Interview Questions for Managers of NCGs
Purpose of Interview: As someone who hired a new college graduate, you'll have good insight to what will help with the ramp up of new college hires into
Engineering. We need input on what will improve the experience of managers of new college graduates in their first 90-days at NetApp.
Ensure confidentiality and explain how you will protect privacy.


Tell interviewees that their views are very important to you and to the project, and explain why.
Ask permission to record interviews by tape-recording and in writing.
Make interviewees comfortable by asking how they are, how their day went, how their family is, or some other culturally appropriate small talk. (p. 133)
to preserve your anonymity, individual responses will not be reported and personal information will not be gathered.


Questions
Laurie's interview
(HW manager)
Pam's interview
(QA Manager)
Laurie's interview (SW Tools Manager)
1. What do you currently do for your new hires within the first 30 days of employment? 90 days of employment? (Res/support tools)
Set up a 30 day plan. 6 month goals and obj
- Things to focus on right away
- Projects over the next 6 months

this manager has worked with 2 NCGs and 3-4 interns
30 days: 1 - assign a buddy, try to select buddy who NCG will not work with on a daily basis - perhaps outside direct organization - seeks crossfunctional buddy. 2 - first 2 weeks series of 4 meetings; 1st orient to team/role; follow on meetings are specific to role/responsibilities, develop goals/objectives for first 90 days - teach understanding of proceses and best practices for team. these meetings occur: no more than 1 per day, 2 per week.
30 to 90 days - regular one-on-one every other week - standard onboarding -make sure they get on the right distribution lists, are invited to the right meetings, etc, make sure they're connected. NetApp training - about 2 weeks of broad general ontap engineering, etoast, and team specific best practices.
Especially with NCG – they take work – investment up front – pick right buddy – someone who can be an “overseer” – allocate a buddy’s time 20% for two weeks, 10% over next few months – buddy has to be experienced person
This is part of buddy’s job – part of focal. When you hire an NCG, the whole team is involved. Need to let the team know a NCG is coming and it’s an investment – Commitment of the entire team.

Not investing time will be disastrous.

Buddy may have to have serious talks with NCG. Suggested how to take notes – write it down – won’t answer same question multiple times.
Buddy needs to care enough to make the NCG successful. Buddy cannot be penalized for being a buddy. They need to know that they will be spending at least 20% of their time working with the NCG (at least for the first couple of weeks).

We don’t do a 30, 60 90 day plan.

Best was having the NCG co-located (shared office) with buddy, even if it's for 3 months.
1a. What (if any) written information do you provide to your new hires? (D/ info)
Part of 30 day – familiarize w/team env, buddy
- Open door policy – let me know, I’ll do research – give permission to interrupt early on
- Don’t want him to bang head against wall – tried to talk to folks, - come talk to me I can get pointed in the right direction
- Set time limits on stuff to help with too much spinning – come to me by end of week with summary
- w/ ncg – be more tactical – weekly 1-1s – get them to talk about work, help with direction
- help them get used to working in an environment for multi-task – Don't let the NCG get too focused on one thing

written documentation is generally electronic: wiki page... team best practices around tools, test plans, test strategies for functional area.
tools training for tools used. internal (team) documents.
NetApp - VODs and training classes from NetApp education (Ken Brown's QA class)
Have assignments – read this, do this, take over x project. NCG may need more training, like a scripting language.
[How does a manager know if the NCG needs training in a particular area?]
Set expectations that within some timeframe you will build expertise on this. NCG needs to let mgr know that they need further training.
We’ll give you 3 weeks to learn this after that it’s yours. Make the transfer very time-limited. Need to stay on top of NCG. Need to install work ethic. May have to monitor the NCG every day (having NCG and buddy share an office helps). Show bad examples as what not to do. NCG is trying to figure out how things work. Start them off right. Have a very honest conversation early on.
Going to doctor’s, leave early, make up later. Stay at home when sick. Set basic expectations. Expectations of taking time off – responsibilities with work – need to pass on work.
What resources in addition to the HHG (HitchHiker's Guide) do you provide/point your NCG to?
- Best practices, HHG, our group has our own new hire guide also
- SW tools and processes that the NCG will have to use - perforce, tools,
- Sent to external drive protocol practices (external training specific to HW) – The NCG is the SW guy in a HW group- He's maintaining tools for the HW system

Additional resources are primarily derivitive works from best practices in HHG, how to use best practices in context of team work
- review board - best practices
- automation frameworks
- tool usage
- test design
- working with quality center
- using specific fields in specific ways, test planning documentation
(Note: I asked if this specific team is very different in scope from other QA teams:
~24 QA teams @ NetApps, each does testing in similar way, derivation part - which DLs copy, field selection choices specific to team.... follow the herd in general best practices, but have some specific to their team.
Topics specific to what they are working on – buddy and mgr point them to the other docs/webpages.

Team should have a discussion about what is needed, what are gaps? Ask NCG what their gap areas are. Has to be part of buddy’s job – ask about NCG status in buddy’s 1-1s.
3. In the NCG's first few days/weeks, what do you do for them that you don't need to do for experienced engineers?
- wrote goals and obj - more tactically.
- Sent the NCG to external classes to focus knowledge about the team's project area (HW)
- The NCG had a great sense of enthusiasm, urgency (making his bones) – nice to see the energy - it was good for the rest of the team too
- when I bark, he jumps – metrics are up to date – don’t have to tell him to do stuff twice

- with an experienced person we have 1-1's every other week; with the NCG we'll have weekly 1-1's. May not be long (20 min), but check in frequently.
- the early on meetings, first couple weeks, making sure he as mgr doesn't assume knowledge and comfort level... listening for a gap in his assumptions/expectations and NCGs ability to be self sufficient, evaluating how goal driven the NCG is as well.
Be very explicit. Buddy and manager need to spend an hour or two (at least) a day monitoring/checking-in with the NCG. NCG was encouraged to bring up questions.

