Why do we continue to waste so much time and money on hiring practices that are ineffective? I’ve been in IT for over 25 years and have been involved in the hiring of hundreds of engineers. I am all too familiar with the standard approach of posting a position on job boards, gathering and weeding through hundreds of resumes or CV’s, interviewing a dozen or so candidates that looked good on paper, and then making a job offer after spending less than an hour with someone.
Sometimes that process has resulted in a new employee who works out great and is a top performer. Too often that process has resulted in a poor performing employee who just doesn’t fit well or really isn’t the person we thought we were hiring. I’m guilty of being complicit in this process for decades. As I look back now I realize that we undoubtedly weeded out many good candidates based on weak resumes or poor interview skills. How many talented and ambitious young people applied but never even got an interview because our job posting had some qualification that wasn’t explicitly covered in their resume so an admin or HR person tossed their resume before the hiring manager ever saw it?
When I think of some of the best hiring decisions I made, they were often a young, inexperienced candidate who impressed me with their attitude, desire and willingness to work hard and try something they knew was going to be difficult. How do you find that when looking at a resume? You don’t! Unless you are good at interviewing, you might not even recognize that in an interview. How many good people did we also lose because they made it to the interview but got nervous and didn’t represent themselves well? Candidates who are technically brilliant, who can innovate, are not always the ones with great personality and good communications skills, yet those are the traits that get you hired in a traditional interview-based hiring practice.
What if we could spend over 1,000 hours with a potential candidate, measuring their performance on over 50 tasks and small projects, observing their interactions with others, and coaching and mentoring them towards employability for a specific role in a specific company or industry, while they are still studying to be a software developer? What if the candidates in that program were all in the top 5% of folks that applied to the program and all were selected for their desire and commitment to learn the skills needed to be successful?
The process for hiring technical talent is finally going to change.
There is a revolution happening in education and it can be extended to the way we hire technical talent by getting engaged directly with the training companies to help guide the curriculum and to get to know the students while they are still in training. All over the world folks have been enrolling in boot camp style immersive training. Those students can be coached, and oriented to the practices and specific technologies and products of a hiring company during their training so, when they finish the boot camp, they can on board and hit the ground running on day one. Yes, they are still a junior level engineer when they finish the training but they have the right skills and attitude to work hard and learn fast. A hiring decision is made based on way more data than you’ll ever get from a resume or a one-hour interview.
Hiring top talent is the most important thing you will do as a leader. Get it right and it can lift the profitability and success of the company. Get it wrong and it can be a costly, and devastating mistake that takes months to recover from. Don’t risk such an important decision on the limited information you can get from a resume or one-hour interview. Find a local boot camp and see if you can engage with the instructors and students to find the best match, while they are still in training.
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