A Guide for Founders setting up a Tech Hiring Process


How a 5-stage process can simplify tech recruitment

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Written by

Miguel Marques

May 26, 2020 | 6 MIN READ

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Phone Screen + Interview Questions

Get a template for proven interview questions that help you identify the best candidates.
BONUS: Scorecard to rate candidates based on objective criteria.

Sourcing Remote Developers

Startups are unlikely to succeed. That's a fact.

And yet, many masochist founders bet their time, funds and emotional well-being on the slim chance of success.

We argue: if you're gonna do that, you better make sure you're working with a great team.

Successful entrepreneurs know that talent quality makes a company. Here's what Steve Jobs has to say about this.

There are only two problems: the first is that most founders aren’t sure how to structure the recruitment process; the second is that everyone else wants to hire the exact same people.

Yet, despite the insane competition, some startups are able to hire great candidates.

If you've ever wondered "How do they do it?", you're at the right place.

We'll show you EXACTLY how to structure a recruitment process to make sure you're able to source and filter the best candidates quickly and effectively.

Let's get started.


5-Stage Tech Recruitment Process

Most startups fail at the hiring process because they don't have a plan.

They typically just post openings on job boards and schedule interviews with the candidates with the best-looking CVs. It doesn't work.

How do we know? We've done this mistake ourselves.

One thing that founders always underestimate is how hard it is to recruit.


Sam Altman Y Combinator

But it's not enough to have a plan. You need a good plan.

Here's an image to illustrate what a standard process looks like versus the ideal process.

Hiring Process

1. Application

The first thing you need to do is ensure you follow a proper strategy to find candidates.

Competition for tech roles is so tough that it's not enough to post a role on a job board and hope for the best.

You may even get a large number of candidates. But there will be only a handful of great candidates you'd even consider working with - if you're lucky.

If you're wondering how the hell you get the right candidates to apply, this checklist may be a good place to start.

Tech Sourcing Strategies

Once you do get applications, you'll have to find a way to filter them.

Unfortunately, CVs, LinkedIn and Github profiles can often be misleading, so they should just be used as an initial rough filter.

It’s not easy to pick up on great candidates from their CV, but it’s easy to detect very poor ones.

If the profile seems decent and the candidate appears to have roughly the skills and related experience, their profile should move to the next stage.

Takeaway: Filter out obvious misfits.


2. Phone Screen

The goal of this stage is to filter out as many candidates as possible, within a short 15-30 min phone call.

Phone Screen

Most companies make the mistake of not screening candidates thoroughly enough during the initial stages.

This leads to plenty of candidates moving through the most time-consuming parts of the process, which then delays the process and frustrates both interviewers and candidates.

It's important to follow a consistent set of questions and criteria for all candidates, to reduce bias. Here are some examples of phone screen questions:

Phone Screen Questions

And here is an example of potential evaluation criteria for the technical level:

Phone Screen Levels

Takeaway: Follow a consistent process and filter out most applicants. Leave only those few with a good chance of being hired.


3. Technical Assessment

Technical positions require some sort of technical assessment. Assessments can be reliable indicators of job performance, but only if they're set up correctly.

The closer the assessment resembles the real-life work a candidate would be doing on a daily basis, the stronger its predictive power.

Coder

There are essentially 4 strategies to conduct technical assessments:

  • Code test platforms. Technical test platforms can be useful for companies because they’re able to automate the evaluation process.

    DISCLAIMER: We’re launching a tool for this --> Join our beta

  • Take-home assignment. Asking candidates to implement a certain feature or small project may give employers a clearer picture of candidates’ skills by looking not only at the code, but also project structure and git history. Here's an example assignment.

  • Live coding session. This option adds another dimension: candidate's ability to communicate and collaborate with the interviewer while performing the task. Tools: Codeshare (free) and CoderPad (paid).

  • Technical interview questions. In order for this strategy to be effective, the interviewer must have strong technical skills to be able to distinguish great developers from developers with great interview skills. Example: JavaScript interview questions.

Beware not to ask for more than 3 hours of the candidates for any technical test. If you do, you risk losing out on good candidates.

Takeaway: The closer the assessment is to real-life work, the better predictor of performance it is.


4. Interviews

The interview’s goal is to get to know the candidate as a person and uncover their pattern of behavior. It should be focused on three main aspects: technical ability, communication and motivation.

A common and simple interviewing pattern is the What and Why. "What did you do?" and "Why did you do it?"

Ideally, at each stage of the interview process, you’d get the opinion of at least two interviewers. Both should fill their scorecards for each candidate and only then discuss them with each other.

Here are some examples of useful interview questions:

Interview Questions

Takeaway: Conduct structured interviews to collect data on candidates. Don't hire someone with whom you wouldn't enjoy working.


5. Offer

Recruiting is about selling a vision of the candidate’s future career.

In fact, the best candidates rarely take the job for the money. They take it for the opportunity to reach personal goals and fulfilment. If your job is not different from the competition, all there’s left is money.

Selling your job to great candidates usually involves mentioning these three factors:

  • Job Fit: The best candidates typically possess between 80-90% of the necessary skills. This means they can start being productive from day one and still have room for their own growth and development.

  • Team: Most high-performing software developers strongly prefer jobs where they have the possibility to work with talented colleagues, who can mentor and teach them.

  • Benefits: There are plenty of benefits companies offer employees. One of the most desired benefits that companies can offer at no cost is remote work.

Remember in the Phone Screen section where you asked candidates why they wanted this job? Take advantage of that information. Frame your offer in a way that matches their desires.

Finally, if you liked the candidate but aren't ready to commit yet to an employment contract, start out with a short paid project.

This helps both parties to get a feeling for what it would be like to collaborate and assess if they’d want to commit to a full-time schedule.

Takeaway: Sell candidates the job based on what they told you they're looking for.


Conclusion

Setting up a tech recruitment process isn't easy. But it shouldn't be too hard either if you follow some of these techniques. Feel free to reach out directly if you're struggling with any part of it.

Phone Screen + Interview Questions

Get a template for proven interview questions that help you identify the best candidates.
BONUS: Scorecard to rate candidates based on objective criteria.

Sourcing Remote Developers

Hiring a tech team? Book a FREE Hiring Strategy Review Session to get a clear roadmap on how to move forward: how to define the positions, where to look for candidates and how to structure the whole recruitment process.

Prefer to start on your own? Take a look at our 1-Page Recruitment Plan to follow a proven framework and quickly hire a great team.


title

Written by

Miguel Marques

Founder at Remote Crew
Scaling your tech team? Get in touch