About the search for promising June and “udalenka”. Redmadrobot Technical Support Manager Experience

Hi, my name is Anya Gorbunova, in my work I often encounter hiring junior specialists. I will share my experience on how not to lose a good candidate among a large number of resumes. Plus let’s talk a bit about remote work.

Why the junes and why suddenly udalenka. My division works autonomously from Tolyatti, and most of the employees are remote workers.

In addition, the specifics of the department are such (we are engaged in processing requests for the work of our applications), that often I take novice specialists and “grow” them in the process. For example, one of my employees now manages technical support in one of the branches of the company.

The article will be useful to those who are in search of a promising June specialist or, for example, an intern in the department. In such situations, of course, you will not have an interview with everyone and there is a high risk of weeding out a classroom candidate for some formal reasons. I will share how to minimize this risk.

And also to those who are faced with remote specialists. I’ll tell you what skills and nuances I pay attention to.

I want to emphasizeI’m a leader, not an eychar, and this is exactly my experience based on working with technical support specialists. But how many units, so many approaches (including in the Robot).

So where do i start

“Dissecting” the vacancy

To find the right specialist, you need to clearly understand who you are looking for. The idea is obvious, many make up a “portrait of a candidate”, but you can approach the issue a little differently. Collect the skill set of the vacancy, “dissect” it into small understandable blocks of skills that can be checked during the interview.

Make a list of hard skills, without which you do not even “look” towards the employee. Be honest and decide right away that, for example, you cannot take on the role of a junior product analyst of a person without a GA certificate, but with the SMM experience and hold out on him. Mark such candidates at the very beginning, do not bring to the interview. Do not waste your and his time.

Think about soft skills that you can’t do without. For example, for tech support, it’s proactive communication. And for the remote – the ability to take off the task (ask questions and seek understanding of the desired result). Record the necessary soft skills in the mandatory requirements.

But it’s not enough to highlight what we want to see in the candidate. Think of “stop words.” Whatever you would like to see in a specialist, and no advantages will eclipse this disadvantage. Inability to refuse work and delegate when an employee’s resource is full? Inability to plan?

And the last aspect to consider is your emotional type and the emotional type of the majority of employees in the team.

Think about which employee you can never work with. With an overly social specialist who will constantly throw mechiki in chats and talk about his dog’s illness? With someone who does not know how to act in a situation not described by the instructions, and will distract your attention to micromanagement?

After this work, you will have a list of minimal blocks of skills in four groups: hard skills, soft skills, emotional type and “stop words”. Divide them into desired and required. For a tech support person, this might look something like this:

Hard skills (all optional)

  • ability to work with bug trackers
  • understanding of client server architecture
  • understanding of the software development cycle

Soft Skills (required)

  • proactive communication
  • high level of responsibility and self-organization
  • systemic thinking or at least an analytical mindset

Stop Words

  • “I’m looking for a side job”
  • “Generally I want to be a developer”
  • “Hello, how can I help you?”

Emotional type (it all depends on the particular leader and team, and not on the vacancy).

  • Intovert techie geek

We come up with checks

We made a skill set for the employee we want to join the team. Now we need to understand how we can verify this in the selection process. The principle is simple: bring as few people as possible to the interview who are objectively not suitable for us. Of course, you won’t see much in the resume, so it’s better not to draw global conclusions on it.

In order to “filter out” candidates, I use a questionnaire. Look at your skill set and think that of the required items and “stop words” you can check with one written question.

Also come up with checks for each required skill within the entire selection process: task, game, question. So that at the end of the interview you have a checklist of the candidate’s compliance with the skill set. And you could look at the checklists of the candidates and understand who suits you best.

Evaluation of resume and questionnaire distribution

According to the summary, it is easy to draw the wrong conclusion about the person.

Therefore, I press “refuse” in fact in two cases: if a person does not have the right to work in the territory of the Russian Federation in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation (we simply will not be able to hire him) and if the candidate considers us as a part-time job.

