In a March 2010 column in Tech Republic (, Marc Schiller writes that to prepare a Vision of IT for his/her enterprise, the CIO should “network with your peers to learn about their key IT investments. What projects they are protecting no matter what and what projects they are killing. Find out what big investments they’re planning for the next five years and why they’re doing it. Try to understand where their business customers are pushing them and why.” The CIO can then discuss “the potential threats and opportunities depending on your company’s choices and evolving strategy.”

An IT Strategy presentation, Schiller writes (, should contain the IT organization’s: “(1) mandates and scope of services
(2) their organizations and service delivery models, (3) their IT investment portfolios.

“Mandate and Scope of Services
Your strategy must answer the questions that everyone has, ‘What do you do for me? When do I come to you? And how do you fit in with the other IT service providers that work for our company?'”, particularly in a world of business users who use 3rd party IT providers and departmental IT.

“The IT Organization and Service Delivery Model
Most IT leaders make the mistake of thinking that the way to align with the business is to ensure that their specific projects support very specific business goals. The more important alignment is around the basic operating model of the company and how it connects to the operating model of IT. Answer the questions: “How do I get the services I need?” or “How are our IT services aligned to our business?” ”

The IT Investment Portfolio
It’s important to provide a 50,000-foot view into the IT investment portfolio that explains what sits in infrastructure, what sits in shared services, what sits in departmental functions, and what tradeoffs are being made across the company. Doing that helps all the executives understand what compromises they need to make in terms of their consumption of IT services, whether its slower response times or using outsourced service providers for help desk support or upgrading computers faster. This complete view of the IT investment portfolio and the business priorities to which the investments are attached lend tremendous credibility to the IT leader.

The Business Presentation
Provides an overview of the IT services that the corporation as a whole, and each particular group, is consuming including metrics such as trends over time in user counts and application uses, helpdesk volumes, second- and third-tier support calls, allocated costs.

From Justin James in TechRepublic:

Tests often evaluate rote memorization that the modern development environment does not require (e.g., between the IDE’s autocomplete, F1, and the Internet, library knowledge is not as important as it used to be).

* Explain the difference between “equality” and “equivalence” (credits to TechRepublic member Tony Patton for this question).
* What is the difference between “pass by value” and “pass by reference”? How are these ideas different in object-oriented systems and procedural systems?
* Describe “polymorphism.”
* Compare and contrast “pessimistic locking” and “optimistic locking.”

Any candidate who cannot successfully answer the first two is “entry level” at best. The second two should be answerable for any “intermediate” developer.

Thought Process: “The Chicken Question”
“If you had your way, how would you design a chicken, and why?”

Whiteboard programming
* Calculate the Fibonacci value for a number X
* Determine whether or not a given number X is prime
* Reverse an array without using a loop
* FizzBuzz
Or write the pseudocode and ask the candidate what the logic is trying to accomplish.

Code reviews
You should be looking for a candidate who can make optimizations, find “fence posting errors” (and other common mistakes), and so on. This will show that that person understands the difference between good code and poor code and know how to write good code.

The Usual Suspects
Instead of asking, “What’s your biggest weakness?” try asking, “What aspect of Web development do you feel weakest in?” (or whatever kind of development your project is in). If your candidate lacks the exact set of skills that you’re looking for, don’t ask them, “Do you think you could come up to speed quickly in these tools?” Because, of course, she will say she can. Instead, ask for examples of how she has been able to perform jobs despite lacking the skill set at the beginning.

Assuming the compensation of a position roughly equals that position’s importance to the organization, we can say that the higher the salary of the position, the superiority of the Quality-of-Hire metric to the Time-To-Fill and Cost-Of-Hire metrics is most profound. Still, recruiting departments give their internal clients — hiring managers — service levels or expectations of when a given position can be filled. The Time-To-Fill service level depends on several variables including:

*unemployment rate (the lower this is, the longer the ttf)
*your company’s offering in terms of salary range, benefits, location, employer brand, “referral culture” (the better these are, the shorter the ttf)
*luck — you receive great resumes from a job board posting or from a recruiter the next day
*supply/demand balance of the skillset in question
*recruiting department’s skill and existing “pipeline” of candidates from previous searches in this skill set
*length of time to complete the interview process and make an offer
*company’s ability to provide relocation assistance and to hire candidates needing visa sponsorship

Applicant Tracking Systems generally track the historic “time-to-fill” metrics so these are probably adequate proxies balanced with the factors mentioned above.

