What are you running at home?

When it comes to hiring the best technology people, this simple question during the interview process has served me far better over the last 20 years than any HR test or hiring qualification system. Why? Because how a candidate answers this question instantly tells me whether they are simply looking for a job, or if technology is a lifestyle for them.

If it’s a lifestyle, if they live and breathe technology, they will tell me exactly what they are running at home:

“At home? Well, I built my own server that’s running IIS and SQL for a .NET application I’m building. Oh, and then there’s the Linux server I set up to run DNS. Did you mean that kind of thing?”

Yes it is. That’s exactly the candidate I’m looking for.

I say this because it’s surprising how many candidates come out of college looking for a technology job, yet have done nothing on their own to stand out.

My advice: build something! It doesn’t even have to be new and different. Find an application you like and build your own, simplified version. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve told candidates that I’ve hired people on the spot who have had no employment history, simply based on the (awesome, killer) sample code they’ve done outside of school. These are the self-starters. These are the people who live for this stuff.

And these are the people who will be invested enough in their passion to bring my company ideas and opportunities, and in turn, create their own opportunities.

Over 10 years ago, it was one of my staff – one of my self-starters, who said, “Hey John, you really need to look at this application called DNN.” Today, DNN is a large part of what we do for companies all across the country, and we’ve come so far because our team thrives on finding out how things work and how they can modify it to work better, faster, stronger and in ways our clients need.

Those are the people who work at i2Integration. Those are the people I’m looking to hire more of. And those are the people you want building your web applications.