Blindfolded recruiting

We’re looking for a Software Engineer in Madison, WI (posting here).  Let me know if you’re interested (halbergj@gmail.com).

A cohort of mine was asking recently how he might identify a “good development resource”. Never an easy question to answer, but even more difficult when it’s being asked from the perspective of someone who is admittedly not a “good development resource” himself (aka “blindfolded recruiting”).

Here’s a few quick things that can be evaluated by a non-technical resource and are likely to add up:

Passionate/Not -People who care about their jobs (and maybe even *gasp* like their work) aren’t necessarily better/worse than others…. but it’s a pretty solid indicator.

> What is the best (work related) book that you’ve read? and why, of course.

If the answer is something nerdy, great. Something else that could be someone related would be fine too though (especially if they came up with a way to tie it in on the fly).

> What blogs/sites/podcasts do you follow (and “do you blog”)? I’d throw “how about nontechnical ones?” in here to get a better feel for the person too.

Write the nerdy ones down and ask your nerdy friends about them later. Obviously if they blog you need to be out there reading their stuff to get a sense not just for their work (if it’s a technical blog) but for their style and personality.

> What sites embody “good usability” to you? Who would you try to emulate if you were building something?

Extra bonus points if they worked on the sites that they named. After they named something – pop open your laptop and have them point out what they like (and don’t). Maybe visit a couple other sites that you like +/- don’t and go through the same exercise.

Past Experience – If you’re not able to really analyze answers to technical questions, you’re probably going to have to trust their “track record” to some extent.

> Have you worked on any publicly available sites?

If yes, again: go check them out during the meeting/interview and have them walk you through some things that they worked on. What did they do? Why did they do it?

If no, frown at them and pause awkwardly for a couple seconds… but don’t take away any points. Bust the laptop out and go to your own site – have them talk a bit about what they like and don’t.

> References Available Upon Request.

Maybe you’re the kind of guy that doesn’t normally call those people… If you fancy yourself “good at reading people” but not good at “reading technical talent”, this may be a good idea this time.

Other Stuff and Misc – Of course, you’re going to need a bunch of other stuff to ask about or this is going to be a pretty short interview (not that that’s a bad thing).

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