4 Steps for Successful Hiring

Mikel Lindsaar
June 6, 2013

reInteractive started life in the middle of 2010. With no funding, no external investment and a LOT of hard work and late nights, we, as a team, have grown to be an awesome team of 13 people and making beautiful and exchangeable software for our many wonderful clients in just a few short years.

The single most important ingredient to this success is getting the right people to join your team.

“The right people”… yeah… there’s a loaded statement.

Who are the right people? What do they do? Where did they learn? And probably most importantly, where are they?!?

Like many other growing companies, we are looking to hire most of the time. Every week I receive emails from potential staff looking to join our business and become one of our team. Filtering through these emails is my job and something that I enjoy doing. Usually (not always), we have a queue of applicants waiting for a turn to try out and become a reInteractive team member. But how do I select the one I want to hire?

Well, actually, it’s pretty easy:

1) Production History

The first thing I do when I get a resume, or someone asks me for a job is ask about where they have been and what they have done that they are proud of. I don’t want to know the minutiae, just the most important achievements that the prospect is proud of. Built an amazing open source project? Worked for 8 years at the same company and delivered real value? Successfully pulled off a marketing campaign that is the envy of others? What is it the prospect has done that they can point at and say, proudly with chest puffed out and chin held high “I did that!”

If the resume has nothing like this, it gets a nice reply that says “thanks but no thanks”. This could be viewed as only hiring those that have had a chance to produce, and how can someone do something they are proud of if no one will hire them? Well.. that’s easy. Just get out there and do it. Volunteer with a non profit or something, do something that shows you are willing to produce a valuable product.

If the resume does have proud achievements, and I want to hire the person, I then get these achievements verified independently. Either by calling references, or doing research of my own.

Confirming someone’s ability to produce is critically important. You want productive people that can DO something and want to work hard because they are proud of what they achieve in life.

Hiring people who don’t know how to produce or don’t want to produce or who are not proud of their past achievements is the same as declaring bankruptcy for a viable company. Not advisable.

2) Tone Level

The second point I usually pick up from a phone call or Skype chat or even better a face to face meeting. The tone of a person represents if they are “high toned”, which ranges anywhere from slightly antagonistic, through boredom, conservatism, mild interest, cheerful or enthusiastic, or “low toned” anything below a bit of antagonism (anger, fear, grief, apathy).

You want to hire high toned people. Low toned individuals will drain you of the most important commodity you have as an employer, your energy and zest for your company.

However, how do you find out someone’s tone when you are talking to them? Because I can guarantee that when you are interviewing a person, their tone level is going to be the most shiny and bright example of an high toned person you have ever seen. Well, this takes a little more work, but a good way is finding out about their hobbies, interests and trying to get a picture of what they do with their life outside of work. Talk to their references and find out what the person is like during arguments and disagreements, find out what they were like when challenged or when things were going wrong. Get a really good picture. Do they make snide remarks all the time, or are they generally supportive of their team mates.

There are a lot of ways to find out a person’s tone, if you want some more advice, feel free to contact me.

3) Demonstrated Competence

This is one of the ways that we set ourselves apart from our competition. We don’t just hire people. Instead, we put them through a “sink or swim” trial. This trial can be done while you are employed at your current job, it can be done after hours, during a holiday period or whatever works. Of course, if you have no job, then it will be full time :)

The prospective team member has gotten to the point where I think they might be a good fit. I then get them to do a project for us. For a developer, this means you are going to work on one of our Internal web applications, like StillAlive or StatusHub. For a non technical role, I’ll get you to do some valuable, real world tasks that I need done.

We take the developers on and pay them for their time at their proposed annual wage, pro-rata’d to the time they spend. ie, you get paid to try out at being part of our team.

During this time, you will be given various tests. Some of these might not be obvious, but include things like being given minimal specifications and required to make intelligent decisions to make working code, or ensuring your communication and skills in finding out important facts are good enough.

Of course, we’ll also be monitoring your work technically. For a developer this means we do code reviews on your pull requests and generally scope you out as a developer.

Once you pass this stage, we know if we would like to work with you, and you know what it is like to work with us. This is a good thing :)

4) Team Integration

The final step is making sure you can communicate with our team and fit in. This is where we put our new team members on with a 1 month trial period. During this month, either of us can end the relationship before it gets started with no hard feelings. This step is important, because I still make mistakes :)


We are not perfect at reinteractive. However, over the past 3 years, it’s not often we get it wrong and our team is very strong and supportive of each other. I’m proud to say that reinteractive has some of the best team members in the industry and we all get along great.

As always, if you have any questions, or want some advice about your business and hiring process, drop me an email. And, if you are looking for work and think you have 1 - 4 above covered, let me know!