with the infrastructure, that’s a very difficult transition and a transition that a lot of companies I think are still trying to really kind of own and finalize and specialize the way they do that. So, I think it actually helped a lot of smaller companies in some ways, because they were already agile and they can pivot quickly. The bigger companies are the ones I think that will continue to have to kind of tussle with that and figure out a way to accommodate the talent pool that wants to be remote.

Kanchan Shringi 00:15:29 Thanks for that Chase. Now let’s start talking about this flow from the viewpoint of the candidate. Let’s see, Iím just out of school, how do I approach the job market? What tools should I be familiar with? What should I start focusing on?

Chase Kocher 00:15:44 So fresh out of school, I think it can be intimidating for anyone that’s looking for their first job. So, I would say utilizing tools that give you visibility to prospective companies, to recruiters, is a way that can generate an inbound flow of people reaching out to you versus you having to chase down companies. So, just out of school, I think preparing a general LinkedIn profile is always step one in my mind, because so much recruitment these days occurs on LinkedIn and LinkedIn recruiter. So just creating a general profile that, that either has your resume attached to it, or you kind of auto-fill some of your sections in LinkedIn with what your resume would show. I think just keeping in mind that a lot of recruiters utilize LinkedIn to search for talent. So, you want to do best, I guess that’s kind of represent yourself on your LinkedIn profile with keywords.

Chase Kocher 00:16:42 Maybe if you’re a software engineering, a tech stacks, certain languages that you have experienced with your sales person, maybe just talking a bit more about some percentages or some statistics that you can share from your internships or experience in college. From there, I think Indeed, Dice, some of these job boards that you know, you can just post your resume to. I think you have to do that as well. I mean, you want to have as many irons in the fire as possible, but I would always say LinkedIn is a number one for me. And then following that submitting your resume to local and national job boards is just going to give you more visibility to companies that are looking to hire.

Kanchan Shringi 00:17:23 Does that change if I am someone with three or four years of experience?

Chase Kocher 00:17:27 Absolutely. Absolutely. And what I would suggest to that fresh out as well is, is on LinkedIn. You can search through alumni of your current university or college or community college. I mean, coding camp. I think you can use LinkedIn to search familiarities with maybe someone that is similar to you. That’s a year or two older, and you can potentially connect with them and they might have suggestions. So that would be the end of that last question. As far as the three to four years out of grad school, I would say network, network, network. Like think of people that you studied with that you’ve worked with, that you felt like-minded, that you felt like you had a similar maybe career trajectory or you enjoyed working with, with that personality type, reach out to those people. Look at people you’ve worked with in the past and see where they’re working now.

Chase Kocher 00:18:17 One of the easiest ways to get positions, get hired, on the top way of hiring for a lot of companies is referrals. So, if I work at the company and I refer someone like they already are starting at a higher percentage of getting that job than someone that would be a non-referral and maybe no one really knows aside from them applying for a job. So, I would say network, look at, look at people that you’ve worked with, like the managers before and ask them about, you know, the companies they’re at opportunities they’re hearing about. And then secondarily, again, I think LinkedIn and D job boards, you certainly want to have that covered as well, but I’d be a little more proactive and using the network you’ve established over the last three or four years to kind of find some opportunities that might align with what you’re looking for.

Kanchan Shringi 00:19:06 That makes a lot of sense. It’s always easier to get hired, or it’s always easier to hire when you know, somebody. How many companies would I expect to interview with, typically ?

Chase Kocher 00:19:21 Yeah, depending, if you’re in product or, or tech, I would say what we’ve seen is a lot of probably five companies at a time. There’s so much demand for tech and product talent that I think you’ll see, you could rack that up. I’ve seen some people interviewing for seven or eight companies at a time on the flip side, you know, for different skillsets. It might be closer to three or four companies. But either way, there’s so much demand in the market that I think you want to keep your options open. You want to be in a position of power and leverage once you get to the offer stages with the company. So, I think, I don’t know if I have a suggestion per se, but what we’ve seen is typically anywhere from three to, to seven or eight companies at a time you’re interviewing with. But it becomes a full-time job from that point because you’re conducting so many interviews with each of those companies. So, youíve got to be committed to the cause. And also your current job might falter very noticeably. Once you start interviewing at that many companies.

Kanchan Shringi 00:20:22 And that’s true because at thereís multiple steps when you interview. What are they?

