Home > Store

Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People

eBook (Watermarked)

  • This product currently is not for sale.
  • Includes EPUB and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.

Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2014
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-349213-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-349213-2

This is the digital version of the printed book (Copyright © 2004).

Proven Methods for Attracting, Interviewing, and Hiring Technical Workers

Good technical people are the foundation on which successful high technology organizations are built. Establishing a good process for hiring such workers is essential. Unfortunately, the generic methods so often used for hiring skill-based staff, who can apply standardized methods to almost any situation, are of little use to those charged with the task of hiring technical people.

Unlike skill-based workers, technical people typically do not have access to cookie-cutter solutions to their problems. They need to adapt to any situation that arises, using their knowledge in new and creative ways to solve the problem at hand. As a result, one developer, tester, or technical manager is not interchangeable with another. This makes hiring technical people one of the most critical and difficult processes a technical manager can undertake.

Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science of Hiring Technical People takes the guesswork out of hiring and diminishes the risk of costly hiring mistakes. With the aid of step-by-step descriptions and detailed examples, you'll learn how to

  • write a concise, targeted job description
  • source candidates
  • develop ads for mixed media
  • review résumés quickly to determine Yes, No, or Maybe candidates
  • develop intelligent, nondiscriminatory, interview techniques
  • create fool-proof phone-screens
  • check references with a view to reading between the lines
  • extend an offer that will attract a win-win acceptance or tender a gentle-but-decisive rejection
  • and more

An effective hiring process is crucial to saving an organization the costs and consequences of a bad hiring decision. Not only is a bad hire costly in terms of recruiting expenses and the time spent hiring, it can also bog down or derail projects that may already be running late.

You, your team, and your organization will live with the long-term consequences of your hiring decision. Investing time in developing a hiring strategy will shorten your decision time and the ramp-up time needed for each new hire.

Technical leaders, project and program managers, and anyone putting together a team of technical workers will greatly benefit from this book.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: Analyzing the Job

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapter 3 and Index)

Table of Contents

Illustrations         ix

Foreword         xi

Preface         xiii

Part 1: Defining Requirements for Yourself and Your Candidates          3

Chapter 1: Developing Your Hiring Strategy         5

Ask questions when creating a hiring strategy. 7

Identify the problems you should address. 8

Determine which roles you want to fill first. 16

Decide which criteria matter most. 18

Identify what process you’ll use in decision-making. 20

Plan what you will do if you can’t find the right people. 22

Points to remember. 24

Chapter 2: Analyzing the Job         25

Define the job’s requirements. 27

Define the essential and desirable qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills for a successful fit. 32

Identify corporate cultural-fit factors. 37

Define the necessary technical-skill level and the required educational background. 39

Identify essential technical skills. 43

Identify desirable technical skills. 46

Evaluate educational or training requirements. 47

Define all elimination factors. 48

Think twice about elimination factors. 49

Complete the job analysis worksheet. 51

Points to remember. 54

Chapter 3: Writing a Job Description         55

Write a clear job description. 56

Use job descriptions to help you screen candidates. 58

Identify who will use your job description. 61

Learn how best to use standardized job descriptions. 63

Develop your job description over several drafts. 63

Points to remember. 66

Part 2: Sourcing and Selecting Candidates to Interview         67

Chapter 4: Sourcing Candidates         69

Use time, not money, to attract suitable candidates. 70

Develop a continuous recruiting program. 80

Use money, not time, to attract suitable candidates. 81

Points to remember. 84

Chapter 5: Developing Ads for Open Positions         86

Use a simple job advertisement template. 87

Write different types of ads. 90

Develop techniques for eliminating writer’s block. 100

Make the ad memorable by offering a challenge. 100

Work with HR staff members when they write ads. 101

Make sure outsiders review the ad. 101

Deliver the ad in person. 101

Points to remember. 102

Chapter 6: Reviewing Résumés         103

Correlate your résumé filter with the openings you have to fill. 103

Start reading each résumé at the top. 105

Look for more than appears in print. 106

Consider your fellow hiring managers’ staffing needs while you review. 106

Read the cover letter or e-mail. 107

Look for a work summary. 107

Compare the candidate’s stated objective with the job description. 108

Correlate the candidate’s work experience with your open position. 109

Evaluate tool and technical expertise when hiring technical staff. 110

Evaluate a management candidate’s ratio of management-to-technical experience. 113

