In a previous life, I worked as a recruiter for a not-for-profit organization, and I can speak to the importance (and difficulty) of keeping hiring managers engaged throughout the interview process. We’ve made no secret of how important we feel it is to get your tech team’s feedback during resume screening. However, to keep them involved, it’s up to you to make it easy for your tech team to participate in the hiring process. I reached out to a technology manager and an HR executive for their thoughts on getting a tech team’s buy-in on full-cycle hiring, and here’s what they had to say.
Your tech team was hired to build great products for your company. You were hired to, well, hire programmers. The first step in keeping your tech team engaged throughout the interview process is fairly straightforward: Do everything you can to ensure the logistics of the interview process don’t fall onto your developers’ plates.
Most recruiters tend to rely too much on a hiring manager to tell them how and when to schedule them for interviews. However, I quickly learned that it was best use my judgment to simply get things scheduled—whether it was a phone interview, a two-hour in-person meeting or a follow-up coffee. If a proposed time didn’t work for a hiring manager, it was up to that person to let me know. Otherwise, it was my job to handle these nitty-gritty details.
Not surprisingly, this is also how technology managers also prefer working with recruiters. Andy Stanberry, VP of Engineering for Yarn, told me he feels more empowered to hire programmers when he knows a recruiter is handling initial phone screens, interview scheduling, and follow-up communication with candidates. He adds, “The best experiences I’ve had in hiring programmers involved me only making the decisions I was needed to make.”
Our CEO, Joel Spolsky, has written extensively about the importance of giving people the tools they need to succeed and then getting out of their way so they can do their jobs. As I found out during my stint as a recruiter, this is also relevant when you’re asking your tech team to take part in interviewing programmers.
Joe Humphries, the Director of People Operations here at Stack Overflow, said that each developer who has been with the company for at least six months is trained on technical interviewing. Training sessions are led by the HR department and our technology managers, and all developers must shadow a handful of interviews before they’re asked to conduct one on their own.
This system works well for our developers, and once they’ve completed training, the People Team makes it a priority to ensure interviewing responsibilities are distributed evenly across the entire team. “We place our developers in a rotation,” Humphries adds. “So, nobody is stuck reviewing more applications or conducting more interviews than anyone else.” Feel free to customize your training program any way you’d like to, but no matter how you design yours, make sure it accomplishes two things:
It equips your tech team with enough interviewing know-how to complement their tech expertise.
It puts systems in place to avoid putting too much of the burden on any single developer on your team.
The “tricks” to keep your tech team engaged when you’re interviewing developers aren’t too complicated. They do, however, require a bit of legwork on your part. However, the work you put in now to make it easy for your tech team to stay engaged in hiring decisions will ultimately boost your entire recruiting operation.