Best Practices for Hiring Software Engineers for 2017

A simplified guide for hiring top tech talent

Tip #1: Use the right tools. Ask engineering candidates the right questions.

For many decades, human resource personnel, headhunters, and acquisition officers have utilized countless strategies when they want to find a software engineer. Often times, emotional intelligence evaluations, IQ test, aptitude test, personality test, whiteboard sessions, code review, and other test are conducted to assess a candidate’s capabilities. These tools are great for evaluating a potential candidate but they are not effective in determining long term value and if one can retain them. Check out the following tips if you’re trying to hire software engineers.

Developer Hiring and Retaining Tip #1: Use the right tools. Ask the right questions.

In this day and age, job seekers want to be part of something meaningful. Employees are now likelier to seek employers that can cover their financial obligations as well as provide development opportunities and future growth.

When trying to find software developers, identify what type of candidate is in your pool and evaluate their current capabilities in critical thinking, adaptability, behavior, and emotion. Instruments in IQ and EI can serve as great tools but still leave out a few items that can provide deep and rich information. Consider using a strength assessment tool to help you fill in the gaps and ask questions during the hiring process that provide insight on the talent.

Let’s step back for a second and think about that. When you want to hire software engineers, have you ever taken a moment to drill down on the questions that are being asked during your interview process and if so, determined their effectiveness for fitting a candidate to a role? Let’s consider a few of the most common questions asked including: “Why do you want to work here,” or “Why should we hire you?”

Generally, the typical answer leans on the opportunity being great, and the candidate having xyz experience, and or they feel they can excel in the role. What do these or other typical answers have in common? For starters, one would say they are generic, prefabricated, and provide little to no insight on how the candidate truly feels. Consider the following:

DON’T: Why do you want to work for us and feel you are the right candidate?

DO: What type of impact would you like to see from your role in the organization and possibly other employees/society?

*Instead of asking a question that only gives insight on a micro level, ask a question that helps you understand the bigger picture from the perspective of the candidate. This can be crucial in determining how and where they would like to be positioned in life and ultimately, in the personal and professional world. The takeaway here is to give the power to the employee to answer without constraints or expectations, and let them paint their journey for you.

DON’T: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

DO: What makes you happy? How do you plan to keep that happiness in your life? What makes you unhappy?

*Instead of asking a question that only gives insight to a plan that might otherwise just be that, a plan… find out what makes them get up in the morning. This can give you crucial insight on their motivations and lack thereof. Remember, we want to open up a conversation that speaks true to the candidate rather than an answer that is formed to get the job. The right questions can welcome a conversation and open up dialogues that otherwise might be lost. When you hire a software engineer, the key is to make the process not feel like a process and by doing so, you might discover your candidates intent and long term wants and needs.

Software Developer Hiring and Retaining Tip #2: Build and invest in your team

We have heard this many times, “In order to be the best, you must hire the best.” Theoretically, this is great if you have the brand positioning, resources, and capabilities to make this happen. Mega companies like Zappos, Facebook, and Google are a few examples of companies that have built fantastic cultures that attract exceptional talent. Beyond being innovators in their market and around the globe, they have built a brand that attracts new and current job seekers in the masses.

The question is, what do you do if you do not have this infrastructure built? How can you strategize and position yourself when you are hiring software engineers? Start by identifying what resources are available to you to support growth and evaluate your organization.

Here is a short list of items you might want to evaluate:

  • Is our company culture welcoming? Is it diverse?
  • Do we work with new and/or exciting technologies?
  • Do we offer certification, workshops, or other growth opportunities?
  • Are we an inclusive type of bunch or exclusive?

Regardless of where you are on the short list, you must set up an infrastructure that welcomes teams across the world, provides education opportunities, and ongoing development. Your team should love their work environment and want to share their experiences in the workplace with others. Think about this for a second. If you are going to be spending time with others for hours on end, and in a place other than your home, wouldn’t you want to be surrounded by an environment that feels welcoming? The key is to build an environment with a positive workplace, foster growth, and work without constraints or barriers.

DON’T: Only provide snacks, host a yearly party, hire to do a job, and call it a day.

DO: Build an organization that is inviting, offers continuous growth, and welcomes diversity.

*If you are unable to hire the best talent, develop the best talent in-house with the many free resources available online. Build a system or process around building teams that can evolve as the market does, and create a development map with achievable milestones and goals.

Hiring and Retaining Top Software Developer Talent Tip #3: Host or sponsor events internally and externally

This tip for retaining top software talent sounds easier said than done but I assure you, it can be done. Let’s consider a few reasons why you should strategize around organizing an event:

  • Events allow teams and employees to mingle with one another and cultivate meaningful relationships.
  • They may attract other tech talent from other networks to join in and refer future employees.
  • Events can be a great way to build local, national, and global ventures and ultimately, build tech communities along the way.

Often times, a business can be caught on the day to day or simply not have the resources to host or sponsor an event. In this case, a weekly lunch, monthly hack day, or even a holiday potluck can serve as a building ground for this venture. One of the big reasons that make events so successful are the people and the experience.

DON’T: Plan an event on your own and invite attendees with xyz requirements including attire, restrictions, and or rules. Don’t expect participation, create it.

DO: Plan an event and get everyone involved. Conduct a company vote or poll and plan an activity where everyone can be comfortable. Provide a challenge if need be to encourage team collaboration like a project, gaming tournament, or anything that welcomes teamwork.

When you want to find a software developer for the long term, what you want to achieve is a gathering of employees that creates an opportunity to speak freely, opens up a dialogue, and encourages exchanging of ideas, respect, trust, and experience. Once you have mastered the art of creating events in-house, graduate to hosting or sponsoring events in your area.

Software Developer Hiring and Tech Talent Retention Tip #4: Offering the most doesn’t always attract the best

One of the biggest if not most important hot topics when you want to find developers is pay and benefits. Some might say, it is the driving force behind why anyone accepts an offer, and matures at a place of business. Think about it for a second, and consider what key drivers may impact a candidate or employee to accept an offer. For the most part, it is safe to say we might all have financial obligations or responsibilities that must be met. Additionally, we might all need basic care for ourselves and or for our loved ones. The question is, how can you prepare an attractive package when hiring software developers?

The answer is simple… there is no one size all fits model.

DON’T: Expect by paying high rates for the talent you will yield the highest production or results.

DO: Think about hiring high potentials and master tips 1–3.

*When you want to hire software engineers, instead of targeting and accepting talent mostly on qualifications and credentials, open up conversations with candidate references and referrals in-house. Millennial turnover is on the rise and Job-Hopping continues to rise in the tech industry so when retaining top tech talent, do your homework and put the power in your hands.

“It all starts with you, and is fueled by the work you put in to make your team great.”

Although, I have only discussed these tips, there are other avenues, channels, and strategies you can use when hiring software engineers. Do not be afraid to turn an interview into a conversation and welcome your tech talent to open new dialogues. Plan and strategize for the long game and gather measurable insight by asking the right questions. Build a culture fit or program around developing teams internally and encourage team collaboration. To find developers, work on building a benefits package that makes sense for the talent you want to attract and focus on hiring future team’s not individual talent.

What do you think about these tips? Share your thoughts below. As always, keep innovating, optimizing, and building to take your business to the next level. Thank you for reading.

If you would like to know more or be part of a team that works with the best tech talent, check out www.advancio.com

Cheers and Happy Building.

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