Hiring for an Agile Team: Create the Agile Interview

When I talk about interviewing an agile team, many people think, “Oh, we should pair!” and that's it. But, many teams don't pair regularly. If you pair in the interview and you don't pair at work, you have an incongruent interview. That's not helpful to you or your candidate.

Instead, you want to create an interview that's congruent with the way you work as an agile team right now. Not the way you want to work in the future. The way you work right now.

You want to make the interview so compelling that the candidate asks for a tour. You don't want to waste time on a tour, selling the candidate. Let your questions and audition sell the candidate on you.

Create your Areas for Questions and Audition

Evaluate your practices first. What do you do as an agile team? Do you pair? Do you do continuous integration? Do you ask each other for help? Do you coach and mentor each other? Do you collaborate? Do you stop when the customer/product owner says to stop? Do you get feedback often, either during the iteration or as part of your kanban? These are examples. I got carried away…

Whatever you do, decide which areas are essential for questions and which area(s) you want to investigate by audition. Unless you are like Menlo Innovations, where everyone pairs all the time, don't hire just by pairing.

Instead, create an interview matrix. The matrix will tell you who will ask questions about which areas. You want a little overlap. Not much.

Create behavior-description interview questions. Have a conversation with the candidate. The conversation will provide you clues about cultural fit.

Create an audition. Choose a practice or two from the above evaluation. Either give the candidate something to work on, or work with the candidate together (you are an agile shop, right?) and see how things go. Does the candidate want to check in work every few minutes? Does the candidate want to wait? Neither is good or bad. They just are.

Test the audition with the interview team to make sure the entire interview team could pass the audition. If they can't pass the audition and they work there, how could anyone else pass the audition.

Now you're ready for interviewing. Bring on the candidates!

Meet After the Interview

After you've met with a candidate, follow up and decide on each candidate with a brief meeting. I suggest a consensus-based meeting for this. Limited consensus might be fine, and you have to know your team. You are the ones who will have to work together.

Next and final part: Hiring remote people.

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