On Finding The Right Person

Published on . Takes about 2 minutes to read.

I participated in a job interview today, it was the second time I’ve had such an experience. I guess I can count myself really lucky… but this time the roles were reversed; I was the one asking the questions.

How does one get to know the applicant in such a short time well enough to decide his/her suitability for the position? Likewise, how on earth could someone prove themselves worthy of a probation? There’s this underlying tension, in both sides. True personal strengths and weaknesses can stay hidden while nervousness screws up any and all attempts to seem professional and cool.

Recruiting people to be software developers is an interesting task: the person must be both creative in terms of solving complex problems while also having the required technical skill to do it well enough. I guess that’s why some companies prefer to use more subtle methods to filter out potential candidates. Then again, IT job offers keep piling up and a smallish company can’t really afford going after the best and the brightest.

I’m a really big fan of the creative environment of Garage48. People come together to solve a problem in a really short time, with a unknown amount of resources and domain knowledge - while at the same time having loads and loads of fun and shared experiences. The reason I’m mentioning this is that free-spirited and unbound atmosphere like that is a perfect place for some undercover recruitmen. What better way to find out what someone is capable of than observing them succeeding in a (somewhat) crisis situation… while they aren’t getting all jumpy about leaving a perfect impression.

So here’s the situation as I see it: there’s a continuing lack of expert IT-knowledge in Estonia the world. No wonder - look at the explosive development of technology during the past twenty years… and this will probably go on for some an unknown amount of time. Companies are recruiting people straight from the freshman years (personal experience) and skilled, unemployed workforce is difficult to find. In some cases it’s cheaper to take promising, but unskilled people and train them on the job.

Promising? Well, current knowledge and educational background is not everything one needs to put on ones CV to get a job. I find myself contemplating over the skills of co-operation and ability to learn much more than I’m dissed about someone not knowing some particular snippet of code by heart. We are constantly learning new things, especially in the field of IT, and being able to take all that in is extremely important. The same goes with communication skills - you try to pair program with an (absolute) egoist.

To conclude with something short: we (the field of IT) need curious and cheerful people whose primary concern is not monetary but finding such individuals proves to be challenging.