Great engineers are not a dime a dozen, and you can expect to dedicate plenty of time and resources into finding the right match for your company. In fact, one firm estimates that it takes upwards of 80 hours of recruiting time just to land one quality engineer for their business.
As the success of your business likely depends on these positions to execute critical ideas, here are five rules for interviewing and hiring top engineers.
1) Test for competencies vs. IQ
Few engineers make it into a top school if they don’t have the intelligence and talent for the work. Unfortunately, these aren’t necessarily indicators of success in the workplace.
In fact, one seven-year study on interviewing engineers confirms that the best predictors of on-the-job productivity for engineers lie in a set of nine core competencies.
These can be screened through behavior-based interviewing and include leadership, taking initiative, self-management, perspective, networking, teamwork, organizational savvy, followership, and show-and-tell.
2) Diversity in thought is overrated
Sometimes involving your current top engineers in the hiring process creates a winning formula. This was the overriding experience at PayPal, and with the extraordinary teams that Max Levchin, co-founder and CTO, was able to assemble.
In their process, hiring decisions had to be unanimous, and they had a unique philosophy on teamwork. While collaboration in small teams was considered important, Levchin wanted engineers with similar backgrounds and training to minimize disputes about minutiae and product vision.
While Levchin saw diversity in thought as valuable at later stages in a company’s life, speed and cohesiveness are much more important for startups.
3) Look outside the box for talent
Finding a quality engineer may involve much more than just placing an online ad for the position. In many areas, there is a shortage of engineers and one of your top sources of new leads may come from referrals.
Referrals could be external from platforms like LinkedIn or GitHub, or they may be internal from your existing employees. Set up an easy to use system that makes talent referrals both simple and rewarding.
4) Cultivate a reputation for exclusivity
Whether you are a startup or an established firm, you’re likely competing with a host of other companies just like your own for top engineering talent.
The best engineers want to be challenged and feel as if they are battling for a place within a top company. One way to achieve this is by making your interviews and engineering positions as exclusive as possible.
Make it known that it is incredibly difficult to get hired by your company, with only the best coders being offered spots on a unique team. If engineers view you as a challenge, you’ll have more who are vying for positions in your company.
5) Talent and knowledge have their place
While we discussed the importance of competencies and behavior-based interviewing, it’s still pretty important that your engineers demonstrate that they can get the job done.
For example, when an engineer interviews at Google, they may have a unique and fun interview experience but, in the end, there will be a set of three coding questions that must be answered within 45 minutes.
Hiring the best engineers requires a time and resource commitment because landing top talent is more than just gaining a competitive advantage. In the end, the quality of your team will determine the ultimate success and survival of your company.