I’ve blogged about this before, but the closer we get to hiring team members, the more I am convinced that an approach similar to a mini-project is the right way to start…
I’ve known fabulous programmers flame out in the quizzing cage and terrible ones excel. So unless you’re specifically hiring someone to design you the next sorting algorithm, making them do so on the white board is a poor gauge of future success.
Why we don’t hire programmers based on puzzles, API quizzes, math riddles, or other parlor tricks – (37signals)
Combined with the advice in Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership, Tom DeMarco’s amazing body of work and many others too numerous to mention, I’m confident that we will be confident in our selection process for Game Creators.
Counting down the months!
Seth’s got the most succinct explanation of the reason we aim to hire talent by preference. We will outsource to vendors for some things, but…
Vendors happily sit in the anonymous cubes at Walmart’s headquarters, waiting for the buyer to show up and dicker with them. They willingly fill out the paperwork and spend hours discussing terms and conditions. The vendor is agnostic about what’s being sold, and is focused on volume, or at least consistency.
While the talent is also getting paid (to be in your movie, to do consulting, to coach you), she is not a vendor. She’s not playing by the same rules and is not motivated in the same way.
Seth’s Blog: Talent and vendors
We aim to hire multifaceted creators to join our cross-functional teams. We treat people the way that we expect to be treated, and in turn, we expect them to put heart and soul into their creations the same way that we do.
We don’t just “do business”. First and foremost, we do fun!
A long time ago (in previous employment-lives), but in this very galaxy, I blogged about The Quiz that we used when someone made the mistake of promoting me to hiring manager and we needed a way to reasonably judge the capacity of job applicants. It worked very well at narrowing down a huge candidate pool to the kind of rock stars that we were looking for.
The most fun that I’ve had as a candidate taking similar “tests” prior to an interview was with Blizzard this past year. Although their “test” wasn’t a real job task/scenario like The Quiz, the coding puzzles were interesting. (For the record, I didn’t get the job. I think admitting that I did not play World of Warcraft had something to do with it. Heh.)
Antonio talks about a very similar process that he went through recently when hiring interns for the DB2 team @ IBM. Although he had it easy, since he only got 100 resumes to wade through. (I still have nightmares sometimes about wading through the zillions of probably-not-qualified resumes that were spewed out by Monster.com another other job sites whenever we made the mistake of posting an open position there. I think I’ll restrict posting my future open positions to headhunters and TheLadders.com.)
The coding assignment was a huge asset in determining people’s real abilities. Some of the nicest assignments came from those with academically weaker performances. You could clearly see who the hackers and potential future computer science professors were. Without the assignment, the selection process would have been much harder, so I’m glad that it was something we required the applicants to do.
Things I’ve learned from hiring interns for IBM
That echoes my experiences as a hiring manager, too. Some of the best coders that I ever hired had degrees in biology, law, physics and political science. Go figure. That is one thing that I truly admire about the Microsoft hiring process, too. Typically @ Microsoft, it doesn’t matter what your educational background is or how you acquired your technical skill, so long as you can demonstrate it. Under pressure.
For those of you future applicants to Glacier Peak. You have been warned. Expect to be able to demonstrate your skill. Under pressure. On The Quiz!