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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Paring as part of recruiting process

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  • David Koontz
    Our interview process at SolutionsIQ for many teams was to pair program with the candidate as an evaluation of the persons ability to program and team member
    Message 1 of 17 , Jun 2, 2011
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      Our interview process at SolutionsIQ for many teams was to pair program with the candidate as an evaluation of the persons ability to program and team member fitness.  We did a standard pairing problem, so as to have a known comparison of a candidate vs the typical candidate.  It gave great insight into the persons ability to fit into the group and their desire to work with others (teamwork behaviors).  Many hiring decision came down to how the candidate behaved during the pairing exercise.  We had some people that couldn't use the IDE (even though they talked a great game and said they could use it), that didn't have the slightest idea how to code, etc.  and it became obvious during the exercise (making for an easy decision).  The great candidates never surprised us during the exercise; but the questionable candidates made it apparent they were not the best fit during the exercise.  We even did some via remote/phone pairing.

      We didn't try to pair with the whole team during the interview - just one person with perhaps 2 others observing.  Our general interview was 45-60 minutes of question discussion of topics with 2 - 3 people & candidate.  Then about 45 - 60 min. of pair coding exercise.

      D a v i d   K o o n t z
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      On Jun 1, 2011, at 11:11 PM, Paul Tevis wrote:

       

      On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 10:59 PM, <avi_a@...> wrote:
      > We're recruiting new team members,
      > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
      >
      > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
      > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)

      I don't know if we did so effectively, but we used Alistair Cockburn's
      Elephant Carpaccio exercise for pairing during our recruiting process.
      We did five nine-minute sprints, swapping the pilot and navigator each
      time.

      --Paul

      --
      Paul Tevis
      ptevis@...
      http://paultevis.com


    • George Dinwiddie
      Hi, Avi, ... I ve done this to great effect. Not only do you get a deeper idea of their ability and fit with the team, but they don t get stuck on small
      Message 2 of 17 , Jun 2, 2011
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        Hi, Avi,

        On 6/1/11 1:59 AM, avi_a@... wrote:
        > We're recruiting new team members, and we were thinking of having the
        > candidates pair with existing team members as part of their
        > evaluation.
        >
        > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
        > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)

        I've done this to great effect. Not only do you get a deeper idea of
        their ability and fit with the team, but they don't get stuck on small
        differences between the way they've worked and the way you're
        accustomed. Done well, it's not like a pop test, but like a trial run.

        Check with your HR department for their rules. At one client where I
        introduced auditioning, they insisted on the same setup and evaluation
        form for every candidate. They also insisted that it couldn't be "real
        work" because they were worried about the appearance of using "free labor."

        No problem: We set up a toy project with some existing tests and a few
        desired stories and created a short list of open-ended questions for the
        evaluation form. We initially did this for developers, but then adapted
        the same code & scenario for testers and product owners.

        - George

        --
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
        Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
        Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      • avi_a@mapa.co.il
        Thanks all, sounds reassuring. I ll take a look into Johanna Rothman s site and the Elephant carpaccio exercise. Paul - 5 9 minute sprints? sounds interesting!
        Message 3 of 17 , Jun 2, 2011
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          Thanks all, sounds reassuring.

          I'll take a look into Johanna Rothman's site and the Elephant carpaccio exercise.

          Paul - 5 9 minute sprints? sounds interesting! Could you elaborate a bit on how exactly that's done?

          George - Luckily for us HR is not an issue - there are no restrictions.
          Setting up a toy project instead of real work might be a good idea for us, for security's sake if for no other.
          Nevertheless I'm interested in how the dynamics should be applied (pairing or teaming, how long, what to expect of the new recruits - they might not all be acquainted with scrum or pairing and we want to be fair setting up realistic expectations on them.)
          Also what kind of feedback should we be gathering (that is - what kind of feedback should our existing team members be supplying about the new recruits) - would you make a formal evaluation form? free retrospect-like feedback? etc

