As a tech recruiter at Stack Overflow, I’ve learned some important lessons when it comes to finding developers to work here. After all, as a company that is aiming to teach the rest of the world the best practices for hiring developers, I have to make sure that we’re practicing what we preach. Here are the four most important lessons I’ve learned recruiting developers here at Stack Overflow.
We’re fortunate enough to have a strong brand name with developers, so we’re inundated with applications from incredibly talented candidates every time we look to expand our team (which I’m aware is a dream for most tech recruiters - sorry). However, we have a duty to each candidate to make sure their experience is in line with what we encourage other companies to do. We aim to get a response back to each applicant within 14 days, positive or otherwise. During the first call with candidates who make it to the recruiter screen, I make it a point to talk them through how long we estimate the interview process will take, including who they’ll be meeting with and the format of each interview. Being this transparent and open with candidates during the first call shows that we’re meeting their expectations of what interviewing here would be like. I also make sure to send them a blog post and webinar we did that goes into more depth about the interview process, as well as a glimpse at what their first six weeks working here might be like.
You never want to assume that because you have a strong employer brand, a candidate will drop everything to focus on your opportunity. I always keep in mind that they might be interviewing elsewhere, in which case I need to paint the best picture possible of what things might be like here, as well as talk them through the interview points. One of my colleagues here said something I always remember - “If someone makes it past a recruiter screen with me, I’m their best friend and ally throughout the process.”
We have a reliable, tried and tested recruitment process here at Stack Overflow, which we rely on to help us build a team of people who are “‘smart and get things done”. As mentioned above, it’s key for the team to let candidates know what to expect from the interview process at the beginning of their journey, but it’s also important to make sure that process is communicated to everyone internally who will be meeting candidates.
As new people join the team and begin helping us out with interviews, we regularly run training sessions. Specifically for developer interviews, we have newer team members shadow interviews over Google Hangout so they can get an idea of the format, ensuring that the message isn’t lost in translation. Communication is key when maintaining a reliable process, and as a recruiter I’ve learned that the buck stops here if anything doesn’t go to plan. Therefore, shouldering that responsibility and making sure I’m running an efficient recruitment process is something I’ve learned to embrace.
We are huge proponents of remote working. In fact, the majority of our developers work all over the world (from Israel to Austin via the Forest of Dean). This makes recruiting developers an interesting scheduling experience, as we have numerous time zones and locations these interviews could be in. Embracing the technology designed to help with remote interviewing has made hiring our developers a hell of a lot easier than it would have been, say, ten years ago.
We use Google Hangouts to talk amongst ourselves internally and conduct all of our external interviews that way. It’s so simple to send a calendar invite and a link, and it gives candidates a taste of what it’s like to work on a remote team throughout the process. Google Docs are used to conduct early stage coding challenges, and we also use them to keep track of any projects we set for Product Manager positions. We use a combination of internal chatrooms and Slack to talk amongst teams. We introduce these tools to developers who haven’t worked remotely as part of the interview process to assuage any fears they might have about joining a remote team. The candidate experience is key, and we will always utilize new technologies to make them feel like they’re being interviewed better than anywhere else.
We know technical interviewing is hard, and we’re actively trying to fix this. But at the same time, we know that for many people, an interview is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences they’ll go through (even more so if it’s for a company/position/product they love). Therefore, being prompt with feedback as soon as possible means that we’re showing respect for their own process, as well as ensuring they never feel abandoned.
Tech recruitment has received a bad name of late, mainly due to inefficient processes and a lack of empathy for the person going through the interviews. We need to be the change we want to see in the world of recruitment. A simple personalised email keeping the candidates up to date or a quick call before each interview to give them some context as to what they can expect means that whatever the outcome -- positive or otherwise -- they’ve enjoyed interviewing with us.