How not to hire an unicorn to your start-up team

I have recently visited fun sysadmin quiz intended as a hiring tool. The toy was so popular that they’ve started second part just for fun. Cool! I hope they are not serious about hiring people this way though. This reminded me of some questions from Google SRE hiring process, like “What is the difference between hub and switch”. Good if you are looking for IT archeologist maybe. Another interesting approach to recruiting I remember is Matt Biddulph’s idea of Algorithmic recruitment with GitHub which I think is a masterpiece but still, no more than interesting code experiment or source of contacts for head hunters.

Both tricks mentioned above may help you find some skilled and/or experienced engineers. Will they help you hunting top talents? Will they tell you anything of the candidate personality? You still need a way to filter out an asshole from joining your team, right? Here’s why.

So use toys such as quiz or algorithmic searches for fun and as a additional source for your candidates base. Then, add following rules to your current hiring process methodology:

1. Don’t test technical skills in academic like tests. At least don’t rely on that tests. Try rather to challenge ones intellect.

2. Don’t rely too much on ones public activity (GitHub, Twitter, StackOverload etc.) of which I wrote recently. Imagine there are people who are truly engaged at work, not doing anything external to their work (you don’t want to hire person writing private blogs and developing their own apps when at office, instead of working, do you?). So should they blog, twit, code in their free time. Right. Except they may have different reasons to be detached from the computer, when home, for example they may have kids, or hobby, whatever.

There may be hidden unicorns!

3. Trust you gut feeling. If possible let the candidate be interviewed only be people entirely convinced to your team values, ones that contribute good to the workplace atmosphere, ones that can smell the unicorn. Attract top talents by letting them meet cool people from your company.

If you think you may not be able to smell the unicorn, invite someone, who you think is, to the help you with the interview process.

4. Value person’s attitude and passion. Some google’s managers say humility is what is essential,  “For one startup ascertaining humility is so important, it is the first filter in the interview process” says Tomasz Tunguz.

5. I like the tip of Rajat Taneja, to Hire for UNCOMMON strength. He says “Focusing on finding candidates who have the least amount of weaknesses will lead to mediocrity. Hire for uncommon strength and then put the person in a role that uses that muscle.”


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