Does a DevOps engineer actually exist? That’s a risky subject to broach for a person who specializes in DevOps hiring. To the untrained eye, the easy answer is, Yes. However, to all the so-called DevOps engineers out there, the answer isn’t so cut and dry.
While valid stances around this vary, here are some things to consider when hiring a DevOps engineer and the effects your mindset will have on determining who you choose.
DevOps is not merely a set of tools but a philosophy that brings people together (cue two verses of “Kumbaya”) and structures a set of thinking that promotes personal ownership. This starts by bringing awareness to the consequences of individuals’ actions leading to a shared sense of responsibility toward creating successful products.
Therefore, just hiring one or multiple DevOps engineers is seldom enough. When thinking of these hire(s) as a cure to your lack of DevOps, you are inadvertently hiring for the exact opposite of what DevOps aims to achieve. DevOps is a mindset rather than a set of linear workflows.
It’s a methodology that must flow through cross-functional teams. It starts with your DevOps engineers, that’s for sure, but it does not end there, since the goal is for multiple teams to collaborate effectively toward the same end goal. By keeping your DevOps engineer(s) siloed in a “DevOps Department,” you’re solidifying the silo effect that DevOps was created to eliminate in the first place.
What Exact Change Can We Expect?
So now that you’ve hired a DevOps engineer through your trusty DevOps recruiter, what’s next? We know that just hiring someone with some DevOps skills won’t do the trick and neither will more hiring. The goal is not hire for experience with flashy tools but for technical expertise and enough interpersonal skills to spread a collaborative attitude. You’re looking for help restructuring how your teams collaborate, where everyone is now responsible for the finished product.
When a group of people share this responsibility, a culture of healthy pushback and questioning is formed. Sure, everyone still concentrates on their specialties; however, restructuring everyone’s priorities toward continuous improvement brings a newly shared goal that is usually new to almost all parties involved who have not experienced this before.
Whether you’re a Dev, Admin, QA or even a manager, this healthy questioning helps teams better understand the value everyone contributes. People begin analyzing their own work through a more critical lens and later do so when analyzing their colleague’s work (not always to everyone’s immediate delight). What were once separate departments can now gain a true understanding of what each group contributes.
People begin questioning less on how much weight their colleagues are pulling and more about how their own actions affect the shared end goal which seldom exists before a DevOps mindset is introduced.
Interviewing for the Right Fit
So, can you really categorize this hire as simply a DevOps engineer while they are championing your company’s new work philosophy?
A DevOps hire brings value that is not always tangible but helps mold companies and move colleagues’ priorities in the same direction. It begins with thinking about processes and aggregating everyone toward the greater good.
Technical expertise is much easier to hire. The greater challenge is getting everyone on board with this whole idea of DevOps. Sure, maybe C-level management is bought in, but how do you get your lifelong employees to embrace such a seemingly radical change? This is where an effective interview process can make all the difference in finding the right DevOps engineer.
Considering how communicative a DevOps engineer needs be to bring this change to tech and non-technical groups, a role-play method could help, in which your candidate explains DevOps to a nontechnical team member. It’s not enough to simply grill someone on technical acumen when you can more effectively see how they can make the idea of DevOps tangible to everyone in your company.
If they can only communicate with fellow technical experts, they probably are not the right hire. However, if they can put the effects of DevOps in layman’s terms for other employees, it’s a safe bet they’re right for the job. There’s nothing quite like a real-world situation that could realistically be one of their first orders of business once on the job anyway.
So, What’s Next?
Again, this is not just about a toolset and whether someone has leveraged Kubernetes or AWS. This is about hiring someone who can restructure teams and implement philosophies. There is no such thing as buying DevOps or hiring someone to handle your “DevOpsing”—from setting mutually targeted goals and creating a dynamic of collective responsibility, a DevOps engineer will impact far beyond leveraging Jenkins, especially if this is your company’s first time around the DevOps block.
So, after role-play and trusting your gut feeling on a person, can you genuinely call this an engineering hire? Some may still argue yes; however, this person is doing far more than just bringing technical knowledge. They have seen and helped companies digitally transform and can do the same for you. The best way to start is knowing what you are looking for far beyond a glossy skills matrix on a resume.