Why the Designer Failed FizzBuzz: On Hiring, Job Titles, and Descriptions

I failed FizzBuzz during an interview and wrote about it for CSS-Tricks. There was a huge response to the article. Although r/programming ripped it apart, the feedback from the front-end community was very positive, and there's no doubt erroneous job descriptions have affected many more than myself. Negative or positive, all of the feedback indicates that the disconnect between job titles/descriptions and actual roles is a real issue in our industry.

How can we fix this? Everyone is hiring. Is there really a lack of qualified candidates, or is the disconnect between jobs, job posts, and recruiting methods the problem? Are code schools the solution? I have thoughts, and would love to open up a discussion with others in the field to compare opinions and experiences.

Topic & Questions

The panel would start with my giving a 15min or so talk to introduce these issues and the widely varied responses to my article. I'll show a few problematic areas in select job titles and descriptions, then we would move into a discussion.


Representatives for some/all of the following roles would be great:

  • Someone in charge of interviewing
  • Someone in charge of writing job descriptions
  • A code school graduate applying to jobs
  • Hiring managers - ideally technical and non-technical (though that might be hard at SassConf)
  • A recruiter (?!)
  • Someone who recently applied for and was rejected from a job
  • ..and another who applied and was hired

The Hiring Process

  • Any horror stories? What's worked, what hasn't?
  • Overall hiring process - who is in charge, how does it work?
  • Selecting applicants - any red flags when looking at applications? Are code schools a good or bad thing on a resume? (I've heard both sides)
  • Interviewing techniques - what format do you use? What types of questions?
  • What are the disconnects between the description, the interview, and the role itself?

Job Titles and Descriptions

  • What's yours? And what do you actually do?
  • What is the difference between a coder, developmer, programmer, engineer, architect, etc, etc, etc?
  • Does it matter?
  • Is the ambiguity in titles and descriptions causing unreasonable expectations?
  • Can we stop looking for a "unicorns"? What does that even mean?

Examine overarching problems, brainstorm solutions

  • Is the traditional hiring process even relevant to our industry? How can we better evaluate candidates' skills? Is work ethic and a capacity to learn more important than checking languages off of a list?
  • How can we better communicate roles in job posts and titles? Is the problem that companies don't know what they're looking for in the first place?
About Lara Schenck

My name is Lara (not Laura), and I'm a consultant, teacher, and cocktail enthusiast in NYC. I teach front-end development to designers, facilitate corporate trainings with Decoded, and edit job descriptions. I build WordPress sites with Timber and grew up on a llama farm in Pennsylvania.