Chase Kocher 00:20:29 Yes. I think companies have become a bit more cued into to speeding up that process and trying to accommodate a candidate. But that’s a generalized statement. There are some companies that still have 8,9 interviews. I always suggest what I’ve seen a lot of companies shifting to, is a closer to a 4-step process that would include kind of an intro call with the HR department, which would be a bit more broad, cultural type assessment. They share more about the company. Then you dig into the call with the hiring manager, a panel interview with the different team members on that team that you’re interviewing for. Then the final stage is often maybe a, an executive level, who’s, who’s really half interviewing you and asking you questions, but really is trying to get you bought into what they’re doing and see if you might be a good addition to that cause that they’re trying to kind of chase. So, I would say 4-steps is closer to what we see these days. But in the past, you know, the bureaucratic companies, they tend to have 8, 9, 10 interviews. So, I think understand your, your customer or your, you know, the company you’re interviewing with and ask, you know, early on, what are those stages? How many stages are there? I think being aware of that is certainly a key move for recruits.

Kanchan Shringi 00:21:51 What should I expect from the recruiter? As you mentioned earlier, referrals, it’s better. If you know, you’re part of a referral that somebody lobbying for you and making sure your resume is considered, if it’s not that, how do you even know that your resume is being read?

Chase Kocher 00:22:08 Yes. I think that’s the greatest fear. When you go and apply to a job online, when you submit your resumes, did my info ever get reviewed? And if it did get reviewed, did it get reviewed by like an HR person or by a subject matter expert or the hiring manager? I think that’s a huge, you know, that’s a huge, I guess issue and, and problem with the whole process is that as a recruit, sometimes you aren’t going to get those answers. I mean, I’ll actually more often than not. You’re probably not going to get those answers. So, I think using a recruiter can often help you kind of maybe get a little more intel as to why they liked you or didn’t like your profile and things you can do differently. Some are these recruiters again, see this on a daily basis. So, they, they often can provide some suggestions that might better position you for the next job that comes or the next opportunity. But overall, I would say don’t expect a lot of feedback. That’s just kind of the market we’re in. It’s unfortunate, but I would just do your best to be keen on any details you can find out when you do get a response that says we’re not interested, you know, maybe digging around and trying to ask and see if you can get any more intel as to why.

Kanchan Shringi 00:23:23 Yes, it’s certainly about the feedback, but it’s also about making sure that you are getting traction with that company. So yeah, I do appreciate that’s a challenge and that’s why I asked you about it. But let’s say resumes read, you get contacted. How do you know what to prepare for and how long should you expect to prepare?

Chase Kocher 00:23:43 Yes. Again, I think knowing your audience, like, you know, if you’re going to be speaking with a recruiter then, maybe just surface level, you know, reading about the company or the opportunity that they, that you applied for. I think if you’re interviewing with the hiring manager or someone that is a subject matter expert in a different area, I think preparing accordingly. So, this is how you can use LinkedIn and search that person’s name. For example, if all you have is their name and their title, looking on LinkedIn, look at their LinkedIn page, see where they went to college, see what they do. If they have any description of what their current job is, look at their career trajectory and how they got to that position. You want to have as many talking points as possible to avoid those awkward silences in a first call.

Chase Kocher 00:24:29 You know, that first call is like a first date. It’s like you want to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. And so I would say, you know, in that first step, usually it’s a very surface level, phone call or video call just to kind of run through your resume. And they’ll ask to kind of hear about your journey. And maybe they’ll tell you a little bit more about the company that they’re at in the job, but I would be overly prepared for those types of interviews. So, you can set yourself apart from everyone else. That’s doing the exact same thing in that first interview step, which is just walking through their resume. And that’s the extent of it.

Kanchan Shringi 00:25:06 So this was the first interview is typically the screen. And you mentioned it could be over the phone or even over radio and let’s say you do okay. And then there is the detailed set of interviews. You did give us a hint of how many to typically expect, but can you talk a little bit more about what tools the candidates should be familiar with? How much time they should set aside is a typically a whole day, a couple of days are spread over several days?

Chase Kocher 00:25:35 Yes. Depending on the size of the company you’re interviewing with. I think that varies things quite a bit, but I would say for that second step, you’re usually looking at an hour long commitment, whether it be on the phone or video, and then that third step, which tends to be like the onsite interview, if it’s virtual or if it’s actually onsite, like that’s usually a half day or a full day of interview engagements. So, I would be prepared for what they call the onsite interview, which usually includes interviewing with multiple managers or multiple stakeholders in different areas of the company. And that can often take at least half a day if not a full day. So that, that’s the biggest part of the interview process. That’s the most time consuming in my opinion is usually you’re looking at 30-45 minute kind of calls, but the on-site stage or that third interview is often the longest.

Kanchan Shringi 00:26:28 And do companies typically share who the people interviewing would be? So, you can do a little bit of the prep that you mentioned earlier?

