In our last post, we covered the first three phases of our DevOps hiring process, which involved an Initial Screen, Detailed Video Interview and Technical Screen. Here, we’ll discuss the last three phases of that process and describe how we reach hiring decisions.
Phase 4: Technical Exercise
If both the Technical Liaison and the candidate agree to proceed, the candidate moves on to the Technical Exercise. The goal of the Technical Exercise is to help determine how well a candidate will fit into our team, our practice and our culture.
To succeed, a candidate doesn’t necessarily have to solve the exercise without help (or even solve it at all). The exercise helps us understand how candidates address problems, how they communicate and how they show the thinking behind what they’ve done. Along those lines, some elements of the exercise are purposely vague to identify how well candidates can (1) solve problems on their own and (2) search for, ask for and find the help they need.
Candidates uses a Slack channel to communicate with the Liatrio team throughout the Technical Exercise. They post screenshots, share schedules and provide updates on the status of their work. If they’re stuck or if something is unclear, they should reach out in the Slack channel, using Slack in a fully transparent, collaborative way.
While the Technical Exercise is an untimed, open book exercise, we do expect all work to be completed in five days so as to not hold up the rest of the recruiting process. The Technical Exercise can be competed in two hours by someone experienced in all of the tools we use. That said, most candidates spend around 10 hours to complete the exercise. Once candidates complete the Technical Exercise, they communicate with us in Slack to let us know
The exercise is meant to be challenging. It’s important to see how resourceful candidates are – and to get a sense of how they think. Our internship candidates complete this same Technical Exercise, and 9 out of 10 are successful. In the more experienced candidate pool, only about 60% are successful, as they’re often less likely to seek out information that is unfamiliar to them. Most candidates who don’t make it through this phase fail on collaboration and communication.
In the DevOps hiring process, successful candidates tend to ask questions and seek help. They don’t spin their wheels or work in isolation. The exercise helps us gauge the candidate’s willingness to collaborate with the team while also showing off their DevOps technical chops.
Phase 5: Prep and Team Presentation
Candidates who make it successfully through the Technical Exercise will present a demo of their exercise to the decision-making team. To prepare the candidate for the presentation, the Technical Liaison spends up to 30 minutes with the candidate, providing guidance, sharing expectations and answering questions.
The candidate will likely spend a couple of hours creating and preparing for the demo. It’s also the candidate’s responsibility to sync-up schedules using the dedicated Slack channel.
During the Team Presentation, the candidate leads a one-hour video and screen share presentation, guiding the members of the decision-making team through the Technical Exercise. Candidates cover what they did during the exercise, what they learned and areas that posed challenges. Presentations should include time for Q&A.
Consulting candidates create a presentation focused on their DevOps philosophy and practices and on their experience leading DevOps transformations. The demo should tie the exercise to their big-picture understanding of how the exercise might be implemented in an enterprise organization. Technical candidates, in turn, give a detailed, interactive demo of the exercise. The demo should explain how and why they made specific technical decisions, the resources needed to make those decisions and the larger implications on enterprise-level CI/CD.
Phase 6: In-Person Team Meeting
After the presentation, the Liatrio team consults via Slack to make a final assessment of the candidate (at/above/below level) and reach consensus on whether or not to hire the candidate. However, as part of our DevOps hiring process, Liatrio team members always meet the candidate in person before making a formal offer. Because our team serves clients around the country, we usually fly the candidate out to the geographic location that makes the most sense. The face-to-face conversation helps both Liatrio and the candidate to make sure the decision is the right one.