Thoughts on Hiring - 2020

Hiring is very hard, and something that takes years to even start to master. I’m still working on it; here are my notes on hiring - 2016.

One of the things that makes hiring so difficult is that it is a wicked learning environment and you rarely get feedback if you don’t hire someone and they would have worked out.

What follows are some random notes on my process and what has worked or not worked for me.

A Manager’s Role in Team Dynamics

If you lead the team, you are looking at team dynamic concerns perhaps more than skill concerns. Be very clear on what you expect from the team if this isn’t true. If you want them to look for culture fit (more on that in a moment) then tell them. If you want them to evaluate skill or experience, tell them that. If you just want an opinion of fit, then be careful.

The best thing you can do to create an effective team is to create a team dynamic in which the team can disagree safely, argue it out, and then all move forward on the plan that comes out of that process. This is not easy to recreate during a team interview, but you can do it.

There is always a huddle after the interviews in which the team looking to hire talks as a group about the candidate. The behavior in these chats can get really weird fast because a lot of the adrenaline is gone, the candidate isn’t there, and everybody feels very powerful. Don’t make jokes or say things that you are only saying because you can with the candidate out of the room. If you end up hiring someone you don’t want anyone to carry anything negative out of that room.

A Note on Culture Fit

If you ask someone to sit in the interview to check for culture fit, then you should define this, because if you don’t they are operating on something completely invented. If you don’t define it you will find that its a way for people to find people that they would be comfortable with. You aren’t seeking comfort are you? You are seeking people that, by definition, won’t be like the people on your team if you are looking to strengthen it.

Culture fit at some places could be something like this:

That could be it.

Here are some specific examples of direction:

Note that I didn’t mention anything stupid like we work hard and play hard here or I want to hire somebody I want to have a drink with. Oh god I hope not because no you don’t. The hiring process is not meant to find you friends, and again it is not meant to exploit the power dynamic and end up with a system that resembles a fraternity or sorority initiation process.

Post Mortem

Build an internal, personal post-mortem process to help formalize your learning. When you offer someone a job, write down why. If they accept, write down how their first 90 days are going. Write it all down. Experience comes not from just living stuff and getting a lot of reps at hiring, but from reflecting on the reps. From active practice.

Final Note

If you do all these things then over time trust your gut can be decent advice, because your gut will actually be improving over time. Keep working, keep paying attention, treat people with kindness, and get better.