Chase Kocher 00:26:36 Ask them, ask them, ask them like they, sometimes they don’t. In fact maybe most of the time they don’t, that’s just because they have so many candidates in play, they might be sending the same message out to each recruit. So, I think, you know, always ask, be thoughtful in how many questions you ask, be concise. But I would say, you know, ask questions before you’re going to invest an hour or two hours of your time to know who you’re meeting with and if there’s any agenda or if there’s any specific topics that you should expect to come up. Now, you know, recruit using a recruiter, sometimes the recruiter knows those things and they can give you a little bit of a little bit of prep on what to expect, but if you don’t have a recruiter or, or that person’s not as communicative, then I would always say, just ask for as much detail as you can, and then go research the people you’re going to meet with, if there’s a certain topic they want to discuss, go read about why the company is doing so well or why it was named to the Inc 5,000 list.

Chase Kocher 00:27:38 Like I think research and be prepared for these interviews is going to position you best to get that job and make a great impression with those people.

Kanchan Shringi 00:27:47 What are the basic tools to be familiar with? You know, drawing tools, quarter pad like tools. Can you give some examples?

Chase Kocher 00:27:56 Yes, oh gosh. There’s so many different, I think coding kind of mark, you know, places where sandboxes and different things that you can actually kind of practice in or that accompany might even require you to, to conduct some type of coding challenge within. I haven’t seen necessarily some broad, like everyone uses this one tool. So, I would say really focus on your GitHub account as a software engineer and having that updated as much as you can on understand that, you know, some of that information is proprietary. You cannot share it, but I think having a GitHub account, you know, really enables you to share that obviously with a perspective company and they can look through some of your code samples and different projects that you’ve done. That way, like if you’re in a technical interview or you’re in a code or rank test, whatever it is, it’s a little less pressure if you make a mistake or two. You can always point to, well GitHub, where I had time and someone wasn’t looking over my shoulder, I was able to do this type of work. But the coding challenges and tests are difficult and there’s not really a broad, everybody uses the same ones per se. So, I think doing your best to have a GitHub account is a good backup plan to point to, and maybe share that kind of info with the hiring manager either before or after that interview.

Kanchan Shringi 00:29:14 A candidate is typically given time to ask questions either the beginning or at the end. And what kind of questions do you suggest in general people should ask?

Chase Kocher 00:29:24 Yeah I mean, I think generally they have the opportunity to maybe ask questions at the end of an interview, but if your interview already ran over, I already went 15 minutes past what was supposed to the last thing a candidate feels like doing is, is asking questions and holding that hiring manager, that person from getting back to their job. So, I would, I would certainly email prior to the interview, maybe a couple of questions that you’d like to discuss or ones that you prefer to get answered before the end of the interview that can kind of ensure that the hiring manager is aware of that. Those are questions you want to answer prior to moving to the next step. But I think more often than not, you end up running out of time and maybe you ask one question or two at the end.

Chase Kocher 00:30:07 So as far as those questions go, I think, you know, depending on the position, maybe it’s just understanding what are the expectations of this role? What is the asking about work-life balance can sometimes be a red flag to companies. So, I would keep that in mind now I’m not saying that’s fair, but you know, companies are hiring you to do a job. So, if you’re asking questions about all the things that include not working, they might be a little bit more of a turnoff than if, instead, if you’re asking about what does it take to become a lead engineer at this company. You’re a junior or mid-level like, how can I, how can I work my way into more responsibilities? I think asking those questions or asking for examples of someone that’s moved up within the company, that’s always something higher managers like to hear because they’re, they’re obviously wanting to hire players that are committed and wanting to move up within the company.

Chase Kocher 00:31:00 So I think, you know, asking strategic questions like that, as well as you have questions about just how bonuses work or how incentives work, you know, I think those are questions I’d suggest versus asking about the benefits and work-life balance, go through the HR recruiter interviews, asking those questions. When it gets to a hiring manager, ask them about things that they deal with on a daily basis. What’s your greatest challenge, Mr. Hiring Manager, Mrs. Hiring Manager that you’re trying to accomplish this quarter? And how has this hire going to impact that? So that’s what I would suggest.

Kanchan Shringi 00:31:35 That makes sense. Let’s talk a little bit about feedback. We did talk about feedback about the resume, but you know, at this point, the candidate invested time for the phone screen, for speaking with the recruiter and potentially four hours with team members. Is it fair to expect feedback? Do companies provide feedback?

Chase Kocher 00:31:57 It’s fair to expect it. Companies, whether it, I think a lot of companies, to be honest, you know, there are guidelines and what you can say and what you can’t say and what things could, could make that company liable. So, I think companies have kind of gotten scared by that. And therefore, instead of providing, you know, actually like constructive feedback instead, they’re kind of guided to just say, thanks, but no thanks. Or like, it was great meeting you, but you’re not this isn’t the greatest time, which can be super vague. And obviously as a candidate, not very helpful. So, I do think having, you know, when you’re using a recruiter, sometimes they can dig in and get you a little more feedback into something that you might, you know, want to work on or improve. So, you can get that job next time. But overall, no, I don’t, you really can’t expect a lot of feedback, which I know is so unfortunate, but unfortunately, it’s kind of just, just the way things work with how the speed and demand and everything that’s going on.

