How to Hire for Technical Positions the JBS Way

Technical interviews can be draining and may not give you a realistic overview of your candidate. And how is your culture once they get hired? Are you cultivating an environment your employees want?

Here at JBS we strive to find the best talent available on the market. To aide with that we offer a lot of industry perks. The ability to work from home, competitive salaries and benefits, and a company culture centered around software development and the people who build it. All of this is well and good, but it does not do anything if we cannot find, meet, and recruit the highest caliber people the industry has to offer. Doing so can be extremely error prone and hard to do but looking at our track record we believe that we have found a solution that is working.

There are many aspects and challenges to hiring for technical positions. We are going to break down our approach and share with you how we get the talent and caliber that we are known for.

What We Do Not Do…

There are two common practices in the industry that we at JBS do not do. The first is the popular puzzle or trivia questions that many of the larger software development companies are famous for. While the questions can assess some level of intelligence, they are rarely, if ever relevant to the everyday work of creating quality software. We do not hire our developers to solve random riddles or puzzles, we hire them to help our clients solve their needs and realize their aspirations. Likewise, our code should not resemble a puzzle or riddle, it needs to be intelligently thought out, cohesive, and easily understood for future development and maintenance.

The second practice we do not require, is making software developer candidates code before, during, or after the interview. With this one, we do see the appeal of it, but have decided against it for a few reasons. The first is a respect for the candidate’s time. Writing quality software and code take time, and we do not feel it is fair to make a candidate write a day’s worth of code for a single interview. Ideally, we would pair a new candidate with one of our developers for a week to see firsthand what they can do, but it is simply not realistic. It can also be difficult to tell if the code received is a realistic example of what they are capable of in a real-world group setting. Instead, what we focus on is the candidate’s thought process.

What is a Person’s Thought Process?

The main role at JBS is writing code, and our software developers are the foundation of our company. If we do not start here, it does not matter how good our leadership and management is. So that means finding people who can write good code, and that is harder than it sounds. For starters, it takes a good developer to recognize one, and that’s where we started, with a solid foundation of talented developers. From there, we take a multipronged approach.

Our first step is a short technical screening and evaluation. Generally done by one of our recruiters. This is the classic interview trivia, but we try not to go too deep or crazy on it. The real questions begin in the second interview, where we take some of our top developers and set them down with the candidate. Here is the thing, we have some impressive subject matter experts here at JBS. The questions start simple and ramp up from there. A couple of our developers are handpicked according to the candidates experience and resume. Just enough to cover all topics, but a small enough group to facilitate group conversations. Our team will steadily ramp up the difficulty of questions until the candidate cannot answer anymore, whether that be due to complexity or obscurity. Almost a breaking point if you will. When a candidate can no longer answer the questions, the real interview begins.

People handle stress and failure in different ways. Some double down on their opinions, some become excessively frustrated, and some begin to ask questions. We want to see how our potential future employees will act in these scenarios. Can we have a discussion around the topic? Are they willing to ask for or accept help in coming to an answer? If we disagree, are they able to stand by their opinion while being open to other ideas? These are the types of things that happen every day on real software projects, and it is at this moment that we get a glimpse into how a candidate would interact with their coworkers and our clients. JBS is built on brilliant people who can disagree, iterate, discuss, and find the best possible solutions for our clients. If you take two bestselling authors and ask them to write the same book, the story will come out differently, even if both books are masterpieces. Software projects at JBS are coauthored by the best minds we can find to forge a single solution.

The Importance of JBS Culture

Culture is often a buzz word, but it something we take seriously. In fact, we have actual documentation on JBS culture that we require employees to review and contribute to once a year. Fun fact, we keep it in source control and treat it just like a coding project that we continually update, but hey, what did you expect from a bunch of software developers?

We want people at JBS to be well rounded. While there is a common theme of technology and software development, we want our employees to be open and expressive with hobbies and interests outside the job. That is why Slack, our internal messaging system, has a “Pets” channel alongside “JavaScript”. People with a more balanced life tend to be more relatable, which translates to meetings with our clients. It also just makes for more pleasant people to work alongside. We do not really care what interests a candidate has, and we consider getting to know the candidate an important part of the interview. A balanced lifestyle leads to healthier people and lowers the risk of burnout. It provides a personal touch and a different view into who a candidate is from a different angle, and we are all about investing in people long term.

Conversations like these also help to bring out a candidate’s ability to communicate and their soft skills. Something that JBS tends to value much more highly than other software companies. Between this and asking questions a candidate cannot answer, we can begin to see how a potential employee will interact at the company. How is their ability to read people, or the room? Can they navigate a tough conversation? Even something as simple as finding a candidate to be funny or insightful adds up. These are the type of people that can become part of a cohesive successful team.

How Are We Different...?

We are very proud of what we have built here at JBS. Our track record speaks for itself, and we are continuing to grow year over year. The people that we have found and brought together are the reason for our success. Every company has its own hiring procedures and style, but we feel that we have hit upon a system that is both our own and extremely effective. There is a thought in the industry that talent draws a similar level of talent, and we are extremely confident with our trajectory. JBS will continue to hire the best that the industry has to offer and place them within the best teams that we can create. Time will tell if our approach is correct. All we can say is that we have been extremely happy with our results, and our employees and clients seem to agree.

Think you would like to work with us? Check out our careers page here!

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