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Sean Landis

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since Apr 11, 2011
Author of Agile Hiring: Transform how you hire software professionals.
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Recent posts by Sean Landis

Emilya Sam wrote:What does Agile Hiring deal with.

Hi Emilya,
I have posted several times on this question. Please look at a few of them to get a good idea of the focus of the book. If you hire in the software world, it's definitely a valuable tool.
Good luck.
9 years ago

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Congratulations to the winners and thanks to Sean for all e great conversation!

It was my pleasure to participate. Congratulations to all the winners. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with this excellent community. Thank you CodeRanch for the opportunity!
9 years ago

amrut sabade wrote:Hii every one
i am facing the same issue , i know java very well,sun certified and i have passion for it, but currently i am doing iphone application development and learnt Objective c, i even didnt heard it before , as i was assingned to work on it ,i had to do it , but i seriousely want to return to Java and web development, so is it possible?

You certainly can get back into Java. Technology has a shelf life though, so if you haven't used a technology for a few years, you may have missed some new information. As mentioned, you must be able to pass the interview questions. If you haven't done anything with Java for two years, that will be hard unless the company asks trivial questions (probably not a company you want to work for). I suggest you do things on your own to get back into Java. After all, in this field, we must actively nurture our skills.

In situations like yours, I look for candidates who remained active in Java through open source projects or personal projects. Start an open source project or contribute actively to one. Work on personal projects that require you to learn new things relevant to the jobs you are most interested in. Read about the technologies you are interested in on a regular basis.

One thing I don't look for are certifications. That's not to say many employers value these. My experience is that certifications are a poor indicator of ability.

Good luck.
9 years ago

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:The process does involve interviewing in person. As do almost all interview processes. Even if the person works remotely, I think it is important to not just interview over the phone.

Hi Stu, Were you meaning hiring people you've never seen? Generally that's risky. There are cases where the candidate has sufficient reputation, or you have a history with the candidate, and don't need to perform a full interview. That's not common.
9 years ago

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:A non tech interview will focus more on your experiences wi respect to the business domain or soft skills. I would expect more situational questions like what would you do if ....

If they are good at interviewing, they will ask questions about situations in your past rather than hypothetical questions. Think about things you've done and situations you've been in that will be specifically relevant to the new job. Practice talking about them. If they do ask hypothetical questions, look for opportunities to answer with real examples in your past. If you get stuck talking about a time that didn't turn out so well, be sure to explain the good things you learned.
9 years ago

dhoni Gibson wrote:HI all,

i am gonna have HR , technical and senior executive interview next week, i have cleared technical interview last week. i want to know what kind of questions i can expect from each interview . in specific i would like to know one with the senior executive (vice president i guess ).

Thanks in advance

Hi Dhoni,
If I could fulfill your request, I'd be filthy rich!
I'd Google the following:
Most common interview questions
Worst interview questions
How to answer bad interview questions
And at least think about how you'd respond to some of these.
Good luck.
9 years ago

chris webster wrote:

...One thing I recommend looking for when reviewing resumes is how stable the candidate is; or conversely, whether the candidate is a job hopper...

Many recruiters don't make the same distinction you mention here, which is why it can be difficult for contractors to get back into permanent employment, regardless of how motivated they might be to find a good long term job. And on the other side, I've had interviews for short term contracts with some organisations that give contractors the "permie" interview, with lots of fluffy stuff about how they're all one big family and everybody stays there forever. Usually a warning sign in my experience, as these tend to be the stories organisations want to present (or believe) about themselves, rather than the usually less flattering reality.

Hi Chris,
You bring up a few interesting points. First is that we in IT need to be conscious of how our career choices impact our hireability (maybe Webster will consider this a word in their next edition). It's not a good thing, for example, to have a bunch of 3 month stints on your contractor resume.

The interview you describe hardly sounds like an interview at all. Fluff implies the company at least doesn't know how to hire. Excessive flattery implies they are desperate. There's nothing wrong with selling your company, but quality candidates usually have pretty good BS detectors. It's easy to sell a product you believe in, but it's hard to find a buyer for that rundown 1973 Pinto.
9 years ago

chris webster wrote:As a contractor I'm curious about this as well. How long do people stay in "permanent" roles these days? And how long does a contractor have to work somewhere before they start to become candidates for the kind of selection processes you're talking about for permanent staff?

I've worked in places as a contractor where they had contractors who'd been working there for years e.g. a utilities company that had fired all its permanent staff and took them back on as contractors the next week and wanted to keep the staff long term (but under a different heading in the balance sheet), or some ex-public sector organisations where the permanent staff were still able to refuse particular kinds of work, creating opportunities for contractors to become indispensible to the organisation. Meanwhile, there often seems to be a lot of "churn" in permanent roles, especially at the more junior end of the market, where changing jobs is often the best way to increase your salary and extend your skillset.

So how far do these factors influence hiring?

Hi Chris,
Joel on Software did an unscientific survey of his readers regarding length of tenure for FT folks (as I recall), and it seemed to be around 2 - 3 years. This matches my intuition in reviewing hundreds of resumes. This is the average but if you just focus on excellent companies you find the numbers go up.

We hire many people full-time who were previously contractors. One thing I recommend looking for when reviewing resumes is how stable the candidate is; or conversely, whether the candidate is a job hopper. The evaluation is much easier for FT folks than for contractors. Contractor stints are usually 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. They may be expressed in the resume as multiple stints for the same company. They may be under one contract employer with multiple clients, or not. It can be more difficult to interpret a contractor career history than a FT career history.

