Being Specific When Analyzing a Job

I led a 90-minute Hiring for an Agile Team workshop at AgileItx! this past week. I ask each team in the workshop to call out a candidate’s quality, preference, or non-technical skill that they look for in a team. One of the teams said, “teamwork.”

Well, teamwork means a lot of things to lots of people, and what this team meant was along the lines of “subordinating what a candidate wants for the good of the team” or “making sure the team meets its goals before attempting to meet my goals.” Those definitions are different to me. I prefer the second definition rather than the first.

But you can see, that even though these two definitions of teamwork are similar, they are not the same. And, if you only write down “teamwork” or “communication skills” or “team player”, even if you do perform a job analysis, you may not be in agreement with the rest of the hiring team as to what the skills are that you need.

When you analyze a job, avoid shorthand words. Spell out what you mean. If you mean “able to communicate across geographical distances and cultures and time zones verbally and in writing, without pissing off the people in East Nowhere,” say that. If you mean “able to present project status to senior management and help them understand it,” say that. Those are both examples of “communication skills,” but they are quite different communication skills.

The more specific you are when analyzing a job, the better your phone screen and interview questions are going to be. The more you’ll have interview team agreement on who is–and who is not–a great interview candidate.

One Reply to “Being Specific When Analyzing a Job”

  1. Those definitions of teamwork are approaching the idea of “good expedition behavior”, first laid out by Paul Petzoldt. He investigated problems on mountaineering expeditions and found that many failures were caused by poor behavior, not poor equipment, skills, or conditions.

    The current NOLS definition for good EB is here:

    My favorite version is this humorous one:

    It starts with descriptions that apply to projects as well:

    A good expedition team is like a powerful, well-oiled, finely tuned marriage. Members cook meals together, carry burdens together, face challenges together and finally go to bed together.

    A bad expedition, on the other hand, is an awkward, ugly, embarrassing thing characterized by bickering, filth, frustration and crispy macaroni.

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