Sometimes not being able to see a job candidate can allow you to make a better choice

Sometimes not being able to see a job candidate can allow you to make a better choice
Image Credit: Lead Beyond

Let’s face it: hiring the right person to join your team is a tough job. When we consider how long they may be with the company and the impact that they may have on the rest of the team, we really want to use our IT manager skills to get this decision right. Over the years in our IT manager training a lot of different interviewing techniques have been proposed and tried out. However, the system still is not perfect. There is a new approach on the horizon that is starting to get a lot of attention: blind interviewing. Could this be the answer to our interviewing questions?

The Problem With The Way That We Interview Today

The interviewing process that we use today is by no means a perfect process. As an IT manager, your goal is take some time out of your busy schedule, sort through a list of people who have applied to fill the open position, pick the best candidates using some mysterious criteria, interview them and then pick the one that you think will work the best with your team.

The problems with this process show up almost immediately. During the interview process there is a high likelihood that you will connect with some candidates and not with others. Clearly the ones that you were able to establish some rapport with will have a better chance of being selected. What’s important to understand here is that just because you got along with them during a brief interview does not mean that they are necessarily a good fit for your team.

Another issue that can come up during a job interview process is allowing yourself to be influenced by where a candidate has worked in the past. No matter if it is a big firm or a firm that has an impressive track record, once you see that company’s name on a candidate’s resume you’ll tend to think more positively towards them. Once again, just because they worked for a big name in the past does not mean that they’ll do a good job for your team in the future.

How Blind Interviewing Works

At its core, blind interviewing consists of throwing out a candidate’s resume. The thinking goes that you can be influenced by what is on a resume and this is going to leave you with a mistaken impression about what this person could do for your company and for your team. What you really want to do is to evaluate each candidate without any of the bias that we normally bring to the table.

Once you’ve thrown the resume away, you’re now faced with the challenge of trying to determine if someone could be a good fit for your company. This is going to call for some creativity. Several firms have taken steps to add the creation of an anonymous sample project to their interviewing process. Prospective candidates complete the project and their work is then compared to each other. The work can then be evaluated without knowing who created it in order to determine who does the best job.

Blind hiring allows IT managers to get over several different types of biases that may be preventing us from hiring the best workers. One of these biases is the tendency for us to believe that men can do a better job than women can even if both of them have a similar background. Another key bias is formed when we learn someone’s name. We may have known someone else with that name or we may recognize what part of the world this person comes from. This may negatively impact how we view this candidate.

What All Of This Means For You

Hiring the right person to join our team is a hard job to do correctly. The hiring process can take up a lot of our valuable time and in the end we’re never quite sure if we made the right choice in terms of IT team building. What we’d all like to have is a better way of performing this task.

A new job candidate interviewing technique called “Blind Interviewing” has just shown up. This process starts by discarding a candidate’s resume and instead focuses on how well they could perform the tasks that the job will require. In order to determine how good of a worker a candidate might be, they are asked to complete a project that is then evaluated against other candidate’s projects. This method allows us to avoid any sex or family name biases that we may have.

In all honesty, blind interviewing has a lot going for it. What a person can do for you is the key, not what they’ve done in the past. The time required to conduct a blind interview may be a bit steep, but the results just might make the investment worthwhile. Perhaps blind interviewing is something that you should open your eyes to…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If you ask a blind interview candidate to complete a project, how long should it take tham?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In all honesty, it really does not take that much to become an IT manager. One promotion and poof there you are no matter what IT manager skills you may or may not have.. However, in order to become an unforgettable IT manager, now that’s something completely different! I’m pretty sure that all of us would like to become unforgettable if only we knew what IT manager training we need in order to do this. It turns out that it’s not easy, but the good news is that it can be done.