HireEvolve (, Vivid Technologies’ sister company, advises corporate HR Managers on how to gauge the effectiveness of their recruiting departments and what steps they can take to bring their recruiting up to best practices. Here’s the survey HireEvolve uses:

I. Understanding of existing recruiting model
– Recruiting staff/Dedicated recruiter setup
– Usage of search firms/name sourcing firms on retained/contingent basis
– Balance of own research vs outsourcing
– Analysis of costs and potential time savings across the following recruitment stages
o Requisition
o Sourcing
o Screening
o Offer and On-boarding

II. Understanding of your recruiting load
– Overall inventory of open positions
– Types of positions
– Optimal requisition load per recruiter
– Average time-to-fill

III. Broad success factors across both in-house and outsourcing models
– Method that generates the highest % of hires
– Best outsourcing service used
– Best Practices
– Technology leverage
– Optimal employee referral bonuses

IV. Scope for improvement/Collection of Metrics
– Quality considerations/pain points
– Cost per hire
– Time to hire
– Vendor compensation model
– Solution that could possibly make a difference
– Technology improvements over current software implementation
– Overall Support from vendor, agencies

Retained Recruitment Guru Danny Cahill’s outline of a best practice onboarding process:

1. Have desk ready
2. Have photo and badge ready
3. Have email and phone ready
4. Have new employee set up on benefits
5. Have nice packet sent in mail with benefit information, welcome letter, etc
6. Make announcement of hire in local newspapers
7. Connect candidate with a realtor if relocating

On day-of-start
1. Let everyone in dept. know that new person is starting
2. Have new hire meet company’s CEO or at least see the CEO on a DVD or webex
3. Have a culture lunch where new employee is taken out by team for a long lunch

When unemployment is high (greater than 6%), a boiler-plate position description with a few buzz word qualifications will attract many resumes. In tight labor markets — the 4.6% unemployment rate of today certainly qualifies — it is imperative that position descriptions be written as advertisements that attract top candidates to apply. Recruiting Guru Lou Adler suggests that excellent position descriptions answer the following 7 questions:

1. What are some of the big challenges or projects that incumbents in the job will work on in the first year?
2. How do the jobs contribute to the mission/success of the company?
3. What would a top person have to do to earn an “outstanding” performance rating for the year?
4. What learning and growth opportunities are available for the new hires? How good is the Manager at developing employees?
5. Are there any best practices or innovations that new hires will be exposed to?
6. What’s particularly exciting about employment benefits? Flex-time, tuition reimbursement, 401k matching, bonuses, etc?
7. What kinds of people will the new hires work with? Executives? Team members with advanced degrees or impressive accomplishments?
8. Is the company entering new markets either by developing and launching new products or through M&A?
9. What were the three most important improvements this position or department made at the company in the last three years?
10. What are the three most important improvements that the company wants this position or department to make in the next three years?

Three changes you should make now to find better employees

2/24/2006 | by Lou Adler, in Electronic Recruiting Exchange

In a recent article, I made the contention that perfect candidates for your open positions might not have exactly the same background listed in your job descriptions.

Furthermore, some of these best people, even if you can find them, might come across as disinterested or less effervescent during the interview then managers would like. This is a big Catch-22 — we inadvertently eliminate the best people because their skills don’t meet some invalid standards or because they won’t fake interest in a job they know little about. This is idiotic.

If you want to find and hire more perfect candidates — including more passive and diverse candidates — you need to make three big structural changes. From what I can tell, unless you’re an employer of choice or have an excess of top candidates knocking on your door, these are not optional.

First: Redefine perfection. Focus on what a person needs to do to be considered perfect, rather than what the person must have in terms of skills, experience, and academic background. The technique for doing this was described in Part I of this series. Replacing the traditional job description in this approach is a list of the top six to eight critical tasks, in priority order, that the candidate taking the job is required to perform to be considered successful. This document is referred to as a performance profile.

Second: Use a consultative interviewing process rather than an inquisitorial one. Most managers use some form of behavioral interviewing or technical inquisition to assess competency. From this, they select those candidates who seem to fit the bill. Once the super short list is established, the recruiting process begins. The underlying assumption in all of this is that all candidates want the job and they’ll endure some level of disrespect to get it. “If the person doesn’t want the job, we don’t want them,” is the standard fallback retort of the naïve manager when it’s suggested there are better ways to interview and recruit candidates.

We’ll describe specific techniques in more depth in Part 3 of this article series, but here are a few ideas to consider now:

  • The best people want to earn the job, rather than having it handed to them. They don’t mind competition; in fact, they prefer it. But don’t start the interview with this mindset. Save this for later.
  • Initially assume that the person being interviewed is not actively looking, but rather exploring a number of various opportunities. In this case, use the early part of the interview to better understand what the person is looking for in a new job and what is motivating the person to even consider exploring.
  • Follow up by conducting a work history review, and then dig deep into a few of the person’s biggest career accomplishments. Now you have enough information to get serious. Top people prefer this type of interviewing format, since it shows respect for what they’ve done. They also like to talk about their most significant accomplishments, so make sure you spend at least 10 minutes on each one, guiding them along by asking fact-finding questions. This is how you start the recruiting process.
  • If the person is a potential fit, you’ll use the balance of the interview to further assess competency and begin a more aggressive recruiting process. These must be done in tandem.
  • This second round starts by describing some important project that’s clearly bigger than the candidate has ever worked on. Then ask the candidate to describe something he or she has accomplished that’s most comparable. While there’s a little more to it then this, demonstrate that the new job offers significant career stretch. You want to demonstrate this during the questioning process rather then waiting until the end of the interview. If you wait, it comes across as selling. When done in tandem, it’s career consulting.

