As the person with the CIO job, one of your most important jobs is to hire the right team to help you run the IT department. The importance of information technology is understood by CIOs, but the importance of the hiring process all too often is not. CIOs will often try to perform this job based on their “gut feel”. What we all need to understand is that hiring the right people is a process. If we follow the right process, then we’ll get the right people – every time.
The Hiring Process
All too often we fail to create any sort of process for getting to know the person that we are considering inviting to join our team. Instead, we grab a copy of their resume just before the interview happens and head off to use what we think has worked for us in the past. Bad idea.
Instead, what we need is a process. The goal of this process has to be to uncover if the person that we are talking with would be a good fit for the company, the job, and your IT department. One way to create process that works would be to use the following four steps:
- Ditch The “Silver Bullets”: There is no such thing as a magical interview question. We have all heard about places like Google and Microsoft in which the interview process contains so-called curveball questions like “how many golf balls could you fit on a school bus”. These questions really don’t serve any purpose and the candidate knows all about them so you are not going to be getting any useful information from them when you use this type of question.
- Know What You Want: All too often we enter into the hiring process with a vague or ill-formed understanding of just exactly what type of person and skill set we are looking for. You can’t do this. Instead, you need to make sure that you have a crystal clear understanding of exactly what you are looking for in terms of skills, attitudes, and behaviors in the perfect candidate. Take the time to talk to people who’ve had the job before and find out what it’s going to take for the next person to be successful.
- Prove It: Some candidates can talk a good line. By listening to them you’ll come away with the impression that they’ve “been there, done that”. Don’t believe what you are hearing. Instead, always ask for proof. For hard skills, have them do whatever they say that they can do. For soft skills, put them in a situation where they can show you how good their soft skills are. Make sure that you are buying what you really think that you are buying.
- Don’t Do It Alone: Hiring is a difficult process. Don’t try to pull this off all by yourself. Instead, involve other people. In order to hire the right person, it takes perspective. Always try to involve at least two people in the interviewing process and try to expose the candidate to the people that they would be working with in order to get their feedback. The more inputs that you are able to collect, the better the chances that you’ll make the right hiring decision are.
What All Of This Means For You
The person in the CIO position has the responsibility to correctly staff their IT department. This means that you need to know how to go about hiring the right people. Forget about going with your “gut feel” and instead implement a process that will deliver to you the right person for the job each and every time.
This process has to be based on fact. Ditch the clever silver bullet questions – they never work. Make sure that you know what you are looking for – you’ll never find it if you don’t. However, never take the candidate’s word for it, instead verify that they have what it takes to do the job. You can only do so much, make sure that you’ve got back up on this task and get their input as the process moves forward.
The good news is that you can avoid hiring the wrong candidates and you can hire the right ones. The bad news is that this is never easy to do. Take the time to implement a hiring process that works and you’ll find that your IT department has been staffed with all the right people.
Question For You: How many separate interviews with a candidate do you think that you should have?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As CIO we have a number of different tasks that the company is expecting us to do. However, there is one task that takes priority over all of these other takes: implementing large software projects. Over at Avon they just did one of these big projects and it has ended in failure. What did the Avon CIO, Donagh Herlihy do wrong?