Why HR in tech is a really big deal. Interview with Angelina Golovchenko.
The Tech industry has been booming for quite a while. How do you navigate the waters of endless talent to find the best? How do you make people stay, prosper and grow within the company? We think it's time to give HR the recognition it's due.
Angelina Golovchenko is the one responsible for attracting people who are not only tech-savvy but also have the right personalities matching the culture of Devhouse. She calls herself a people person and is determined to build a community to empower people and to enrich the way HR contributes to business growth and success.
You have a degree in Law. What drew you to HR instead?
Long story short, I love people way more than legal documents and courts.
But to be completely honest, going for a Law degree was more about a bow to the pressure of the family and the society, rather than a conscious choice. There were really only 2 choices parents were giving us in 2010: a doctor or a lawyer, I went for the less bloody one.
There were really only 2 choices parents were giving us in 2010: a doctor or a lawyer, I went for the less bloody one.
What according to you are the qualities that an HR Manager must have?
I won’t be reinventing the wheel here. You should be open to communication, have a great deal of empathy, and have a healthy emotional intelligence. Although, that’s quite universal. What wasn’t as obvious to me and became clear only after a few months into the job, is that you can’t fake it. If you’re not genuinely interested in people and making their life at work more efficient, convenient, and, generally, better, it won’t work. And, of course, you have to be ready to talk to people. A lot. A LOT.
If you’re not genuinely interested in people and making their life at work more efficient, convenient, and, generally, better, it won’t work.
What’s been your biggest challenge as an HR manager?
6 months ago, I’d say it's closing a senior developer position with unique tech stack skills. Now, I’m more and more convinced that it’s communication within the team. Any relationship, work or not, is very unpredictable and you never know how people will react to certain changes and decisions. My main task is to build trust within the company. For some, it’s a no-brainer but sometimes months of trying different behavioral models and approaches give me crumbs. In the end, I’d say it’s as challenging as it is rewarding.
My main task is to build trust within the company.
How did you land in Devhouse? What’s the company culture like there?
It was a happy coincidence! I got fairly disappointed in Law, so I was searching for the next big thing. I tried copywriting, event management, even teaching. Each one had its perks but then none was good enough as it is. I was either bored or didn’t have enough room for growth.
So, I kept looking for something a little more challenging and rewarding. That’s when I came across an opening at Devhouse. Back then it was fairly small, just about 10 people. They weren’t really looking for HR, per se, it was kind of an experimental role with a scope of very different tasks. I had to hire new people, manage office events, make sure everything was running smoothly in the office, and take over the development of an MVP Lab. That looked challenging enough, so I went for it.
Although, I think the main argument towards taking the job was the overall environment at Devhouse. Honestly, my interview with Igor Bokii, our CEO, was the nicest in my life. He radiated genuine interest in Devhouse, it was infectious. What I saw in this interview clearly translated into everyday life in the office. Devhouse is about open-mindedness and caring about each team member even through mistakes, not just success.
So, I kept looking for something a little more challenging and rewarding.
Do you think HR managers should have some tech knowledge since they frequently interview programmers?
I guess it’s important to notice the difference between HR managers and IT recruiters. I don’t have a clear answer for HR managers. It’s great if you are tech-savvy, but it’s more important to understand the needs of developers.
When it comes to IT recruiters, sure. Knowing the tech stack necessary for each project is a must. As an HR manager, I try to distance myself from searching and initial screening, especially for middle and senior development positions. I delegate this to professional recruiters. I try to focus my attention on scaling the corporate culture, making the onboarding process smoother, retaining the best talent, and building Devhouse into a stronger HR brand.
When it comes to IT recruiters, sure. Knowing the tech stack necessary for each project is a must.
How do you structure your hiring process?
First, I determine whether the position is technical or non-technical, what’s the grade, the terms, etc. Then I choose the right platform to place the vacancy, decide whether or not I need to use any marketing instruments, or delegate the recruitment process altogether.
My focus today is this:
- non-technical specialists
- junior-level developers that Devhouse is ready to invest in. We’re talking time and resources, so personality matters here because this is about long-term commitment
- closing technical positions. Once IT recruiters and our in-house developers approve a candidate after their initial screening, I take it from there to see if the soft skills are there and it’s a match to our corporate culture. Then I make the offer.
Apart from hard skills, what do you pay attention to when you interview someone?
I trust my gut. First impressions are important and usually you can easily say right away if you see yourself working with this person every day. Deep down we all know the answer to that question. It pretty much never failed me.
My experience shows that sometimes a person coming to Devhouse with a full understanding of corporate culture has way better chances for growth, even without outstanding hard skills.
First impressions are important and usually you can easily say right away if you see yourself working with this person every day.
How do you see the HR field developing in the next 5 years?
I wouldn’t be certain to talk about my own life in the next couple of months. So, it’s hard to say anything about the HR field. Although, I’m pretty sure that HR will be more about turning businesses towards people, making them value talents, and showing a human side. A successful HR specialist will be the one understanding business processes and taking responsibility for management tasks without losing genuine interest in a person’s wellbeing.