Building an Engineering Recruitment Process that Candidates Love

By Taylor Veino

 Hiring can be difficult, we get it, it’s time-consuming and frustrating, but the worst part? It’s necessary. So, what if there was a better way to recruit and hire developers?

In this episode of The Frontier podcast, our host Ledge, speaks with Alan Spadoni, an experienced engineering leader with over 13 years of software development experience to learn how he’s rethinking the recruitment process. Spadoni was an engineer lead at Groupon for six years and is currently the Director of Engineering at Buildout.

 

 

 

 

Stand Out in Hiring

Sure, everyone wishes they were the next hottest company in Silicon Valley. The reality is that great companies exist around the world, and recruiting may look a bit different for companies that aren’t household names.

For companies that want to hire engineers from a highly constrained hiring environment, especially when talent on technologies that are no longer at the peak of their hype cycle, Spadoni recommends focusing on two areas:

  • Make sure candidates have a great experience
  • Make sure the interview process is highly focused on problems that are relevant to the work

Buildout, for example, based in Chicago and a Rails shop geographically has talent that are deeply routed in Java because of the trading landscape of the local market. This makes for an even smaller talent pool, the quality is out there but Rails is not the current tech way. 

Spadoni: We focus on making sure that from start to finish, candidates have a great experience. What this means is that we contact the candidate quickly; we get them in the pipeline quickly; we address their concerns quickly. We don't make them wait around for an answer. We're starting to get a little bit of local buzz around, “Hey, I've heard that you, guys, really are good at your interview process.

The other thing is making sure that interviews are targeted enough to where we're testing the multiple areas of expertise. We do things that are novel problems, but they're related to what we do.

One unique strategy Buildout used to attract college talent was handing out cash tied with a Buildout logo. Although about 25% of candidates turned them down, the rest were pretty happy with the handout, and it certainly made the company a memorable presence at the jobs fair.

Drive Growth and Protect Culture

For many start-ups, there’s a precarious balance between driving growth and maintaining their culture.

Spadoni: One of the main things that I've tried to do is hire top-down experience wise. We're trying to scale our team right now. I've hired two seniors so far and that allows me to have the freedom to start filling in the mid-level and the junior positions. I try to make sure that everyone has someone who is experienced, knows good work and development patterns and has the answers for the questions that they have.

Making sure there are leaders in place who are responsible and thoughtful can help preserve the company’s culture even as the company grows.

Difference Between Remote vs On-site Talent

One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the rise of remote workers. While one day, perhaps all companies will be fully remote, for now most companies employ a mix of freelance engineers and full-time employees. This dynamic has unique implications for the company’s culture, and Spadoni recommends bringing all employees together to meet face-to-face so everyone is involved in everything the company is doing.

Assess and Develop Soft Skills

Many engineers can ace the technical part of an interview, but soft skills are also important. In addition to the first stage interview with the HR recruiting rep, Buildout also tends to ask questions such as:

  • Who did you work with?
  • Was it cross-team functional?
  • Did you mentor anybody?

Reflecting on those questions, how would you score? Soft skills and communication is the secret sauce to really stand out as a developer. 

We know hiring can be tough, we are here for you.

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