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Hiring Geeks That Fit

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Hiring great geeks forces us to recognize and match culture; non-technical qualities, preferences and skills; and finally, technical skills. Knowledge workers adapt their knowledge to your specific situation, the context. These technical people, our great geeks, are not just the sum of their technical knowledge; they are the sum of both what they know and how they apply that knowledge to the product.

Interviewing technical people is difficult because we must assess them on how they use their technical skills to benefit the product, how they manage their work, and how they manage their relationships with other people—in our context. It is not easy.

No one is plug-and-play. You need to assess each candidate’s ability to adapt. That ability to adapt knowledge and to innovate makes one developer, tester, project manager, or technical manager different from another. You don’t have the same group as the company down the street. Your geek needs to be different, too. How will you assess the difference among candidates?

This book will provide you the tools to help. If you are a hiring manager or part of a hiring team, this book can:

• Help you define the problems you have that hiring geeks and/or their managers will help solve.
• Help you know what you want a candidate to do.
• Help you hire people who can perform the required work well.
• Help you screen, evaluate, and hire the right people who fit your organization.
• Eliminate the wasted time and suffering that result from having to fire people who should not have
been hired in the first place.
• And, save you time, money and aggravation every time you hire.

Here’s the deal: If you want to hire the right people for your team, this book can help you.

219 pages

First published June 5, 2012

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About the author

Johanna Rothman

39 books97 followers
I provide frank advice for your tough problems in my non-fiction. I write about tough, smart women in my fiction. My heroines have more guts than I do...

Here's the more formal bio:
I consult, speak, and write on managing high-technology product development. I've helped managers, teams, and organizations to become more effective by applying my pragmatic approaches to their issues of hiring, project management, risk management, and people management. I write a monthly email newsletter, the Pragmatic Manager. Please review back issues and sign yourself up.

I'm known for my wacko sense of humor and frank approach. My clients appreciate both!

I blog at Managing Product Development, Hiring Technical People, and Create an Adaptable Life. Please do join me there.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for George Dinwiddie.
Author 3 books2 followers
January 2, 2013
I've been through the hiring process plenty of times, and have learned some valuable techniques along the way. Sometimes it's still very hard to find and hire the right person. I wish I'd read Johanna's book, Hiring Geeks That Fit, years ago. I would have learned these techniques, and more, much earlier.

Even more importantly, I would have learned that the goal is not merely hiring someone who can do the job, but hiring someone who will do the job in the particular circumstances and culture of the organization. And I would have learned that successful hiring starts before placing advertisements.

This book is full of practical advice, tips, and example checklists to make your hiring more successful. As an added bonus, if you're looking for a job, it will give you great insight into the mind of the hiring manager.
June 9, 2013
Another great book by Johanna. As a tester who needed to often bring in other staff, I've found this book really invaluable for defining the roles I need, and how people fit into a team.

A great part of the focus of the book is always trying to take your requirements for a hire, and filter and distill them down to the things that matter, so that you avoid having an impossible wish-list. Whilst at the same time
understand the gravity of hiring - how important it is to find someone who will fit, and can be supported.
Profile Image for Jurgen Appelo.
Author 8 books900 followers
May 7, 2013
They don't get more practical than this. Everything you need to know about hiring people, and ten times more.
17 reviews
March 30, 2013

This is the kind of book that you can read right through from beginning to end, or select the chapters you think are going to be most useful to you. There is a wealth of information in this book and it is written in an organised and straightforward way. It is quite a long read for non-fiction, at 341 pages, but it is all relevant stuff.

It looks at techniques for hiring people who are able to do the job, but also helps you recognise people who will fit in with the ethos of a team and learn needed skills in a particular way. It gives useful methods of preparation with timed programmes and check-lists for interviewers. It emphasises the need to have a clear hiring strategy and to re-evaluate this periodically to make sure you are using the best tools. There are anecdotal case studies throughout the book which breaks up the technical stuff nicely. There is a section on ‘Cultural Fit Factors’ which has nothing to do with a candidates educational or experience background, but is about their ability and willingness to become part of an organisation which may have extra activities, like fund raising or planning seminars or weekend socialising. This cultural fit can be placed above functional skills in making decisions who to hire, as these can be learned but cultural fit has to be there from the start.

This book would also be very helpful to people who are candidates for employment as they can prepare for the style of interview and the expectations of the interviewer.

All in all this book answers all the questions in an understandable and very readable way.

Profile Image for Attila.
3 reviews1 follower
August 1, 2012
Finally managed to have a go at the book. Loved it to bits. Great structure, which makes it easy not only to read but to develop a right mindset towards the entire hiring process and also have a constant blueprint in front of you. It's also a great book from a geek's point of view. I think for the first time, I got an insight into how recruiters, HR managers or interviewers might look at this and implicitly to me, to the geek. The templates at the end of the book are pure gold, and I'm sure lots of people will end up using them on a regular basis. All in all, it really is the perfect book.
Profile Image for Ruslan Khalilov.
37 reviews4 followers
December 27, 2017
Good book with a hands-on review of hiring strategies. Good for recruiters, hiring managers as well as for people who started a company and planning to hire more people to a team.
Profile Image for Gil Broza.
Author 4 books18 followers
September 30, 2013
If you're a knowledge-work manager, you need to be good at hiring knowledge workers. Even though HR, and probably other managers, might be heavily involved in any hiring activity, you are responsible for the outcome -- and you will certainly have to live with the consequences.

