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Keeping The Bar High When Hiring

Scaling Team
Hiring

29 May, 2018

Sudha Ponnaganti
Sudha Ponnaganti

Head of Engineering Services at CoreOS

Sudha Ponnaganti explains why it’s important to keep the bar high when hiring, and the things she looks for when identifying quality candidates.

Problem

Often, managers will have vacancies on their team that they need to fill very quickly. It can be tempting to hire people by lowering your bar so you do not lose the req or you may be thinking that you can train them or fill in the gaps. However, it's important not to adjust where your bar is set. Instead, set a high bar and look for candidates who meet your requirements.

Actions taken

To do this, you need to have a very methodical approach to selecting your candidates and should identify ahead of time what you are looking for in a resume. It's important to look at resumes as they help to give you a clearer picture of the value someone can bring to your organization. For more junior engineers, look at the colleges they have attended and their GPA's. For more senior ones, it's worth examining how long they have spent in their previous roles and the unique value they have brought their company. One should have worked on a considerable project which has brought some value to the business or company. Also, while some skills can be learned, others cannot be, so the resume will help you to understand whether the candidates have these skills. You should never assume you can bring someone on board and teach them how to adapt - it's much wiser to find the correct fit from the start. When you do interviews, you shouldn't be questioning candidates so much around their resumes or experience. Instead, 60-70 percent of the interview should cover technical aspects, such as whiteboarding, architecture, and coding. By using the same exercise for all of your candidates, you'll have a common scale to measure performance on. Always focus on company first, team second and myself last type of attitude. Use behavioral questions to filter out these candidates. Also candidates should bring average caliber of the team higher. Doing reference interviews is also crucial. When possible, back-channel references can also be very useful as you can find out some interesting things, which candidate might not have covered as they think it may not be needed. But backchannels will help to find great candidates which you may otherwise not able to find. If you identify any gaps in the interview process / resume, always find a remediation to address the risk. There are several ways to do this.

Lessons learned

These best practices will allow you to identify and hire high-quality candidates, so you can improve the caliber of your team. Often, managers will think that if a candidate lacks a certain skill that they can acquire it on the job. However, hiring a candidate that lacks an important skill has a risk, so you should dig deeper into the weakness to thoroughly understand it.

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