I usually give everyone else a chance. But I would go crazy talking with all the candidates, so I have a +1 stage of selection.

To decide who to call for an interview, I send out a list of questions to suitable candidates that I ask you to answer in writing. All questions are based on the key blocks of skills from the previous paragraph, they help cut off those who are “definitely not.”

Usually I find out if a candidate is looking for a permanent job or not, that he knows about us, that he is filled with energy. Mandatory question for the remote specialist: How was the workplace organized and was there any experience in remote work? I don’t sift out anyone on it, but I want to understand how experienced a person is in the format of such work.

I also come up with several questions regarding the most difficult skill of a specialist. For example, the last time I needed a specialist who could additionally lead a community of beta testers.

Therefore, the technical support specialist should at least have a superficial understanding of QA. And I gave a small task to the candidates: “You need to make a plan for testing the advanced search form on hh.ru, what will you do?” This helped to understand how a person knows the QA processes.

In fact, I did not need him to distinguish between smok from regression and a white box from gray, but it was important that he understand what QA is behind and what they may need help with. Therefore, an active question is better than a theoretical one.

After sending out the questions and receiving answers, about 10 people from the initial 100-150 candidates remained, whom I was ready to invite for an interview. At the same time, I knew for sure that I not lost nugget among the mass of resumes.

Why did people fall away? Firstly, many did not answer. Secondly, I eliminated some of the answers: someone did not understand QA, someone wanted to grow into a developer, in this case I offered our internship program.

Remote interview

For candidates who have passed this stage, I schedule an interview. In my case – remote. I usually use Skype. I add the candidate in advance and assign him a call time.

Before meeting, I carefully familiarize myself with the resume and write out the questions that I have. Since proactive communication is one of the key skills for a tech support employee (and a remote worker), I behave like a little cunning bug and do not write to the candidate that “We will begin the interview in 10 minutes, are you ready?”, sometimes even deliberately delayed for 5 minutes.

I look at human behavior. Good signs if he writes 5 minutes before the start: “am I ready, is everything all right?” It’s normal if in a couple of minutes after the start I wondered if I had forgotten it. It’s bad if a person is silent.

This little trick allows me to understand how the employee will behave if the user is silent and does not talk about the problem, will the employee ask him leading questions or close the task as impossible? If an employee will wait for a task from another team member (for example, a fix from a developer), will he keep his finger on the pulse and specify what will be included in the release.

Test tasks during the conversation

My selection is full of test tasks, each of which closes one or more skills from the list of key ones.

# 1: Verification of written communication

In remote work, it is very important. Therefore, after meeting, I begin the interview in this way: I ask the candidate to respond to user requests.

In my case, I have long copied various reviews in the stores for the applications that we supported, depersonalized them and give them as test ones. I say that the candidate can independently imagine how the application works, or we can play a case: he asks me questions as a developer, and then, based on my answer, gives an answer to the user.

As part of my assignment for tech support staff, I look at real-time written literacy. In addition, giving the opportunity to “play” in communication with the developer, I look at the level of employee independence in decision-making.

And here both extremes – completely independent answers or the constant “twitching” of the developer – is bad. Need a balance.

Also on this assignment I evaluate the candidate’s background. There are those who obviously worked a lot in technical support and answered the same type: “Yes, thanks, we fixed the appeal, we will transfer it to the specialists, we will write to you how we will fix it.” This is not bad, but does not show the presence of an individual approach to the user and understanding of the business processes of potential customers.

It’s good when a person can comprehend, for example, the process of issuing insurance (we support applications and insurance companies) and give an answer based on an understanding of at what stage this insurance is stuck. This is about systemic thinking, which manifests itself in such trifles.

# 2 Daily task test

At the interview, I definitely ask the person to do what he will do at the workplace.

For technical support, we usually “play” to help the grandmother with the phone. The interlocutor chooses the application himself, and I say which scenario we will play. I pretend to be a grandmother who needs to be explained how something needs to be set up.

