Hiring good developers is hard

I am trying HARD to hire people – and boy is it hard. (been doing it for years and it is still hard)Senior C# Developers in New York – here’s the catch – it is in Long Island – 45 min outside of NYC. MAN is it hard to get good talent out here. We HAVE an amazing group – world class developers, but MAN is it hard to get em’ out here. We have been doing great top 100 web site projects as well as really large smart client application development. It is all SOA based – exciting and great as dev work goes. I interview person after person, we have professional screening of candidates, many people work hard at this process. At the end of the day – when I am discouraged, we sometimes see those great developers – and I remember that they DO exist and I am re-encouraged. But BOY is it hard to get there.

Also hiring; QA Manager, Business Analyst, SQL Server DBA, 5 more C# Devs in early 2006. It is painful – because we are picky. I often get criticized for being too ‘tough’ on candidates, but – frankly – I am not. If people put something on the resume – I WILL ask about it. I find this amazing pattern – and it gives me a theory. Here it is…..

Theory of Most Desired Skills

My primary method of interview is to allow people to give their own context and talk freely. I say something like “So – what do you like to do in programming world? What are you good at doing? What do you think is key? etc.”. I find that SO often what happens is that people start talking about something they know less about than other things. So – my theory is that developers believe that the areas where they are most vulnerable, where they know the least or perceive as the ‘hardest’ – they believe this is what you want them to know. I have seen it so many times, that I just had to rationalize the pattern. I really believe that so many developers perceive the areas where they are weak to be the most important areas and they just lead themselves right into talking about those weak areas. This is of course awful for them. It hangs a large percentage of unqualified candidates.

One of my favorite interview hangs was with a gentleman who insisted that he was using XQuery. The problem was that there were NO implementations of XQuery at that point in time – just a W3C spec. In any case – he fessed up – what a joke!

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