Lessons when hiring technical people

Since 2004 (first company), I’ve been interacting with developers, as one myself and managing many. Over the years, I have started to notice a trend.

(These are all personal interactions with developers across the board, locally and internationally, junior and senior.)

There are very few great developers who are so passionate about coding and care about the projects they work on. There are more junior level developers, who may have some ability to code, but their skill set mismatches reality.

I’ve also learned that vague-ness for implementing work is the key to a failed project. The expectation that developers will understand what to do should be the exception not the rule.
The early warning signs should be listened to.

After many many many chances given to many junior developers who started their careers along my path, I can say it does not help to be “easy” on them. When developers leave your company, they list projects which they may have worked on at a minimal level, providing false evidence of work experiences.

Over the past few years, I have learned this lesson over and over again with developers who have “solid” reputations running off with computers, to ones with excuses over and over again.


My view on hiring technical people:

  1. Test them in front of you or provide a quick test that can be solved in many ways.
  2. Set goals immediately when they start, to pick up any issues sooner than later.
  3. Provide a probation, always.
  4. Internships are great, but even interns need to have a level of “motivation” and should be able to deliver within the first week.
  5. Ask previous employers for examples of projects they worked on (and the developer in the interview) to gauge employer view versus own view.
  6. If you don’t have a person managing your developers in-house, get one or outsource to a company who has a fully-fledge DevOps team and follow their processes.
  7. Trust your instincts.
  8. Don’t depend on placement / recruitment agencies finding the suitable candidate if you are a small business.
  9. Only recruit a full-time developer if you have enough work for them.
  10. Set online rules at the office (I’ve had to issue warnings from watching porn at work #truestory, to watching movies while working)

I hope that this pandemic brings out the best in people. Those who value having a job and understanding that their work directly impacts the company they work for.

In the same vein, as an employer or one who manages a team, I intend to be more transparent around goals, deliverables and requirements for both clients and implementers.


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