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The Right Stuff

Imagine interviewing a potential builder to construct your new three bedroom rambler. When you ask him about his previous experience, he explains that for the last ten years he has been involved in building office skyscrapers, and has never built a residential home. Would you still consider him for the job?

Software development experience is similar. All developers have a wide variety of experience, and not all of it will be applicable to your job. The task of creating an operating system is very different from creating an application like Microsoft Word, and that task is different from creating a marketing website. While you are unlikely to find someone who has built an application exactly like your proposed project, you can ask some questions to narrow your search:

  • How many users did your previous application support? If their apps never supported more than 50 users, but your application must handle 1000+, you'll want them to explain how they will approach this differently.
  • What types of users accessed their previous applications? Different types of users have different needs. If their experience is in building apps for other software developers, they may not have what it takes to deal with non-technical users.
  • Have they written applications using the target technology? If not, how different is it from their experience? It won't be as challenging for an ASP.NET 1.1 developer to use 2.0. However, it would be much harder for someone with only Windows development experience to develop a web application.

Evaluating the experience of candidates will help you to make sure that you don't hire a tree house builder to create your company's eiffel tower. 

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is a rare IT professional who can communicate with business users on a level they can understand, and who can recommend creative technical solutions that are in line with the business goals and the business budget. Avonelle is conscientious not only about meeting deadlines, but also exceeding her customers expectations around quality software while providing superior customer service. Avonelle is an inspiration to me.

Valerie Vogt, Director of IT Advisory Services @ Inetium