People everywhere are jumping on the app creation bandwagon. Some have development skills and some don’t. I’m constantly amazed at the things I find on the app store. For all that people complain about Apple as gatekeepers, there is a lot of junk on their App Store. We would be much better off not being inundated with obviously poorly made apps when we’re searching for apps. At the very least, we’d be much better off if there was a decent way to surface the best apps based upon what we’re looking for.
This issue is not limited to finding apps on the app store though. Finding good plumbers, doctors, even employees is not so simple. You can’t say, “Hey, I want to hire a great developer today!” And tada! You have one. While finding a great developer and finding a great app are quite different, thinking about how to find a better app gives some insights into how you could find a better employee.
If you’re looking for a great app, you can start by asking people what they like. If you trust the people you ask to know what they’re talking about, at least you have somewhere to start from. You can also ask them about their thoughts on any apps you’re considering. The same approach can be applied to looking for employees. Ask your friends or your employees if they have anyone that they would recommend. That will give you a good place to start interviewing from at least.
If you don’t know people that use the types of apps you’re looking for, you can fall back on the App Store reviews. These can be loaded with fake reviews or competitors slamming an app, but with a little effort, you can see which reviews sound like they have merit. The closest analog with potential employees is references. References are a great resource. You can often tell as much from what references don’t say as from what they do say. The trouble is that references are hand picked by the potential employee. The best thing I have found with references who are profuse in their praise for an employee is to ask them a question that they wouldn’t expect. That way they won’t have a preplanned answer and you are more likely to learn something of interest about your prospective employee.
The other problem, at least in Apple’s App Store, is that it is quite difficult to filter and sort the results when you are searching for a type of app. It would be great to sort apps by the date they were submitted, by the number of downloads or the rating. It would also be great if you could search by specific features or even by price. The problem is that Apple doesn’t know all the different aspects of the apps that may be interesting for you to search on, so they don’t make very many options available. That makes it harder to find apps.
Believe it or not, when it comes to searching for employees, the people hiring don’t always do a great job of asking the questions that will make selecting the right candidate easier. It isn’t enough to ask questions that reveal skills. You need to reveal motivations, interests and their true character as well. Without that information, it’s tough to tell if the employee will be a good fit for the team, even if they do have the skills necessary to get the job done well.
The reality is that for a search to be successful in any area, you need three things:
- A good understanding of what you really need.
- A reliable source of information about your options.
- The ability to compare your choices in a meaningful way to enable you to make the right choice.
The last is not something we have covered in this article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lend itself to a defined answer. How you do that really depends. You need to determine how heavily each area you are interested in is weighted and then come up with some way to compare against candidates. Or, you could go with your gut after you have all the necessary information. Which you do depends on how much you trust your gut and how comfortable you are quantifying the value of an individual using numbers.