The last few weeks we have interviewed 5 candidates to replace a developer that is leaving our team. Here are a couple of thoughts from participating in that process. As a pianist, I learned a lot from watching and judging music competitions.
As an undergraduate music student, I wanted to win the annual concerto competition. Winners got the opportunity to play a concerto with the university orchestra. It took me 3 years until I won the first time. It was a game. After I played, I stayed and watched the other competitors. The questions I wanted to answer were: What set the winners apart from the others? What type of pieces did they play? How did the judges respond to their playing?
After watching the competition for several years, I noticed certain trends. Winning had as much to do with convincing the jury as it did with playing well. There were some contestants who played well but were never chosen. It is a game and to win you have to figure out the rules.
Being on the other side of the hiring process helped me see the priorities of those hiring and what they value. For example, the hiring committee was nervous about hiring a candidate that had excellent technical skills but appeared to be difficult to work with. It's just another game.