Know the reasons behind multiple career or job changes. 114

Determine the reason behind an employment-history gap. 116

Look for signs of merit-based promotions and initiative. 116

Look for indicators of cultural fit and of assumed responsibilities. 117

Assess personal qualities and problem-solving skills. 117

Assess education and technical skills in terms of the open job. 118

Put typographical and other clerical errors in perspective. 119

Evaluate résumé items in terms of local and national hiring laws. 121

Evaluate each candidacy using your résumé-review process. 122

Inform candidates of your decision as soon as you have made it. 122

Look for patterns in your résumé-review process. 123

Use résumés as feedback for evaluating your advertisements. 124

Review résumés with a team to reach consensus. 124

Points to remember. 126

Part 3: Preparing to Interview Candidates         127

Chapter 7: Developing Interview Questions and Techniques         129

Choose which kinds of questions to ask. 130

Schedule auditions to allow candidates time to demonstrate their abilities. 135

Formulate a set of meta-questions. 139

Learn to avoid asking irrelevant questions. 140

Combine question types to make the best use of available time. 142

Ask all candidates applying for one position the same set of questions. 144

Ask questions to reveal cultural fit. 146

Ask contractors the same questions you ask prospective staff hires. 146

Help non-technical interview-team members develop questions in their own area of expertise. 147

Points to remember. 147

Chapter 8: Creating and Using Phone-Screens         148

Facilitate a positive phone-screen environment. 150

Plan your phone-screen strategy and script. 151

Select phone-screen questions to elicit job-performance details. 156

Use written phone-screen scripts to keep track of what candidates say. 157

Develop a thirty- to forty-five-minute phone-screen script. 158

Troubleshoot your phone-screens. 158

End the phone-screen gracefully and when you want to end it. 159

Consider when to use a second phone-screen. 162

Points to remember. 165

Chapter 9: Planning and Conducting the In-Person Interview 166

Choose an interview team. 167

Prepare the interview team. 169

Decide how much time to spend in each interview. 171

Plan who will ask which questions. 172

Choose an appropriate interview environment. 174

Clarify how to handle meals. 176

Create an interview package. 176

Conduct the interview. 177

Verify that the candidate and interviewers are ready. 177

Welcome the candidate. 178

Ask focused questions. 180

Ask lawful questions. 181

Answer the candidate’s questions. 184

Deliver the candidate to the next interviewer. 185

Conduct group interviews sparingly. 185

End the day of interviews. 186

Points to remember. 187

Chapter 10: Following Up After the Interview          189

Meet immediately after the candidate’s last interview. 190

Hold the meeting in a private space. 191

Facilitate the meeting. 191

Learn the reasons behind each thumb-down vote. 192

Understand the thumb-sideways responses. 194

Understand the thumb-up votes. 195

Revisit the thumbs one more time. 195

Use limited consensus to make a decision. 195

Use follow-up forms with care. 196

Tell the candidate what to expect next. 200

Points to remember. 201

Part 4: Bringing In the Candidate         203

Chapter 11: Checking References         205

Check all offered references. 206

Develop your list of reference-check questions. 208

Get your call to go through to each reference. 213

Check references as completely as possible–even when the candidate has provided few, unreachable, or no references. 214

Establish rapport during a reference-check. 215

Start the conversation quickly. 215

Listen carefully to the answers. 215

Verify employment, salary, and education claims. 216

Incorporate other checks that are required by your organization in the reference-check. 216

Take action to uncover the truth if you find discrepancies. 217

Points to remember. 219

Chapter 12: Creating, Timing, and Extending an Offer         220

In a strong economy, make your offer soon after the last interview. 221

For every offer, review all components before presenting it to a candidate. 222

Beware of making promises you may not be able to keep. 223

Make the offer easy to accept by including perks and benefits you can deliver. 226

Learn the reasons behind a candidate’s rejection of your offer. 230

When the reason is salary, salary, salary, rethink the offer. 231

Know when it’s okay to offer a job to an over-qualified candidate. 232

Close the offer. 233

Use a standard offer letter. 235

Extend the offer. 237

Points to remember. 237

Part 5: Making the Most of Hiring Opportunities to Control Uncertainty and Risk        239

Chapter 13: Creating a Great First Day 241

Prepare for a smooth transition beforethe new hire starts. 242

Identify the when, where, who, and what for Day One. 243

Prepare the new hire’s work area for Day One. 244

Explain enough of the work to help the new hire assimilate. 246

Assign a buddy. 247

Create and use a checklist for new hires. 248

Points to remember.  250

Chapter 14: Hiring Technical Managers           251

Define the value you want the technical manager to contribute. 252

Define the technical manager’s interactions. 255

Define the management level. 256

Compile a list of the desirable qualities, preferences, and skills. 260

Don’t hire managers without the requisite talent. 263

Define the manager’s required technical expertise. 264

Define which activities and deliverables the manager will oversee. 266

Points to remember. 267

Chapter 15: Moving Forward          268

Take action to fill your open position even when no one seems just right. 268

Verify that your hiring work is on track. 269

Know how long you can wait for the right candidate. 270

Hire from within the organization. 271

Hire a candidate with limited skills if he or she can be trained. 272

Hire a contractor rather than a permanent employee. 274

Replan the project to fit the current staff. 274

Rework the project’s schedule. 275

Rework the project’s lifecycle. 276

Change the work practices. 276

Change the job description. 277

Choose your actions carefully. 278

Points to remember. 279

Appendix A: Walker Software Case Study: Hiring Multiple People         281

Appendix B: Templates to Use When Hiring Technical People         315

Bibliography          327

Index          331


Submit Errata

More Information

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020