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"Hiring Technical People" - 5 new articles

  1. Would You Like a Manage Your Job Search Open Jam Session?
  2. Great Series on Hiring Testers
  3. Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4
  4. Three Tips to Streamline Your Phone Screens, Part 3
  5. Three Tips to Streamline Your Recruiting, Part 2
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search Hiring Technical People
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

Would You Like a Manage Your Job Search Open Jam Session?

I will be at Agile 2014 next week. So will about 1800 other people.

MYJS_border.150I bet some of you are looking for new jobs. Would you like an Open Jam session about looking for a new job? I can conduct a timeboxed, up to one-hour session about Manage Your Job Search. If you only want the networking tips, I can do that. Only the job search tips and traps? I can do that.

The first step is this: let me know if you want an open jam session. If so, we’ll find time that we are all free.

Remember, a conference is a rich place for target networking.

    
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Great Series on Hiring Testers

Do you read Rob Lambert’s Social Tester? He’s been blogging about his experiences finding candidates.

Some of my favorites:

Certifications are Creating Lazy Hiring Managers

Here is a quote from that post:

You cannot presume someone with a certification is a talented tester.

You also cannot presume someone with no certification is a rubbish tester.

I had missed his review of Hiring Geeks That Fit. Here is his review: Geeks Hiring Geeks.

Things he likes:

He also recommends the book for job seekers. Thanks, Rob!

    
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Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4

See Three Tips to Streamline Your Hiring, Part 1, Three Tips to Streamline Your Recruiting, Part 2, and Three Tips to Streamline Your Phone Screens, Part 3 to see our story to here.

When my client talked about his interviews for developers, he said, “I interview people on the phone and then ask the candidate to talk to one person. We ask them to write some code that we think is representative of our problem. We don’t care what language they use. They could use psuedo code. But we want them to talk us through what they did.”

Okay, the audition part made sense to me. But talk to just one person? How do you understand what the candidate can do? Remember, this client is having problems finding people who are technically capable. Talking to just one person is not enough. Even their pre-interview test (which I don’t like) is not helping.

We discussed alternatives. I asked him if he was using an interview matrix. Uh oh, no, he was not. But, he didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. I agreed with him.

He could put the audition first. But, if the audition wasn’t working, he had to change the audition. Or, he had to change the questions he was asking. What kinds of questions was he asking?

He looked at me quizzically. “What do you mean? What kinds of questions do I ask?”

“Sure. Tell me a typical question you ask.”

“Uh, I don’t have them memorized.”

I smiled. “Okay, I suspect they are not behavior-description questions. I suspect they are hypothetical questions or leading questions. Those questions allow candidates to wiggle in their answers. Behavior-description questions ground a candidate in reality. They provide you a real answer about a real project or a real situation.”

You should have seen his face. Priceless. I gave him some examples:

I have more examples of behavior-description questions in Hiring Geeks That Fit.

Then we spoke about his audition. It was not working for him. The audition was not assessing the behaviors he needed to assess and it was too long. Candidates were spending a long time (an hour) for not enough return.

I pointed him to the resources here in this blog, and in Hiring Geeks That Fit. Do a search of the tag audition here. Look for articles on my main site with the audition tag, too.

The tips:

  1. Don’t think you can assess a candidate with just one person. Use at least three people. I like four people for a first-round. Organize these people with an interview matrix.
  2. Think about the behaviors you want in an audition. Then, design your audition. I have articles about auditions. You can also search on the audition tag for this blog.
  3. Think about the behavior-description questions you want to use in advance of an interview. Unless you are a practiced interviewer, you might not be able to think of questions on the spur of the moment. You want a number of questions on the tip of your tongue.

By this time, he was full of ideas. We called it a day.

I had transformed his idea of what hiring could be. Stay tuned for Part 5, where I’ll summarize everything and provide you a few more tips.

    
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Three Tips to Streamline Your Phone Screens, Part 3

I talked about streamlining your problem statement and your job analysis in Part 1. In Part 2, I talked about streamlining your recruiting. This part is about is about phone screens. Love them or hate them, you have to do them. But how?

My client first spent about 10 minutes talking about the company and the position before he asked any questions. I asked him why.

“I want to sell people on the company.”

“That’s very nice of you. Why do you want to sell people before you know if they are right for you?”

“Oh, from your question, maybe I don’t?”

