CTO RoundTable #2 - Hiring Myths and Fairytales


In our CTO Rountables, BitWise discusses some of the common myths and fairytales prevalent in the tech world. These notes are for everyone who is recruiting, hiring and seeking great talent.

There are three main myths that are preventing many CTOs from moving forward: Chasing talent, Hiring for cultural fit, and the technical / soft-skills split. 


  • Hiring managers are trying to hire like they’re ordering at a sandwich counter – but people aren’t a sandwich to which you get to add your “10 requirements”

  • Job descriptions are littered with fad phrases like “agile’ and “family” that have no meaning behind them

  • Hiring managers are not discerning between primary, secondary, and tertiary candidate attributes

  • In the tech world, bringing in “outside help” is frowned upon

  • Many CTOs want the Justice League at Batman prices or even Marvel at DC prices

  • It’s like grocery shopping: at home you imagine the apples you want to buy. Once in the store, you see that the produce availability, variety, quality, and prices are very different. You may actually decide to purchase something very different from what you originally intended

  • By copy and pasting job descriptions, you create “bugs”

  • Mindlessly adding “hybrid” to your job description because everyone is doing it means you have shrunk your talent pool from global to whoever can/ wants to make it into the office twice a week

  • Many countries bring in thousands of wealthy, highly-educated immigrants a year who end up taxi-driving in order to support their families because they are not “found” by hiring managers

  • Hiring is often done by HR (from job description to interview) who may have very little idea what the role is actually about 

  • They’re hiring for a mythical person, not reality

  • Small to medium-sized enterprises don’t have proper hiring processes in place

  • Everyone changes after a hire, so hire someone flexible

  • Who does the organization need in terms of personality?

  • Job description statistics show that women in particular are put off by job descriptions that aren’t “real” – if they don’t have everything you’re asking for, they won’t apply

  • There is a myth circulating currently that education is of no value and that it is better to hire someone you like

  • The tech ecosystem is so massive, that if you haven’t got someone who has coded in the last 5 years, you might as well have got someone straight out of high school 

  •  There is a massive lack of training and on the supply side, techs are afraid of new stuff

CONCLUSION: Talent is NOT difficult to find




  • Where does this mythology come from? It oozes of ego and inflexibility, and lack of awareness as to how diversity can benefit triple bottom line

  • One common mythological solution is to “hire people that can think” – but those people may be hard to find Another common mythological solution is to “just pay for it” – but there are still no unicorns

  • People don’t want to invest time or money into their employees – they’re expected (ubiquitously) to “hit the ground running” – the trouble is, they may be sprinting in the wrong direction 

  • HR tends to bring out fancy interview assessment scorecards, where the scoring sheet is far more important than a conversation with the candidate 

  • Often the candidate leaves the interview never having had the opportunity to showcase themselves, or set right an incorrect assumption

  • If you hire for fit, you may hire a room full of white guys and end up with a college dorm

  • The interview process is broken in general as the point of interviews has become to judge someone else and find them lacking – and scoring humans leads to all kinds of issues

  • Introverts and people on the spectrum are disproportionately attracted to tech, yet they fare the worst in scorecard interviews

  • Getting people to code while someone watches is a terrible idea, it’s not assessing coding, it’s assessing the ability to ignore micromanagement

  • Cultural fit is more about finding what enables people to work and be productive

  • There are enormous cultural barriers to finding a person-to-company match – e.g. in many cultures you don’t express opinions to superiors, let alone ask questions

  • Organizations need to explain what “cultural fit” even is (i.e. “open source”)

  • Culture is a value: Do you believe what I believe?

  • Diversity will lead both to innovation and to conflict – culture is what you do with differences in opinion or even conflict

  • “Commonsense is common, but culture is unique” – culture is not a one-size-fits-all measure

  • Ethics and conduct are private, so how do you talk about culture for a private company? 

  • There are some attempts to address culture on platforms such as Glassdoor

  • Small to medium-sized enterprises are often too resource-poor too cope with diversity

  • The set of features that goes into a culture is not easily definable

  • What is needed is cultural accommodation – it’s not a source of stress, it is a natural outcome of properly structured communication

  • Culture is not something you can agree on because it’s what emerges under stress

  • Culture needs to be stated in job description

  • Even in a company that has been intentional, there are a lot of cultures within the main corporate culture, like fit in a team where you buffer between company culture and team culture, which can be very different

  • Hiring managers try and ascertain values during the interview, but a person may be able to adapt – give them an opportunity. 

  • Hiring managers think they’re omniscient, that they can discern the cultural fit of a candidate

  • Personality compatibility is what people mistake for cultural fit – likeability is what is actually being evaluated

  • We interview, then send a recorded interview to the teams

CONCLUSION: Hiring for fit creates homogeneity and kills innovation



  • The proportion is position-dependent

  • DISC and other personality assessment tools can be helpful to set a baseline, but should not be used as a basis upon which to exclude or eliminate candidates

  • Our industry is full of prima donnas

  • Find opportunities for mavericks to be successful

  • Companies must provide training so that candidates will have an easier time adjusting

  • CTOs need to establish clear communication rules, but the rules must be flexible

  • Once you have the ability to accommodate, your candidate pool becomes much wider.

  • Soft skills are technical skills, the distinction is facile

CONCLUSION: Everyone thinks they are a great communicator, yet everyone has blind spots.


Everyone is in a hurry. But it is the shallow understanding of reality and insufficient analysis that results in myths and their perpetuation. As a CTO, if you don’t have a clear picture of what needs to be done and how to communicate that in an iterative fashion that’s open to diversity, you will have trouble retaining great talent even if you are able to find them.


CTOs must cultivate patience, and the ability to break down what is required into measurable elements. Not only new hires, but all contributors must have the psychological safety to communicate their understanding of each element and ask questions and be able to offer critique on an iterative basis. 


It is the role of the CTO to consider the feedback, and make sure that there is a fulsome understanding of each element and a way of accomplishing it. The time spent on role-play and readiness – walking through scenarios without actually doing them – will actually save time in the long run. CTOs can thus teach people to be self-managing, beginning with tools for tracking tasks and time. 


But rather than thinking this is a one-and-done, check in periodically and offer guidance on how to accomplish what they’re trying to do and listen to their concerns. It may come as a surprise, but listening is key.  Training, accommodation, and communication bring blind spots to light.