What’s a Good Hiring Process for Software Engineers?
The demand for software engineers significantly outweighs supply in today’s employment market. In April 2019, Agile, our Atlanta IT staffing agency, conducted a study of this demand. It found that a single candidate could be contacted by as many as 81 recruiters and submitted for as many as 32 different jobs: all within 24 hours of signaling interest in new opportunities.
Employers face an environment in which fast decision-making, a broad network, and a good hiring process for software engineers is essential. Justin Ellis, the recruiting team lead for Agile, provides companies with the following guidance.
1. Define the Essential Candidate Criteria
Agile advises employers to limit their list of must-have skills to the core technical stack. Strong candidates will likely be able to pick up other technologies while on the job.
Hiring this way may require some companies to change their approach to training, but Ellis says it’s a strategy that’s worth pursuing versus losing months to recruitment.
“Employers work with a company like Agile because they know we’ve got a good hiring process for software engineers, particularly when it comes to identifying the essential skillset.” The best candidates can branch into new technologies quickly while delivering what the employer needs most in the meantime.
2. Identify Close-Fit Candidates
Employers should aim for a maximum of seven business days from the time they begin collecting resumes to the time they make an offer to a candidate.
“A great developer will be on and off the market within two weeks,” Ellis says. “Candidates don’t really need to wait around with the number of opportunities they have.”
As part of a good hiring process for software engineers, employers need to be fast in reviewing resumes, contacting candidates, scheduling interviews, and making offers. One of the benefits of working with an IT staffing firm like Agile is that it has ready access to a large pool of candidates. Specialized recruiters can also remove some of the friction that prevents candidates from considering positions.
Ellis states, “We know the market and the talent well, so we’re in contact with developers right away, helping them understand the advantages of a position and winnowing down the field to the best possible options. There’s no lost time, which means fewer lost candidates.”
3. Accelerate the Approach to Interviews
Agile has found that when employers stick to one or two interviews at most, they are more successful in hiring. Typically, this means a telephone conversation followed by an in-person meeting on site.
If an employer requires a coding assessment, Ellis recommends that the company incorporate the assessment into the in-person interview and not as a separate step. “If developers have to pass a multi-hour code challenge just to get to an interview, they’re likely going to go with a different job opportunity.”
Ellis also advises employers to spend as much time promoting the benefits of a position as they do scrutinizing candidates. Any good hiring process for software engineers should include time for the candidate to get to know the company and the job well. (For an idea of perks employers should consider offering, see Agile’s recent article on software developer benefits.) Promoting the opportunity can help a company stand out from others the candidate may be considering.
4. Choose Candidates Expediently and Based on the Best Available Information
Once hiring managers find a candidate who fits the position and who has interviewed successfully, they should make an offer — quickly. Bureaucratic hurdles and distractions from the hiring process may end with losing the developer to another position.
“Hiring managers may have an impulse to wait until they’ve seen a lot of different candidates before making an offer,” Ellis says. “That makes sense for certain roles, but as software engineer recruiters, we’ve seen that candidates aren’t likely to wait around.”
Employers that start with exceptional candidates — developers who meet the most important criteria and who can learn the rest quickly — improve their likelihood of hiring the right person. While there may not be as many levels of vetting, rounds of interviews, or waves of candidates as in a traditional approach, hiring managers will have a better chance of bringing on a great developer and less risk of losing months to recruiting.