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Being a project manager what objective criteria do you use when recruiting new technical engineers to your project? Typically their resumes are full of magic buzz words. How to select the right person, objectively?

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Give them a sample problem or set of problems to solve.

These should be generated by senior members of the team they'll be working with and they should relate to the type of projects they'll be working on.

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An objective answer will be difficult, because hiring is not only about technical skills. One of the first thing I try to know is: will it be OK to work side-to-side with this person? Human qualities are, in my opinion, at least as important as technical skills.

How can you know? First, when you are reading a resume, look at the projects the candidate has done. Try to determine the involvement level of the person in technology. Did (s)he choose this job because (s)he likes it, or just because companies are giving away lots of money to get it done? For example, in IT, involvement in personal projects is a good clue.

The interview is of course the main moment to determine involvement and human qualities. I ask questions like: "Why did you chose IT for a living?", "Are you autonomous in your work?", "What was your favorite course during your studies?", "Tell me about something you are proud of", "What's the last book you have read?", "What have you learned during your summer jobs?" (for beginners), "What would you say if I said this interview is going all wrong?", "How would you rate me as an interviewer?" or "Tell me about your hobbies." (Note that some countries restrict what questions you can ask during an interview.) The purpose is to encourage the candidate to open up, in order to see if you will be able to work with them.

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Just because a resume is full of buzz words, it doesn't mean that the candidate has solid skills. Pick the technologies or subject areas that are most vital to the job that you are interviewing for, and ignore all of the others, then ask questions about the person's detailed knowledge in these key areas. Ask questions like "how" and "why", and probe deeply into their answers to see whether their knowledge is superficial or in-depth.

But ignore the human side at your peril. For most jobs I would tend to take a person with sufficient technical skills and the right interpersonal skills and personal competencies, rather than someone who is a deep technical wizard but doesn't fit the team. There will be exceptions, but that has worked well for me in the past.

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Try to match the technical requirements with their technical knowledge.

You can also present what is the project, what is the goals to be achieved and ask them their thoughts and experiences on similar projects.

If you have some technical background it will be easier to share information and to understand theirs thoughts.

Maybe you can adapt The Joel Test to find a better way to recruit them. Specially if a specifically technical knowledge is required, probably you will have to apply a technical test because:

Would you hire a magician without asking them to show you some magic tricks? Of course not.

Somehow, you have to understand their world to recruit them. It is hard to list some objective criteria it will depend on what skills the project demands and when talking to them it will depend on their communications skills.

Maybe the The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing (version 3.0) can help you.

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