If you were to tell other technical recruiters that you’ve identified two strong developers for your open role, they’d be incredibly jealous. Many of them would probably say, “I can’t find enough relevant developer resumes and qualified applicants for my tech positions, let alone multiple people we want to hire.” While this is a good problem to have, selecting the right person in this scenario isn’t always a straightforward process. To help you get on the right track to choosing developers that are right for your company, here are a few things to consider when multiple candidates establish themselves as contenders.
In an ideal world, one developer would set him or herself apart from the competition and make it impossible to consider anyone else. So when two people establish themselves as the right developers for the job, it’s natural for the technical recruiter to go into panic mode. In my experience, it’s even easier to toss a coin and advocate for one person over the other, just for the sake of getting the hiring manager to either confirm that you’re on the right track, or that he or she would ultimately prefer the other candidate.
Before resorting to these arbitrary reasons to hire a developer, take a deep breath and schedule time to review the situation with the hiring manager. Although it’s your job to shepherd candidates through your developer hiring process, it’s not your sole responsibility to make the final decision on your own. Of course, speak up whenever you have a strong opinion about a tech candidate. But when you’re torn between two people, don’t be afraid to collaborate with your engineering manager and admit that you’re unsure of what to do. The chances are that he or she is feeling the same challenge—and could use your help to land on a final decision.
A growing number of companies have enough built-in flexibility to say, “We found two qualified applicants for the job? Hire them both!” If you’re so fortunate as to have the ability to hire multiple developers for one job listing, congratulations. But if your company puts the emphasis on the “a” in the phrase “hire a developer,” have a conversation with your leadership team that isn't as focused on paying two developers’ salaries, and more around the value that each person would bring if you were to hire both.
Our CEO Joel Spolsky wrote about a former intern at Fog Creek Software who kept insisting that he had an idea that would benefit the entire company and would be easy for him to build. After ignoring him for a while, they eventually realized that it would allow them to generate enough revenue for the company to hire another developer in the immediate term—and could potentially become a multi-million-dollar product in the future. And sure, this might be easy to dismiss as a flash in the pan, but the best developers are always suggesting new product features and iterations that could add an incredible amount of value to your company. If you’ve identified two people you’re confident would do the same for your organization, that's twice the potential impact on your company's bottom line, making the option to hire them both much easier to swallow.