The world is interconnected but sometimes companies and individuals tend to look for people to hire in their own city, region, country or require relocation as if it was the 19th century. That is a reasonable thing to do if you are afraid of losing your intellectual property to a random dude in China. But I want you to think about this for a second. Most of the people in the world are with good intentions. That is the principle on which eBay is based. At the same time, you might get in more trouble with your IP with the local person if you do a poor hire.
As a Consultancy Agency, we have been on both sides of the wall. We have people working for us remotely. Our Ruby development team is scattered across Latvia and Europe. The goal of this article is to share my personal experience with remote workers and how to avoid common pitfalls and demystify some of the assumptions that decision-makers might have regarding having an international team.
Do you want to have a beer?
A general question I ask myself when I am hiring a remote developer is: “Do I want to have a beer with this person?”. This might seem like a strange question but think about the implications this question raises. If I want to have a beer with this person, that means I want to communicate with him after work. A simple matter of fact is this: You will communicate on a daily basis, why not make it a delightful experience all along? If you don’t want to chat with the developer you’ve hired, how on earth will you be able to work with him on a regular basis?
Do you speak English?
English is an international language of commerce these days. If you want to have a successful international team, you will need to hire people that can speak English. How can you know that this developer can communicate well on a daily basis? Just ask him to explain some technical topic. It does not have to be something super complex. Watch him explaining it and see if you can understand what he is saying. There are two red flags that I usually see at interviews: over complication and miscommunication. When a person is trying to explain a topic that is easy to understand and he over-complicates his language, that’s a red flag for me. If the candidate is explaining the topic poorly, then that is the other red flag. The conversation has to be pleasant and clear.
What do you think?
In our interconnected society, we can share our thoughts, code and knowledge in an instant. If someone applies for an interview, be sure to check out his public activity. Does he talk at meetups? Does he have a blog? Is the potential candidate active in Github? What about stack overflow?
These things are a huge bonus since they show that this developer is curious and is not afraid to share his thoughts. When you select your team, you need them to be proactive and smarter than you, that is the only path to the greatness of you and your company. You simply don’t want someone who you will need to constantly follow up with and nag about tasks that are not completed.
I think the “relocation” part is overrated in our interconnected world. Yes, it is good to see the developer from time to time, but no one has cancelled short visiting trips, right?