Chase Kocher 00:33:01 Companies tend to just be so distracted by that, that they don’t take the time to provide a feedback. And unfortunately, it burns that bridge, right? I mean, you do an interview, you spend five hours of your time with a certain company and you don’t get the job. You’re never going to want to interview at that company again. Then you might’ve been a great fit. You were just maybe a year or two too junior, or we’re missing a certain tool of experience. So, I think just being cognizant that you’re probably not going to get a lot of feedback, so just continuing to ask for that. You know, make yourself as transparent as possible with the hiring manager, with the recruiter. I just love feedback to make myself a better potential candidate. So that’s, that would be my suggestion. But unfortunately, no, I would say you probably shouldn’t expect a lot of feedback aside from yes or no, or maybe.

Kanchan Shringi 00:33:52 If you were still interested after a few months, do companies allow that? Like do they, is there a timeframe that you can reapply or reconsider?

Chase Kocher 00:34:01 Yes. I think usually on their job, you know, usually on their job board or where you’re applying, you know, we’ll instruct, you know, have you applied to this job before? Have you applied to this company before? I would say depending on how big that company is continuing to apply to them and interview even a week or two from the time you interviewed. I mean, I think that’s acceptable if it’s a big company and there’s different departments. If it’s a smaller company, once you’ve interviewed, you’re probably going to be waiting. You’re probably gonna be waiting at least 3-6 months, for you to reapply to a job they have or something like that. Because you’ve already met their stakeholders. They decided to pass. They’re going to keep your resume on file. So, they have a job that comes up that fits you, they’ll reach out. But from that point with a smaller company, you kind of want to lay off the gas a bit on, on your applying to jobs and trying to interview there again,

Kanchan Shringi 00:34:55 Let’s switch gears and now look at it from the viewpoint of the company and the startup in this more, specifically. So just to begin, how does this startup compete with the big three or the big four, but Amazon, Google, Facebook.

Chase Kocher 00:35:10 Yes, it’s a trillion dollar question, I think because big tech and Amazon, Google, Face, you know, the Fang companies have they set the tone in a lot of ways of what someone should be paid, what kind of benefits they should get, but they also have the most resources so they can offer those things. So how do you compete with that as a smaller company when you can’t offer three trillion based salaries or giant stock option plans? So, you know, speed and, and telling a story is a big part of attracting certain talent to win over that. Now the bureaucracy of a Google, Amazon, you’re going to likely be interviewing for a month if not longer, because there’s so many different stakeholders. So as a smaller company, you know, I always say be as efficient and as relatively quick as possible. You want to build momentum with that candidate.

Chase Kocher 00:36:06 You want to tell them your story. You want them to buy into what you’re trying to achieve and that it’s you against, you know, your company against the big tech. Like, do you want to go join the big tech and get a lot of money? And you’re just going to be a cog in the wheel, or would you like to be a part of something that’s trying to disrupt or trying to improve or trying to change things. So, I think that telling that story, building that, that mission, but also limiting your interview process, make it as efficient as possible for the candidate so that they aren’t interviewing with you. And then you don’t talk to them for a week or two. Like you want to build on that momentum. Those are ways that you can compete with the big tech. The other way is offering stock options and offering equity in the company.

Chase Kocher 00:36:50 That’s obviously one way that you can get candidates to, you know, see that, hey, if we end up getting bought or we ended up IPOing, at some point, you can make a lot of money. It’s a big gift, but it’s, it’s a possibility. And then the third step is just career mobility, our career trajectory, career upward mobility. If you’re a product manager or a software engineer, you know, it might be nice to work at Google for a couple of years, but after a year or two, you might want more responsibility. You might want to be coding things that are going to have more eyes or are going to be a little outside, outside of just the little microcosm little app that you’ve been working on for two years, as one of a thousands of software engineers at Google, you can go to a smaller company and you’re running the show. You’re making decisions on how that product is going to look, how it’s going to function new technologies you can use to maybe make it more effective. So that’s the other kind of, part of, I would say, competing is sharing with a candidate. If these things are of interest to you, you’d have the opportunity at our company to do that. So, I’d say those are probably the three areas that youíve got to, you have to capitalize on as a smaller company, if you want to compete,

Kanchan Shringi 00:38:02 How do companies estimate the time investment for hire? Because that’s certainly is important with all the work that’s going on at site.