The interview is a powerful tool which few managers know how to use properly. The objective of a good interview is to demonstrate respect for the candidate, while having them earn the right to the job. This way, they learn on their own why the job is a great career move. If you need to sell top candidates or to provide salary premiums to get them to accept your offers, you’re probably not getting the most out of the interview.

Third: Change how you find and hire perfect candidates. The best people don’t look in the same places, they don’t look for the same things when considering new opportunities. If your sourcing strategies and marketing approaches don’t correlate with how top people look for work — including diverse and passive candidates — you won’t find many. Developing better sourcing programs starts by knowing the decision criteria a top person uses when accepting a job.

It’s largely dependent on these five factors:

  1. The quality of job itself. The key here is determining if the new job offers job stretch and an opportunity for the person to excel, grow, and change.
  2. The quality of the hiring manager. Top people want to work for other top people. To hire top people, the manager must come across as a strong leader and potential mentor.
  3. The quality of the team. Top people want to work with other top people. A strong team of other high-performing people is a clear indication of a strong organization with significant upside potential.
  4. The quality of the company. While more important early in a person’s career, the overall company reputation and growth prospects are a part of the acceptance decision — but to a lesser degree than the actual job. Regardless, this link can be strengthened by tying the person’s job directly to some major company initiative. This is called job branding.
  5. The compensation package and quality of life issues. Although compensation is important, it’s usually not the overriding issue when the job-manager-team-company match is a direct fit. These are long-term or strategic factors. Compensation, relocation, and quality of life are tactical or short term factors. Top performers always consider the strategic factors more important than the tactical issues.

As you can see from the above, the performance-based interviewing process recommended in step two is designed to tie directly into how a top person ultimately decides whether to accept an offer. But the interview is way too late to begin. You need to use the same criteria during the sourcing stage. Here are some things you can do now to help you get more top performers into the initial pool of candidates:

  • Rewrite your ads. Try out this test. Remove your company name from your online job descriptions and ask some top people if they find the jobs as written compelling. If not, rewrite them. These descriptions must stand on their own. If top people who are currently employed aren’t excited about your online descriptions, the ads are worthless. And don’t complain that you don’t have the time. You’ll save time by having more top people — including passive and diverse candidates — apply for your openings if they’re exciting.
  • Reverse-engineer your hiring process. Find out how top people look for jobs. Most use Yahoo or Google — not job boards — when they look online. Some want to get referred by a current employee. Some want to be called. Make sure your process maps to their process — not to one of your bureaucrat’s.
  • Stop wasting money: conduct a sourcing channel review. Conduct an online survey of how your best people — not your average people — got hired into your company. Then spend your money on improving these channels rather than wasting your money using unproductive job boards.
  • Put a search engine on your career site. Get rid of the pull-down menu and job agent concept of finding jobs. Top people won’t endure this. Instead, allow candidates to put in a job title and location in a search bar and return with a list of opportunities. Each job should have a great title and two sentences so compelling that the person can’t refuse your offer to click for more info.
  • Fire your recruitment advertising agency. Stop listening to excuses. If you’re not seeing top performers, your recruitment advertising agency isn’t any good. Hire a consumer products marketing agency instead. For the same money, you’ll get 300 to 400 percent better performance — and a new way of thinking.
  • Expand your employee referral program to get names of people who aren’t looking. Ask your best people to give you the names of the best people they’ve worked with in the past who aren’t looking. Then call and recruit these people. While you’re at it, ask them to give you more names of great people who aren’t looking.
  • Use your phone and ZoomInfo. The person you’re going to hire is either listed in ZoomInfo or is known personally by someone listed in ZoomInfo. All you have to do is get on the phone and recruit and then network with the person. If some of you have forgotten, this is the definition of recruiting.

The search for the perfect candidate is not a difficult journey. It starts by redefining perfection using a performance profile instead of a job description. This needs to be combined with an aggressive sourcing program that mimics the process top performers (not average candidates) use to find new opportunities. The final piece is a sophisticated performance-based interviewing process that meets the needs of both discriminating managers and top performers. Throw in a little leadership and some courage and that’s all there is to it.