Interviews, Recruitment

Don’t Bother Interviewing Anyone. Ever.

My last post was How I Interview People and now I’m telling you not to even bother interviewing people.

Mixed messages? Bear with me.

Over the last 12 months I’ve probably averaged a new hire every month. Sometimes we hired two or three people a month, sometimes less, but given that hire rate, it’s clear we had a lot of people through the door to find the ones we wanted to stay.

And yet, I didn’t do a single interview and still hired the right kinds of people for the team, people who matched the values of our group, and had all the skills we needed for them to succeed.

Should I have titled this article “The 5 Secret Ways The Best Companies Hire Without Doing Any Work”? No, because there is no secret.

I simply delegated to the people who had the biggest stake in the hiring process.

It’s The Team That Hires

In all cases, the people who did the interviewing were the ones who would be working with the new hire. Day in, day out. The success of the candidate directly impacts the success of the team, and the issues the candidate brings are the issues the team needs to deal with.

It makes no sense for me to decide if I think the candidate will fit the team, and the team will fit the candidate. It makes all the sense in the world for the team and the candidate to come to that decision themselves.

It’s the team that has intimate knowledge of their skill sets, what they’re missing and what they have in abundance, and it’s the team that is best placed to identify those needs in the candidate.

It’s The Whole Team That Hires

In the last post I described the different stages of the hire, and went into specific detail on the second part which tends to consist of

  • Architecture and system design
  • Algorithms and Data Structures
  • Code Reviews
  • Design

For various reasons I always like two people to be interviewing at any one time. This gives more coverage than a simple one-to-one interview, and avoids overloading the candidate by presenting them with an interview board.

(The only caveat to this is when someone is training, in which case they will shadow the interviewers).

So give we want a range of people to see the candidate, we need at minimum 4 people per interview, allowing each group to cover 2 of the sections. We might increase this if the team is particularly large, but to many groups and you lose the ability to build a real rapport with the candidate.

This means we’re looking at everyone on the team to take part. Juniors can interview Seniors, Seniors can interview Juniors, it doesn’t matter, as they’ll all be part of the team.

Just because you don’t have much experience doesn’t mean your opinion on new team members doesn’t matter…

Engagement, Buy-In and Community

The main point of this is not to make it easier for you to hire. The main point is to give the team real ownership on the make up and development of their team.

By placing the responsibility on the hire directly on the team themselves, you’re make it clear that you trust them, have confidence in their judgement, and engage them directly in the growth of their team.

This is a guaranteed way to increase engagement and self-identification within the team, one of the biggest factors when it comes to productivity and happiness.

This Is Still A Lot Of Work

Great, I can just put my feet up and let everyone else do it. It’s the easy life for me.

Me, interviewing?

Unfortunately, no.

Previous to this 12 month period, I did a lot of interviewing with a lot of different people. Having people shadow me, having me shadow them, guiding teams in how to interview, how NOT to interview, what to look for and how to tease information out of less confident candidates.

I also spent a lot of time defining the process, making it clear what we’re looking for, what techniques we use and the expectations of the wider group.

This still gives the team a high degree of autonomy when hiring, but provides a strong framework in which they can work.

Without that framework, and without that training, you will not get the results the wider group needs, the teams will be incredibly disenfranchised with the process and you’ll be getting exactly the wrong kind of results.

In all, this process took about 6 months before I could step back. Depending on who you want to interview, and the process they need to go through, this may take more or less time.

Caveat

Now, if this was a proper click bait article I’d leave it there, but it’s not and with everything there are caveats.

I Actually Did 3 Interviews Myself

We needed to hire into our leadership group. These people would report directly to me as it was my leadership team. It makes sense for me to interview them, in the same way we get the team to hire their members.

But as they were going to be leading the teams, we still got the teams to interview the candidates. After all, you have to like your boss if you’re going to stay anywhere long term.

And still, 3 is a pretty low number!

I Did The Online Interview (Initially)

In the last post, I described the initial online programming test all candidates went through.

Initially I did all of these, because the aim was to gauge technical skill rather than team fit, and since it’s via text, there’s limited value in having the team do it.

It also allowed me to carry out a number of these in one go, without impacting the work rate of the team.

But, eventually this was handed to the team along with the rest of the process, especially when the leadership team was in place to run with it themselves.

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