Whether you're an engineering manager or a technical recruiter, hiring the right person is a challenge and a burden, considering the importance of the right hire.
At the end of the day, hiring is like matchmaking, where two things need to come together: person and role. And when you recruit someone who's a good fit, they're more likely to stick with the company long term, boost team morale and performance, and save you plenty of unnecessary costs.
Although there's no one size fits all approach, we'll look at several out-of-the-box practices that have proven to yield positive results and might work for you and your company when hiring the right tech talent.
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First Things First: Understand Why You’re Hiring and Who You’re Hiring
If you don't know the reason why you're hiring or why you are scaling engineering teams, the chances of finding a suitable candidate are lower. So, before you start with the hiring process, ask yourself questions like:
- Are you hiring a new candidate to complement the existing team that is currently overworked?
- Are you replacing an employee who left the company or was promoted to a new role?
- Are you hiring because you need a person with a specific experience and skill set that your existing team doesn't possess?
The second step is to define who you should be hiring. Some questions to ask yourself are the following:
- What technical skills are required?
- What soft skills do we need? Do we need someone creative with good communication skills, or do we need someone with strong critical-thinking and leadership skills?
- What level of expertise must the candidate possess? (do we need a junior-level or senior-level?)
Once you know why you're hiring and who you're hiring, you can proceed to craft the job description.
When it comes to job descriptions, keep in mind many candidates automatically ignore job listings that don't list a salary range. Beware of the language you're using as well. If you're not listing the job range and using language like “competitive” or “top dollar,” know there's an assumption among tech candidates that these companies always pay the least salary.
What's more, candidates also prefer when their potential employer provides an honest and detailed description of the job position, so make sure you're clear on the duties, the challenges, the requirements, and the benefits and perks.
This May Come as a Shock: Reconsider Cultural Fit
Nowadays, we see many companies focusing a great deal on cultural fit. We're not trying to say that you should completely disregard cultural fit and hire someone who doesn't believe in the company's vision and values. Our advice is to be more flexible when it comes to cultural fit.
The downside of hiring for cultural fit is that you hire someone who's just like everybody else. Over time, you'll find yourself managing a team of people who look the same, work the same, act the same, and think the same. This means you won't have a diversity of opinion on the team and people who will introduce a more innovative approach to fixing problems.
At the end of the day, you want to hire a candidate that's going to help the team get things done on time and produce quality work–this should be your main priority.
Adopt a More Creative Interview Approach
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge at work.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Do these questions ring a bell?
Chances are they do; they're some of the most commonly asked questions by recruiters during interviews.
These standard interview questions are like some kind of a tradition that's passed from one generation of recruiters to another. However, these interview questions have proven to be quite unreliable. Why? Because they fail to reveal sufficient information about a candidate’s competencies.
At the same time, the issue with these generic interview questions is that every candidate will be well prepared to answer them.
The trick is not to ask generic questions to which you're likely to receive generic answers and call it a day; hooray, you've found the ideal candidate that gave the most generic answers.
On the contrary: if you want to pinpoint the right candidate, you must understand how they think, act in stressful situations, what they aspire for, etc.
One way to gain insights into a candidate's critical-thinking abilities, tech savviness, and interpersonal skills is to immerse them in unconventional scenarios.
For instance, let's say you're interviewing an engineering candidate. To test their critical-thinking skills and tech savviness skills, you can ask the candidate the following questions:
- How would you design an app for accessibility?
- What is the most difficult project you have worked on, and how did you get through the challenging tasks?
- What is your favorite type of work to do in the engineering field and why?
Another interesting approach is to ask unusual non-engineering questions that can reveal a great deal about a candidate. For example:
- If you need to describe yourself as an animal, what animal would you be?
- What is the best quality people perceive first about you?
- If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Implement an Employee Referral/Ambassador Program
Employee referral programs work great because they help you target passive and active talent. Although passive talent is not looking to switch jobs, they can still be open to a better opportunity if you make them a good offer.
The reason why so many companies implement employee referral programs is that these programs tend to yield high-quality candidates. In fact, referral hires come with a higher retention rate and take the shortest time to recruit and onboard.
The cornerstone of successful employee referral programs are incentives. Incentives don't have to be monetary. You can offer other forms of incentives, like gift cards, paid time off, company swag, and more.
And if you want your existing employees to refer their friends, you have to make it easy for them to do so; people have a distaste for friction nowadays. One idea is to give existing employees access to add talent to your ATS. To encourage them to promote your open roles, offer email and social sharing templates.
Here's another useful tip: always accept referrals, even if there's no vacancy. You might not be hiring for that position at the moment, but one of the main benefits of employee referral programs is having that specific skill set stored in your system to have a person on hand once the position opens.
Work With Reputable Talent Networks
You'll be shocked to learn how many strong candidates hide in a tech talent network.
Whether you have an overworked two-person engineering team or need an extra pair of hands to build new features or products, these talent networks can supply you with high-quality candidates swiftly and cost-effectively.
And the best thing is that talent at these networks undergoes a rigorous screening process that analyzes their technical skills, aptitude, and personality. You'll be able to find talent that delivers across a range of requirements, including technical skills, time zone, language, background, teamwork, and communication.
You can hire full-time or part-time contractors, scale up and down as needed, and work with 100% remote talent. Whether you need a Laravel or a React engineer, a full-stack engineer, or a QA engineer, talent networks have candidates available in just a few days to hit the ground running. They'll attend your internal team calls, access your support tools, and overall feel like they're part of the team.
Hiring the right tech talent doesn't have to be mission impossible and a headache. There's a solution for every problem, and accepting the status quo shouldn't be your approach.
By adopting some of these hiring strategies, you can go from "I hired the wrong candidate" to "I hired the best candidate the company could ask for."