One of the hardest jobs as an engineering manager is to hire and build a great team. The other is to retain and engage them (but that’s for another day). The purpose of this article is to walk you through step-by-step how to find and hire great engineering talent.
Top of the funnel
- Create a Monthly Engagement Calendar. Hiring cycles often happen at the start of the month (and year) so do most of your sourcing at the beginning of the month.
- Reach out to DEVELOPER social networks. No - not LinkedIn. Not Facebook. Not Instagram. Here’s some that have worked well:
- Hacker News “Who is Hiring” thread. Post every month on the first business day. The challenge is you can only do 1 posting per company. So only have 1 engineering manager post for your company.
- Reddit subs for your programming language/framework. r/technology or r/programming will get you nowhere. But if you’re hiring a Scala developer, r/scala allows you to post job threads.
- For Node:
- For React:
- For Node:
- Do the work yourself. Your recruiting team, if you’re lucky enough to have one, is probably great. And they need your help! Their job is to supplement your hiring, not do it all for you.
The best way to convince developers to join is to be genuinely interested in them and convince them that the role you are hiring for is perfect for them.
- Set up a 30-minute phone call ASAP. Since you’ve posted to so many communities, it can be difficult to respond and check in on them. Encourage folks to email you to schedule a time to chat on the phone and engage with them personally.
- Keep the phone call informal. You really only need to focus on 4 things:
- What your company is about
- What your team is about and how it fits into your company’s grand vision.
- Learn more about the candidate, what they’re looking for, and why they’re interested in you
- A brief overview of the hiring process (this leads them into the next step by encouraging them to start your interview process).
You’ve invested a lot of effort into hiring. You may not have implemented all of those strategies but the most important thing about your interview process should be to stand out from the crowd and wow your candidates with a pleasant & fair interview experience.
People loathe contrived interview problems (e.g. reverse a linked list in memory, traverse a 2D array in a spiral). They especially hate when those problems have nothing to do with the actual work they will be doing. So don’t ask them!
People love practical questions that test the skills they use. Interviewing someone on the UI layer? Ask them to implement a mockup. Need an architect? Have them design Twitter. If you engage candidates with problems they will really encounter, you’ll learn their true capabilities and they, in return, will feel properly evaluated (read: happy with the interview experience).
People are impressed by non-traditional approaches. I’ve used tiny take-home pull request exams to engage an often overlooked part of every developer’s core job: reading code. Most interviews require developers to write code, but few ask them to read code.
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