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I just watch them move a pile of lumber

As you might know, I’m building a house.  Well, my general contractor is building it for me.  He’s got a great crew, so I decided to ask him how he interviews.

I asked him, “What do you look for to predict success at this job?”
He replied, “When someone comes for the interview we chat for a bit, and then I ask them to move a stack of 12′ lumber across the yard and stack it up.”
I was surprised.  “Really?  Why?” I asked.
“I want to see how they handle themselves, their physicality.  I want to see how they lift, how they start, and how they turn around.  You’d be surprised at how many people have construction experience on their resume but can’t safely move a couple dozen boards.  The best way to tell is just to watch how they handle themselves.”

Lifting digital lumber

What kind of basic tasks could you have an interviewee do to see “how they handle themselves?”  It doesn’t have to be a coding project but could be as simple as…

  • Creating a new git repo, commit a few files, create a new branch with a change
  • Replace the tab size from 4 to 2 spaces in their favorite editor
  • Have them add “###” to the beginning of each line in a code file in their favorite editor using a regex

What other ideas do you have that would let you see how they “stack lumber”?

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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