Tech recruiters tend to make things really difficult on themselves by focusing only on a list of “must have” languages. Not only does this quickly eliminate a lot of great developers, but it also handicaps your entire tech team. Our CEO Joel Spolsky says that when he interviewed developers in the past, he tried to identify candidates who had the aptitude to contribute in the present and grow with the company by learning new languages down the road.
To tackle this challenge, companies of all shapes and sizes have started to take an agile approach to developer hiring. While it’s a fairly popular strategy for hiring teams, you still might be wondering what everyone means when they say they’re taking an “agile approach.” In software development, the agile model involves weekly releases, followed by 15-minute “scrum” periods to ensure everyone on the team knows their responsibilities and has the tools they need to get those things done. It would be easy to dismiss this as something that would only benefit developers, but here are a few ways these agile concepts can infuse a much-needed dose of creativity and freedom in your developer hiring strategy.
We’re not suggesting that you take every piece of feedback you receive from every person who wants to speak their mind. However, imagine a scenario in which it’s obvious to everyone on your team that you’re not on the same page about what your ideal candidate looks like. You could wait until the end of the year to adapt, but if you’re really serious about getting some crucial developer roles filled, you’d probably want to make a few changes as soon as possible. The agile approach to hiring gives you clear checkpoints—usually short weekly meetings— at which you and your team know it’s time to sit down and reflect on how you could improve your hiring process.
Once you’ve identified an issue that’s keeping you from identifying versatile developers, you could easily spend days debating the ideal way to correct that flaw. However, an agile hiring process calls for short iteration processes, followed by weekly “scrums” to discuss what went well, and what could be improved upon. The benefits of these short iteration cycles are obvious: your team will spend less time arguing, and more time building a versatile tech team.
When I was a recruiter, things often got bottlenecked to the point where we’d lose great candidates because we couldn’t move them quickly enough through the interview process. Of course, the hiring manager had the final say on whether or not we hired someone, but little details and irregular iteration cycles made it difficult enough to follow up with candidates, let alone do a great job evaluating their skills. Give your teams the freedom to be creative with certain aspects of the hiring process (consider starting with social recruiting, interview scheduling, and candidate sourcing) that would otherwise hold them back from bringing great developers through your doors. If their ideas don’t work at first, don’t worry—an agile hiring process calls for the short, but frequent iteration cycles we previously discussed to make sure everyone on your team is moving the needle in the right direction.