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How To Hold On To Your Best IT Team Members

by drjim on January 12, 2017

Hiring the best team members is just the start, now you have to get them to stay

Hiring the best team members is just the start, now you have to get them to stay
Image Credit: Matt McGee

I guess if you take the time to think about it, being am IT manager is a lot like being the coach of a football team. You think about the players that you need, you interview a lot of people, pick a few of them to join your team, and then the season starts. On top of all of the other things that you need to be worrying about, one thing that you’d like to be able to not have to deal with is the issue of your best and brightest workers leaving your team half-way through the season. What IT manager skills do you need to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

Why The Best Leave

Before we can come up with ways to keep your best workers on your team, we first need to spend some time building on your IT manager training and taking a look at why they might leave your team in the first place. As with so many other things in life, there’s never just one answer to this question. As an IT manager, you need to be aware of all of the things that could cause one of your IT stars to decide that someplace else would be a better place for them to be.

Money is always a primary motivator when a rising IT start decides to jump ship and go work for someone else. However, I have never heard of a situation where someone decides to make the jump to another shop just because of money. Yes, when people ask them they’ll talk about the money; however, if you probe more deeply what you’ll almost always find is that there some other primary motivator that was almost, but not quite, enough to get them to leave. The money was just the sweetener that allowed them to finally say “yes” to the other company.

Another reason that the best often give for switching to another company has to do with technology. The other company is doing something very cool with the latest and greatest technology and for whatever reason your company just is not using that technology yet. You and I both know that once again this is often just another cover story. Yes, the other firm may have made announcements that they are using some new technology, but more often than not their use of it is not nearly as extensive as they’d like everyone to think. Once again, team members who state this as their reason for leaving are generally just using it as a cover story.

How You Can Prevent The Best From Leaving

Knowing why your best IT workers might decide to leave your IT team is a good first step in understanding why this might happen. However, what’s even more important is what you do next: take steps to convince them to not leave. One of the first things that you need to be doing is allowing their voice to be heard when decisions are being made. Good engineers are almost always highly opinionated and they want to have a say in the way that things are going. No, you don’t need to accept all of their ideas but you should allow them to have a say in the process.

Your time is valuable and if you are like the rest of us, you just simply don’t seem to have enough of it. That’s why when it comes to your IT stars, you need to be very careful to not micromanage them. The last thing that they need or want is you breathing down their necks all the time. Instead, tell them what you want from them – the desired outcome. Then stand back and let them work their magic as they create great IT.

One of the simplest things that an IT manager can do in order to retain their top talent is to offer them flexible work hours. As is so often the case, most of us have no idea what is going on in the lives of our top talent and so we don’t know what kind of pressures and concerns they are dealing with. If we give them flexibility in when they need to be doing work for us, this can help to eliminate some of the stress in their personal lives and this will end up making them less willing to leave us.

What All Of This Means For You

Although to the best of my knowledge it’s not written down anywhere, a big part of any IT managers job is working to retain the talent that you’ve been able to attract to your team. This is not something that any of us were taught how to do in school, rather this is something that we all learn via on-the-job-training and IT team building. We need to understand why our best might leave, then we need to take steps to convince them to stay.

There are times that top talent will leave an IT team (I mean, we got them to leave someone and join us in the first place). Understanding why they do this is key. There is not just one answer to this question. Talent may say that they are leaving because another shop will pay them more money or because someone else is using cutting-edge technology that you are not. Generally these are cover stories for deeper reasons for wanting to leave. To keep your talent, you need to allow them to participate in your IT decision making processes, make sure that you don’t micromanage them, and allow them to keep flexible work hours.

The good news here is that retaining top IT talent is not all that hard to do. Even better, it rarely involves paying them more. What they want is a work environment in which they can feel as though their IT skills are being put to good use. Provide them with this and you’ll have yourself some long-term employees.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If one of your star IT employees announces that they will be leaving, do you think that you should counteroffer?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it: hiring the right person to join your team is a tough job. When we consider how long they may be with the company and the impact that they may have on the rest of the team, we really want to use our IT manager skills to get this decision right. Over the years in our IT manager training a lot of different interviewing techniques have been proposed and tried out. However, the system still is not perfect. There is a new approach on the horizon that is starting to get a lot of attention: blind interviewing. Could this be the answer to our interviewing questions?

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