This Week Health

Today: The One Question Interview

Sometimes you just have to ask people to show you. Don't just interview them, ask them to do the job for an hour.


Today in health, it, the one question to interview for a key role in your health it organization. My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health instead of channels, dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged. We want to thank our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, Gordian dynamics, Quill health tau site nuance, Canon medical, and current health. Check them out at this week.

All right. It's Friday. And on Friday, I don't talk about a story. I just sort of go with what I've been hearing from the conversations I've been having during the week. And a lot of the questions and a lot of the conversations I've been having during this week. I have been around not labor shortage per se, within it, within healthcare. It.

But the labor shortage for certain positions and certain skillsets, let's say like cloud security architect. Right or, or, or cloud architect or, , you know, supply chain, risk management, or you fill in the blank, whatever the, the hi. Difficult to fill position is for you. And I want to go back to when we were moving to the cloud. And again, it's Friday. So we're just going to talk about.

Some of my experiences with this when we were moving to the cloud back in 2012. One of the things we had to find was a cloud architect, a CTO that understood cloud architecture. And everyone had it on their resume. The question was, how do we cut through the BS and find somebody who really understood cloud architecture?

Right. So we put the job out there. We used firms. You name it. We used it to. Get the top of funnel candidates. We go through the resumes that was pretty easy to do. And then it comes down to how are you going to discern which one is which. And I came up with a one question interview and that the recruiters and whatnot thought I was insane.

But essentially what I did is I put myself. And a bunch of our technical leads and others in a room. And I brought the person in and there was a massive whiteboard on, on two sides of the room. And a bunch of markers. Because in my experience, any architect worth their weight. In gold. Is able to articulate architecture. It just oozes out of them and they need a whiteboard. They need to be able to draw it and put it up there to make it understandable to the team. And so we had everyone in the room that they needed to ask questions of. Right. If they wanted to ask questions about our architecture, if they went to ask questions about how we were doing storage or how we were doing.

You name it, various things. Security, how we're doing our networking. In order to build out our cloud architecture, they had those people in the room. And so we brought them in and here's the one question. Develop a cloud architecture for our health system. Everybody's in the room. You need to talk to.

Here's a bunch of, , of dry erase markers and here's a blank whiteboard. And by the way, we, we sort of gave them a. , before the interview, we gave them some. , background information that they could read and be prepared. And so I remember when the day came and we had narrowed it down to three candidates and the one candidate just absolutely froze. Didn't know what to do.

You see, because the best thing you could do is you can actually have them do the job. Look, they're not going to give you the architecture and then you don't need them. I know that's a fear of some people they're just not even possible. In a, in a hour and a half to two hour interview, it's not even possible for them to give you all the details. If they put it up there and they do it well, you're going to have a million more questions that they need to answer. So you're going to have to hire them. So that's not a possibility. And so the first person just absolutely froze.

They didn't know what to do. They were like, well, I don't know how to do this. I'm like, well, that's sort of the point, right? They didn't know how to do this, but I'm like, well, you have the people here. You have the architecture in front of you, some diagrams in front of you ask whatever questions you need and talk to us about how we would move this.

To the cloud, what would it look like? What are some of the things we need to do? They absolutely froze about half hour into it. I had to call it out of mercy. Right. I didn't do want to continue to put this person through it, but they knew when they left that, that room that they were not getting the job.

The second person comes through a little better experience. The third person comes in. And with that information goes. Oh, this is going to be fun. Right. And that's the kind of response you want it. And they stayed up the whiteboard and say, all right, talk to me about, and they just start asking questions. And part of the part of the interview is how do they engage the team?

Right because architects have a tendency to talk down to the team. In fact, the second person who came in did talk down to the team like you couldn't possibly understand this. And, and I just do that. Dynamic was not going to work in our team, but the next person who came in asked a lot of questions, how did you do this?

How'd you solve this problem? How did you, we were looking at this. And I think the first, I don't know. 30 to 40 minutes were questions sort of bringing the things together. We took a break, came back and then they started to talk about how cloud architecture is different from onsite architecture and how the skills that are going to need to migrate and change the way we do certain processes are going to have to change and whatnot.

And by the time we were done, we had to complete whiteboards full the team was kind of energized and excited and ready to go. One question interview. Essentially. And to be honest with you, I've, I've used this over the years. Anytime I'm hiring somebody, especially right now for this week health, cause we don't have that many positions and we can't afford to make hiring mistakes.

, we have the people do a portion of their job as part of the interview. If we're hiring a graphic design person, we give them a project. They graphic design projects and they will do it for us. And then we look at it and say, okay, we can see how they think, what questions they asked, how they engage. , we do that with writers.

We do that with every aspect of what we do. , And it, some of them, you have to be really creative. We hired a person that was over our tech area and we had to come up with a way for them to showcase what they could do with technology, not the stuff they had done, because a lot of people can give you, Hey, check this link out, check this out. Look at this.

And to be honest with you, they may or may not have done that work. Right. And so what you want to do is give them a sandbox where they can play, where they can actually do the work and showcase what they can actually do. And to the extent that they can interact with your team while they're doing that.

Better yet. Right. So that is a, that's what we're looking for. And to be honest with you, some of these positions, it's hard to get the top of funnel. I get it. That's not the problem. I'm trying to answer here. The problem I'm trying to answer is if you have a small candidate pool of cloud security architects, and you finally get them in for an interview, I don't want you just taking one just to fill the spot.

Open spots are gold, absolute gold, because it gives you a chance to bring in a new set of eyes, a new set of hands and a new set of, of, , I'm trying to think of it, the expertise, new set of expertise, but a new expertise to your team. They are going to help propel your team forward. And you don't want to just go, well, we're going to have to settle because we can't find anybody. This is the person.

And so I want to give you an interview methodology that works when you find that cloud security architect. I want you to give them a portion of your existing architecture and say, Hey, here's what we're struggling with. Talk to the team. Let's try to create a solution around this. That's that's what I wanted to do.

All right. So, , it's Friday. That's what we do. We just chat that's all for today. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week or wherever you listen to podcasts, apple, Google, overcast, Spotify. Stitcher you get the picture.

We are everywhere. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Gordian dynamics, Quill health tau site nuance, Canon medical, and 📍 current health grape companies. Check them out at this week. Thanks for listening that's all for now

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