Recently I had to look for a new devops for our team. I have been handling technical recruitment at many occasions, and each time I have to explain my colleagues that I have a special process. The fact is, the technical sphere is a small one, we are all linked, more or less, to a community. Well, in my case, I always have had to recruit people in companies that were hiring the kind of people that commit on github, have some kind of community activity, at least. I guess that in huge companies where people are just a set of checkboxes, things go a bit differently.
But anyways, in my case, and probably in the case of all recruiters in modern and small businesses, it’s not all about checkboxes and profiles. It’s about personality, compatibility, and mindset. So when I first get a contact with a candidate, I invite him (or much more rarely, her), to a chat online, preferably on irc or whatever real-time discussion media is more fit (for a linux geek, if you can’t go on irc, then there is a problem).
I noticed that during my past sessions of recruitment, I established contacts with very interesting people. By having an unformal discussion online, just chit-chating of what work we do and what we did before, it’s kind of easy to get an idea of what is the kind of relationship you will have with your potential future colleague. But beyond that, it’s all about making things personal. We are all unique. It cannot be computed, scripted, engineered in a way that non-technical people would be successful conducting that process. It takes a geek to recognize another geek.
At Gandi of course we have a HR person. But she usually appears at the very end of the process and not at the beginning. The peers are going to evaluate candidates, make their mind to see if they want to spend days and days collaborating with them. It matches with my way to do things, fortunately. If I have any doubt of the technical abilities on someone, I don’t do stupid technical tests, I try to find other people that know the candidate and get third party feedback. If not, then I try to use a meetup in a community related to the speciality in question, so we can discuss and be around other people where some tangent discussion can happen.
At the end, if all goes well, then the candidate is going to enter the more formal whatever the company uses as a recruitment flow. But that’s merely a formality. And after 20 years building up teams and recruiting people, I can affirm that instinct always wins, in my case. If I smell anything fishy in an unformal context, there is going to be problems. Well, the process is never perfect, it also can smell ok but stink after 3 months, too.
But the thing is that having those chats online with peers is pretty interesting. I learn a lot about how other companies work, how they handle their management, what kind of work conditions they have. Just because it’s part of the contact process. So I’m not really in hurry to make a final decision because, to be honest, I just enjoy those contacts.
It certainly takes some time, I can’t be in constant recruitment, but from time to time, it’s very valuable. And not only for the effect of recruiting someone. It creates bonds with the industry, with people, with communities.