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The Problem with Hiring Tactics

Technology | Rick Deller | 15/3/17

The problem with hiring tactics

Every company in the tech industry has their own methods of attracting, engaging, and hiring developers. Usually using well established hiring tactics such as the CV overview, technical test and a standard interview process with the senior developer and CTO. These “standard” hiring tactics, however, can often overlook one of the biggest debates that is ongoing in the hiring community; do you hire for personality or skill?

In most cases, it will be essential to hire a developer for their skills over personality, as they will need to deliver on certain technology aspects for the business. However, there is an understanding that in today’s world of ever-changing technology that it is fleeting and constantly replaced by newer shinier tech, ultimately skills on their CV cannot be depended upon.

This causes a problem for hiring tactics based on CVs and technical tests, and can ignore the important factor of the individual personality of the developer and how it can help solve problems for the business. In other words, you can train for skillset on the job but you can’t necessarily change an individual’s personality.

If a tech candidate, for example, has some relevant skills but less experience than others, they can impress the hiring manager by presenting that they are open to training, great at communicating and have a personality that fits with the company ethos.

Eligo Fire and Security similarly discussed whether it was best to hire for product knowledge or attitude and habits, but when it comes to the technology industry, it’s not an open and close case of personality versus skill. To get this far in the hiring stage the tech candidate will already have some relevant skills on their CV that are right for the role. It’s more about identifying at the interview stage how the candidate will use those skills and existing knowledge in conjunction with their personality and attitude.

But what hiring tactics can you use to identify the personality of a developer and help you make the best decision for your business?

A great hiring tactic to utilise would be to look for the soft skills, attitudes and behaviours within a developer and how they work in tandem with their technical skills. In a short video Scholar Ernest Wilson discusses the 5 ‘soft skills’ employers look out for when hiring and promoting employees;

  • 360-degree thinking
  • being culturally competent
  • empathy
  • adaptability
  • Intellectual curiosity (in other words always looking to find out more and offer solutions to problems that arise – a common and desired attribute when working with software and tech.)

According to LinkedIn more employers are choosing to use these “soft skills assessments” that combine existing skills and insight into the intellectual, cognitive and personality qualities of the candidate.

Developers that have a strong cognitive ability are more likely to learn and quickly pick up new skills of the role. You can easily measure this in the interview process by asking for examples of when they have had to learn a new technology, language or stack in previous roles or in their own time.

You also know that if the developer gives a good example of how they have handled change within a business, then they would be preferable to a candidate that has a highly-credited degree and plenty of experience but isn’t adaptable to situations.

Behavioural interview tactics – asking the right questions

Another great hiring tactic that can help you learn a lot about a developer in the shortest amount of time is by asking behavioural interview questions such as “What did you do to prepare for this interview?”.

With this single question, you can identify the personality of a developer, their learning mindset, how they approach problem-solving and just how important the role is to them. It also offers a real-life example of the individual’s preparation that they put into an important project.

If a company is agile based as most tech teams may well be, the candidate also needs to be able to communicate effectively with others. If they aren’t great at communication (regardless of their skill) they will struggle to work in a team and help solve problems for the business.

In order to gain an insight into the communication and emotional capability of the developer good questions to ask would include “when was the last time you lost your temper?” or “what is the worst business relationship you have been in?”.

These types of questions are a good way to assess the candidate’s maturity and find out what gets them emotionally driven, offering an insight into how they will work within a team environment.

As well as interview questions, you may want to ascertain certain attributes and behaviours of a developer that are harder to find out through questioning. A psychometric test in conjunction with a well-crafted job brief and requirements that are agreed by all parties in the business, can be an effective way of easily highlighting the best candidates for your role whilst ensuring that time and money isn’t being wasted.

Making the right decision for your business

By utilising the hiring tactics of asking the right questions in the interview process to discover the personality and attributes of developer, you can begin to imagine and get an insight into what it would be like working with them.

The first step before putting these hiring tactics into practice, is to find out which of the mentioned attributes and behaviours are essential for your business. It helps if you already have an idea of the type of developer you are looking for as it will be much easier to judge if their skills, attributes and personality are right for the role.

Do you hire based on personality or skill? What hiring tactics do you use to assess this? We would love to hear more! Get in touch with us on the usual contact details.

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If you need help defining which candidate attributes are essential for your role, your hiring tactics and how to assess them as part of your interview process, or any other questions regarding the right hiring strategy for your technology team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
If your business doesn’t have the capability of providing and running psychometric tests, Eligo technology can conduct these on your behalf! We offer a retained service called Eligo IQ that includes candidate behaviour and key competency assessments and video interviewing. Enabling you to conduct fewer interviews, prevent the wrong hire and reduce employee turnover.

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