Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Interview - Putting together a new mob

Hello. I’m Llewellyn Falco and recently I embarked on forming a 5-person mob to be hired for full time employment. This series is about our journey where I will share the good and bad so others can benefit from our experiences.

This week:


Once I finally figured out who the potential mob was I was faced with a difficult question. “How in the world are we going to determine if all 5 of us are the right fit for this company”
In other words:

“How do you interview a new mob?”

Speed Dating

I have always found interviewing for full time employment a bit of a crapshoot. It’s like going on a single date with someone and then asking
“How about getting married?”

I am not saying it can't work. It’s just a bit risky and the cost of a failure of judgment is large. This risk becomes extra large when the new job includes a move of either your current job or your current hometown or both.

Now multiply that by 5 for the mob.

Add to it the fact that both sides are looking for the entire mob to be hired, only 1 or 2 of us isn’t what is desired.

Finally, the ‘entity’ that is looking to be hired hasn’t even formed yet. The 5 of us had not worked together and the dynamics of how we will work together are still unknown. And the only way to detirme this is to take the time to allow us to figure it out.

Here is the solution we came up with and it worked well in solving out of the above problems. I’m sure its not the only way to tackle this problem but I was happy with it’s effectiveness.

Minimum Viable Hire

Most of agile looks at breaking big risky things into smaller more concrete tasks and then assessing the next step with the help of actual data & experience. So we took the same approach with the interview.

Rather than going from a few hours of talking, to everyone quitting their current jobs and signing on full time, we introduced some middle steps.
In particular, we decided to start with two separate consulting trails of two weeks each.

Advantages of the trial consult

This offered many advantages.

Each member of the mob simply took their vacation time which meant that no one had to quit their current jobs until they were sure this was the right move.

 Likewise, no HR and no unemployment from the hiring company if they decided we were not the right fit for them later on.

This allowed for time for the mob to form so all party were acting on first hand true information about what we would be like as a functioning mob. No guess work needed

There can be a large difference between stated values and demonstrated values. This was long enough to get past the ‘honeymoon phase’ and have a clear understanding on all sides

As a matter of practicality we decided to average all our rates so that all of us started out on equal footing. While I’m an advocate for open salaries I do not believe everyone should be paid equally. However, this was a temporary measure to allowed a much cleaner start and I believe it also leads to a fairer final pay scale.

Note: I was the highest paid of everyone which means I had the most to lose (my rate was about ½ of my normal rate when averaged out with the 5) and I still believe this was for the best long term results.

So we simply added 2 smaller steps between first introductions and full time employment and it was better for everyone.

Next week: Discovering the right Physical Environment for the mob.

About the author:

Llewellyn Falco is the creator of ApprovalTests & cofounder of TeachingKidsProgramming. He is currently a consultant and Technical Instructor. He introduced Woody to the randori style of programming and has been a fan of Mob Programming since the beginning. 
You can follow him on twitter at @LlewellynFalco or email him at isidore at

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