Don't hire by the job description

I've written a couple of job descriptions recently for a program manager role my team is hiring for. Here's a random extract from the posting:

  • "Ability to lead change and drive own initiatives..."

  • "Eye for design..."

  • "Cross-team skills..."

I hate to break it to you, but even if you do all these things, you're not going to get hired. Simply put, hiring by the job description is a great recipe for hiring mediocre people. Instead, I like to hire outside the job description. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your role. What do you do at your job that's not your job? Give me an example of a project that started off as an incubation and changed the way your team does things.

I've found that otherwise smart people looking for a 'home' can't answer these questions. They're looking for structure and stability.

Interestingly, makers and hackers do great at these questions. They are often people who go above and beyond their day jobs. They build prototypes. They learn about Go and Erlang even though they code in C#. They take risks and do anything to make their team and product successful.

I want to work with these people.