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Started by GyratingTrampoline on Feb 16, 2022 10:27:09 AM
How do you recruit someone with good communications skills?

see post #1

GyratingTrampoline - 16 Feb 2022 10:27:11 (#1 of 20)

We're a very small software company (6 employees) and our current bottleneck is that only two of us are any good at

1) talking to clients

2) turning what the clients say into a well organised list of requirements

3) making sure that what is produced is of sufficient quality

4) taking responsibility for things rather than someone else needing to be responsible for them

And the two of us who have these skills are also up to our ears in other things we need to do.

We are at the point where we might take another person on, and we need to make sure it is someone who can ease this burden rather than adding to it.

Our recruiter thinks they have a candidate who satisfies this need brilliantly, their CV looks ok but how can we best go about assessing their ability in these areas, in terms of interview, tests etc?

FrankieTeardrop - 16 Feb 2022 10:28:21 (#2 of 20)

Do you have a test case of client requirements that they could turn into a well organised list?

FrankieTeardrop - 16 Feb 2022 10:28:59 (#3 of 20)

Or, you role play it

tasselhoff - 16 Feb 2022 10:33:11 (#4 of 20)

Maybe ask what tenders etc he's done in the past etc, RACI, etc..

GyratingTrampoline - 16 Feb 2022 10:33:13 (#5 of 20)

Role playing might be a good idea. Trouble is we recruit people so infrequently that we don't have any sense of what a typical candidate is like or what we can expect.

Dementor - 16 Feb 2022 10:34:48 (#6 of 20)

You want this bloke:

FrankieTeardrop - 16 Feb 2022 10:35:18 (#7 of 20)

Role playing might be a good idea. Trouble is we recruit people so infrequently that we don't have any sense of what a typical candidate is like or what we can expect.

You know what your clients are like, though.

Has the candidate direct UseX experience?

GyratingTrampoline - 16 Feb 2022 10:40:46 (#8 of 20)

I'm not sure what you mean by 'direct UseX', they have made the user interface of the software they have been working on in previous jobs if that's what you mean?

FrankieTeardrop - 16 Feb 2022 10:41:41 (#9 of 20)

I mean experience turning client conversations into usable list of requirements

FrankieTeardrop - 16 Feb 2022 10:42:16 (#10 of 20)

My brother does that for a living... it's quite a rare skillset as far as I can tell (or judging by what he gets paid!)

GyratingTrampoline - 16 Feb 2022 10:42:34 (#11 of 20)

oh ok. Yes that is exactly (part of) what we're looking for!

Ginmonkey - 16 Feb 2022 10:53:06 (#12 of 20)

I would set up some tests that replicate the kind of thing you want them to do. That way you can see their skills in action, as it were.

In my line of work it is common to test drafting and presentation skills by asking the interviewee to create a briefing or official letter on a particular issue.

FleurDuMal - 16 Feb 2022 10:54:52 (#13 of 20)

Yes, I'd do that. Set them an activity to explain a technical situation to non-techie people.

tasselhoff - 16 Feb 2022 11:23:53 (#14 of 20)

I'm doing this right now

tasselhoff - 16 Feb 2022 11:27:18 (#15 of 20)

Solution Architecture is useful because if used correctly it helps explain the rationale for any technical choices based on customer requirements. A workshop to help derive functional and technical requirements from business drivers, goals and principles can be useful for buy-in, but not necessary if they already have a functional requirements list. In this case, a spreadsheet compliance matrix specifying the requirements and associated response chapter/section(s) with comments should suffice.

HelenDamnation - 16 Feb 2022 11:34:53 (#16 of 20)

I would also say that you almost certainly need to go further than you are comfortable with on the balance of soft and technical skills. If you have 4 who are almost 100% technical skill, and 2 who are maybe 40/60 soft/technical, you need someone who might be 80/20 and that will feel wrong to a very technically minded organisation. Also, you need to be absolutely clear with everyone that this person is not less skilled, they have different skills.

I say this having been the 80/20 person in a team. I was very lucky that our boss was the 40/60 person and wouldn't take any "Helen can't code so therefore she's pointless" stuff. It helped that one of the 100 people had massively pissed off someone important by ignoring what they said they wanted, and I fixed that.

GrrrIbdis - 16 Feb 2022 11:36:31 (#17 of 20)

Coming at this another way, is there anyone else in the company who could either be trained and diversified from their current job, to bring their skills up to the level you need? This would mean you got the devil you knew, rather than someone you didn't, instant results and understanding of the application of those skills to your workplace and you would be bringing new skills in via a training exercise, rather than having to buy in just those skills and then train that person in everything else about your company. There are a lot of advantages to that, IMHO.

tasselhoff - 16 Feb 2022 11:48:17 (#18 of 20)

I think it's pretty difficult to train technical people in this sort of thing, especially rapidly.

GrrrIbdis - 16 Feb 2022 11:58:02 (#19 of 20)

Some, yes, I agree, Tass, but you can get some surprises, and even provide opportunities to people who've been channelled all their lives down one narrow alley and denied the chance to develop other skills seriously along the way. Any company that can develop and exploit such latent talent is good for its employees as well as itself.

I don't want to push the idea too hard, as I'm sure it's been considered anyway, but it is possibly a better bet if it can be done, than the other way round!

GyratingTrampoline - 16 Feb 2022 12:17:50 (#20 of 20)

Interesting post Helen. We currently have more actual development work to do that we have time to do it so are looking primarily for another developer who can ease the project management load rather than increase it. But yes it could be that someone who specialises in the non-development side of things could ease the bottleneck and mean that we get more out of everyone.

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