There is a growing consensus among companies that have focused their hiring process to attract and hire the best technical employees. This post will show what those companies have in common.
How does your hiring process compare with the best in the industry? Most companies will say they do this well. But most candidates are repulsed by the interview process. This isn’t just sour grapes from rejected candidates, many people inside the interviewing company are frustrated by the process too. In addition, I rarely speak with hiring managers that are happy with the candidates they see in the pipeline.
Something doesn’t line up.
Why does this matter?
Everyone agrees that hiring good engineers is the lifeblood of technology companies. But most companies do a poor job of providing an interview experience that leaves the developer feeling good about the company. This hurts your reputation.
Hiring is a Sales and Marketing exercise. Your entire process is a chance to help or hurt your status in the industry. Candidates talk to each other. If they didn’t like how they were treated, they will tell their colleagues. If corporate recruiters were measured like sales teams, most would be promptly fired. Luckily for them, there is no way to measure the devs you weren’t able to hire because they never showed up in your pipeline in the first place.
As a result, good hiring managers are left to pick up the slack to maintain good relationships with candidates left hanging by HR.
What Do The Best Do?
The top company’s process can be boiled down to the following phases:
Meet the Hiring Manager
Many companies have at least some of these phases. Here are the traits that make the best companies stand out.
The Initial Contact has clear information on salary range and the interview process
This is handled by Human Resources (HR) for massive companies or a Hiring Manager for smaller companies. This allows the candidate to ask high level questions about the organization.
This call should determine if the salary range and leveling is a fit for the candidate. Most companies currently provide some form of this. Importantly, the company rep should be upfront with the salary range for the position. Companies that withhold salary information only succeed in wasting both the candidate’s and company’s time.
One thing that helps companies stand out is providing detailed information on the interview process. This includes what the steps are and how long the company will take to run the entire process AND make a decision.
The best can provide answers to any questions and information on next steps within 2 days. With the entire process completing within 2 weeks.
Let the candidate talk with the Hiring Manager early in the process
Get the candidate on the phone with a hiring manager quickly. The Meet the Hiring Manager phase. This is a brief call to let the candidate ask more detailed questions about the team and work. And also find out if the role is a good fit.
A strong candidate has other options and won’t want to invest time in the process without a good assurance that the team and organization are places they’ll enjoy working.
This isn’t only a meet to provide information to the candidate. Top hiring managers also use this as an opportunity to Sell their team so the candidate will be excited to invest their time in the interview process.
Initial Technical Screen can be scheduled within a week
Initial technical screens can be scheduled within a week and don’t take up more than an hour of the candidate’s time. This is a one on one meeting where the candidate meets with a technical member of your staff to determine if they have the basic qualifications for the job.
In 2021 this is usually a pair programming exercise where a developer on your team meets with the candidate to watch them write code to solve a predefined problem. But other options are available too.
Also important in this phase is leaving time at the end of the meeting to allow the candidate to ask questions of your developer.
If the Technical Screen doesn’t go well, the candidate is informed quickly
If the company declines to move forward after the technical screen, the candidate is notified promptly. This should be done within 1-2 days. With a small investment of time from the candidate a detailed reason for rejection isn’t required but the candidate should feel respected.
If the Technical Screen goes well, the Onsite can be scheduled by the end of the following week
If the screening goes well, the Onsite in scheduled. This is usually a 1/2 day to full day where the candidate meets with other members of the org. This is a chance for Product, QA, Management and other developers to interview the candidate. AND for the candidate to ask questions about how the org operates. If you schedule an Onsite. Make sure there are times for the candidates to ask questions. And also to take breaks during the process.
Decision is made within 2-3 days of the Onsite
Once the candidate has met with enough of your team members you should be prepared to make a decision promptly. In a busy organization it’s common to not be able to schedule a meeting with everyone immediately.
But you should have your ducks in a row to be ready to make a yes or no decision within 2-3 days.
Actionable feedback if an offer is not made
If an offer is not made, the hiring manager offers a time to provide feedback to candidates who have invested their time in the process.
Interviewing is hard. Determining if a person is a good hire from a 1 hour meeting is an impossible task. Good candidates are routinely turned down for a host of confusing reasons. But the candidate deserves to know how they appeared to the interviewers so they can use this information to help them in the future.
An HR rep giving vague feedback does not count.
An HR rep sending an obvious form email definitely does NOT count.
Is this an easy process to implement? No.
How many companies do this? Most don’t, but the number who do is growing. Unfortunately, most companies optimize for other problems. Bay Area companies that aren’t doing this are already at a hiring disadvantage. Companies in the midwest who implement these steps are ahead of the curve.
Adopting these practices is a way to make your company stand out and improve the effectiveness of your technical team by hiring the best engineers.
So, how does the hiring process compare at your company compare?