Hopefully it's ok to post here... Thoughts on hiri...
# general
k
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?
s
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."
m
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
p
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.
r
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.
p
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
j
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
r
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.
j
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