This is the sixth in a series of blog posts authored by members of the IT Manager Advisory Council. We've asked them to share their insights and opinions on topics they are passionate about related to hiring & managing employees, and maintaining skills on their teams. If you agree or disagree and have a different perspective - chime in and contribute your views.
Finding the right new hire can be daunting and it certainly is a time consuming proposition. Good preparation can sure make the hiring process easier and in the long run take less time, as well as give you a better chance of finding the best person for the job.
I’m Suzanne George and I have recently started working as a Senior Technical Architect for Perficient. So, as you can imagine, hiring and interviewing are very much top of mind.
What Are You Looking For?
It sounds simplistic, but you really have to carefully define the job you’re offering. Are you looking for a drone coder or someone who can architect code? When I hire a coder, I’m probably looking for someone who is self-sufficient and can write good code. If I have to redo it, that person doesn’t do me any good.
One time I was applying for a job and they described the job –it was A, B, C—and it sounded interesting. I signed on, but when I got there, it was a drone job. My boss was in another city and I was stuck in a subdivision. Frankly, I’m an over achiever, so this was not a good fit. So, you want to make sure you don’t hire someone overqualified for a role. They’ll end up feeling frustrated when they can’t do what they know they can do, and they feel they are being held back. (Needless to say, I didn’t stay very long.)
Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen.
Typically, I screen about 50 applicants and then bring in the top five that I think may be the right fit for the position. Some of the questions I typically ask during phone screening are “What are your career goals,” “What is your preferred working environment,” and ‘’What kind of position are you looking for?” Of course I ask what certifications they have earned, as this indicates self-motivation, but I don’t rely on it alone. There must be ample proof in their resume of using what they’ve learned.
Interviewing—More Art Than Science
There is an art to interviewing. It’s not just the questions you ask, but often it’s how you get around to asking those questions. Of course, there are questions you cannot ask in the U.S.—and you’ll have your HR department in hysterics if you ask a candidate if they’re married, if they have children, if they intend to have children… things like that of a personal nature. Undoubtedly, your company has a list of no-no questions. Typically, we ask five specific questions that pertain to the job for which they’re applying. Here are three examples:
· “Have you gone to our website? What did you like?” What I’m really asking is, “Did you bother to research my company?” If the answer is, “It looks nice,” then I know they didn’t use our registration process. Probing further, I ask “What would you improve?” If they didn’t mention our login process (that I know needs improvement!), that tells me a lot about this candidate’s interest and initiative. (Someone applying for an accounting job would look at a company’s earnings report, right?)
· “What do you feel you’re really good at?” Once I was interviewing a candidate who I knew was smart, but she had difficulty communicating. So, I followed up with “Let’s talk about SharePoint web parts,” something I knew she was comfortable with, and we got down to specifics. She may have been challenged communicating in words, but she sure could draw diagrams on the white board! Finding another way for someone to express themselves can produce real results.
· “How would you …? I’ll give a software engineer candidate some spaghetti code—something like: main, call Function A, call Function B, call Function C—and ask them to make the code more efficient. If Function A is a one-liner, and they have to keep calling Function A, then maybe I might end up having to rework their code!
Most hiring processes include several people on the “loop.” During the post-interview debriefing amongst the interviewers, you can get the perspective of marketing, engineers, mangers, and even customers. Each has a different focus. Everyone asks a “personality” questions, but in a different way. So the engineer might ask, “How would you communicate this particular task to marketing?”
No doubt you’ve learned plenty tricks of the trade in hiring, and so chime in on what has worked well for you. I sure appreciated the folks who took the time to comment on my last blog entry, and hope to hear from some of you again.