How Does Your Hiring Help You Learn About the Candidate?

I saw a post on a google+ circle that I can't post to, because I'm not part of the circle. The author has a pretty good hiring process. But, it doesn't quite help the author learn enough about the candidate fast. The interviewing meanders.

Here's my process from Hiring Geeks That Fit, after you've done the job analysis, job description, ad, and you've filtered the resumes:

  • You phone screen people, and decide who to bring in for an in-person interview
  • You bring a candidate in for a few hours. As part of this interviewing, you have them interview with a team of people.
    • You ask behavior-description questions, to understand their most recent experience.
    • You include a 20-30 minute audition, to see how they work.
    • If possible, you include a meal, with two people. You make enough time for lunch, so the candidate has time to eat and talk.
  • At the end of the interview, you have a follow-up meeting with everyone who met with the candidate that day to understand what everyone's impressions were. You make a decision then and there about how to proceed with the candidate.
  • The hiring manager notifies the candidate.

Here are some typical questions and answers I often hear:

Q: Do you need to walk people around your organization?

A: I'm fond of this only at the end of the interview, when you know if you want the candidate, not at the beginning. I never do this at the beginning of the interview day. This is good to do at the break for the meal, or at the time you walk the candidate out, at the end of the interview. Why waste valuable interview time? Your job is to get to know the candidate.

Q: We pair all day. We need to know if the candidate can pair with everyone. Isn't that much more valuable than talking?

A. It might be. If you're hiring a developer and you really do pair all day, then maybe part of each developer interview is a 20-minute pairing experience. But I would still ask questions. Because you and I both know that developers do more than pair. How does a candidate do those other things? For example, do you have testers? How does the developer work with a tester? What about a product manager/product owner? Does the developer ever work with those people? This is why it's useful to do a job analysis and see who the candidate will work with, and see who else the developer needs to speak with.

Q: Why do you limit your interview to a few hours? We don't want to waste our time interviewing again.

A: Candidates who already have jobs can't take the whole day. You're asking them to take a half-day as it is. Some can't take lunch, and will want an early morning or a late afternoon interview. Think of your interview time as a partial investment, a get-to-know-you. You're not investing everything you have in one candidate, are you? Neither is a candidate. You're both learning about each other. This is a first date, not a marriage commitment.

Let me know what other questions you have. I'll update the post with more Q&A.

3 Replies to “How Does Your Hiring Help You Learn About the Candidate?”

  1. Hi Johanna,
    I am looking for audition scenario’s (not behavior oriented questions) for roles such as PO and Scrum Master. Do you know of any or where I might find some? I know this is a little harder to define and prepare the candidate for, but we also do let them have about a 2 day lead to absorb some of the information they are provided with. Any thoughts?

    1. HI Esther,

      It depends a little on what your Scrum Masters and POs do. I’m not trying to weasel out of the answer. Some Scrum Masters act more like project managers, and some POs act more like project managers, so it really does depend.

      Did you do a job analysis? Everything flows from that. If you read Hiring Geeks That Fit, you can see that. Spend 20 minutes on the analysis, and everything flows. I also have an entire section in the book about auditions.

      I don’t know if you looked at the audition tag here.

      I guess I will put this on my backlog.

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