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Plays Well With Others – A Primer on Hiring

Helloooo... My eyes are up here.

Good hiring practices are vital for any organization.  As you move up in ranks, you’ll be given more influence and authority in hiring situations.  Unfortunately, most organizations offer no training on how to effectively hire the best candidate nor do they have a formalized policy on how to conduct hiring.  The larger your organization, the more likely it is to have a formalized hiring process and well-defined roles for HR and for the hiring manager.  Even when the HR department (if it exists) is helpful and has good intentions, they often bring little to the hiring process except to weed out the worst candidates, for example, those candidates who don’t meet the minimum requirements or have misrepresented themselves on their application.  It will be up to you and your teammates to find the best candidates.

While many organizations lack a formal hiring process, they all have informal processes, some of which can be effective and others, well, not so much.  The more informal the process, the more you can exert influence to modify the process (if any changes are needed).  In any event, there are several major choices a team must make when conducting interviews:

  • Interview question style: biographical, technical, or behavioral
  • Team involvement: manager-only, manager and team, delegated team
  • Interview format: one-to-one, one-to-many

Each of these different choices is intended to fill specific communicating gaps and team needs that inevitably occur between interviewers and interviewed. For example, in some organizations hiring might be done only by the manager because the team is too busy to spare an extra hour or two for interviewing or perhaps too junior to bring much to the discussion.  On the other hand, bringing in the team to assist with interviews can help ensure a much better “fit” with the team and also give the team members a chance to catch issues that might otherwise have escaped the manager’s eye.  Team interviewing can also reduce the chances that a manager hires “yes” people.

Does this resume make me look fat?

In the same line of thought, you might choose to subject your candidate to several sequential interviews with each important member of the team or instead choose to let the candidate face an interview board of several team members at once.  The former route consumes more time in total, than the latter but is usually less intimidating to the job candidate.

While these choices are extremely important, the other essential element of a good hiring process that I should mention in this primer is setting the candidate’s expectations.  It is essential that the candidate know before ever setting foot in your office:

        • The duration of the interview(s).
        • The format of the interview.
        • The people s/he will be speaking with.  (It’s ok to tell them only the roles without the specific person’s names, e.g. “You’ll be meeting with the team lead, the manager, and two senior developers on the team.”)

You’ll also want to make sure that HR (or if not HR, then you personally) have a packet of HR-related information on hand for the candidate.  This should be offered very early in the interview process because you want the interaction between the candidate and the team to be about the job and what a successful candidate will bring to the organization, not about questions such as “How much vacation do I get?”.

In next three weeks, I’ll delve deeper into each of the three major areas of conducting an interview and the benefits and drawbacks to each approach.

In the meantime, I welcome your questions and interesting stories about the hiring process.

-Kevin

Twitter @kekline

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