James Governor's Monkchips

How to Hire a Good Developer: Read Their Blog: No interview required

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Yeah yeah I know it seems like I pitch blogs as a universal panacea. I have cited them as an essential recruiting tool before.But after reading this post from John Montgomery, where he asks how to interview a developer, I couldnt help thinking why are you interviewing anybody?
Don’t you know who would be great for the team already? If not perhaps you’re spending too much time in meetings talking to Microsoft people, and not enough time reading blogs by outsiders.
Compare and contrast with this story from Rick Segal.

Back at MusicIP, things were getting a bit hairy, coding reinforcements were needed.  I call Larry. Doesn’t matter that he wasn’t up on the exact stuff we needed. Doesn’t matter that he was in Canada and the core programmers are in California.  All you had to do was read the guy’s blog, check out his code, and you could get a reasonable idea of what he could do. And after you meet the guy in person your expectations are exceeded.

After a quick call/phone interview, we flew Larry out to California for an intense 15 day get up to speed, code quick, learn fast, adventure. Larry dived in and I am using a freshly coded version of something he coded as I type this.  The guy is a rock solid professional and, for bonus points, a super nice guy.

As a result, we have some new products and a trusted member of the MusicIP team. Larry makes a good recruiting poster for getting in there and “just coding something.”

On that final point, it may be that Tuscany needs to be about “just coding something”, rather than spending a ton of time in a formal requirements gathering process. If Microsoft is going to build a “Writely for software development” you need to forget most of what you have learned at MS about software development processes. Who are the outliers that will help you with that exercise in amnesia? A lot of them probably have blogs.
That said, you need to worry less about scoping the product and more about just coding something. If you get something cool online then top notch coders will come to you and start building to the framework… Developers love to solve problems. If you have some code in place, which does one thing well, why not get your “interviewees” to quickly extend that code to do something else well. 
You need to make blogs and source code part of your hiring process. Fewer meetings and formal HR processes, and more getting things done.


  1. Visibility through weblogs

    A weblog can really help you in marketing yourself for a job.

  2. The only thing I see is that there are still a lot of people that don’t understand very well the open world. If your ideas were to be massed adopted in the near future, we would see a reaction of blogs with an hiring agenda.

  3. There’s no need to focus on blogs. The comment could have been done a decade ago with substituing “blogs” “usenet posts.” Potential hires may have webssites without a blog per se’ or published papers, journal articles, etc. All these things could serve the same purpose.

  4. And back in I Think, November, the New York magazine magazine ran an article about headhunters and employers who were already using Facebook and similar to find out background information on people that were applying for jobs, new hires etc. You can read it online here:

    I can certainly attest that web pages do exactly the same as a blog for recruiting purposes, back when we were first pushing Grid and I had lots of presentations on my now “functionally stabilised” corporate web site I had loads of calls from headhunters and a direct approach from a specific large software company you wouldn’t normally associate with grid.

  5. SAP sniffing around eh mark? 😉

  6. Now that you mention it, Back in the days when SAP was joining the LDAP gang, they crawled over Netcape’s newsgroups and did got to hire a few people from there. LDAP was a brand new thing are there were only a fist full of people that understood the protocol

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