Chase Kocher 00:38:12 Yes. How do they estimate? I think in the job market we’re in right now, it can take, if you’re hiring for a software developer five years experience, let’s say it’s going to take anywhere from 1-3 months, if not longer, to hire, to fill that position. So, a lot of our company and a lot of companies that are, that are startups, youíve got to be ahead of the curve as far as posting that job, getting that job out to people in your network to share it with their networks, starting to interview candidates. But if you start interviewing and you find someone that you really liked, you got to move fast. And as a candidate, like you, you want to be as accommodating as possible. But if it’s an opportunity you really like, and you care about then then looking at how can you make yourself most available around that company to meet with all the different people that need to speak with you. But I would say it’s very hard to put a timeline on it because the demand is so high that it often takes at least a month, if not 3 or 4 months to fill a software engineering or product position.

Kanchan Shringi 00:39:19 Earlier, you had mentioned. The first thing that recruited us obviously is building the talent pool and screening resumes is a key part of that. Is AI used more and more in that area?

Chase Kocher 00:39:33 A 100%. AI is probably the most disruptive, not just in tech, but recruiting is certainly just seeing more and more of how you can utilize, you know, AI machine learning to better prospect find candidates or vet them out. You know, the only fear for me and I’m biased because I work at a smaller boutique type recruiting firm, but is you can create intelligence in an application, you know, it’s hard or maybe impossible to create the consciousness. So, understand you know, looking, reading between the lines of a resume and seeing maybe that they put themselves through college and that they’ve worked three jobs through college to get there. You know, I think those are some of the intangibles that sometimes you miss, if I don’t have Java all over my resume, I might miss out. If that algorithm is calculating, you know, a minimum of mentioning Java for five times on my resume, for example. It doesn’t mean I’m not as good of a Java developer as the rest of the candidates that applied, but that’s something to be aware of.

Chase Kocher 00:40:35 So I think AI certainly will continue to disrupt recruiting in different ways, but as a candidate, you’re looking at those key words because a lot of AI is taking into account those types of things, or key words, different experiences that you list on your resume or your application. So, I wouldn’t overdo it. It’s a fine line between having Java on your resume 300 times versus having it on there three times. So, I would say the best thing you can do is just continue to, to be efficient in how you write your resume, how you write your LinkedIn page, but certainly mentioning what tech stacks you work in at each job that you’ve been at. Don’t list a 100 technologies, try to be relatively concise on the areas that you feel most like are your greatest strengths,

Kanchan Shringi 00:41:24 Besides that, what are the other tools that the recruiter would use?

Chase Kocher 00:41:27 Yes, they would use, they’re going to use a lot of LinkedIn recruiter. They might even be able to use GitHub as a way to find talent. Sometimes there’s local job boards in Austin, Texas called built in Austin. I think they have built in Chicago and a bunch of other cities where they have job boards that you can apply to. So, I think those are tools that recruiters are using to identify, reach out and engage with talent. So, you just want to, you know, if you’re a candidate looking for a role, you just want to make yourself as visible as possible.

Kanchan Shringi 00:42:01 We had initially talked about the recruiters, building a relationship with candidates. What about the recruiters relationship with the hiring manager?

Chase Kocher 00:42:11 Yes. That one is, there is no like concrete universal answer, you know, as you speak to recruiters, you’ll start to get a feel for which one of them have a really good relationship directly with the hiring manager and which one of them might be new or might be like, kind of still figuring things out and may not have that type of longstanding relationship with that company. I would say again, if you can look on LinkedIn and look at that recruiters background, you can kind of get a feel for like, wow, they’ve been recruiting for 10 years, or they’ve been recruiting for this one company for a long time. Like they probably have very good relationships wherever someone newer, you want to be a little more skep cognizant of what they can do for you, but that doesn’t, you know, in some ways the, the newer, less experienced recruiter might have more tenacity in getting your info reviewed, getting you feedback.

Chase Kocher 00:43:03 So I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but the recruiters that’s, the constant struggle of theirs is to get feedback, get on the same page as the hiring manager and vice versa. Because the hiring manager knows that recruiter can’t code in Java or, do any microservice architecture, but they’re the top of the funnel when it comes to recruiting. So, the hiring manager invest time with that recruiter. It’s going to help both sides. But sometimes there’s an, like, there’s not a great relationship there, which you can just create. It’s just makes it a very ineffective, overall process or inefficient.

Kanchan Shringi 00:43:39 How many positions can one recruiter work on at the same time and still be effective?

Chase Kocher 00:43:44 Yes, I would say 3-5 positions would be ideal. And now if you’re doing technical recruiting, so you’re just looking for software engineers, then, then maybe someone can cover front end, you know, three front end roles, three back-end roles, three devops roles, because they’re, you know, obviously there are running searches for software engineers that might lean front end, might lean back end, might lean infrastructure. So, I think for a technical recruiter, they can often cover 3-5 efficiently. If it’s all different skillsets, it’s probably going to be closer to three or four. So that would be, you know, my instruction to companies that have recruiters is if you really want to get the most out of them and you have to, in this market to get tech, you get engineering talent, you can’t be trying to cover 20 different roles and just doing a bat, you know, an average job in all 20> You want to focus on three where you can do an incredible job, given an incredible kind of candidate experience and get them through the interview process and be on top of feedback and all that kind of stuff.

