Thursday, May 23, 2013

Post-its and Interviews Part 2

Here's the continuation of Janet and her team getting ready to interview candidates to hire a new team member. (See Part 1 here)
As the team files back in after their break, several people stop in front of the board, looking it over and thinking. Janet calls everyone to the table.

"Ok. We've built a good list here. We've got a couple of tasks to take care of, and maybe a little homework for everyone. Let's start out by talking about our job posting. What should it say? Why don't we break into pairs and see what we can come up with?"

After several minutes the pairs are combined into two teams of four and asked to write a new posting based on both pairs efforts. Several minutes later and the two teams are combined and work on merging their job postings into a final draft.

"Hey, this is a great start, but I think we might want to tailor the message a bit for our different channels," says Cindy, another team member.

"Good idea," responds Janet. "Before we go down that path though, which recruiting channels should we use? Any ideas?"

Several people respond as the lead writes ideas on the white board: the local UX users group, the jobs board at a conference two team members are going to next week, the HR recruiter, and a number of other ideas are all written down. Janet speaks up again.

"I like this list. How should the messages be different for each of them?"

The team dives into the discussion again, coming up with a short list of do's, don'ts, and thoughts about each of the possible recruiting channels. Team members are each assigned a recruiting channel to write a job posting for, and asked to email their efforts to the team tomorrow for approval.

Larry, the senior designer, speaks up, "Ok, if that's out of the way, do we want to build the interviewing team? I really liked the job Susan's been doing leading our reading group. Could she be the primary screening interviewer?"

"I think that would be great! Susan, are you up to it?" Asks Janet.

"Well, I was hoping to be on the main team again, but this sounds like a fun task too." Susan replies.

"Don't worry, we'll look to you for some guidance on what to ask about, and listen for, around books the candidates have read recently." Janet turns to the rest of the team. "Which of our customers should we invite into the interview process?"
Does your team spend enough time before the interview to make sure you'll hire the right people? What do you do to improve your interviewing and hiring process?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Post-its and Interviews Part 1

I was in a meeting room I'd not visited before the other day and I saw a great idea on the wall. At a glance, I saw what another team had been doing.  With a little more thought and discussion with a co-worker, I was able to build a more complete picture of their activity, what it could have been about, and what it could lead to.

An entire wall was covered in sticky-notes, each with a short description on it.  There were inscriptions like: "listens", "thoughtful", "understands user perspective", and "can read code". The notes were divided into groups like: "Leadership", "Communications", "Design", and "Information Architecture".

It didn't take much to realize that I was looking at a team's description of what they wanted in a co-worker. It was only a smaller jump to put together the following scenario.

The Web Design Team for Product-X recently had a member jump to another team, and they were preparing to hire her replacement. I imagine Janet, the team lead, gathering everyone in a room and handing out small stacks of sticky notes. Then she would address the team to kick things off.

"You all know what's in our job description. I'd like you to think about that for a moment, then write down some traits you think we need to be looking for. Let's take 5-10 minutes to write them down and put them on the board. Don't be afraid to talk to each other while you're working, we're not keeping any secrets."

I can almost hear the buzz of the team working on this and building on each others ideas. As they wind down, Janet speaks up again.

"Ok, this looks like a good sized list. Let's organize it into groups. If you see duplicates, stack them together and we'll sort them out in a bit."

This is probably a pretty interesting process as clusters of traits are built up, split apart, and moved around. Gradually, the level of activity settles as the team comes to some agreements. Bill, one of the designers might speak up and say something like.
"Hey, I think we're missing some things here in "Leadership" and maybe there in "Design". How about we take five more minutes and flesh these out.  We could work on the duplicates while we're at it."

There's a lot more discussion this time. Some of the supposed duplicates are split off and moved into other groups. Others are recognized as real duplicates and those traits are starred, indicating higher importance. New traits are added to each of the groups. Finally, the energy beings to lag again, and Janet speaks up.

"Ok, this looks like a pretty good start.  I'd like to take a ten minute breather before we come back and get into our next steps."

Everyone files out of the room intent on getting some water, juice, or coffee, and maybe a quick walk outside for some fresh air.

I'll post about the follow-up meeting on Thurssday. Do you think a process like this might help with your next hire? Maybe in writing job descriptions for your team (you do have job descriptions, right?)? Have you tried something like this?