It’s natural to want to find the “perfect hire” to fill an open position. Finding someone who can handle all the job’s responsibilities expertly on day one, without needing any training, is the ultimate dream for many managers. The costs of an imperfect employee can seem scary: training them, supervising them, and potentially terminating them if it doesn’t work out in the end. It’s easy to hold out for the perfect hire without recognizing the costs of an unfilled position: delayed projects and missed deadlines mean lost revenue, plus additional stress and lost morale on the other employees. Instead of holding out for the perfect hire, employers should look for good-enough candidates who have the potential to grow into excellent workers.
In technical projects, managers often want to hire candidates who have expertise in multiple technologies, including specific open source or vendor products. It’s unlikely many interviewees will have familiarity with every component the company uses. It’s also not really necessary. Technical employees who have a strong understanding of the underlying principles of a technical area will be able to quickly pick up details of vendor implementations. Unless the position requires working only with a single product which has specific issues that need to be resolved, developers who’ve worked with other products in the same technical domain are likely to be good enough for the job.
When companies work with recruiters, they often specify a minimum level of education and training, including certification in numerous technologies. Over-reliance on this criterion can lead to missing good candidates. There are multiple certifying organizations in many technical areas, so providing a full list of acceptable certifications can be difficult. It’s also common that candidates who have real-world experience don’t bother getting certified, assuming their experience will speak for itself, while those who are certified have book knowledge but no actual experience with the technology. Overemphasizing credentials may mean missing out on potential workers with good-enough knowledge to get the job done.
With the economy and work environment the way they are today, companies are unlikely to find workers who will make a long-term commitment to a business. Of course, no candidate is going to state in an interview that they plan to move on quickly. Use the candidate’s work history to gauge their average tenure in a position. If their average length of time with a company is longer than it will take to get your project through its next major deliverable, this may be good enough for their contribution to outweigh the cost of finding a replacement.