Best Practices for Interviewing & Hiring Engineers

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efwefweegerWhether you are a tech-savvy businessperson or an entrepreneur who knows that they need someone much smarter than they are to do the technical heavy lifting, hiring the right software engineer for your project is an important undertaking.  Finding top talent isn’t always easy, and it can particularly be a challenge on a start-up budget.  Here are some best practices for both interviewing and hiring engineers so that you get it right the first time.

Define Competencies

A recent study by Bell Labs on effective techniques for hiring engineers identified nine competencies that were key indicators of job performance.  Among the top competencies were “taking initiative” and “networking.”  The takeaway from this from this wasn’t that you should only ask questions along these lines in your interviews although this shouldn’t be ruled out.  The importance of this is that clear job profiles need to be created that have clearly defined competencies tied to them.   Also, interviewers should learn to use behavior-based techniques that can assess a candidate’s chances of future success instead of simply focusing on purely technical skills.

Give Yourself Time

It has become seller’s market for tech services, and the scarcity of quality candidates can make recruiting the right person difficult.  It is often the case that there are fewer applicants for a job than a company would desire.  The best advice is to give yourself a very long lead time between the time that you create the opening and the need, up to six months if possible.  If you are trying to fill an immediate need, the chances of hiring the wrong person go up exponentially.

Know the Job

This is your business so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to get excited about this position that you are trying to fill.  Make an effort to know everything about the job so that you can have a conversation with the people you are interviewing.  Tech people appreciate managers who are enthusiastic about their world.

Sell Your Company

Your startup may not be Google or Microsoft (yet) but take the opportunity to explain to candidates why working for a startup has its benefits.  For example, as a software engineer in a startup, they will be able to take the lead in major projects and won’t be lost in the crowd.

Personalize the Process

Because you are often trying to convince a software engineer to come and work for you, and not the other way around, it will benefit you greatly to personalize the process.  Check out the candidate online so that you can find some common ground and be sure to ask them about their career goals.

Sweeten the Deal

As a smaller company or startup, there are many things that you can do to make working for your business attractive.  Providing additional training is always a bonus as is the potential to telecommute part of the time.  Most tech company jobs include some provision for stock options, yet the percentage is small at very large companies.  By providing a larger equity share in the company, you may motivate new engineers both to join your business and to help turn it into a leader in its industry.

In order to excel in nearly any business today, tech is major component.  Those that interview and hire software engineers the right way are the ones that will grow faster and emerge as leaders in their respective industries.

Published by Kidal Delonix (764 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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