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Hiring new team members

when hiring new team members consider a few things:
First, this article ignores the factual requirements of a candidate (mostly), these need to be checked first.
This is for the next step in the hiring.

Trial day

Check how their personality matches your team style. If possible do a trial day.
During the trial day (actually just a few hours, not a full day) give your candidate a realistic task for the later job.

But nothing that needs to be actually done right now, that's for existing team members.
If possible let every candidate do the same thing, so you get a feeling. Don't do stupid white-board tests,
do something that would come up in the normal daily work.
Don't restrict internet or similar nonsense. Create an environment that matches the later work environment.
Don't closely monitor every key stroke. This will only make the candidate nervous and you won't learn anything new.

My normal trial day routine

Start at a littler than normal work starting time so you have time to remind the team that there will be a candidate
coming today. Normally you prepare them earlier, but a quick reminder is key. Have a normal workspace ready,
consting of the same setup as later when hired.
When your candidate arrives, do a quick company tour with the most important places shown. Depending
on the job, but most of the time: Coffee machine, kitchen, toilets. But if possible, do a full tour.
Then introducte the team in a bit more detail. But not with a full CV. A this is <name> and the job is <job>,
maybe an (ir)relevant detail added, like "our longest team member" to give it a bit more personallity.
Then explain the job for the day, tell the lunch break time and ask for any food related restrictions (Me and
some team members will go to lunch with the candidiate) and explain what is important for the day and
how long it will take. Usually we started the day at 10, test start around 11, lunch at 12 and done by 2,
but some candidates were faster or slower. Don't pressure them, if they need or want more time, tell them
they can take it.

Team interaction

If possible, place your candidate into your team's room, let the team know that they should interact with the
candidate as if he/she is already hired. Also encourage your team members to ask the candidate questions,
do private conversation and generally act "normally", including all the usual non-work nonsense.
Do you remember the stereotype joke thing from become a team, ask a person from another team to trigger
an action with your team to see how the candidate reacts to this. Or better, don't be in the room when this happends
and ask a trusted team member (so anyone) to closely match the reaction of the candidate and any reactions.
Does he/she share the sense of humor, is there a shock reaction, a smile or any other reaction or even a question
similar: "what was that about?"

The task for the trial day


On the test, have one or two points not fully defined or slightly conflicting. This will show you if your candidate
will "try to do the best" or if you get questions or other team members get asked about the unclear point.
Of course the other team members must know the "test". In an ideal world, they've done the same.
Plan a test that takes roughly 2-3 hours to complete, depending on the skill set and job position

Team lunch

Go to a restaurant (this was pre pandemic or do when it is done), let a few team members join (depending on team size),
this should be a normal everyday lunch, make clear this is not a test, you and your team members should behave
as they always do (I intentionally avoid the word normal ;) )
Monitor the behaviour, ask things, do normal small talk. Maybe your candidate wants to tell something about
the hobby or similar.

Task progression

Depending on the behaviour of your candidate you will see the progress, if he/she is the quiet type, ask from time
to time if everything is ok, offer something to drink and check on him/her. But don't do this every 15 min on a timer.

Task assessment

If the task is done, go through it and check your important points an discuss them with the candidate. If he/she
did well,  tell it! If not, tell that and also tell why you wanted something else or are not completly happy.
Give your candidate a chance to explain him/herself.

Final step

Let the candidate ask final questions, ask team members and if wanted give him/her some time to talk to your
team members in private. Yes this "wastes" working time, but you will loose so much more if let a candidate
go or hire him/her just to find it's no match in the team

After the trial day, take the input of your team members make it count.

A final thought

Maybe the on-paper best fitting candidate isn't the person to hire, maybe the second-best or fourth best is a better
match for the team. Also, does it really matter that not every check point has been checked? Is the missing thing
something that can be learned quickly before or on the job?
Giving a chance to someone that is not a 100% match also encourages your new team member to push him/herself
to become a good match. Never underestimate this. Most of the time this outweights the missing check box by a
huge margin.

Previous article: Become a better team lead: do favours

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

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