Hiring is serious business
From the perspective of a software developer, joining a company as an employee is a major life decision. Most of us change companies a few times in our carreers and a job is a relationship that involves a significant emotional and time commitments.
For a company, hiring someone is also a decision loaded with financial and non-financial risks and costs. Typically, there is a period of investment in training before a new employee becomes productive and making the wrong hiring decision can cost a lot of time and money before the mistake becomes apparent.
Those hiring decisions are often based on a quick examination of a paper resume and on a couple of short job interview interactions.
A high productivity developer is not necessarily a good job interview performer. There is great value in being able to communicate well in a high-pressure situation, but that skill doesn’t correlate strongly with the everday qualities expected from a good software developer.
As hiring managers, we know it is not possible to “read” through the surface and evaluate a candidate during a quick interview and decide whether or not someone is technically competent and will fit the culture of our organization. So what do we do? Whenever possible, we rely on social references, hiring people who have worked with people we know and trust. As a second option, we include a technical evaluation in the hiring process, which is still superficial, but less subjective than a conversation.
Interviews and outsourcing partners
When hiring software developers through outsourcing partners, should we rely on the partner or should we try to evaluate candidates through an interview process like we would with a in-house employee? The answer to that question might be counter-intuitive.
If the company you work with is a trusted partner taking responsibility for results, they will follow practices that are similar to yours and become an extension of your trusted professional network. In that case, rather than an additional layer risk, the partner can provide an additional buffer against it.
The gap between interview perceptions and actual performance could be even larger with one extra degree of distance. With the right controls in place, there are incentives for your outsourcing partners to make good hiring decisions because they are going to be evaluated on results, rather than hours spent in a project. It makes sense to delegate coupled decisions and responsabilities the same way you would do in your own organization.