Interviewing Tips from Microsoft

In a 2008 blog entry by Steve Clayton at Microsoft he mentions the five things he looks for in candidates when hiring.  This information is useful for both job candidates and those looking for qualified people.  Here are his five tips:
  1. Hire for diversity, not consistency ÔÇô I wanted people in my team as diverse as I could. Having twenty brilliant but unmanageable tech wizards in the team doesnÔÇÖt work. Balancing out the wizards with the delivery guys worked out well.
  2. Hire Delivery Guys (and girls) ÔÇô I donÔÇÖt mean postal workers. I mean make sure you have folks who simply deliver ÔÇô again and again, on time and with minimum fuss. When the chips are down, they come to the fore and your wizards take a back seat. As a side note, figure out what makes these people happy and reward them well. TheyÔÇÖre gold.
  3. Hire Wizards ÔÇô in my experience everyone great team has one (ore more) who are just brilliant minds. TheyÔÇÖre the creative ideas people who differentiate you from the average team. TheyÔÇÖre often a nightmare to manage but theyÔÇÖre worth it. How do you know a wizard? TheyÔÇÖre curious
  4. Hire Curious People  by this I mean people who have natural curiosity. Stephens mentions this in his interview with Bill Taylor and it struck a chord with me. These are the people who ask questions. Constantly. They may not ask questions out loud but they will questions things and often go away and explore to find the answer for themselves. They may never need the information or us it  but one day they may. Trust me this is a very valuable skill. These people become information hubs and you hear their names again and again in the company as theyre go to people. I learnt some of this from my Granddadbut thats a story for another day.
  5. Hire Passionate Readers ÔÇô this doesnÔÇÖt mean hire people who read Mills and Boon. ItÔÇÖs similar to curious people but worth calling out separately. A friend (who is a wizard and curious) taught me this interview question when I joined Microsoft. Ask someone what magazine they regularly read. Lets say they answer with WIRED. Then ask them how many back issues they have in their loft. ItÔÇÖs not a deal breaker question but my guess is if youÔÇÖre reading this you know what I mean. People who are passionate about stuff read about it. A LOT. Okay so they may read online now and this question may be dated but try it anyway. They may say "ah I just auctioned off my 8 year collection of National Geographic on eBayÔÇØ. ThatÔÇÖs a hire.

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