Getting Past the Hiring Problem
If you were to ask people what they think the biggest challenge in the software industry is today with teams and leadership, the majority would bring it back to the same issue.
How do we find the best people?
How do we assess and interview them in the best way?
How do we hire them?
How do we find the diamonds in the rough, the winners among all the losers that we interview.
In short, what’s the best way to interview so we are always hiring the best candidates and growing our team as quickly as we can.
Taken a step further, how do we narrow down the list of candidates? How do we interview them so when they come on board, we aren’t wasting 3 months of our time and energy training them only to realize that they are not that committed?
Generally if you can challenge your team, make them feel valued for their contributions, help them grow their careers and compensate them in a fair way you are on the right path.
Think of the Interview as a First Date
Interviews are like the first date you’ve ever had. It’s a dance that starts off awkward in a small period of time where you hope you’ve shown the best of each other and can lead to a second date. We’ve all been on first dates, we all know what it’s like. It’s hand-wringing, it takes times, trust has to be established all in the search for that perfect match.
But when we start off interviewing someone, we spend an insane amount of time talking about ourselves, our company’s achievements and then head into questions and tests to evaluate who and what they bring to the table. Sure we give the candidate time to speak, but it is at our discretion, not theirs.
Think of how many interviews you’ve had in your career? How many would you go back for a second time to have another interview with?
Less than five? Out of thirty? Forty?
The Process is Broken
In an effort to get as many people through the doors as possible so you can see as many people as possible we forget what we are trying to achieve — higher great people who impress us with their creativity, intelligence and overall being a good person.
Instead of sifting through a couple of hundred resumes next time, change up the process a bit and try something new that focuses the interview around building a relationship first before getting into the police questioning.
Ask every candidate to send in a video, a song, a drawing, a side-project, a Snapchat anything or everything but something that lets them show their creative side and offer a bit of who they are.
And yes, everyone has a creative side. Remember this is a date, they are trying to impress us, we are trying to impress them.
Ask them how they would rate and demonstrate these skills — Drive, Initiative, Delivery and Leadership.
What springs to their mind when they hear those words. This can be part of their “creative” submission or the first thing you ask of them when they sit down. Those words might not define what you need from them today, but tomorrow, the next day, when you are sick and need someone to lead the final push to get the last release out the door, they are the skills you want waiting in the wings to be called on.
We all have different definitions for these words, so find out what their’s is so you can see how they align to you and you align to them.
Better yet — don’t like my words — sit down with your team and come up with your own words that define you?
Do all of this before you meet them. Not because you are lazy but because you need to see how much they want to work with you. By showing you where they are coming from BEFORE you sit down with them, you have a baseline, a starting point for conversation, a launch pad to discuss what comes next.
“Hey that 30 second video you did on our product was fantastic, what other ideas do you have?”
“So this project you integrated with Facebook, walk me through it”
From here (again before you start getting into technical jargon) there are only two questions to ask (which you can give them to in advance so they can ponder them).
- How can you help us get better?
- How can we help you grow?
Now you’ve thrown the gauntlet down — I like you, I want to go out with you, but you’re going to have to tell me why, what am I going to get out of it, how can you make me better.
You will have some people walk away (in both cases) but isn’t that the idea to find the best people?
How do you evaluate their technical chops?
However you want, but when evaluating new hires, this is the last step in the process. Coding can be taught, coding can be learned — but everything before this is about finding the best people and bringing them into your family.
We have thought for so long that the day people become part of your team is their first day on the job when you welcome them in. It’s not, it’s their first interaction with you, their first interview, their follow-up interview, every discussion that happens.
Their first day on the job after you have hired them is simply the first time they are meeting the parents after you have met with them, gotten to know them and are ready to move forward.