Kanchan Shringi 00:44:46 Talking about doing a great job at that, it starts with a job posting. Do people in less time and writing a good job posting?

Chase Kocher 00:44:55 I don’t know if there’s a perfect way to write them. You’ll probably see some, if you’re, if you’re ever searched for a job or looking for this unicorn that has every experience ever. And there’s others that are very dull and kind of straight to the point. I think I always suggest that, you know, you read some articles. I just, by Google, you know, if you’re a company, Google, you know, some of the best job descriptions, some of the most effective job descriptions on a job posting on LinkedIn. I mean, LinkedIn provides articles on like, you should use this kind of format to post your job. Indeed also does the same thing. So, if you’re posting your job, I think, you know, do a little bit of research on what do candidates want to hear, but also thinking about the skill set you’re hiring for. Youíre hiring for a software engineer,

Chase Kocher 00:45:41 you’re probably going to want to talk in that job description early about fully remote work or what are the selling points. You know, things that you know, are major pain points for that talent pool. So that’s what I would say is always, before you write a job description, you don’t have to be the best writer of all time. You can usually take a bunch of different job descriptions you find online and kind of bunch them into your own, but I would take a second research. You know, what makes a great job description. I could talk about it for an hour, which is why I suggest you go read about it because there are a lot of articles on how to do that.

Kanchan Shringi 00:46:14 So we talked about the interview loop a bunch earlier. So, I won’t go back to that. Once it’s designed how to make sure that the interview is understand it, how to train them on executing the interview loop, so that is a pleasant experience?

Chase Kocher 00:46:29 Yes. At training your interviewers on how to, how to not be repeatable across the entire product. I think that’s that either comes from the hiring manager and the exact, you know, the executives of the company, or it comes from HR, you know, we’re not going to run five interviews just to ask the same five questions. So, I think when you’re prepping your interviewers, you’re training your interviewers. You’re letting them know that, you know, we need, you know, we really, we need to hire for this position. Here’s the reason why. And then here are the question, you know, here’s some questions I’d like you to ask, but also, you know, what, what are things you think you could ask? In a market like this when you’re getting, when you’re an interviewer, you kind of have to have your sales hat on every once in a while and, and share with that candidate why.

Chase Kocher 00:47:18 Why it’s an attractive workplace. Like, you know why they should join you versus the 50 other companies that are reaching out to them. So, I think, you know, when you’re training your interviewers, it’s important for them to understand contextually why you’re hiring is if they don’t agree that you should be hiring, they’re not going to give a good interview. In fact, they might scare away candidates. So, helping them understand why you’re hiring things that are most important asks for those interviewers input because they know firsthand. And then, and then having a feedback loop set up to where that interviewer is going to get, you know, the HR person, the feedback within two hours. Having that structure in place is critical. If you want to acquire high end demand talent, because the feedback loop has to be fast. It takes two weeks to get the next interview set up. You’ve lost that candidate. So, I think training them on speed and efficiency is always the most critical part of training in an interviewer.

Kanchan Shringi 00:48:17 And making sure that, you understand the impact it’s going to have to everything else, the interview is doing to, to be able to be proactive and quick about the whole process.

Chase Kocher 00:48:27 A 100% and transparency like candidates like to, they don’t want to hear five people telling them what they think they want to hear. If you’re one of the interviewers, you can be like, hey, this part really sucks about this job. Or like we’re having a really hard time on backend development, but that’s one of the reasons we’re hiring for this role. So, we’re hoping you can be that person. Like, I think being transparent with your interviewers on, on why, you know, what you really need out of a position. I think that’s really important. And again, just making sure that not everybody’s asking the same question. That’s like the most common thing I feel like is. Then the candidates, like, do these people even communicate with each other on like what my feedback was. I’m just answering the same question over and over. Like, they don’t sound like they have their stuff together. I don’t want to work there. So, you want to look professional it’s, it’s, you’re in a lot of ways, it’s your demo, it’s your demonstration of your company. So, you want to have a good showing, even if the candidate doesn’t decide to move forward.

Kanchan Shringi 00:49:23 So interviewers done. People get together to evaluate, there’s two levels of evaluation. One is fit, and then there is the level. How easy is that, especially the level.

