Interview with FogCreek About Hiring for Technical Fit

Several weeks ago, the nice folks at FogCreek interviewed me. It’s here: Technical Hiring and Cultural Fit – Interview with Johanna Rothman. The interview ranged over many topics: Cultural fit Diversity What to do when you look for a job Much more I hope you enjoy it. If you want to read more about how to hire, check out Hiring Geeks That Fit. To read more about how to find a job, see Manage Your Job...

Hiring for Cultural Fit Slides Posted

I’ve given webinars and talks about hiring for cultural fit for years. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Waterloo/Kitchener, Ontario. When I spoke for Communitech, I updated my talk, Hiring for Cultural Fit. It’s easy to get cultural fit wrong. It’s more difficult to get it right. I hope you enjoy the slides. BTW, if you want the details on how to hire for cultural fit, read Hiring Geeks That...

Hire for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Other People, Pt 2

In Hire for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Women, Pt 1, I wrote about the need to add women to your team, and what you could do. But just hiring women isn’t enough. You need race and age diversity, along with personality diversity to get the best products out of your teams. Back when I was a hiring manager inside organizations in the ’80s and ’90s, I hired developers and testers. I took a hard look at my teams. I saw lots of younger white people. I thought that was strange. I socialized with people of all races and ages. Why did I only have younger white people in my teams? It was time to change that. At the time, I used external recruiters. When I asked about diversity, I kept hearing, “We only have young white people to offer you.” I thought that was bogus. How could that be true, when I knew all these people who were not young or white? (Yes, some of them were technical, and some of them were a fit. And, yes, I had an okay employee referral program.) But, how could I find more people? If I can’t get them to respond to my ads and get the resumes in the door, I can’t phone screen them. Surely, in the Boston area, there must be non-white, young and older people looking for jobs. There were. In fact, there were, maybe not plenty, but enough that I could start to hire a diverse set of people. Here is what I did: I told everyone I knew that I was looking to increase the diversity...

Hire for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Women, Pt 1

In the blogosphere and in the press, there is an increasing notice about the lack of women in technical fields and management positions. Here is some data: Why women leave tech: what the research says by Sue Gardner. Read Visualizing Silicon Valley’s Lack of Diversity. Notice that tech is overwhelmingly white and male. It does not reflect the society in which we live. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our field got this way because we let our unconscious prejudices decide for us. Did you see this? In Hiring Geeks That Fit, I talk about how you learn about your prejudices and how you account for them. We know that diverse teams create better products. We know—and if you have been on a multi-gender, multi-cultural team, people-with-diverse-backgrounds you have this experience—creating products is more fun, faster, and easier. Why? Because you don’t get into group-think. You have more opportunities for ideas. You have people who, while they fit the corporate culture enough, have diverse experience creating products. You discover and create your way to a better outcome. Can you get a great product with—excuse me—all white males under the age of 30? Of course. Can you get it with a diverse team of all kinds of people of all ages? Yes. In my experience, it’s faster and easier. What can you do, if you want to keep or build the great culture you already have? You are sure you can’t find any women? First, don’t be so sure. You might want to watch How Etsy Increased Diversity in Its Engineering Department: An Interview with Marc Hedlund. It’s a...

Are You Hiring for Helpfulness?

I was reading IDEO’s Culture of Helping. Especially if you are hiring for an agile team, you want to hire for helpfulness. Do You Have a Helpful Culture? Notice, that it’s not about expertise or competence. The most helpful people are people who were trustworthy and accessible. When you hire for the cultural fit of helpfulness, you have to make sure you have a culture that allows for helping. Do you allow for slack in your projects so people have a chance to help others? That give people a chance to be accessible. The other part is trustworthiness. Do you have a culture of learning, not blame around defects and technical debt, so people say, “Oooh,” when they discover something that maybe they should not have done? Or, do they say, “Oh, crap, here comes the boom”? How You Can Hire for Helpfulness Okay, here’s how you can detect how a candidate might be helpful to your organization. Here are some behavior-description questions: Give me an example of a time someone asked you for help on your most recent project. What happened? (This is the obvious question.) Have you seen people “drowning” on your most recent project? What did you do? (This is the problem of inflicting help.) Have you been in a position where people asked you for help, you wanted to provide it, but you felt uneasy about providing it? (wait for a yes) Tell me about that. These are not the only three questions. They are a...

Tech Managers: Time to Grow Up and Manage Like Humans

I read Technology’s Man Problem in the New York Times this weekend. I thought those days were long gone. I guess not. Since when it is acceptable to make any comment about anybody’s body part at work? Hello? Are we in the 7th grade? I thought “men” were past that. The gentlemen I know are past that nonsense. So are the gentlewomen. There are reasons I call you my “gentle readers.” Did you see the statistics in the article? Among the women who join the field, 56 percent leave by midcareer, a startling attrition rate that is double that for men, according to research from the Harvard Business School. Unacceptable. Why would you remove half the people who can make your products better? Did you read Here are all the quantifiable reasons you should hire more women? Does that sound like what we do in high tech: Create more innovative outcomes Stronger financial performance More diverse teams have a lower turnover rate Teams with women have patents cited more often The technical managers I know, know how to write ads that are gender neutral. They know how to interview for cultural fit. They understand that culture is what you can discuss, what you reward, and how you treat each other. They offer jobs that are opportunities, not a long list of tools. (They have read Hiring Geeks That Fit.) Technical managers, you can be savvy. You can hire people of all kinds. They don’t have to look like you. They can be women, men, young, old, whatever. The more innovation you need in your product, the more diverse you...