          Thanks,
          -Avi



          --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi, Avi,
          >
          > On 6/1/11 1:59 AM, avi_a@... wrote:
          > > We're recruiting new team members, and we were thinking of having the
          > > candidates pair with existing team members as part of their
          > > evaluation.
          > >
          > > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
          > > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
          >
          > I've done this to great effect. Not only do you get a deeper idea of
          > their ability and fit with the team, but they don't get stuck on small
          > differences between the way they've worked and the way you're
          > accustomed. Done well, it's not like a pop test, but like a trial run.
          >
          > Check with your HR department for their rules. At one client where I
          > introduced auditioning, they insisted on the same setup and evaluation
          > form for every candidate. They also insisted that it couldn't be "real
          > work" because they were worried about the appearance of using "free labor."
          >
          > No problem: We set up a toy project with some existing tests and a few
          > desired stories and created a short list of open-ended questions for the
          > evaluation form. We initially did this for developers, but then adapted
          > the same code & scenario for testers and product owners.
          >
          > - George
          >
          > --
          > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          > * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
          > Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
          > Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
          > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          >
        • Paul Tevis
          ... Here s the exercise as Alistair describes it: http://alistair.cockburn.us/Elephant+Carpaccio+exercise For the audition, I paired with the candidate. For
          Message 4 of 17 , Jun 5, 2011
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            On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:09 PM, <avi_a@...> wrote:
            > Paul - 5 9 minute sprints? sounds interesting! Could you elaborate a bit on how exactly that's done?

            Here's the exercise as Alistair describes it:
            http://alistair.cockburn.us/Elephant+Carpaccio+exercise

            For the audition, I paired with the candidate. For steps 4 and 5 (the
            elephant slicing part), I asked questions and wrote down the slices
            while she provided the breakdown. Then for step 6, we alternated
            driving and navigating positions for five iterations, starting with
            her at the keyboard. For my turns at the keyboard, I mimicked whatever
            style and convention she had used. At the end of each iteration, we'd
            demo what we had done and then switch places. We also had two other
            people involved, one as the Product Owner, to whom we presented the
            outcome of each sprint, and one representing the rest of the team, who
            would do things like look up what library calls might do what we
            wanted while we worked on something else. The three of us debriefed on
            the audition afterward.

            The problem was the same one we used at the Elephant Carpaccio session
            at Agile 2010: Calculating shipping costs, given a table of state
            sales tax rates and volume discounts.

            --Paul

            --
            Paul Tevis
            ptevis@...
            http://paultevis.com
          • George Dinwiddie
            Avi, ... We d have three people working with them. One acting the role of Product Owner and the other two as Developers. We d explain how we worked: pairing,
            Message 5 of 17 , Jun 5, 2011
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              Avi,

              On 6/3/11 2:09 AM, avi_a@... wrote:
              > Nevertheless I'm interested in how the dynamics should be applied
              > (pairing or teaming, how long, what to expect of the new recruits -
              > they might not all be acquainted with scrum or pairing and we want to
              > be fair setting up realistic expectations on them.)

              We'd have three people working with them. One acting the role of
              Product Owner and the other two as Developers. We'd explain how we
              worked: pairing, TDD. And we'd explain that we didn't expect them to
              know everything the same way we did.

              Then one developer would pair on a story. Then switch and the other
              developer would pair on the story. That way they got two different
              experiences, and everyone got to see both sessions. Since we'd done the
              stories before, we let them do most of the driving, but we'd switch when
              they got stuck or to show what we meant by something we said. It was a
              congenial session, not a roast.

              > Also what kind of feedback should we be gathering (that is - what
              > kind of feedback should our existing team members be supplying about
              > the new recruits) - would you make a formal evaluation form? free
              > retrospect-like feedback? etc

              I don't have the list of questions, handy. But we got together and
              asked ourselves "What would we like to see in a candidate?" There were
              both technical and social aspects.

              - George

              --
              ----------------------------------------------------------------------
              * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
              Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
              Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
              ----------------------------------------------------------------------
            • JackM
              This is a really great idea!
              Message 6 of 17 , Jun 10, 2011
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                This is a really great idea!

                --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@... wrote:
                >
                > Hi all.
                >
                > We're recruiting new team members,
                > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
                >
                > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
                > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
                >
                > Thanks in advance,
                > Avi
                >
              • Aeden Jameson
                I ve paired on katas in all the interviews I ve done in the last few years. You really learn a lot about whether people know TDD, refactoring, their tooling,
                Message 7 of 17 , Jun 10, 2011
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                  I've paired on katas in all the interviews I've done in the last few years. You really learn a lot about whether people know TDD, refactoring, their tooling, how they model, design approach (e.g. bottom-up, top-down, opportunistic).  Some tips, 

                  1) Use a kata. I've found other exercises lead to more talking than doing. The good get the first test out quickly.  
                  2) I prefer to do ones I'm not that familiar with or haven't done
                  3) Have them bring their own laptop. It's a comfortable environment. 
                  4) Allow 2-3 hrs

                  HTH a bit. 

                  Cheers,
                  Aeden

                  On Jun 10, 2011, at 9:10 AM, "JackM" <jack@...> wrote:

                   

                  This is a really great idea!