Chase Kocher 00:49:38 Level is difficult, which is why you see like these coding tests of like, you know, their coding tests, they graded in this scale. So, we’re going to say that they’re in this level, I think, I don’t know if that’s fair and, and you might lose candidates or you will lose candidates because of that, because they might’ve rushed that coding test or coding exam, or maybe they had five others that they were doing. So, they, you know, they only did half of it. That’s why looking at a GitHub account. If you can get it from a candidate like that, that can usually be a better display. So, I would say level is so difficult to evaluate, and there are tools you can use, but it just adds to the interview steps. And then that’s not going to help you get talents because you’re trying to be efficient and only do a couple of steps. So, I think we find a lot of companies will will bring in folks that were part of the technical interview and really kind of not just evaluate the coding challenge or not just evaluating their answers, but looking at their background and the companies they’ve worked for. What’s the level of technical bar that they’ve worked at. Do references, look at their GitHub account before you make the decision of they’re a staff level engineer, or they’re not a staff level engineer.

Kanchan Shringi 00:50:47 So it’s not, it shouldn’t be just about the interview. It’s about other things that go with it. So will play into the offer as well? So, what role does the recruiter have in designing the offer?

Chase Kocher 00:51:02 The recruiter does not often get to really design the offer. Now they can, more often than not, the recruiter is going to be the one that relays the offer from the hiring manager to the recruit. So, they might have some flex, like the hiring manager might tell the recruiter, Hey, we want to offer them 110 K, but we’re willing to flex this much. Like see if you can get them to verbally accept. So, the recruiters, the in-between, that’s trying to figure out how much the recruit wants, how much the hiring is willing to spend and making a happy medium between the two. But I don’t think the recruiter often has a lot of say in how that, that is crafted. They really will just provide context to the hiring manager of this is, this is the comp range, the hourly rate they were seeking. They say that they’re currently at a hundred K like it’s up to you, Mr./Mrs. hiring manager to decide what you want to offer.

Kanchan Shringi 00:51:59 Thank you Chase. So, I want to talk a little bit about recruiting events now. How were they different and how effective are they?

Chase Kocher 00:52:07 Recruiting events are, as I’m sure anyone that’s listening, it’s been to one or a hundreds. They are a dime a dozen in a lot of cases. There’s a lot of them. They’re not always the best audience are not always what you want or hoping for, but you know, that kind of just comes with the territory of when you’re trying to get people together in a group. I think there isn’t a perfect way to run an event, but I do think there is some credibility, if a certain organization is running the event, or if a certain speaker will be engaging there with people. I think paying attention to that and trying to see who else is going to that event. If you can, you know, sometimes on online you can see who’s attending the event and that can be a good way to determine if it’s worth your time to go. But that, yeah, events are difficult to determine what is best because it might end up being all recruiters. It might end up being all technical people and no recruiters. So, it’s just, you never know sometimes. And that’s why I suggest is do your research before you go invest the time.

Kanchan Shringi 00:53:15 What about senior positions? You know, what are the key differences when you’re either hiring for a senior position or interviewing for a senior positions?

Chase Kocher 00:53:26 Yes. For a senior role. I think you would like, you know, as a, as a recruit, as a interviewee, you would like to, to display multifaceted, multifaceted skillset and, or a very specific skill set. I think you want to tailor that around what the job is because of a job is a, you know, specifically creating Docker containers and AWS. Like, you want to be very specific about what you can do but most, I think senior level engineers want to have a little more flexibility and creativity to work on some things. So, from there, I think just describing in your interviewee process that you have worn different hats, you’ve tackled different challenges. Tell the stories about what the challenge was. You know, what, you know, some, one of the interview questions asked is what’s your greatest challenge you’ve overcome. I think talking about those examples of when you stepped up as a senior engineer, as a lead engineer and how you went about doing that is always a great demonstration of kind of, you know, how a hiring manager, judges, a senior member of the team. Now, if you’re interviewing hiring for that position, it can be just as difficult because just because someone has 20 years experience does not mean they’re a better engineer than the person that’s five years experience. So, I think you really want, you know, sometimes the first senior role you end up having to interview maybe a couple more times, or the interviewee might ask a couple more questions because it’s just such an important position and a hard one to, to really nail down prior to making an offer.

Kanchan Shringi 00:55:07 Winding down now, my question to you is how do you think things are going to change? Let’s say after a decade, what would be the change to the recruiting lifecycle?

Chase Kocher 00:55:18 Hopefully I’m still around as recruiters are still around, but I think, you know, obviously so much has been digitalized to where, you know, a job board will look at your resume. You know, the AI will look at your resume and start determining what job postings might be the best ones for you or what companies might be the best ones for you. So, and I think that’s really cool. I think there are things that it might miss, but overall, I would say, you know, 10 years from now, I’d imagine a lot of this is digitalized and hopefully some of it is, is rewarding the candidate. I mean, I feel like in so many cases, the client, the company that does the interviewing has so much leverage and, and not just has the leverage, but I guess they, they can ask you and do as many interviews as they want.

