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Tips to avoid bad technical hires

Every experienced manager has done at least one bad hire in his/her career. The cost of a bad hire is huge: loss of time, cost of opportunity, salary waste, and unhappiness from the employee. I have tested several processes to avoid this issue over the years and I am very satisfied with my current hiring process, so I thought I would share it with you.

To hire the best technical candidates, follow the best process

The process I am using to hire collaborators in the following:
  1. Rely on experienced HR staff to build a strong candidate pipeline.
    • If you do not attract the right candidates, rewrite the job description.
  2. Trust your HR to do a first CV screening & personality screening call.
    •  Arrogant behavior, irrelevant skills, should be detected at this step.
  3. Review the remaining CVs for potential and skill match (20-50 resumes max - your time commitment: 1-2 hours)
    • Immediate feeling of the candidates profile usually sticks. So, it's better to consider two different opinions rather than only one, to avoid screening out good candidates: HR + hiring manager.
  4. Propose a take home challenge to the best candidates (5-10 challenges max - your time commitment: 3-5 hours): 
    • The take-home challenge should take a few hours to complete (6-8, for instance) - it will filter out unmotivated candidates.
    • The assignment should test some of the key skills required for the job, and be as close as possible to a task the candidate is expected to perform once hired.
    • Several people should review the candidate's results to limit biases.
  5.  Propose a co-working day to the best candidates (1-3 on site co-working days max - your time commitment: 5-15 hours):
    • The co-working day assignment should be a challenge that requires the candidate to interact with the teams. The goal is that the candidate can see if he/she likes working with us, and that we see if we want to work with him/her.
    • This assignment too should test some of the key skills required for the job, and be as close as possible to a task the candidate is expected to perform once hired.
    • At the end of the day, a debriefing should be performed with the candidate so that he / she presents the results of the assignment.  
    • Several people should review the candidate's results to limit biases.
  6. Offer the job to the best candidate, keep second best candidates in the pipeline for other jobs.

Invest time before the hire to save time after the hire

You may be surprised by the huge time investment this process requires from the hiring manager and from the candidates. The reason for this, is that from experience it's better to lose a bit of time while hiring/interviewing than a lot of time after the hire has been made... As the HR saying goes: "if you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring non professionals". :)

The process described in this post has done marvels in my experience, so I hope this post helps you. But feel free to suggest improvements if you disagree with it!


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