Hiring in Alignment

If you’re like most IT managers, you have a couple of open reqs. You’d like to make the most of your reqs, and you don’t want to take a long time to hire. To hire the most suitable candidate who aligns with your strategy and needs, find candidates with relevant experience and then ask them the important questions.

First, consider where you’re posting the open requisition. Choose media to post your ad based on their ability to attract local and suitable talent. If you’re not careful about where you place the ad, you’ll receive hundreds of resumes. Even if you can scan a resume in fifteen seconds, that’s still hours of resume reading. And most of those candidates aren’t appropriate for your position. So post your ad where you’re likely to attract the most appropriate people.

Look closely at the kinds of products the candidate has worked on, and what they’ve learned. When you focus on the kinds of projects and the product domain the candidate has worked on, you’re looking closer to the real person and less at their easily-learned functional knowledge.

You might think a candidate has relevant experience when they’ve worked in similar size or industry companies, or worked on similar products. You’re correct. But don’t stop there. If a candidate has worked in insurance or banking, regulated industries, consider that candidate for your bio-tech opening. Many candidates can transfer their industry-specific knowledge to your industry.

Don’t screen candidates out based on their education or tool experience. Education is interesting but not as necessary as relevant experience. Technical staff and managers learn new techniques and tools easily.

Focus on the candidate’s experience and the value their experience could bring to you. Look for the benefits the candidate highlights on their resume. Benefits may appear as the number of projects or people managed, the amount of money saved by working in a certain way, customers acquired or retained, workflow improvements, and so on.

Once you’ve decided whom you’ll interview, make sure you ask the important questions in the interview—not just the technical questions, but also questions about the kind of person the candidate is.

  • Do you need a flexible, adaptable person? Then ask questions like this, “Tell me about a time you had too much work to do. How did you decide what to do when?”
  • Do you need someone who can stick to the plan, even under pressure? Then ask a question like this, “Have you ever been in a situation where your manager wanted to change your project’s goals? What did you do?”
  • Do you need someone with database architecture experience? Ask a technical question such as, “Tell me about the last schema you designed. What did you choose to include in the schema? What did you leave out? Why?”
  • Do you need a designer who o understands performance issues? Ask a technical question, “Have you ever designed for performance? What did you do? How did you know the performance was adequate? When did you start testing performance?”

Aside from interview questions, create and use auditions to see how the candidate works at work. Define the behaviors you want to see and develop a 10-15 minute work audition. Don’t forget to experiment with that audition on a current employee to make sure the audition helps you see how the candidate will work.

Hiring is the most expensive and highest return actions a manager can take. Make sure you’re hiring people who are valuable to you.

© 2003 Johanna Rothman. This article was published in a Cutter Business-IT Strategies E-Mail Advisor, March 2003

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