September 14, 2020

Avoiding Mis-Hires Through Evidence, With Raman Ohri

By Wes Winham

SEP President Raman Ohri builds engineering teams that help his clients build exceptional software and systems.

SEP is different from many software development shops because their clients work directly with the software engineers themselves. This adds tons of value for the client, but it also makes every new hire more risky, as each software engineer Raman brings on will be responsible not just for helping clients level up their software practices, but also for representing the SEP name.

This means hiring someone technically sound, with excellent communication and collaboration skills… but every wrong hire could deal serious damage to the company’s reputation.

This has led his team to adopt extremely thorough, risk-averse hiring practices that make it much easier to ensure they’re making the right decision.

In our most recent episode of Scaling Software Teams, we explored those hiring practices and uncover how you can leverage these tactics in your organization

Listen to the Full Episode Here

Here are a few of the key lessons we picked up from Raman:

1. Hiring slowly and deliberately is the key to long-term growth

SEP has been in the game since 1988, and they’re still growing 30 years later. That’s a level of long-term success that most software leaders can only dream of, but it wasn’t magic that made it possible.

It was patience.

The SEP team is incredibly deliberate and patient with their hiring process, to the point that they will actively turn great candidates away during the office tour if that candidate doesn’t feel good about the fit.

Raman routinely says to his potential hires, “If at any point today, you think that this isn’t for you, just tell me. No one will be offended, and I’ll be happy to get my day back.”

2. Personality tests have some value, but not as much as some think

Personality tests are polarizing in the development space –  some people love them, others hate them.

Raman thinks that the truth is more nuanced. In his view, personality tests can be valuable if you’re looking to better understand how someone might fit with your current team or how someone prefers to communicate, but you have to take those results with a grain of salt and not be overly reliant on them.

Personality tests are not predictive of job performance, because there’s no one “right” personality for any job. At the end of the day, Raman presents sage advice when he says, “You should use personality tests to figure out why you’re a jerk, not why someone else is a jerk.”

3. Deliberate candidate screening can help avoid mis-hires

Candidate screening is really hard. Typically, in a fast-growth organization, you need to get talented engineers in the door as quickly as possible, so you’re not exactly taking your time to develop the most robust screening process.

Based on his experience building teams, however, Raman would recommend a far more robust and deliberate screening process, in which each stage teaches you something different from the last.

“A win for us is making a good decision,” he says, “not just getting you to come here.”

Raman’s process begins with a simple application, followed by a work scenario that measures each candidate’s technical, problem-solving, and collaboration skills, which then leads to a formal interview. (For more information about the work scenarios that SEP uses to find the best talent, request a demo of Woven.)


This show is brought to you by Woven. At Woven, we help software teams screen engineering candidates so they can spend less time on bad interviews, uncover hidden gems, and back their hiring decisions with evidence. If you want to learn more about how Woven could help you scale your software team, you can check us out here.

Our team is excited to help you build your perfect software team, and we are always looking for your feedback about how to make the show better. If you have anyone you think we should interview, tweet us at @woven_teams and our team will reach out.

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