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Agile Hiring Methods

Posted by Gigi Sayfan on May 2, 2016

The ability to hire excellent software developers is a limiting factor. There is a real shortage, and as a result there is serious competition for every qualified candidate. As a manager on the lookout for talented developer I experience it personally. There are two very clear trends here. Candidates who put themselves on the market will get queries from more companies than they can handle. In one hiring platform that I use shows competing offers and it is common to see a well-qualified candidate receiving 20+ invitations for initial interviews. The other trend is that the big companies out there: Google, Facebook, Uber, etc., use their war chests to offer unheard of levels of compensation. An engineer decides which company to join based on many factors. But, if a big company offers $50K - $100K more than competing offers (in total compensation) then it's very likely the engineer will pick the big company. How can a small startup compete? By using its relative strengths - speed. This is where Agile hiring methods can give you the advantage.

What if you compress the entire hiring process so that you can get an actual job offer out to a candidate, before they have even had a chance to set up phone interviews with most of the other companies who might be interested in them? In the best case scenario, maybe your competitors are so slow that they didn't get around to even sending to initial invitation. I will not discuss here how to find those candidates.

Let's start from the assumption that you have some source of candidates. With Agile hiring your focus is to minimize the time from zero to offer (or rejection). The typical hiring process consists of:



  1. Review of resume/application/cover letter
  2. Phone interview[s]
  3. Coding challenge
  4. Face-to-face interviews
  5. Reference checks
  6. Background check
  7. Offer letter

The goal is to avoid wasting valuable time by rejecting inadequate candidates early in the process. Let's see what we can get rid of. The phone interview can go away. I very rarely reject a person based on the phone interview. If the original application is solid, the candidate will make it to the next phase. The coding challenge can go away if the candidate has a decent GitHub account. The reference checks can go away. I never got any useful information whatsoever from a reference the candidate provided. So, here is the Agile process:

  1. Applications are processed by an experienced technical person who can look beyond buzzwords and evaluate coding competency based on public code.
  2. Immediate invitation to face-to-face interviews, or if problematic, video conference interviews (easier to schedule).
  3. Until the interview exchange information with the candidate for expected compensation and role. (This may be a phone conversation, but not a gating review to delay the face-to-face interview that was already scheduled.)
  4. At the end of the face-to-face interview the candidate should have an offer in hand.

Negotiation may take place and background checks can be conducted later. That's it. You could have a new engineer within 2-3 days since first contact vs. 2-3 months. Think about it. If you're worried about wasting people's time with too many interviews, consider having fewer people interview each candidate. It is not a rule of nature that every team member must meet and approve every candidate. If you are confident in your filtering abilities, then maybe just the hiring manager and two other people need to speak with the candidate.

TAGS:

software developers, software engineers, interviewing, agile practices, agile methodologies, hiring practices, interview process, software engineer jobs


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