                  --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@... wrote:
                  >
                  > Hi all.
                  >
                  > We're recruiting new team members,
                  > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
                  >
                  > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
                  > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
                  >
                  > Thanks in advance,
                  > Avi
                  >

                • avi_a@mapa.co.il
                  Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I ve been away for several days. Thanks all for the replies. George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you
                  Message 8 of 17 , Jun 12, 2011
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                    Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I've been away for several days.

                    Thanks all for the replies.

                    George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you gave me some good food for thought on this.

                    The Elephant carpaccio sounds good, although my concerns are on the first part (sounds like it could end up being a lot of discussion before "starting" - doesn't it?)

                    George - Definitely sounds right, we're not looking to roast anybody. As for the evaluation, indeed seems like we'll be making a list of qualities we're looking for (sort of like a team-member backlog :)) and will probably do sort of a retrospective of the session afterwards regarding the desired points.

                    I guess in the end we'll need to get to the bottom line - who does the team want. that might be a good exercise in decision-making and self-organization on it'w own :)

                    Best wishes,
                    - Avi






                    --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "JackM" <jack@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > This is a really great idea!
                    >
                    > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@ wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Hi all.
                    > >
                    > > We're recruiting new team members,
                    > > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
                    > >
                    > > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
                    > > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
                    > >
                    > > Thanks in advance,
                    > > Avi
                    > >
                    >
                  • JoseS
                    I have no personal experience but there´s an article in the current issue of Inc magazine about a company that does it, Menlo Innovations. You can find the
                    Message 9 of 17 , Jun 12, 2011
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                      I have no personal experience but there´s an article in the current issue of Inc magazine about a company that does it, Menlo Innovations. You can find the article at http://www.inc.com/winning-workplaces/magazine/201106/youll-never-work-alone.html. Working in pairs is part of their culture so that's why the interviewing is conducted that way.

                      Jose

                      --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@... wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I've been away for several days.
                      >
                      > Thanks all for the replies.
                      >
                      > George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you gave me some good food for thought on this.
                      >
                      > The Elephant carpaccio sounds good, although my concerns are on the first part (sounds like it could end up being a lot of discussion before "starting" - doesn't it?)
                      >
                      > George - Definitely sounds right, we're not looking to roast anybody. As for the evaluation, indeed seems like we'll be making a list of qualities we're looking for (sort of like a team-member backlog :)) and will probably do sort of a retrospective of the session afterwards regarding the desired points.
                      >
                      > I guess in the end we'll need to get to the bottom line - who does the team want. that might be a good exercise in decision-making and self-organization on it'w own :)
                      >
                      > Best wishes,
                      > - Avi
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "JackM" <jack@> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > This is a really great idea!
                      > >
                      > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@ wrote:
                      > > >
                      > > > Hi all.
                      > > >
                      > > > We're recruiting new team members,
                      > > > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
                      > > >
                      > > > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
                      > > > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
                      > > >
                      > > > Thanks in advance,
                      > > > Avi
                      > > >
                      > >
                      >
                    • George Dinwiddie
                      Avi, I hope you ll summarize the experience and share it. ... -- ... * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com Software Development
                      Message 10 of 17 , Jun 12, 2011
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                        Avi, I hope you'll summarize the experience and share it.

                        On 6/12/11 4:28 AM, avi_a@... wrote:
                        > Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I've been away for several days.
                        >
                        > Thanks all for the replies.
                        >
                        > George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you gave me some good food for thought on this.
                        >
                        > The Elephant carpaccio sounds good, although my concerns are on the first part (sounds like it could end up being a lot of discussion before "starting" - doesn't it?)
                        >
                        > George - Definitely sounds right, we're not looking to roast anybody. As for the evaluation, indeed seems like we'll be making a list of qualities we're looking for (sort of like a team-member backlog :)) and will probably do sort of a retrospective of the session afterwards regarding the desired points.
                        >
                        > I guess in the end we'll need to get to the bottom line - who does the team want. that might be a good exercise in decision-making and self-organization on it'w own :)
                        >
                        > Best wishes,
                        > - Avi

                        --
                        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                        * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                        Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                        Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                      • avi_a@mapa.co.il
                        Gladly!
                        Message 11 of 17 , Jun 13, 2011
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                          Gladly!