“Well, I don’t see why you would spend any  more time on a phone screen than you need to. Think about it. You spend 10 minutes building people’s hopes up. Then you ask a couple of questions and dash their hopes. Why not ask questions first, decide if you want them for an interview, and then “sell” them on the company if you need to? You might not even need to sell them on the company. Maybe your questions will sell them.”

“Oh…”

I could see his wheels turning… (If you read Hiring Geeks That Fit, I spend an entire chapter on how to structure and ask questions in phone screens. Would I leave you hanging? No!)

Here are the tips:

  1. In your job analysis, you have differentiate what’s essential from what’s merely desirable. Take two or three essentials and ask about those in the phone screen. Those are your elimination questions. Ask about the elimination questions first. If the candidate can’t answer those questions to your content, stop the phone screen right then and there.
  2. Money was a constraint for my client, so we decided to ask about it. He decided to ask at the end of the phone screen, and ask this way: “We have a range of x to y for this position. Is that going to fit for what you want, or are we nowhere near each other? (This is why I suggest in Manage Your Job Search to know what you want before you have a phone screen. Hiring managers need to know. They do.)
  3. How much do you need to sell the company? When I was a candidate, I just hated when people wasted my time telling me about the company. They never told me what I needed to know. I wanted to know how much time people wasted in meetings. I wanted to know if people collaborated. Instead, they told me the location, or if they had parking, nonsense like that. People want to know about the working environment, not the stuff about the work. Consider what you need to tell people about the work, and you can shorten your phone screens.

I have a phone screen template. You should take it adapt it to your needs. It can be a strawman template for you.

Next, we’ll talk about how my client streamlined his interviewing and auditions. You’re going to love it.

    
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Three Tips to Streamline Your Recruiting, Part 2

My client in Part 1, where we talked about streamlining your analysis, was also having trouble finding people. He needed to hire two developers. He just “knew” there was a boom in Boston, and could not hire more people.

Well, considering I had just been at a SPIN meeting the night before and met people who had been looking for work for months, I knew there were people looking for work.

The question always is this: How does the hiring manager find the people who are looking? How do the people who are looking find the hiring managers?

The people who are looking have to target networking. (See Manage Your Job Search.)

But the hiring managers have to vary their recruiting mechanisms. If you rely on the same old mechanisms, you will not get new and different candidates. My client was not seeing a variety of candidates. He was using recruiters, but a small number. Those recruiters had not proved themselves to him. And, he had not left his office to personally recruit for the positions. He had not used Twitter. He had not used LinkedIn.

I made these suggestions:

  1. If a recruiter does not prove him/herself in the first month by providing quality candidates worthy of hiring, move on. Do not saddle yourself with a recruiter who throws candidates at you who are not worth interviewing, never mind hiring.
  2. You have to use multiple sourcing mechanisms. You must. You cannot rely on two recruiters to find people. You must go to meetings or job fairs yourself. Candidates who have been unemployed for a while are not going to recruiters, for any number of reasons. You actually want unemployed candidates. Why? They can start tomorrow, or next week. You don’t have to pay a recruiter. But, to find those people you have to go to meetings, mashups, some other community event. Yes, you do. You have to leave the office. You have to—dare I say it—network!
  3. Use LinkedIn. At least post the job on your LinkedIn company page and change your headline to say you are looking for people. Consider using Twitter. At least, try it. You have not much to lose, and much to gain. You can experiment for a week or two and see what kind of resumes you get.

My client was using a pre-phone screen coding test for everyone. I didn’t like that idea. He claimed that it screened out people who couldn’t program at all, but they still discovered people they hired who couldn’t program. I told them they needed a new audition.

I don’t like pre-interview tests or generic auditions. This guy was a warm guy, and the environment was collaborative. The generic audition/test was not a good assessment for them, and it was an hour long. He thought asking an hour of a candidate was fine. I said, “A candidate has 5 phone screens scheduled in 2 days. Yours requires one hour of coding beforehand. Will a candidate bother? You don’t even know if the candidate will pass your elimination questions.”

“Uh, maybe not.”

I don’t like barriers before you know if the candidate can do the bare minimum. But that’s me. And, since the coding test let through candidates who couldn’t code, that they had to fire later, it’s not a good test.

Stay tuned for the phone screen tips, part 3.

    
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