Chase Kocher 00:56:06 You know, hopefully it gets to the point where they’re, you know, they’re not they’re compensating recruits, but that they’re getting the chance to give the recruits the same options to interview them. So, I’m hoping that’s, that’s something in the future because it’s, it always depends on the job market. But 10 years from now it wouldn’t surprise me, if a lot of this is all recordings and digitalized and there’s no personal interaction and that’s my fear, but I think that might end up being more and more of the cases you recording yourself, answering certain questions and then submitting that to the hiring manager instead of actually talking to the hiring manager, I think that’s, that’s certainly where a lot of things have progressed to, to be more efficient and using AI to evaluate your answers and then determine if the hiring manager should actually look at your info.

Kanchan Shringi 00:56:58 That brings me to the question, what are you excited about in this whole lifecycle as a recruiter? What is it that you love and what is it that keeps you up at night?

Chase Kocher 00:57:10 I think I love that. I, I’m not a software engineer. I’m not a, you know, I can do a little code here and there, but I’m not a software engineer, but I get to talk every day to, to some of the best engineers and data engineers, technical talent in the world, in my opinion. So, I think as a recruiter, it’s so cool to get, to be able to speak with people that maybe you normally wouldn’t work with every day. And technology is clearly the future and best doing your best to understand that and position your recruits, to be happy and get a job that checks the boxes of what they want, whether it be money, whether it be a more balanced lifestyle, whether it be, they have to pay tuition for their kids to go to college. So, they need a 20 K bump in pay.

Chase Kocher 00:57:56 Like how can I, as a recruiter, help facilitate that in between the two. So, I would say that’s the most exciting part I have is just continuing to get to work with a talent pool and, you know, tech and product that’s changing the world and maybe more drastically than any talent pool ever has. So, I think that’s, that’s really what keeps me excited is, is the constant changes and disruption that occurs in tech. It can be scary sometimes, but overall it’s just incredible to be a part of it and get to help in any way that I can with people that are so smart and influential in what the world looks like. You know, I think my greatest fear, you know, the thing that keeps me up at night is certainly that I think that supply and demand of talent and being able to continue to, to find people and get them connected to the right types of jobs.

Chase Kocher 00:58:47 But I think there’s just so there’s so many, there’s like in this market that gets so wild to, to try to get someone through an interview process because they have 10 other companies reaching out to them. You know, how do I get a hold of them? How do I make a good enough impression with that recruit that they want to work with me that they’ll let me know if they take another offer. A lot of ghosting occurs in recruiting where from both sides or the recruiter might ghost the candidate after they fail an interview or the recruit might ghost them once they get another offer. And so it’s just a, it’s hard to feel confident in every step. So that’s my, I would say that’s what keeps me up at night,is not getting those relationships built and trust and transparency.

Kanchan Shringi 00:59:34 Anything you missed that you would like to cover?

Chase Kocher 00:59:35 I don’t think so. This has been outstanding. And I think there’s one topic we discussed offline was just the, you know, the great resignation, a lot of folks because of COVID, you know, during COVID such a major part was job security and ensuring that you had benefits and things like that to cover yourself and your family. And, and now, you know, we’re seeing 4 million, 4 million people in July resigned, 4.5 resigned in August, and most of this is occurring in the tech and healthcare industry. So, you know, in tech, it’s definitely the demand. And even in healthcare, there’s enough tech and healthcare now that, you know, the demand is growing so substantially and industries that normally, maybe wouldn’t even have dealt with technology very much like healthcare, you know? So, I think it’s an exciting time for tech and I, I’m just, I think with all this, all these resignations going on, there’s a lot of people taking new jobs. It’s just something to be aware of that there’s a lot of, you know, if you’re an app, if you’re a recruiter, there are a lot of recruits out there right now, but there are also a lot of jobs. So, I think it’s, it’s just a wild time to be in the recruiting, you know, to be looking for a job or trying to hire right now, but a lot of opportunities.

Kanchan Shringi 01:00:40 How can people contact you?

Chase Kocher 01:00:51 Yes, you know LinkedIn, if I haven’t said that enough, I swear LinkedIn should be paying me for my endorsements of them. But LinkedIn Chase Kocher or Koher is how I pronounce it. That you can say Kocher, it’s K O C H E R. If you want to look me up there, those are both good ways to get in touch with me. And then my email is [email protected]. So, it’s pretty straight forward.

Kanchan Shringi 01:01:16 We’ll put that in the show notes as well. It was so great having you on today, Chase. Thank you so much for being here with us.

Chase Kocher 01:01:22 Thank you.

Kanchan Shringi 01:01:25 Thanks all for listening. This is Kanchan Shringi for Software Engineering Radio.

[End of Audio]

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