How do you know you’ve hired the right person?

Posted by: Jeffrey Horne
Date: June 19, 2013
Categories: Culture, Games, Hiring, Jobs, The Office

 

All work and no play, well, that’s just not how we do things.

 
The first thing people usually learn about our company is that we work with e-learning standards like SCORM and the Tin Can API. The second thing that people tend to learn about us is that we have fun.

Rustici Pong ActionPart of the fun we have at the office revolves around ping pong — singles matches, doubles matches, inventing new variations of pong (we have one called “grand canyon pong”), and keeping track of our office rankings on the “Pong Ladder”.

We even have our own language around the pong table…almost every score combination has its own codename. Here are a few:

  • 10-8: we call it “Ten-eight-cious”…or “Tenacious”
  • 7-7: we call it “un-cola”…get it? 7up?
  • 10-4: “over and out”
  • 0-0: we call it “7-2”, because John is terrible at keeping score and has been know to call the score “7-2” when it’s really “0-0”. Side note: I’m as bad, if not worse, at keeping score.
  • 5-8: vivacious
  • 9-9: nein!
  • 4-2: fortitude
  • 10-0: ten-o-cious (a very prized score)

…and there are a lot more, not to mention our doubles teams’ names (The Wooves, The Kings, 7 Wonders, Engine Room, etc.)

So, you see the importance of pong at Rustici Software — it’s serious business here.

 
We used to keep track of our rankings (the Pong Ladder) on a white board. There were some specific rules, but it wasn’t too high tech.

Well, when we hired TJ, he realized that the pong ladder could be better.

We have a big screen in our main meeting room/pong room that displays important company stats, and TJ had a vision for a system that we could put on that screen that would include a new pong ladder. It would keep track of all of our singles & doubles matches, our rankings, and it would use the Elo ranking system.

He found an open-sourced Elo ranking system on Github, but it was written in Ruby, a language that he hadn’t used before.

TJ did exactly what any of our developers would have done. He took a little time to learn Ruby so he could implement the Ruby Elo ranking system for our company. Voila! We had a new pong ladder on the big dashboard in our main meeting/pong room. It looks like this:
 
Rustici Pong Ladder
 
It’s fancy, it stores all of our game results, and it even sends Tin Can statements to our public LRS when a pong match is done.

What does all of this have to do with hiring the right people?

 
Whenever we tell people that we’re looking for good software developers (which is all the time,) the first question we get is “what language?”

We give the same answer every time. “If he/she is good enough to work here, then their familiarity with certain programming languages doesn’t matter.”

The story of TJ and the pong ladder is a perfect example of this, but it’s not just TJ. This is how all of our developers are.

So, now it’s time for me to be a marketer: if you know somebody that fits our definition of a good developer, let us know. We want to have a conversation with him/her.