At my office there are a number of localized concerns for the area we are in as I am sure other areas have their own challenges.
I think most companies that are hiring are like an extremely picky, indecisive casual shopper strolling around a book store. The potential applicants are all of the different books that they pick up and briefly look up.
Like most book shoppers the cover and the title are the first thing that is going to catch your interest, even if it is just for a few seconds, if the title, subtitle and cover are unappealing it will likely get put back on the shelf, because even though that famous old saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." we all do subconsciously whether we think we are or not.
Of course we don't have enough time either to look at every book, so we pick a section relevant to our interests, I was hoping for a good non-fiction book. Nothing I looked at in non-fiction caught my eye, but then I took a chance with one I saw in the Biography section, it was a book on John Adams. I actually read the first few pages and considered it but then thought I should try that sci-fi book my friend told me about.
In the end my gut instinct led me back to the John Adams book and I LOVED IT. Couldn't put it down and I certainly don't regret my purchase.
The POINT is that when I interview I look for something special in an unlikely place, somewhere I didn't expect, maybe a guy I met at a neighborhood cookout. Or maybe somebody highly unlikely, a guy who majored in English Lit but had a passion for coding. They may be a little rough around the edges, but they never ceased to amaze me with how when it came to working on a software development team they GOT IT.
You can stay up at night pondering why finding good talent is hard, well fundamentally when you are blind with no contacts going in you are just perusing a giant bookstore looking for the next War and Peace, and you could be wasting a lot of time.
My advice, avoid recruiters unless you know them very well and they have a good history with you or your company. Call in contacts, old work buddies, your friend who has a friend who is looking. Don't get hung up on the specifics of their skills or the formality of their experience and education. Just talk to them, figure out their personality, the way they think, their work ethic, their opinions. Argue with them, debate with them. Try to learn something new from them.
In the end your gut instinct will lead you to the right choice, not the amount of time it took them to write a linked list implementation or how long it took them to do the fizzbuzz.