                          --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Avi, I hope you'll summarize the experience and share it.
                          >
                          > On 6/12/11 4:28 AM, avi_a@... wrote:
                          > > Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I've been away for several days.
                          > >
                          > > Thanks all for the replies.
                          > >
                          > > George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you gave me some good food for thought on this.
                          > >
                          > > The Elephant carpaccio sounds good, although my concerns are on the first part (sounds like it could end up being a lot of discussion before "starting" - doesn't it?)
                          > >
                          > > George - Definitely sounds right, we're not looking to roast anybody. As for the evaluation, indeed seems like we'll be making a list of qualities we're looking for (sort of like a team-member backlog :)) and will probably do sort of a retrospective of the session afterwards regarding the desired points.
                          > >
                          > > I guess in the end we'll need to get to the bottom line - who does the team want. that might be a good exercise in decision-making and self-organization on it'w own :)
                          > >
                          > > Best wishes,
                          > > - Avi
                          >
                          > --
                          > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                          > * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                          > Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                          > Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                          > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                          >
                        • avi_a@mapa.co.il
                          Wow, sounds like a real dream-job.. Like they wrote in the article, I guess this kind of commitment to pairing needs to come from way up. Avi
                          Message 12 of 17 , Jun 13, 2011
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                            Wow, sounds like a real dream-job..
                            Like they wrote in the article, I guess this kind of commitment to pairing needs to come from way up.

                            Avi




                            --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "JoseS" <JOSE.SOLERA@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > I have no personal experience but there´s an article in the current issue of Inc magazine about a company that does it, Menlo Innovations. You can find the article at http://www.inc.com/winning-workplaces/magazine/201106/youll-never-work-alone.html. Working in pairs is part of their culture so that's why the interviewing is conducted that way.
                            >
                            > Jose
                            >
                            > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@ wrote:
                            > >
                            > > Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I've been away for several days.
                            > >
                            > > Thanks all for the replies.
                            > >
                            > > George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you gave me some good food for thought on this.
                            > >
                            > > The Elephant carpaccio sounds good, although my concerns are on the first part (sounds like it could end up being a lot of discussion before "starting" - doesn't it?)
                            > >
                            > > George - Definitely sounds right, we're not looking to roast anybody. As for the evaluation, indeed seems like we'll be making a list of qualities we're looking for (sort of like a team-member backlog :)) and will probably do sort of a retrospective of the session afterwards regarding the desired points.
                            > >
                            > > I guess in the end we'll need to get to the bottom line - who does the team want. that might be a good exercise in decision-making and self-organization on it'w own :)
                            > >
                            > > Best wishes,
                            > > - Avi
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "JackM" <jack@> wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > This is a really great idea!
                            > > >
                            > > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@ wrote:
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Hi all.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > We're recruiting new team members,
                            > > > > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
                            > > > > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Thanks in advance,
                            > > > > Avi
                            > > > >
                            > > >
                            > >
                            >
                          • Phil Kirkham
                            Menlo also get a mention in a blog from another company that does pairing as part of their interviewing, Atomic Object
                            Message 13 of 17 , Jun 16, 2011
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                              Menlo also get a mention in a blog from another company that does pairing as part of their interviewing, Atomic Object

                              http://spin.atomicobject.com/2009/01/28/everything-you-believe-about-interviewing-is-wrong/

                              I recently interviewed there ( as a tester not dev ) and spent the morning working on one of their current projects. Gave me a great insight into what working there would be like and they got to find out how I worked

                              Phil

                              --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "JoseS" <JOSE.SOLERA@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > I have no personal experience but there´s an article in the current issue of Inc magazine about a company that does it, Menlo Innovations. You can find the article at http://www.inc.com/winning-workplaces/magazine/201106/youll-never-work-alone.html. Working in pairs is part of their culture so that's why the interviewing is conducted that way.
                              >
                              > Jose
                              >
                              > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@ wrote:
                              > >
                              > > Hi and sorry for the late feedback - I've been away for several days.
                              > >
                              > > Thanks all for the replies.
                              > >
                              > > George, Paul - special thanks for the detailed pointers, you gave me some good food for thought on this.
                              > >
                              > > The Elephant carpaccio sounds good, although my concerns are on the first part (sounds like it could end up being a lot of discussion before "starting" - doesn't it?)
                              > >
                              > > George - Definitely sounds right, we're not looking to roast anybody. As for the evaluation, indeed seems like we'll be making a list of qualities we're looking for (sort of like a team-member backlog :)) and will probably do sort of a retrospective of the session afterwards regarding the desired points.
                              > >
                              > > I guess in the end we'll need to get to the bottom line - who does the team want. that might be a good exercise in decision-making and self-organization on it'w own :)
                              > >
                              > > Best wishes,
                              > > - Avi
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "JackM" <jack@> wrote:
                              > > >
                              > > > This is a really great idea!
                              > > >
                              > > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, avi_a@ wrote:
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Hi all.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > We're recruiting new team members,
                              > > > > and we were thinking of having the candidates pair with existing team members as part of their evaluation.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > We've never done this before but I've heard this can be a good idea.
                              > > > > Any advice/tips as to how to get this done effectively? (if at all)
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Thanks in advance,
                              > > > > Avi
                              > > > >
                              > > >
                              > >
                              >
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