When is an Interview Free Consulting?

I’m a big fan of auditions in an interview. (I have many posts about auditions in this blog.) However, some hiring managers and teams push interviewing and auditions too far. When you’ve had three interviews, and your interviewer asks you to solve a problem for them—again—is it a hiring issue, or are they asking you to consult for free? Here is a way that works for auditions and interviewing: Create the dirtbag phone screen, if that matters to you. Use a technical phone screen to make sure you want to bring the candidate in. Interview in person with solo interviewers, for 45 minutes each. Use behavior-description questions and one 20-minute audition. Use the interview matrix so all the interviewers ask different questions. At the end of that interview, if you have several great candidates, ask them to come in one more time, and meet with up to 4 people. Maybe use another 20-minute audition. That’s it. You don’t need a third round of interviews. You don’t need that person to meet with more people. You should be able to decide based on your data to date, assuming you have organized your questions and auditions. You don’t need the perfect candidate. That candidate doesn’t exist. You need someone who fits your culture and can learn fast enough for you. If you have people do more than two 20-minute auditions, and/or meet with more than 8 people, you are dangerously close to asking for free consulting. Do you mean to do that? I find it demeaning to the candidate. It doesn’t show your company in the best light. You might want...

Do You Need a Degree to be Hired to Develop Software?

I retweeted a link to Here’s a Thing: There’s No Correlation Between a College Degree and Coding Ability. I was a bit surprised by some of the reactions to that link. One colleague said, “I question whether people who wait until a college assignment to learn to code have the same obsessive interest in the topic.” I was quite surprised. Back when I went to college, people didn’t have access to computers except in school. And, what about those of us who only discovered programming by accident, say our sophomore year in school (me), or a few years later (another colleague)? Would a hiring manager penalize us for not knowing about programming when we were 12? Do developers need an “obsessive” interest in programming? I don’t think so. When I hired developers, I looked for a number of preferences, qualities, and non-technical skills: Ability to learn our system fast Ability to get along with the rest of the team Ability to take feedback and provide feedback Problem-solving abilities in several domains: ways to look at both technical and non-technical tradeoffs More things depending on the role and environment Of course, I looked for technical skills also: Ability to explain their code to me and others We always did a technical audition, so we could see somebody’s technical skills at work Ability to explain how their code fit into the whole of the system they were working on at the time More things depending on the role and environment In all the time I hired developers (about 10 years), I never made a college degree a requirement. Nor did I make obsessive...

Series on Hiring Technical People

Have you seen Nick Korbel’s series about hiring techies? See On Hiring Techies. There are several posts: Evaluate Potential, Not Accomplishments. He’s talking about evaluating qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills. Coding Challenge: A pre-interview audition. The cool thing is that they then discuss the audition in the interview. The Team Interview. I dislike panel interviews. It sounds as if Nick has some positive experience with it. I prefer one-on-one interviews with an interview matrix to organize the interviewing. One thing I do like is that Nick says the entire team must agree with the hire. (Yes—Fist pump!) Hire For Cultural Fit. Nick says, “I can teach someone a new technology. I cannot teach someone how to fit into our culture.” Believe it. If you want to see some of my posts, check out: Skills for 2013: It’s Not About Tools or Technology Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4. Also, check out my audition tag. Assign Roles for Group/Panel Interviews and Plan for an Interview with an Interview Matrix My own cultural fit posts: Series on Cultural Fit Posted How to Hire for Cultural Fit Without Becoming Insular or Mediocre Hiring for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Women, pt 1  You can always get your own copy of Hiring Geeks That Fit. It explains everything all in one...

Do Your Ads Reflect Your Job and Culture?

If you are like many hiring managers I know, you don’t like to write job ads. You find them boring to write. When they are boring to write, many candidates find them boring to read. You don’t have to make your ads boring. Have you read Pradeep Soundararajan’s ad for his VP? Here is his blog post about it, Beating the industry average and hiring smarter people. Go read the ad and return. I’ll wait a minute or two. Watch his video. Do you see how Pradeep incorporates his culture into his ad and his video? This is what hiring for cultural fit is all about. Pradeep read my first hiring book and was highly influenced by it. I improved the cultural fit part and updated the how-to-write-an-ad chapter in Hiring Geeks That Fit. Don’t write boring ads unless you are part of a boring company. It’s okay then. But, I bet you are not doing boring things. I bet you do exciting things. Show your excitement. Show the results you want in an ad. Make the ad about the opportunity the candidate will discover in a job with you. Don’t make the ad about the benefits. Don’t “sell” the company. Sell the job. If you have a great job that’s an opportunity, that’s all you have to do. Of course, if you have a boring job that’s not an opportunity, you might have to sell the benefits, because that’s all you have to offer. If you are a hiring manager, you might want to change that. Just a thought. Make your job ads reflect the opportunity you are...

How to Hire for Cultural Fit Without Becoming Insular and Mediocre

Have you read The next thing Silicon Valley needs to disrupt big time: its own culture? If not, it talks about hiring processes where companies Hire people “just like us” Where candidates can’t tell they are on interviews Where, if you wear a suit, you might be disqualified, because, hey, we don’t wear suits here. No, it doesn’t count that you are the one interviewing There’s more, but this is all done in the name of “meritocracy” and “cultural fit.” You can call it cultural fit, but it’s not. It’s lazy interviewing. It’s bias against anyone who doesn’t look like us, sound like us, or is us, whomever us is. It creates an insular culture. It’s a shame, because for any challenging product and knowledge work, you need diverse teams and diverse ideas to work together, to collaborate to create a great product. I’ve said it, in Great People Create Great Products. Anita Wooley says you need women in Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women. If you read Diversity and Innovativeness in New Product Development Teams: Diversity can be a resource that helps to strengthen the innovativeness of a NPD team. On the other hand , diversity can act as a risk that leads to diminished team cohesiveness and thus obstructs innovativeness. I didn’t say it was easy. Here’s the problem: if you are creating a product for the marketplace, where the people don’t all look like you, you need to understand your market. You need to understand how those people think, how they use the product, and what they might want to buy. If...