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Starting a Tech Business: A Practical Guide for Anyone Creating or Designing Applications or Software by Alex Cowan

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Evaluating New Hires

Tell Me about Yourself

After you've written job descriptions, identifying the key skill sets you need, the hard part is evaluating candidates with the limited information you'll get from a résumé and a job interview. Beyond the technical credentials of the developer, you have different mindsets and things that drive them. On an anecdotal/non-scientific basis, I've put together a set of buckets that I use to help me think about what kind of person a developer is and what they want. These are particularly important if you plan to use one of the adaptive or “Agile” methodologies popular with tech startups. Those methodologies require close collaboration and teamwork, meaning that communication skills and team orientation are as critical as technical skills.

The percentages look silly, but I like to put together specific data points and adjust them based on experience. The first category—Climbers—are rare but valuable. They work hard and happily take on new challenges as long as they see an upside. They can sometimes get in other developers' hair, so you need to ensure you give them a big enough project to keep them focused and prevent them from disrupting others. You can help Climbers do what they want to do by giving them as big an opportunity as you think they can handle and giving them a long leash.

The second category—Scientists—will acquire fantastic expertise in topics that interest them. These developers are perfect if you have a complex new technology ...

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