I recently stumbled upon Mike McQuaid’s blog and I was intrigued. He wrote an article which caught my attention immediately: Stop requiring specific technology experience for senior-plus engineers.
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Mike asks some really probing questions. For example how do we know most of the “getting up to speed” time won’t be spent on company culture, or learning your deployment system? Does a senior engineer spend more time on coding or on mentoring, interfacing with non-technical teams and other collaborations?
The article got my juices flowing. Here are some of my thoughts…
1. Why is sourcing people so hard?
For one thing people rarely match their resume. Some people are perform like rock stars but don’t interview like one. And some people interview *very* well, but don’t perform so great. Why is this?
Work ethic, salesmanship, personality and so much else comes into play.
What’s more if you’re building a new startup, you probably love it very much. So you may feel everyone you interview will also be scrambling to work there. But senior engineers likely have a *lot* of options.
2. Can a conversational approach help?
Conversation is a great way to get past some of these limitations. Though admittedly it’s probably the resume and keyword search that brought them to your desk.
Asking the candidate to tell stories about problems they’ve encountered, and how they solved them is a great start. It also allows one to dig in. Find where the person becomes impassioned. These are likely topics they care a lot about. Which areas are those and do they match the ones your company needs?
Remember passion and hunger can’t be taught. If you can speak to managers and colleagues of this candidate all the better, to get a 360 view of who they are and how they work together on a team.
3. What is the big picture really saying about this person?
I think passion speaks volumes. For years I specialized in scalability. Why? Because I’d be at all of these startup companies trying to go fast. And they weren’t able to. I got excited about finding the ways, because this meant I could make a difference for them.
When it comes to technologies and stacks engineers can get very territorial at times. It’s natural I guess. Let’s not forget that a wide field of experience gives you a birds eye perspective.
And time, teaches what books cannot.