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Contents of

Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds
The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People

by Johanna Rothman
foreword by Gerald M. Weinberg

ISBN: 978-0-932633-59-0  
©2004  352 pages   softcover  
$37.95 (plus shipping)

Subject(s): Software Project Management, Team Management, Team Leadership

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Part 1 Defining Requirements for Yourself and Your Candidates

1 Developing Your Hiring Strategy

Ask questions when creating a hiring strategy.
Identify the problems you should address.
A True Story
Determine which roles you want to fill first.
A True Story
Decide which criteria matter most.
A True Story
Identify what process you’ll use in decision-making.
Plan what you will do if you can’t find the right people.

2 Analyzing the Job

Define the job’s requirements.
Define the essential and desirable qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills for a successful fit.
Identify corporate cultural-fit factors.
Define the necessary technical-skill level and the required educational background.
Identify essential technical skills.
Identify desirable technical skills.
A True Story
Evaluate educational or training requirements.
Define all elimination factors.
Think twice about elimination factors.
Complete the job analysis worksheet.
Case Study: Walker Software

3 Writing a Job Description

Write a clear job description.
A True Story
Use job descriptions to help you screen candidates.
A True Story
Identify who will use your job description.
Learn how best to use standardized job descriptions.
Develop your job description over several drafts.
Case Study: Walker Software

Part 2 Sourcing and Selecting Candidates to Interview

4 Sourcing Candidates

Use time, not money, to attract suitable candidates.
A True Story
Develop a continuous recruiting program.
Use money, not time, to attract suitable candidates.
Points to Remember

5 Developing Ads for Open Positions

Use a simple job advertisement template.
Write different types of ads.
Case Study: Walker Software
Develop techniques for eliminating writer’s block.
Make the ad memorable by offering a challenge.
Work with HR staff members when they write ads.
Make sure outsiders review the ad.
Deliver the ad in person.
Points to Remember

6 Reviewing Résumés

Correlate your résumé filter with the openings you have to fill.
Start reading each résumé at the top.
A True Story
Look for more than appears in print.
Consider your fellow hiring managers’ staffing needs while you review.
Read the cover letter or e-mail.
Look for a work summary.
Compare the candidate’s stated objective with the job description.
Correlate the candidate’s work experience with your open position.
Evaluate tool and technical expertise when hiring technical staff.
Evaluate a management candidate’s ratio of management-to-technical experience.
Know the reasons behind multiple career or job changes.
Two True Stories
Determine the reason behind an employment-history gap.
Look for signs of merit-based promotions and initiative.
Look for indicators of cultural fit and of assumed responsibilities.
Assess personal qualities and problem-solving skills.
Assess education and technical skills in terms of the open job.
Put typographical and other clerical errors in perspective.
A True Story
Evaluate résumé items in terms of local and national hiring laws.
Evaluate each candidacy using your résumé-review process.
Inform candidates of your decision as soon as you have made it.
Look for patterns in your résumé-review process.
Use résumés as feedback for evaluating your advertisements.
Review résumés with a team to reach consensus.
Case Study: Walker Software

Part 3 Preparing to Interview Candidates

7 Developing Interview Questions and Techniques

Choose which kinds of questions to ask.
Schedule auditions to allow candidates time to demonstrate their abilities.
Formulate a set of meta-questions.
Learn to avoid asking irrelevant questions.
Combine question types to make the best use of available time.
Ask all candidates applying for one position the same set of questions.
Ask questions to reveal cultural fit.
Ask contractors the same questions you ask prospective staff hires.
Help non-technical interview-team members develop questions in their own area of expertise.

