Hopefully it's ok to post here... Thoughts on hiri...
# general
Hopefully it's ok to post here... Thoughts on hiring for a platform engineering team. Would you prefer "generalists" over "specialists"? I know this all depends on the specific requirements but do you have a personal preference?
Attitude, fast learners who can also teach, collaborative problem-solvers, mile-wide/inch-deep generalists, but with a few key areas of depth of expertise. One of my favorite things to talk about during an interview is: "Tell me about a time you had to learn something quickly and then turn around and teach it to someone else."
I would look at a mixture, having specialists can be very beneficial as long as the knowledge is shared. A network specialist for example, helps a lot. But as Scott already said fast learners and collaborative problem-solvers also good to have in the mix
Depends on size of team & size of environment. Highly likely you'll end up with a mostly generalist team with some specialists as Scott says. One additional thing I tell people to factor in is a connector. Someone who is highly energized by helping others succeed and who wants to be in that mentor / coach / fan role. Not everyone likes doing that, but having 1-N on the team helps drive these sorts of initiatives across the broader dev teams.
Now, if we can just get the recruiting orgs in companies to stop filtering out generalist fast-learning problem-solvers… I’d put myself in that category. But when I’ve been job hunting I usually get “Well, we want someone with X years doing Z with Y.” At my most favorite gig ever, the interview went something like:
_*Me*_: I see you’re pretty much all C++. I did a little C++ a long time ago, but the bulk of my dev work has been in other languages.
_*Them*_: Yeah, we’re not worried about that. You’ll pick it up.
I can count on one hand the number of interviews I’ve had that went like that.
Speaking as someone who’s been a hiring manager for a long time, that’s on the manager, recruiting does what they are told and in the absence of direction they will guess
Well said, Paul! I was going to say that earlier and got sidetracked
The best talent I have hired in my career has been along the lines of the C++ example earlier
Depending on the company, a hiring manager can have more or less influence over what the recruiters are up to. (The interview exchange I posted was with one of the partners at an early stage startup, so no recruiters were involved.) A sharp recruiter is worth their weight in gold, though. I often judge the quality of a company by the quality of the recruiter that I talk to. Someone who knows how to assess talent makes me feel good about the company — because that recruiter may well be assessing my potential co-workers as well.
You will likely get that type of quality at either medium sized organizations (still focus on engineering driven vs product driven which is appropriate for later stages) and/or MANGAs who have the time and resources to actually specialize in these types of searches