December 03, 2012, 10:32 AM — Q&A: Chad Lilly
The director of recruiting at Lextech Global Services discusses ways to spot truly exceptional developers during interviews.
Presented with two developers who look equally good on paper, how can a hiring manager go about choosing between them? It is always hard to choose between great developers, especially when looking at them on paper. The true test is how a developer will work in yourenvironment. You have to have both candidates meet the team and see them in your environment. The team has the best feel for what traits work well within its own group, and those traits are not going to show up on paper. Paper shows the tools and gives some insight via past projects. But it does not always demonstrate the process or the efficiencies employed in completing projects.
What other ways do you suggest to test skills that don't necessarily appear on a resume? There are many ways to put candidates in situations that may simulate real project scenarios. Taking a candidate out to lunch with members of the team to evaluate how the candidate and the team members interact is one way. You can also ask candidates to tell you about their hobbies or interests outside of the position you are interviewing for. That helps you understand a bit more about the candidates as people, of course, but it will also give you an idea about how well they are able to explain concepts they know a great deal about. Are they able to explain things succinctly and clearly, or do they end up somewhere far outside of the audience's comprehension without even realizing it?
What would you say to a hiring manager who says he would rather go with his gut because, though all of this sounds great, it's too time-consuming? Going with your gut is great -- if your gut is right more than 90% of the time and if your team has no problem with that approach. The larger the team, the more you have to bring others into the hiring process.
Think about this: Would you deliver software to your customer without testing it? You know that the more thorough the testing is, the better the chance of success for your project. Well, that's true whether your project is delivering great functionality to your customers or hiring a new member for your team. There has to be a balance between your gut and other tests, because great candidates don't stay on the market long.
And one more thing: Yes, it's more time-consuming to go through the steps that will help you find the right hire, but doing so up front is more efficient than hiring a few poor fits and starting the process all over again.
- Jamie Eckle
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