Here I look immediately at a large number of factors. Firstly, how a person removes a task. If he does not ask additional questions and as a result does something wrong, that’s bad. Secondly, of course, on the ability to speak, describe interfaces in understandable words and on patience, on the ability to alienate one’s knowledge, which is essentially important for technical support.

Thirdly, again on general common sense and systemic thinking: does a person understand what process is behind the interface and how best to describe it to the “grandmother” so that she can use this interface on her own. I also look at the level of annoyance at the influx of questions on commonplace things.

Communication after

Form a pool of questions that will help you get information filling out the remaining gaps in the candidate skill set.

I would recommend not asking unnecessary questions, because it seems to be as it should. I am referring to standard questions about previous experiences or hobbies. Ask what is important to you for this job.

I usually “find out” what motivates a person to work and what secondary experience he has (the former system administrator and former sales specialist will have different strengths. This is worth considering).

What do you want to ask me?

This is an important issue when hiring a remote employee.

The questions that the candidate asks help me understand how much he understands what needs to be done and is ready to perform these duties.

And also on the questions asked in this part of the interview, we can draw conclusions about how the employee will take off tasks, and I already wrote that this is a holy skill in the distance.

Good questions: Are there any instructions? Will someone teach me? Are test access granted to applications? How are applications received, which SLA? I always honestly talk about potential responsibilities and ask how a person evaluates himself in them, are he afraid of any moments.

Mandatory item

I check how a person knows how to evaluate his labor costs, set his own deadlines and maintain them.

I would highly recommend including this stage in hiring a remote site. Ask to complete any written task for a maximum of half an hour of work: write a test plan, sketch out TOR for the development of an authorization form, sketch out the layout of the main screen of the application / website header.

Ask how long it will take to complete the task and when the candidate will be able to send the result. You will be surprised how this selection stage will improve the quality of hired employees.

I always ask the candidate: “when can you send me the completed task?”

The good answer is: “it will take me about half an hour, but there will be free half an hour in the evening, so I’ll send it around 22:00, is this normal?”

The bad answer is “today or tomorrow.” It shows that a person cannot schedule this work for himself as mandatory.

A very slippery answer: “And when you need to?”. On the one hand, clarification of deadlines is a normal stage when a task is removed, on the other hand, there are high risks of getting a person who picks up urgent tasks, does not warn about high workload and fails all the deadlines.

I always get away from answering the question: “When is it necessary?” – and watch how the candidate sets his own time. Of course, those who do not meet the deadlines set for themselves fall into “not at once.”

After the interview

I fix the main conclusions about the candidate in the document, a kind of checklist on the skill set. Usually I have the following structure: experience and skills, motivation and personality, organizational aspects and general conclusion.

Such notes make it easy to refresh the features of the candidate. When you describe the strengths and weaknesses, try to think about what you can train in the workplace / close by some process, and what is part of the personality and can only be changed by long-term psychotherapy, which, obviously, you will not do.

For example, in case of technical support, minor punctuation and spelling can be “closed” by the fact that the employee will run his texts through an automatic corrector. But ignorance of the work of the parties involved is not treated.

An individual approach to the user can be taught, but the inability to alienate knowledge (I’d rather do everything myself than explain), unwillingness to help people is almost impossible to fix.

How to choose the best

Usually I give myself two weeks to search and select candidates, depending on the complexity of the vacancy, time can vary.

I try to focus on the fact that there are 3 people left on the short list, and I choose from them, evaluating which notes I made for each specialist and with what I am ready to work on this task pool.

In rare cases, it happens that the ideal candidate is fast, then do not wait, grab him and rejoice.

If the shortlist has one candidate and you don’t really like it, think about whether you can postpone the hiring for a while and close tasks with other people from the team, you will spend time training an employee, the chances of breaking up with him will be very high. But here it already depends on the situation.

Total

I described how the search for junior specialists takes place in my department, my technology, which I developed in four years of leadership. I hope that my observations will help those who are now looking for promising guys to join their team and often participate in online meetings.

Good luck to all!

Anna Gorbunova, head of technical support, shared her tips.

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