Tips for Hiring the Perfect CTO
Hiring the wrong person for key company positions can cost a business thousands — or tens of thousands — of dollars and man hours. This is especially true when it comes to tech companies hiring the wrong chief technology officer.
Today, CTOs are multi-taskers that aren’t just coders locked in some basement — they play a vital role in a tech company’s strategic plan and growth. Not only do they need to have a high level of diversified technical prowess and proficiency, but they also need to possess strong leadership and project management capabilities. With development teams often based around the world, being the center of communication and progress can either lead to a tremendously successful strategy or a bottleneck that can slow down an entire company.
1. Leadership Abilities Are A Must
It’s natural to want a tech savvy and competent CTO. However, it’s more important that the CTO have exceptional interpersonal skills and be able to manage a team effectively.
Be sure that the CTO is prepared to deal with a variety of personality and working styles. Solid leadership is essential to the success of any team.
2. Past Performance is Everything
For the most part, our past performance indicates our future behavior. See what [your candidate] has done before you.
Actions speak a lot louder than words. However, if you must base it on words, look for curiosity, confidence, fearlessness and an ability to take ownership of failures.
3. A Sense of Responsibility
CTOs play a crucial role in company performance and effectiveness. It is essential to hire someone who is able to take on responsibility for the successes, failures and stresses of the entire company. They must exhibit a thirst for working in teams, helping others and being forthright. Nothing can be more damaging than a misleading or careless CTO.
4. An Eye for Business Development
Your new CTO’s technology vision should fall in line with your overall business strategy. Therefore, strong business development experience coupled with excellent communication skills are essential. While many IT professionals can think technically, they have a hard time communicating it to a wide audience. Hire someone well-versed in communication between developers, customers and team members.
5. A Painter With Programming Chops
What I usually look for is a developer who is creative. That’s not to say someone who could literally paint a picture (though it helps if they understand aesthetics). No, the idea is to find a CTO who can creatively solve problems and imagine new solutions, even if someone else hasn’t done it before. An innovator with “geek cred.” That’s what you’re looking for.
6. Find Someone Who Knows
If you’re asking this question, then it seems your first order of duty should be finding someone who can consult your hiring process. As a non-technical founder of an IT company, it’s important to know when to dish responsibilities off. When making technical hires, we always reach out to our network of programmer friends and ask them to sit in on interviews and review resumes with us.
7. The Spare Time Test
Staying current on technology trends, breakthroughs and opportunities is more than a full time job. Be sure you find someone who is not just competent in understanding technology, but someone who is passionate about technology. There is a difference. In your interview ask, “What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?” If it’s tech related, you might be getting even more than you’re paying for.
8. Hire for Character and Integrity
Hire slowly, fire quickly. There are tons of competent professionals that have the technical qualifications, but do they have character and integrity? Ask situational questions that reveal their true colors and do extensive background checks and reference checks. Most importantly, this individual must share your vision as to what the company can become.
9. Organization and Execution
Your new CTO should be able to handle your development team so that projects run along smoothly.
It will be important that your CTO can execute on big projects, too, hacking away to build an amazing product that is agile.
10. Experience with Startups!
Don’t hire someone who has never worked with a startup before, because the environment is totally different. A CTO at a major company has very different objectives than one who is helping a startup succeed. Look for someone who has experience working with a startup, and has an entrepreneurial attitude. This can’t be just a job for them. Look for passion and skill!
11. Are They A Good Cultural Fit?
What is the nature and atmosphere of your office or work environment? You want to make sure they fit into your office culture that you already have going for you. Bringing in someone who is a complete opposite can sometimes put a barrier up from the start between both the employee and the office. Figure out the best qualities your current employees have and go from there.
12. Pedigree is a Decent First Filter
This advice is for non-technical business owners trying to find a CTO. I know that this is an elite position, but as a non-technical person it’s very difficult to sniff out a good technical leader. Filtering your search by pedigree is a good start. If your candidate was good enough to get into MIT, Stanford, etc., then that’s one indicator that they could be good for you.
13. Will Not Stop Until a Solution is Found
The most important trait I look for in a CTO is someone who will not stop until we find the solution to a given development problem. The CTO should always be looking for a better way to do things and inspiring the developers to do the same. From a technical standpoint, in addition to being a skilled programmer, the CTO should have a background in architecture and database design.
14. Go Beyond the Code
There are many super hackers out there (especially in the Bay Area). To use “coding skills” as your primary criteria when hiring a CTO is the equivalent of not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes in a car. A great CTO thinks about product before code, they think of the value the product is creating, and they know how to effectively lead developers.
Article courtesy : Mashable