All of us have interviewed for jobs, but remarkably few of us have been the subject of a rigorous, standardized, thoughtful approach to the hiring process.
I’m thinking about this today, in part, because I’m hoping to hire a new reporter myself, but also because of something I saw on Twitter. Stacy-Marie Ishmael was the Financial Times’ first vice president of communities and BuzzFeed News’ managing editor for mobile. In a recent blog post, she says she has interviewed dozens of candidates and has found that the kind of idle chit-chat that can be the most telling stuff for witless managers is not indicative of the best hire. In fact, she and others argue persuasively that that stuff might lead you to hire people you like or who have similar hobbies rather than those who are best suited to the work.
That last part is particularly important. We’ve all heard tech companies (and really it’s true of most industries) lambasted for hiring for “culture.” Too often what that means is that men hire other men with similar characteristics. That creates a boring, homogenous “culture” that is less agile, less able to respond to all of your customers, including those who don’t look like us.
Through the years, I have taken some pride in my hires at the Half Moon Bay Review. We have had reporters leave our paper for Google, the Wall Street Journal and the Seattle Times, among other places. Truth is, these are successful people who would have done well without yours truly. I have indulged in magical thinking from time to time. I thought of hiring as more art than craft and assumed I was just good at it for some mysterious reason. Well, that’s BS. I’ve been lucky and I’ve benefitted from representing a wonderful place that is its own advertisement. … Read the rest of this entry »