Tisson Mathew

CEO

For anyone who’s ever been involved in the engineering hiring process, it’s no easy feat particularly in a growing company. To get hiring practices right, it takes iteration based on feedback, both on the internal processes within your company as well as on the external process a candidate experiences. Continuously improving hiring is important for a host of reasons, and chief among them is the high cost of hiring the wrong person, or missing out on the right one.

At SkyPoint, we put a lot of care in engineering hiring. When it comes to hiring engineers, we’ve always given a take-home exercise, preferring that candidates complete their coding exercise in an environment comfortable to them: on their own machine, and in their own time, within reason. Once candidates have passed our phone screen and this take-home exercise, we invite them onsite for two technical interviews and two non-technical interviews.

Step #1 – Job Description

The hiring process starts with a well written job description.

Here’s an example: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/cap/view/1660550107/

Step #2 – Posting / Sourcing

We use LinkedIn jobs as our primary sourcing tool, there are many other but we primarily rely on LinkedIn. Post your job on LinkedIn.

Step 3 – Shortlisting

Have your recruiter or hiring manager review resumes and select about 5 or 6 candidates to do phone screens or assessment. We look for strong computer science fundamentals first – data structures, algorithms, technical problem solving etc. This is the SDE leveling companies like Amazon, Google (SWE) uses.

SDE Leveling

Step #4Assessment / Phone Screen

Technical assessment – this is a coding assessment. Use tools like HackerEarth or HackerRank to do the assessment or use a phone screen with coderpad. The assessment must be in computer science fundamentals. The candidate must pass the SDE 1 bar to qualify for onsite interview.

Step #5 – Onsite Interview

From a candidate’s point of view, there are no surprises. There are no “gotcha” questions and the expectations are clear.

In person interview with no more than 4 people, including a “bar-raiser” (Amazon uses this in all their hires), someone outside the hiring team.

The STAR technique (Situation-Task-Action-Result) provides an efficient way to process the example with a candidate and dive deep by probing and challenging the candidate’s story.  This technique helps interviewers quickly “peel the onion” to uncover individual performance, competencies and results.  Since behavioral interviewing with the STAR technique is an art and a science, this session will include writing behavioral interview questions and practicing STAR techniques and assessment skills.

Hiring Manager or Recruiter should assign one competency to each interviewer on the onsite interview. Competencies can include Tech Depth, Customer Focus, Team Work, Ownership etc. Here’s an example of values or leadership principles for a company – https://skypointcloud.com/about/

  1. Technical deep dive – design and solve a tech problem on the whiteboard
  2. Customer focus – use STAR to probe a real world situation
  3. Willingness to learn – use STAR to probe a real world situation
  4. Ownership – use STAR to probe a real world situation

Step #6 – Written Feedback

Each interviewer must do written feedback. The recruiter or the hiring manager collects the feedback.

Here’s an example of written feedback:

Your Vote

Based on your interview, make an initial recommendation, no neutral vote.  Inclined to hire or Not inclined to hire

Summary

Summaries are useful feedback if it focuses on the reasons to hire and not hire a candidate. Regardless if you are inclined or not inclined to hire a candidate, it’s important to present balanced feedback.  One way is to do is to list pros and cons of your assessment of the candidate.  

Pros

+

+

Cons  

Step #7 – Hiring Meeting and Offer

Hiring meeting to review feedback. Amazon has a good technique that can help, which is hiring manager and bar-raiser vote to hire, others votes are influencing, don’t need consensus of all interviewers.

The recruiter or hiring manager can conclude the meeting with a hiring decision.  Only candidates who clearly meet the hiring bar should be offered.  When in doubt, it’s best to pass on the candidate.  It’s much better to occasionally make the wrong decision by not hiring a candidate than it is to hire the wrong person.

Conclusion:

A hire or no hire decision should be substantiated with specific evidence to support it.  The hiring meeting discussion should be focused on one candidate against the hiring bar for that role/position.  If there are multiple candidates for a role, don’t compare candidates, instead, assess each candidate to the hiring bar.  If there are more than one candidate who meets the bar, the hiring manager can make the final decision on who to make an offer to first.

After all, much of software development is working with each other, sharing our experiences in order to help each other improve, as well as listening and learning in order to improve ourselves. Much like the process of self-improvement we apply to ourselves, we continue to listen, to learn, and to improve the processes we use at SkyPoint.

Categories:

  • Engineering
  • Hiring
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