How to interview, Joel style

If you’ve never read Joel Spolsky’s Guerilla Guide to Interviewing, then the latest version (ver. 3.0) is a must read for you. I think that it doesn’t matter if you’re a software guy or if you’re working at a magazine, there’s something for everyone.

A couple of ideas that Joel mentions are almost Semco-like (see Ricardo Semler) and that’s probably why I like the article so much. But, enough about me, here’s an excerpt:

You should always try to have at least six people interview each candidate that gets hired, including at least five who would be peers of that candidate (that is, other programmers, not managers). You know the kind of company that just has some salty old manager interview each candidate, and that decision is the only one that matters? These companies don’t have very good people working there. It’s too easy to fake out one interview, especially when a non-programmer interviews a programmer.

I’ve seen this happen a lot where people complain that the guy who was hired wasn’t good enough, or the person just doesn’t fit into the team. And, how do you know when to hire someone?

OK, I didn’t tell you the most important part—how do you know whether to hire someone?

In principle, it’s simple. You’re looking for people who are

1. Smart, and
2. Get things done.

That’s it. That’s all you’re looking for. Memorize that. Recite it to yourself before you go to bed every night.

Go read The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing (version 3.0) and if you’ve not read his other articles, check out the archive .

I think Joel on Software should be made compulsory reading for everyone in the IT industry, but that’s just me.


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