Many organizations spend a significant amount of time defining the experience, education, skills and other factors required for open positions. Most of the time, though, their hiring process fails to make sure they hire right. If you’re looking for a different way, you might be interested to know how it works at Pyxis.

This morning I sat down with François to prepare the first hiring interview of a candidate looking for a software developer position. We decided to not have a look at his resume just yet. Since one of our colleague had recommended the applicant, we trusted he was a good candidate and wanted to understand if there was a cultural fit.

We talked about the values, characteristics and behavioral traits we wanted to find in a potential colleague. We figured out we wanted someone who shared the following characteristics:

  • Accountable
  • Humble
  • Passionate
  • Intelligent
  • Team-oriented
  • Continuous improvement orientated

We then devised a series of powerful questions to help us figure out if the applicant was someone we wanted to work with. Below are some of the questions we used during the interview process. Keep in mind that those questions are no more than tools we used to orchestrate the conversation. How we frame the questions is decisive. To make sure we hire right, the questions have to be ambiguous, personal, and stressful:

  • Tell me why it is more important for you to be having this conversation with us, rather than being doing something else?
  • What are the things you hear yourself most often complain about in your current (or last) position?
  • What have you done to change the very things you complain about?
  • What would be an extraordinary accomplishment for you?
  • What is the greatest contribution that you plan to make to the organization?
  • What will you hold the organization accountable for?

With answers from the candidate to questions such as these, we now have a pretty good idea whether the candidate is a good fit for our organization or not.

The next step is to validate the technical skills of the candidate. I know of no other way to validate the skills of a developer than to orchestrate a conversation around code. So we will give the candidate an opportunity to show us what kind of developer he is through his code. But that’s another story.