It takes time to get good, and then great, at hiring. Getting lucky -- by hiring acquaintances or staff members' friends, working for a highly attractive organization, or being able to pay lots of money -- is not a good strategy. To become a great manager, you can't just manage the work and staff you're dealt; you must be able to build a great workforce too.

How do you learn that skill? Where do you start, how do you practice, and how do you improve your performance? Turn to Johanna's book. It's not one of those abstract treatises about fit, culture, or management. It's a practical, step-by-step guide to hiring technology workers that move your business forward.

Like the rest of Johanna's writing, this book gets straight to every point in a very pragmatic and simple (but not simplistic) way. It is clearly organized according to the hiring process; if you happen to be in the middle of the process, it's easy to find the exact place in the book and look up applicable advice. Being an experienced coach, Johanna's advice comes in the form of many questions; ponder these questions, and you'll know exactly what to do each step of the way.

It's always a challenge to write a book that's useful for both novices and experienced practitioners. Johanna has overcome that challenge; her book is good both for managers who are hiring for the first or second time, and for experienced ones who are taking their hiring game to the next level. You will receive specific guidance even on the smallest elements, such as open vs. closed questions. This isn't redundant stuff to just skip over; these are quick explanations that will you help you reflect on your style, notice gaps, and realize why previous hiring efforts turned out the way they did. And there are many examples too!

As someone who's out to further the human side of knowledge work, I'm particularly pleased that the book includes valuable guidance on the "soft stuff" that makes the difference between hiring a generic resource (shudder) and hiring a valuable team player, such as culture, that elusive "fit", and non-technical skills.

Get yourself a copy of this book. Next time you need to hire, let the book guide you from the earliest stage. You'll be glad you did.

Gil Broza
Author, "The Human Side of Agile: How to Help Your Team Deliver"
Profile Image for Khang Nguyen.
48 reviews70 followers
January 19, 2016
The book is a good start for beginner recruiters. It clearly defines the steps of recruitment process, and more importantly it has numerous sample questions that you can use out of the box or tailor.

However there are too many drawbacks preventing me from giving the book anything but 2 stars. The book seemed to be written for recruiters of *all* IT companies, regardless of sizes and sectors. The author obviously tried to cover too broad a topic, and to keep everything generic, she raised many questions back to the reader "Does your company need...?", "Is your company the one that ...?". A major minus for beginner recruiter (oh hey, but perhaps they do need to know more about their companies)

Another problem is that the book is lack of how question or set of questions reveal personal qualities of candidates, how personal judgement in interview is given or simply recruitment stories of the author. That turned the book into a big TODO list.

That leads me to the next point. The book is really boring to read! There is little enjoyment because there is no story to be told in sheets of paper. That wasn't a journey of experience sharing but a paraphrased giant TODO list. Too many questions to readers also disrupted the mental flow in readers' mind. I read the book twice, and although the knowledge was useful for my job, I simply couldn't enjoy reading it.
Profile Image for Stephen.
Author 7 books12 followers
June 8, 2016
Everyone wants the hiring process to be better, but few do anything about it. This is is part because there are not a lot of good, relevant resources for understanding the hiring process for technical people. This is unfortunate, especially in an industry where volumes have been written about improving the specification and development process for building systems. When we hire people to build those systems we leave a lot to chance.

I wish that I had read this book years ago. Rothman provides insights, guidelines, and templates to help you developer a better sourcing and interview process. The book includes stories that give context to why we need these frameworks. While not every detail of what Rothman says may be applicable to your team -- for legal, cultural, or other reasons -- the book can start an important conversation about how to source, what questions to ask in interviews, and how to evaluate candidates. And I'd argue that the general framework in the book applies to any organization hiring knowledge workers.

If you are involved in the hiring process for technical people you will benefit from this book.
Profile Image for Nikolay.
99 reviews81 followers
September 7, 2013
I am a developer hiring a lot of developers. The book offers solid advice, especially on the process side – how to build the requirements, what questions to choose and why, how to deal with a lot of the details.

I didn't like the slight focus on big organization, but it wasn't at all hard to older the unneeded details.
Profile Image for Vasil Kolev.
1,051 reviews164 followers
April 19, 2014
This took some time to go through, as it was too boring and I stopped/started it a few times.

It's very US-centric, and for most of the information there, the book could've been just a collection of presentations with bullet points, and that would've had the same value. It would be a good idea for anyone who has never ever been on an interview, but otherwise it's just too basic.
1 review
May 14, 2015
READ THIS BOOK! Its fantastic. I found great tools as a hiring manager to help me define who I needed to hire, how to ensure that they hit the ground running, and stay with the company. Also gave me great insights to work with our recruitment team to understand how well our recruitment tactics were working.
Profile Image for Tom Panning.
44 reviews8 followers
May 5, 2014
Good, particularly if you're new to recruiting/hiring engineers, designers, testers, or their managers. Johanna has plenty of good advice. She covers a lot of situations, so inevitably some of the advice won't apply to you right now, but it's easy to discern when that is the case.
Profile Image for Marius Colacioiu.
79 reviews4 followers
September 14, 2015
Great read! I am impressed with Johanna's in depth knowledge of Recruiting. She has suggestions, practical advices and templates ready to use on all stages of Hiring, with a focus on Hiring the Geeks that fit best with your company's culture. Best book read on hiring till now.
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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