If you’re a startup looking to grow your technical team, you understand how challenging it can be to hire great engineers. Most quality candidates drop off before reaching the final round of interviews.

After all, skilled engineers are in high demand and receive multiple offers shortly after they start the job search. As a growing startup, it can be hard to compete with other companies when your hiring process isn’t yet streamlined.

Building the best engineering team means you’ll have to design a hiring process that quickly brings candidates through.

Here are six tips that will help you cut out unnecessary steps and speed up the process, while making sure you still land rockstar candidates.

  1. Write a clear job description.

Writing an accurate and detailed job description (JD) is one of the best ways to guarantee a qualified applicant pool. This means providing as much information up front, including salary.

A clear JD will let the candidate quickly determine if the position is a good fit for them. Candidates who don’t fit the criteria will likely not apply. This will, in turn, help you save valuable recruitment time by limiting the number of applications that come through the door. You’ll end up with fewer applicants, but better ones.

It’s also a great way to represent your employer brand. This may be one of the first times the candidate has heard of your company. Make a great impression by writing an accurate, straightforward, and engaging description

2. Outline a clear process.

Before you start interviewing, spend a little extra time to outline your hiring plan and process for screening candidates.

Be sure to communicate the process and expectations with the candidate. That way, they’ll only dive into interviewing if they really want to move forward with you. You won’t waste time bringing in a candidate who’s just going to drop out because they decide it’s taking too long. Plus, it’ll encourage you to stay accountable and not add additional steps in the process or take longer than you said you would.

3. Remove steps that add time to your hiring process.

We recommend having around 3-5 steps in your recruiting process. That usually includes the initial phone screen, technical assessment, panel interview with multiple engineers, and a final call with a member from H.R.

Remove unnecessary steps. For example, candidates don’t need to meet with every member of your engineering team. Think carefully about the specific role and strategically choose the most relevant team members to be part of the interview process.

When it comes to references, most companies only ask for them once they’ve decided to offer a position to a candidate. That can easily delay the process by several days.

Instead, you could request the candidates’ references during the first round of interviews and check the references as you near the final round of interviews, before extending a job offer.

4. Outsource the phone screen.

For companies that need to hire good technical talent in a timely manner, phone screens can slow the process. This is especially true if you’re an early-stage startup without a recruiting team. Screening through low quality candidates takes up valuable time that could be spent building your product.

However, skipping the screening stage is also costly because you don’t want to waste time by having someone come in just to realize it’s clearly not a fit.

This stage is worth outsourcing to a firm like hatch I.T. Our Scale recruiting model equips your team with technical recruiters who source and screen candidates based on your qualifications (tech stack, years of experience, salary requirements, etc.) and present only appropriate technologists for the job – freeing you up to focus on the later stage interviews with high quality candidates.

5. Keep the process moving.

In order to keep candidates engaged, they need to understand your interview process and where they stand in the timeline. While it’s important to keep the overall length of the interview process as streamlined as possible, it’s even more important to maintain consistent communication. Candidates want to know that they’re making progress instead of feeling like they’ve been dropped.

One practical step is to set dates for everything – when interviews will happen, when their technical assessment is due, etc. That way, the candidate will know that they’re moving along through your interview process. This will help them stay excited and engaged.

Another important step is to stay in touch if things are taking a while. After an interview, send them an email letting them know what to expect next. You can also go ahead and schedule the next interview so they know when it will be coming up on the calendar.

Dragging out the time between scheduling interviews will increase the likelihood that someone else will interview (and possibly hire) your candidate while you’re still trying to free up your calendar.  

Bonus Tip: When it comes to any sort of take-home assessment or coding challenge, be sure to give candidates a due date. This allows them to work on the assessment on their own time (candidates love this kind of flexibility), but also makes sure they will get it back to you in a timely manner.

6. Be Flexible.

This last tip might be the most important. Every candidate and role is going to be slightly different. By staying flexible, you’ll be able to adapt your process to fit the unique circumstances of each role you’re trying to fill.

If you’ve found the right candidate, be willing to speed things up or eliminate unnecessary steps in your interview process. If you don’t offer quickly, someone else certainly will. A lot of great candidates end up dropping off at the end of the process because they receive an offer elsewhere and have to make a quick decision.

If you’re confident in the candidate’s technical skills, then don’t make them take the tech assessment. For example, if they have relevant examples of open-source work it might be worth considering a flexible arrangement.

If you’re hiring a more senior developer, consider making sure they get a chance to meet with leadership (like the CTO) to acknowledge the level they’re at. Also, keep in mind that certain types of tech assessments can turn off senior developers. Consider having them bypass the coding assessment or a paired programming exercise if you know they have a proven track record. In general, keep in mind that it’s going to take longer to fill higher level roles, like a CTO position.

Conclusion.

Following these tips will place your company in the best position possible to hire great candidates in a competitive environment.

By preparing ahead of time and streamlining your process, you’ll get more candidates who truly want to go through the process with you. It will also reduce the likelihood that they’ll drop off because they felt the process was disorganized or took too long.

If you need help staying competitive in hiring the best engineers for your startup team, hatch I.T. offers flexible solutions to assist you with your recruitment needs, from finding the qualified applicants, to screening potential candidates, to advising you all the way through the hiring process. Contact us today to talk to us about how we can help.