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 start.

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