Encourage the NCG to ask questions – tell the NCG “rather have you ask questions than make guesses which can waste time.” Set expectations that the NCG should feel comfortable asking questions.
4. What people/person/teams are critical for the NCG to know to work effectively?
- The fact that he had to work with people outside of team broadened his scope and responsibilities
- he’s doing most of test qualification for the HW product of the group – getting promotion

- during first 90 days NCG needs to know the automation lead / infrastructure and tools
it's an area we don't have formal training today -and should because of complexity

- regular contact with HR representative after first 2 weeks or so, ie 30 day and 90 day conversation about how they feel their job at NetApp is going.

- connect with fellow team members - buddy is external to team - looks for mentoring alignment and a feeling of "connectedness" to the team
Point the NCG to the appropriate distribution lists (dls). By being on a dl and paying attention to the discussions, the NCG got to know people through dls. The NCG actively participated on the dl as he owned certain projects that were being discussed.

For our NCG we needed to get him to proof-read his email. – Grammar spelling, sentence fragments – refine over time; get him to proof read email so makes sense

Like taking notes because you can’t remember everything. These kind of things are much better coming from the buddy. – Buddy is kind of the organizational parent.
How does the person/team affect the NCG's job? (is it the person or the position?)
- he’d been intern for the team
- buddy worked well with him
- others worked well with him – caught on fast – treated him competently

team's impact is huge. NCG requires a lot of feedback, fellow workers take on aspects of bringing a NCG up to speed - they are coaches for success. typically have team involved with interview process.
This manager prefers internship vs. pool hiring/assignment. internship program more positive recruiting tool - different kind of starting engagement, less formal, different objectives/goals (short term), great trial period. Luckily have hired most NCGs from internship program. Onboarding process is significantly better, NCG gets up to speed much faster.
NCG developed friends through intern program – need support of others who are in the same boat. Intern program feeds the NCG program.

Team had to agree work with and develop the NCG. It’s not just the manager and buddy’s job.
6. What have you found worked well to integrate NCGs into existing projects? What has not worked well? (several..K&S, Motivation) What would you do differently?
- gave him one thing that was just his – all other projects were collaborative
- give something to start him off (cut teeth on) – show progress- balance w/work that forces collaboration
- they may not see value of collaboration
- talked about it – The tools were solely his project and he also worked collaboratively on other team projects – he felt comfortable working w/ others, even cruffty folks (he’s an eagle scout)
- this is same for others in group too

best- working with the team currently assigned to the project, having team identify tasks and role where NCG will be successful; this allows the team to shift focus to higher level items, while supporting NCG to be successful.

sometimes desirable training is not available for extended periods (4 or 5 months)... or it is long (a month) and only offered in Sunnyvale.
other times training is scheduled so close to hire date there is no opportunity to integrate to team before departing for training, this can hinder the aclimation of NCG to the team because he does it, in effect, twice.
Buddy was lead of a primary project – NCG had assignments within the larger project. We built in complexity over time – pick up in controlled way – watch what the NCG did.

Buddy should review all code before checking.

Ask the NCG specific questions: Are you learning? Are you getting what you need? Do you have resources you need? Do you like the team? Like the job? Want to find out if right away if there are issues. Asking lets the NCG talk. NCG don’t have good filters yet, they’ll be honest. Experienced people know there are certain things they need to deal with themselves.

If NCG is unhappy the team needs to be prepared to invest in the time to bring the NCG along.

If a manager of an NCG cannot provide the (overly) supportive environment that the NCG need, the manager needs to find that environment, even if the NCG has to work in another group to begin. The manager may be facing this for NCG in Bangalore. She doesn’t have a team there yet. The NCG allocated in Bangalore for her team may have to start out in a related team.
7. Based in this list (show list from survey results) What skills does a NCG employee need to improve to be most effective in their current role?
- had to learn our development and test environments – HW/SW – acquired skill – did send to some outside training to gain new skills – he came in knowing how to do debugging – part of being an engineer
- metrics are tracked – compliance reports
- encouraged him to seek guidance – only asks same question once – needs only one explanation
- willingness for them to ask questions – ensure it’s a non-threatening environment – I’m not grading you – get stuff done – it’s the most important thing – mgr directs and sets priorities

time mgmt
communication
testing skills
programming - can be taught....

7a. From the survey of the NCG, the top three skills they sited were communication, programming and testing skills. Would the manager agree? If not, what skills are appropriate?
- HW for this team
- Have qtrly technology reviews and vendor reviews – everyone gets invited to see the big picture – then as a team they discuss how to apply to current and future work (for whole team)

yes

8. Describe a situation where working with a NCG was successful. Describe a situation where an NCG was successful within the first few months of employment. What factors contributed to the NCG's success? I like the rephasing What do you consider a success in ramping up a NCG?
Assimilated quickly
mgr's perspective... 90 days to 6 mo
>90 days: evaluation of success - is this person participating in conversations at his group level
active participant in conversations - contributing
complete initial 90 day goal, met expectations, can they demonstrate budding skills in the area they are needed to contribute to the team. early contribution in a meaningful way - measurable.

any other comments? questions?

training - we're got resouces in place to engage w/ engineering community to put together training materials; we need better training for NCGs - not sure we've built the pipeline for gathering info / material for training but the impetus seems to be more on engineers to initiate training rather than from training group... engineers built/present the same info multiple times then finally turn it into a training