6 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Software Engineer
6 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Software Engineer

When most people embark on their mission to build the next big thing, they don’t anticipate hiring to be one of the most difficult aspects of growing their business. The truth is, for companies big and small and across all industries, building a strong team is crucial to turning your vision into a reality.As a development firm, we focus on providing companies with elite technical solutions, which includes recruiting and managing remote tech teams. We help our clients grow by engineering high-quality products and augmenting their teams with technical specialists — from software and quality assurance engineers to product owners and designers.In the age of technology, IT teams are increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, across most industries. As a result, the competition is fierce — especially in leading U.S. tech hubs like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and Boston. After all, with every hire, you are competing with top tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook and also startup unicorns. Beyond that, it is one thing to attract great candidates, but retaining that talent is an equally important challenge.In our decades of experience successfully recruiting for IT positions, we have learned a thing or two on what to avoid and on what to emphasize during the recruiting process. These insights helped us develop our own recruiting process, which we use to build tech teams for companies of all sizes.

Want to make your next software engineer hire a success? Consider these six most crucial tips to keep in mind when hiring a technical teammate.

1. Don’t hire too fast

For most companies, the hiring process can feel long and arduous. If your company is growing quickly, you don’t have time to waste searching for the right candidate. You have deadlines to meet and a big product release just around the corner. We get it. But the reality is that in the long run speed will cost you.You may be tempted to hire the first resume to cross your desk with an impressive background, but these hasty hires lead to even faster turnovers, and recruiting is an expensive process. One hire may not seem like a big deal, but the wrong engineer has the potential to slow down your whole team or introduce flawed code that costs you even more time and money to fix.Companies spend upwards of 30% of an employee’s salary in the recruiting process to begin with, but if you lose that employee, turnover can cost your company anywhere from 16–213% of an employee’s salary. That’s a lot of time and money at stake, so while it may be against your initial instincts, take a step back and slow down. Doing so will likely help you make the best long term hiring decision for your company.

2. Hire for quality not quantity, don’t hire a ‘code monkey’

A lot of software engineers look great on paper. The same can be said for many roles in a business. Technical recruiters will often spend too much time focusing on the skills they see on someone’s resume and that can lead to unintentionally bringing on a ‘code monkey’. A code monkey is someone who simply follows directions without consideration of the actual problems he is solving. You may not be able to see it now, but this will impact your business down the line when it comes to growing this teammate’s role at your company.Instead, seek software engineers who enjoy puzzles and who like to use technology to solve problems. A good engineer will look to really understand how her assignment is making the technology better. This is a huge value for you and ultimately your customers. Engineers who work beyond the assignment end up helping your business grow faster by adding insights beyond the efficiency of the code they are writing.Yes, these more skilled and experienced technical people may cost you more time and effort to find during the recruiting process, but they will be worth it in the long run. You will see less turnover and more internal growth as a company by approaching who you hire with this understanding.VentureDevs’ software engineers primarily work on client projects where they are expected to rapidly dive into a new source of code or start building off of a concept and design alone. Doing so requires much more from them than simply excelling at a particular programming language like Python or React. To ensure we don’t bring on code monkeys, we emphasize uncovering soft skills in our hiring process, but more on that later on.

3. Beware of the belief trap that fast coders equate to the best coders

Sure, at first engineers who tout their speediness are enticing. Especially when the clock is ticking and you’re up against a deadline. You start seeing a ton of progress quickly as they rush through assignments, cutting corners left and right. Sounds good, right? Wrong.What seems like a quick coder at the beginning quite often turns into endless time spent on fixes. On average, On average, for every 1000 lines of code, developers introduce 15-50 new bugs. A rush job will lead to a flawed platform that’s slow and inefficient. In the end, it will cost you more time and money. Instead of speed, emphasize quality.To make sure your star candidate has the speed and quality you want, check references and require thorough and tailored test assignments, so you can check their code firsthand before hiring. It’s here that you will be able to tell if the engineer you are considering really is just that good. Or if he’s rushing through his work to get it done and actually producing poor quality code that will hurt you in the long run.

4. Be firm yet flexible

In our hiring tenure at VentureDevs, we’ve had several candidates who boasted about their skills and experience and tried to convince us that they were too busy and didn’t have time to go through the steps of our recruitment process. Some also tried to shortcut the process, using their past experience as showcased on their resume or LinkedIn profile as an employment pass of sorts.But we’ve always remained firm on our process. If a candidate doesn’t have time to meet us or to do a specific exercise to prove their skills, it’s a red flag. They are probably not very serious about working specifically with us.At the same time, we find ways to be flexible. We offer candidates alternative ways of proving their skills. For example, if a candidate can’t complete our programming exercise because they are crunched for time, we may ask them to send us some analogous code that shows their ability to use the given technology stack. We are looking for the best candidate possible, and know being too rigid in our hiring process may turn away the person who could have been the best overall fit.

5. Create a skills assessment that goes beyond the standard coding quiz

Programming aptitude is often tested with a basic online quiz. These early-on assessments can work for weeding out those candidates who simply are not equipped with the basic skills necessary for the job. Your testing shouldn’t stop here, though.Instead of being satisfied with a cookie cutter quiz, invite (and pay!) engineer candidates for a day or two of work at your office. Get them to solve either a test or a real problem. Carefully craft a challenge in order to verify their teamwork communication and problem solving skills. Record if they collaborate with the team, and if they are able to produce clean code.Dedicating the time and resources to these in-person tests is worth the investment. You’ll get the chance to see the candidate in action with your team, and they’ll get the benefit of exposure to your office and culture.At VentureDevs, we have a 5 step recruiting process for technical hires. The final step is our in-office trial day. It makes a huge difference for the success we see with retaining great talent and hiring the right fit the first time. Bringing on a new team member is a two-way street. Both your team and that candidate need to want to work with each other. The best way to find out if that can happen is by simulating it in real life.

6. Be upfront and honest with your candidates; don’t hide your culture

As is the case with all promising companies, the job you are hiring for is usually challenging. When interviewing software engineer candidates, be clear on your expectations with applicants from the start. Share specific details around your procedure, expectations and time constraints before you hire them. Is there something quirky and unusual about your culture? Be straight about it. Use it to repel the wrong candidate and attract the perfect fit.By taking the time to find the right people, you will build a team of engineers who work well together. They will want to help each other succeed and ultimately help your company grow by collaborating and solving problems with the help of one another. Building a company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When everyone on board shares the same values and buys into your company’s long-term mission, you will be able to weather any storm that comes your way, as a team.VentureDevs is and has always been a global company. From day one we were growing our team in both Los Angeles and in Poland, so our company culture is a bit different than many others. On top of that, we work with clients that span the entire globe — from Australia to China, the United States, Sweden and Germany. Our global operations means our teammates are sometimes working off hours from the standard 9–5. This is something we are extremely upfront about in our hiring process, because we only want people to join our team who are eager to work in this style, not wary of it.These are just a few tips we have gathered from our tenure building tech teams that work with startups, SMBs and corporations. The biggest takeaway is that when it comes to hiring, slow it down, take your time and don’t cut corners. And, consider seeking help. Building a strong team with the right people is crucial for sustained startup success and making a bad hire will detract from or may even derail your vision.Companies that partner with us to help the find the right tech talent benefit from our experience building successful tech teams. We are experts in our field, and our clients trust us to bring on the right people to solve their needs and help them reach their goals. By working with us, our clients gain access to elite technical talent while saving time, money and the headache of hiring and managing for tech. With us as their tech partner, they can instead focus their efforts on their most critical business objectives.