I am facing a problem with some engineers and I want to know if is possible to detect some characteristics during the interviews or through some test.

In my company (a software house), we are hiring software engineers. We have some tests, mostly about programming skills and we are introducing some assessment tests too.

I have detected that some engineers require too much effort to manage them. The following can be a kind of characterization:

  • The engineer doesn't follow all the required instructions written down in a procedures document (even short ones)
  • The engineer needs to be frequently asked if they follow the steps that some issue requires (like creating a profile following instructions)
  • There is a public channel where the team post important links to follow and news, and this kind of engineer tend to not read and follow links to important issues, even for themselves.
  • Even if the manager of these engineers is not a micromanager, he/she seems to be forced to micromanage them, if not, the tasks are not accomplished.

So the issue is:

  • How to detect during the recruitment steps, that you are dealing with this kind of engineer?
  • How to detected that the engineer requires some kind of micromanagement (to avoid it in fact).
  • Is there any kind of test that can detect some tendency of this in advance?

As Project Manager, I am looking for engineers that are self-organized, that you don't need to push them all the time.

  • 1
    If hiring were a science rather than an art, no one would ever make bad hires. I'm not convinced this question is answerable in a canonical way, or that it's more than tangentially on-topic here. I'll let the community weigh in on that. In my personal opinion, though, you probably need to focus on more concrete problems that you're facing (and one at a time, at that), rather than on open-ended hiring practices. – Todd A. Jacobs Jul 10 '19 at 13:05
  • how much this problem frequent, mean how much in percent? – Mjd Kassem Jul 10 '19 at 13:12
  • Isn't that what feedback and probation periods are for? – nvoigt Jul 10 '19 at 15:10
  • I'm not sure that micro-management fits this question? I believe this within the broad scope of PM that we've set, but I don't think this is about micro management. What would be a better tag? – Mark C. Wallace Jul 11 '19 at 12:26
  • Thanks for the insights, I am scoping more the problem, and it's related to lack of self-managing skills in an applicant. We need to test these skills during the recruitment process. I have found an interesting article, hope is useful to all you too.signalvnoise.com/posts/1430-hire-managers-of-one – Alián Rigñack Quevedo Jul 12 '19 at 12:54

There is a science to hiring. There are extensive literature on the predictive validity of various kinds of selection methods. Start your research with Schmidt and Hunter.

Structured interviews, work sample testing, and mental ability tests have scored high in predictive validity (r > .5) while other methods or indicators, such as experience, scored extremely low. Read up on Korn/Ferry's Lominger Competencies: LomingerToolsandServices.pdf

If you're serious about improving your talent recruiting, hire the right kind of professional. Look for I/O Psychologists or similar training.

  • Thanks David, I will return with some feedback after reading. I have found some interesting assessment test here: discovermyprofile.com that I hope can help me in some degree also, as extra tools during the recruitment process. Hope can be useful to you too – Alián Rigñack Quevedo Jul 12 '19 at 12:59

First, to your direct question, there is no reason that you can't ask things like "When you are working a task and finish it, what do you often do next?" Or "Describe to me how you organize your day." A question I used to use frequently was "You have an important deadline and you've discovered that the implementation that was selected won't accomplish the goals of the project. What would you do?" This tells you all kinds of useful info.

Now, people are not inherently self-managing or not. Perhaps a better way to put it would be: is the engineer used to self-managing? If I look at companies who are prime examples of environments that support self-management, there are enough mechanisms in place that people not used to it quickly get used to it or self-select out. The situation you describe is familiar and often happens when organizations are stuck in between. You mention that the manager chooses to micro-manage instead of letting a task go unaccomplished. This is an enabling behavior. The manager is teaching that person that they value delivery over self-management.

There are many advantages to self-managing teams and employees, but you need to be committed. I often recommend looking at David Marquet's Ladder of Leadership as a series of steps to start safely building in self-management habits in both the managers and employees. It is a little more psychologically safe than all-or-nothing but doesn't enable bad behavior.

  • Thanks Daniel for your feedback, sorry I cannot yet rate your answer (not enough score). Your answer gives me some insights to continue researching this topic. Some useful insights in this article: signalvnoise.com/posts/1430-hire-managers-of-one and I have found some interesting assessment test here that can help me: discovermyprofile.com, by University of Cambridge. I am realizing that as company, we should make more questions to the applicants related with self-managed skills. Hope being contributing to you also in this field. – Alián Rigñack Quevedo Jul 12 '19 at 12:51

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