8 Creating and Using Phone-Screens

Facilitate a positive phone-screen environment.
Plan your phone-screen strategy and script.
Select phone-screen questions to elicit job-performance details.
Use written phone-screen scripts to keep track of what candidates say.
Develop a thirty- to forty-five-minute phone-screen script.
Troubleshoot your phone-screens.
End the phone-screen gracefully and when you want to end it.
Consider when to use a second phone-screen.
Case Study: Walker Software

9 Planning and Conducting the In-Person Interview

A True Story
Choose an interview team.
Prepare the interview team.
Decide how much time to spend in each interview.
Plan who will ask which questions.
Choose an appropriate interview environment.
Clarify how to handle meals.
Create an interview package.
Conduct the interview.
Verify that the candidate and interviewers are ready.
Welcome the candidate.
Ask focused questions.
Ask lawful questions.
Listen to and evaluate each candidate’s answers.
Answer the candidate’s questions.
Deliver the candidate to the next interviewer.
Conduct group interviews sparingly.
End the day of interviews.
Case Study: Walker Software

10 Following Up After the Interview

Meet immediately after the candidate’s last interview.
Hold the meeting in a private space.
Facilitate the meeting.
Learn the reasons behind each thumb-down vote.
Understand the thumb-sideways responses.
Understand the thumb-up votes.
Revisit the thumbs one more time.
Use limited consensus to make a decision.
Use follow-up forms with care.
A True Story
Tell the candidate what to expect next.

Part 4 Bringing In the Candidate

11 Checking References

Check all offered references.
Develop your list of reference-check questions.
Get your call to go through to each reference.
Check references as completely as possible—even when the candidate has provided few, unreachable, or no references.
Establish rapport during a reference-check.
Start the conversation quickly.
Listen carefully to the answers.
Verify employment, salary, and education claims.
Incorporate other checks that are required by your organization in the reference-check.
Take action to uncover the truth if you find discrepancies.

12 Creating, Timing, and Extending an Offer

In a strong economy, make your offer soon after the last interview.
For every offer, review all components before presenting it to a candidate.
Beware of making promises you may not be able to keep.
Make the offer easy to accept by including perks and benefits you can deliver.
Learn the reasons behind a candidate’s rejection of your offer.
When the reason is salary, salary, salary, rethink the offer.
Know when it’s okay to offer a job to an over-qualified candidate.
Close the offer.
Use a standard offer letter.
Extend the offer.
Points to Remember

Part 5 Making the Most of Hiring Opportunities to Control Uncertainty and Risk

13 Creating a Great First Day

Prepare for a smooth transition before the new hire starts.
Identify the when, where, who, and what for Day One.
Prepare the new hire’s work area for Day One.
Explain enough of the work to help the new hire assimilate. 246
Assign a buddy.
Create and use a checklist for new hires.
Points to Remember

14 Hiring Technical Managers

Define the value you want the technical manager to contribute.
Define the technical manager’s interactions.
A True Story
Define the management level.
Compile a list of the desirable qualities, preferences, and skills.
Don’t hire managers without the requisite talent.
Define the manager’s required technical expertise.
Define which activities and deliverables the manager will oversee.
Points to Remember

15 Moving Forward

Take action to fill your open position even when no one seems just right.
Verify that your hiring work is on track.
Know how long you can wait for the right candidate.
Hire from within the organization.
Hire a candidate with limited skills if he or she can be trained.
Hire a contractor rather than a permanent employee.
Replan the project to fit the current staff.
Rework the project’s schedule.
Rework the project’s lifecycle.
Change the work practices.
Change the job description.
A True Story
Choose your actions carefully.
Points to Remember

Appendix A Walker Software Case Study: Hiring Multiple People

Appendix B Templates to Use When Hiring Technical People


Table of Contents

Dorset House Catalog

By this Author
Amplifying Your Effectiveness (contributor)

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Five Core Metrics: The Intelligence Behind Successful Software Management, by Lawrence H. Putnam and Ware Myers
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd ed., by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
Practical Project Management: Restoring Quality to DP Projects and Systems, by Meilir Page-Jones
Roundtable on Project Management: A SHAPE Forum Dialogue, edited by James Bullock, Gerald M. Weinberg, and Marie Benesh

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