The rapid pace of public cloud adoption, coupled with the rapid pace of new feature releases and innovations, have created a new norm for how IT departments operate. One area where this is more apparent is in the hiring and retention of IT staff who have roles that demand an ability to change more rapidly than ever before.
This article focuses on how hiring managers should structure their interview process to get the right people on board. Organizations will have to change from the current model of interviewing candidates to determine if they’re a fit for certain requirements, to a model of interviewing to determine if they’re a fit for the organization’s mission. Interviews and recruiting must focus not only on the technologies candidates know, but on their ability to learn new technologies and apply them within the organization.
At AWS re:Invent 2017 alone, there were 60 major announcements. An organization that wants to stay on the cutting edge cannot wait to hire people who are deeply experienced with these new services. And more important than finding people with skills needed right now, hiring managers should focus on bringing in individuals who understand the fundamentals of fast moving markets, and have a passion to learn and apply new technologies as soon as they’re viable.
This dynamic affects different domains in different ways. Each one demands a specific focus on capabilities to ensure candidates can make sound judgements on applicability and strategies for implementation.
- Architecture – Architects must move from a team focused on designing standard patterns, to an enablement organization. When hiring for these roles, focus on individuals who want to share knowledge and build a practice community, and who take a mentoring and leadership approach in those communities.
- CloudOps – The role of operations in the cloud is very different from the “respond and repair” approach seen in traditional data centers. CloudOps teams must be built of individuals who constantly see areas for improvement and work toward implementation without needing direct guidance or specific direction.
- DevOps – As software developers take on more roles that demand full-stack engineering, the folks that work in these organizations must come in with not only a broader range of technical knowledge, but an appreciation for how an application is deployed, operated and used in production. Candidates should be evaluated against their ability to look beyond just the code that makes up the application, to the services that it consumes and how these interconnected pieces relate to one another.
- Data & Analytics – The fundamental role of D&A within decision making brings these capabilities to the forefront. As organizations transform to become data driven, consuming new cloud services in the process, candidates must show up with an interest in exploring new methods. Organizations cannot and should not rely on the toolsets individuals learned in college, but rather focus on their willingness to learn new technologies and apply them in iterative ways.
There are a variety of interview methods to determine a candidate’s fit to the organization’s mission and ability to execute on that mission in a self-guided, effective way. The key traits to look for during interviews include:
- Problem Solving – All candidates must be strong at decomposing problems into their respective parts. In an increasingly interconnected world, an understanding of complex relationships is key to problem-solving ability.
- Examples – Look for real world examples. Candidates that bring deep experience should have a wealth of examples of how they managed change, learned and applied new technologies, and improved their respective organizations.
- Interest in Technology – Nothing makes me happier in interviews than to hear candidates say they explored a technology by “playing with it at home” or “building an app on the weekend.” This shows a knowledge, backed by personal passion, that will help accelerate the organization’s technological progress.
- Opinions That Are Well Supported – Some of the strongest candidates are the ones who are knowledgeable enough to have opinions about approaches and technology, yet balance this with the soft skills necessary to defend their position and discuss alternatives.
Today’s world of technology is moving faster and faster. The major cloud platform vendors are releasing hundreds of new features every year, all with potential applicability to an organization’s core mission. When recruiting and hiring key staff to build and operate these systems, the focus must be on identifying whether or not the person is a fit for the core mission and has the ability to apply their experience and pick-up new technologies as the market evolves.