Ms Suzi Edwards, Global Head of Recruiting at global IT consulting firm Thoughtworks, is in India on a unique mission: to train the company's recruitment team in ‘interviewing based on pair programming.'

“Pair programming is how we run our business. Now, we have our recruiting team also thinking this way,” says Ms Edwards.

Pair programming is an agile software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. The driver types codes while the observer reviews the codes as they are typed in and the two switch roles frequently.

Extending to recruitment

Thoughtworks has followed the method for more than a decade and is now extending it to recruitment. The reason for starting this in India is because hiring is foundational here and innovation should be brought to the hiring process, she says.

In recruitment, pair programming can be used for active candidate search, screening profiles and even interviewing, says Ms Edwards. In fact, the candidates get their first taste of pair programming during the interview process where, like programming, there is the driver and the navigator on the panel.

“Sometimes this is a culture shock for candidates, but our recruitment process prepares them for the work culture ahead. The interview is a microcosm of life at Thoughtworks,” says Ms Edwards.

Pair programming is demonstrated even at the leadership level, explains Ms Edwards. “The founder and the Chairman, Roy Singham, is the visionary, and the President and CEO, Trevor Mather, is the operational expert, complementing each other's work,” she says.

Faster and better

Pair programming does not work well when one member is not experienced as the other, or one is distracted from work and checks email constantly. But the advantages far outweigh these as we have found that programmers who work in pairs produce faster and better work and have reduced defect rates. Ms Edwards says the concept would bring the same benefits to the recruitment process as well.

Thoughtworks currently employs 600 people in India and plans to add about 230 employees this year.

anjali@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 5, 2012)
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