I was reading the book Rework lately (a book that I really like), and this little bit jumped out at me:
Interviews are only worth so much. Some people sound like pros but don’t work like pros. You need to evaluate the work they can do now, not the work they say they did in the past. The best way to do that is to actually see them work. Hire them for a miniproject, even if it’s for just twenty or forty hours. You’ll see how they make decisions. You’ll see if you get along. You’ll see what kind of questions they ask. You’ll get to judge them by their actions instead of just their words.
You can even make up a fake project. In a factory in South Carolina, BMW built a simulated assembly line where job candidates get ninety minutes to perform a variety of work-related tasks.
OpenCraft definitely shares the philosophy that it’s better to evaluate someone by working with them on real projects than using [interviews + resumes + cover letters + references]. And in fact we used to have a process fairly similar to what this book is suggesting. Maybe it’s time to go back to that model?
I think that we’ve all seen some downsides to our long trial period process lately, so I’m looking for a recruitment manager from one cell that would be interested in developing and trying out a much shorter trial process with me.
- Trial Period + Trial Project
What I have in mind is something like this:
- We assign a ~20 hour task to the candidate. Ideally we would have this task lined up and ready even before we post job ads.
- It can be a contribution to Open edX, Tutor, Workflow Manager, Ocim, or anything, as long as it’s open source.
- We also assign a reviewer, and give the candidate guest access to Mattermost, so they can collaborate with their reviewer.
- We don’t onboard them onto OpenCraft’s other systems. We only onboard people who pass the trial project.
- The candidate must set up devstack before starting the task (if required), and then has a fairly tight deadline to complete the task (one week?).
- The goal here is that they can complete the trial project without quitting their current job, but they’ll still have to be disciplined and show time management skills, as well as logging their hours etc.
- The PR must be peer reviewed and at least “mergeable” by the deadline; it doesn’t have to actually be merged if there are external factors delaying that.
- We look for candidates who can complete the devstack setup and trial project without needing a lot of hand-holding, but who still show strong communication skills
But the details can be refined with whoever wants to try this out with me.
Problems I’m trying to solve are:
- The trial period process is a barrier that keeps some great people from applying, and in some cases it can be a bad experience for people who don’t pass.
- With the trial project, people don’t have to make a big commitment (like quitting their job) in order to be considered, and even if they don’t pass they’ll still end up with an open source contribution under their name and extra money.
- Onboarding, mentoring, and offboarding people who don’t pass the trial period wastes a ton of time, not to mention the impact to the project of switching assignees and sometimes even redoing the work.
- When someone is really good (which is what we’re looking for) it’s often quite obvious right away
- With the current process, people in their trial period often get assigned only small tasks which makes it hard to evaluate their work.
- The trial period process makes recruitment decisions take a long time (months), so our capacity and our workload are often out of sync.
So, does someone want to try this out?
Ticket for this post: MNG-2410