head shot of Matt Stephens smiling “That it is people who write software is terribly obvious . . . and ignored.” So quotes Alistair Cockburn, himself quoting Gerald Weinberg, in his book Agile Software Development - catch our review of the Second Edition here. It’s easy to see the people in your project as mere commodities – …
Get candidates to write code
Anyone can create a beautiful CV and then talk their way through an interview, but good code speaks for itself. I've written something about this already, so I won't repeat myself. Here's the link:
Get candidates to read code
I've interviewed a lot of people for various positions, and obviously been through more than a few interviews myself. Looking back on all of these interviews and the companies and projects involved I found the following:
The CV is the candidate's introduction - It's relevance is to show the breadth and depth of their knowledge and experience and also whether they can write properly in an organised way. It gets them the interview, nothing more.
If the organisation puts an excessive emphasis on the need for previous specific experience, and it's not for a particular project, run for the nearest exit regardless of whether you're the interviewer or interviewee. It means that organisation is either already living in the past or doesn't have a clue - either way the role and the organisation is doomed to stagnation or failure.
The interview is to tell you whether the candidate can fit with your team and oganisation. Use the candidate's references to check your intuition after the interview is over.
Get your candidates to read some code, in some language not related to anything on their CV. Get them to tell you what they think it does and whether it has any bugs. Give them access to the web for this. If they can't pull together a reasonable answer in half an hour, then they're only good for positions that require a lot of hand-holding and supervision.
Stat Padders or Problem solvers?
That is the question to ask.
For the non-gamers: Stat padders exploit game(s) to increase positive attributes unfairly, using cheats or other means. i.e. it's easy to collect CV technologies.
Big organisations can afford to have lots of stat padders, as they have the large projects, the contingency and in a lot of cases the (easliy manipulated and seduced) enthusiastic graduates who will save the project. SMEs or parts of large businesses who try to act like SMEs need problem solvers and can't afford (as many) stat padders. I don't know how to knock up a form in Qt - but I'll google it, get a demo version and work it out. I couldn't care less how corba works, but if a customer has a system to integrate with, and we need to quote for a C# wrapper by the end of the day - I'll get on with it!
A technically acute problem-solving mind, a motivation for getting the job done and understanding of the business domain in order to get the work in..... you have a real find.
One more thing: The article implies that a dream team is possible - I think that you always have to compromise between having a dream team and crippling the rest of the business.
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