Every job change has a story. As a resume reviewer, the story may be very clear to me, but usually it's sort of like putting together a crossword puzzle, and I only have a quarter of the pieces. After the phone interview, maybe I have three quarters of the pieces WRT job changes. As I put the puzzle picture together, the increased fidelity enhances my ability to make a good decision. I go into a lot of detail on these topics because they can be very influential factors.
9 years ago

Gian Franco wrote:Hello Sean,

...before hiring someone there should of course be a need to do so,
does your book cover this grey area of deciding whether to hire or

Does the book go further than the interview and describe the part
of the process that follows it?



Hi Gian,

I'm not sure what grey area you are referring to, but my book does give some advice about the decision to hire. One grey area that can be a challenge is deciding what to do about those candidates that are borderline qualified. In other words, all candidates fall into three categories: "obvious yes", "obvious no", and "damn it, I have to think about this one!" I have several suggestions regarding these folks. When you flip a coin, it's rare the coin comes to rest on its edge. The better you get at interviewing, the more you can shrink the grey area. So you can attack this problem in two ways: improve your hiring (I use 'hiring' in a broad sense here), and have strategies for resolving the borderline cases.

I go into reference checks, contacting the candidate, offers, and negotiation as major topics. I touch on a few other things as subtext. Is this what you mean?
9 years ago

Kandpal Mahesh wrote:Hmm... maybe I got it wrong? I googled the term

Agile Hiring

and found that it is related to hiring IT professionals. I would like to know the difference between the normal and Agile approaches.

Hi Kandpal,
Please refer to a few of my previous posts. A powerful acronym used by many agilists is DRY: Don't Repeat Yourself.
9 years ago

prashanthNair wrote:Hi Sean,

We are using the Agile methodology for our mobile application development. How could the "Agile Hiring" helps people like us who are in software development


Hi Prashanth,
You may want to catch up on some of the discussions about the book. Agile Hiring teaches high-performance hiring, informed by agile concepts. How will it help you? Regardless of what you are building and how you are building it, the book will help you learn to hire better. Your project outcome fundamentally depends on the quality of the people involved. The better you can hire, the better chance you have of completing a successful project.

Good luck!
9 years ago
In Agile Hiring I focus on full time candidates for two reasons; one is philosophical, one is practical. The practical reason is that there are more things to consider for the full time employee and that allows me to explore more of the hiring process. As was pointed out, I may not be as interested in long-term potential for contractors. I would also focus on how tightly a contractor fits my requirements because I expect the contractor to hit the ground running. Tight job fit tends to dominate everything else and is very important when hiring contractors; that wouldn't give me license to discuss many other important things. When hiring full time, job fit is something that can be relaxed in deference to other qualities a long-term candidate possesses. I may be less concerned about behavioral weaknesses of a contractor too.

Sourcing is certainly a different beast, as is the offer and negotiation parts of hiring. That said, in my opinion, very little changes with respect to the interview of the candidate. We hire contractors from time to time for positions we usually fill with full time employees. The interview looks about the same. How we evaluate the results is different due to the differences I mention above. We've experimented with treating contractor interviews differently, but it has never added value.
9 years ago

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Janet,
It's nice to see so many authors of agile books back on the ranch this week! The book doesn't address hiring testers. I'm curious people's thoughts on it though. And not just limited to Sean.

I would think a hands on testing example would be good to have. Just like i expect developers to code at an interview, i think testers should come up with test cases/paths/scenarios.

Hi Janet,

Your colleague, Lisa Crispin, reviewed the book and felt it was quite useful for hiring testers. She even wrote a nice back cover blurb for me :-) The book uses software developers as a lever for discussion but, in my opinion, there is little that is fundamentally different in hiring great developers or hiring great testers. Where I work use the same techniques to hire testers and I'd like to think we do a great job at both.

Testing is a different job, so there are different skills and behaviors we look for, but that has more to do with the job description than the rest of the hiring experience. By the way, we love Agile Testing and it informs what we look for in testers.
9 years ago

Deepak Bala wrote:

Jimmy Clark wrote:Agile Hiring is really just the title of a book...really. It is not a new methodology or a latest trend or a framework, or anything other than a title of a book about hiring.

From the book

Drawing on principles from the "agile" software development movement, this book offers a different way to think about hiring.

So yes, they are related. I am not sure how the relation is brought about in the book. Skimming over the table of contents reveals that the book goes through the entire process in a succinct 200 pages. It should make for a nice read over a week end.

Hi Deepak,
A major goal of mine was to be concise. The books you see on people's desks are the ones that are concisely packed with information they use over and over again. Hiring is complex enough that a 'handbook' approach is useful.

Hi Paul,
The book relates to agile as its philosophical and practical underpinning to the concepts. Agile isn't a method, set of patterns, or a process. It's ideas, philosophies, and principles. From those beginnings, we may derive methods, processes, patterns and tools (eg., Scrum, XP), but those are something else. Hiring is hiring, (just as software development is software development), but how one thinks about it and approaches it matters. I come at hiring from a different perspective and I'd like to think I take a mature practice and breath new ideas into it with the result that people actually hire better.

9 years ago

Anil Erukulla wrote:Agile Hiring ,seems to be latest trend, the fit get the best.
this will not be case for all Major MNCs only for startup or the middle level-growing firms like the JAVA technology firms best example.

Hi Anil,
"The fit get the best" has little to do with what I wrote about. That said, great companies have a distinct hiring advantage and crappy companies are at a disadvantage. Natural selection is a fundamental part of business so my writing does not dwell on it.

The techniques I present have been applied successfully in two MNCs. I believe what you are getting at is that some companies are rigid and have antiquated cultures. This definitely creates friction but it does not mean things cannot change for the better. You may not be able to fix everything, but it's a sad state of affairs if a company has no interest in improving. If I worked at a company like that...well, that wouldn't happen now would it? I wouldn't be there.
9 years ago