September 15, 2020

A Complete Software Hiring Process Checklist to Hit Your Hiring Goals

Times are changing. That means your software hiring process needs to change too.

These days, candidates are more knowledgeable. Demand is at an all-time high. And your hiring process needs to evolve with the industry. Luckily, companies who follow the steps we outline in this post see their application volume triple and time-to-hire cut by over 30%.

Our data on hiring software engineers shows that for a mid-level engineering role, we can expect to see about 86 candidates applying per role. This leads to between 5 and 15 on-site interviews, depending on applicant quality and hiring manager preference.

For high-production engineering teams, these numbers are unsustainable.

The more time engineering teams spend on hiring, the less time they spend hitting product goals. In this post, we’ll lay out a simple hiring process checklist that will ensure your software hiring process is prepared for the next 10 years.

Your Software Hiring Process Checklist

✔️ Limit Your Job Description

The biggest limiting factor for most software hiring processes is posting long, boring job descriptions that don’t excite candidates. After analyzing hundreds of job descriptions, we’ve found that the simpler, the better.

Here’s a basic outline to follow:

  • Hook candidates with what makes your company unique or different first (not beer, ping pong, or other cultural signals)
  • Describe your mission, tech stack, and ambitious goals
  • List clear expectations of the role: How much autonomy can they expect? What are the challenges they’re likely to face?
  • Include no more than three requirements, listed in positive terms. Instead of saying “Requirements,” say “We’d love to find someone who…”
  • Put anything outside of your top three requirements in a “nice-to-have” section
  • Get into company benefits

Top software engineering candidates are likely either passively looking for a job or they’re inundated with opportunities. As hiring managers, we win when we sell the opportunity and keep it short. In addition to increasing overall application volume, this will also help you increase diversity in your applicant pool. Underrepresented groups are less likely to apply for a job if they don’t check every box.

✔️ Market the Role Effectively

A lot of hiring managers de-prioritize job boards because they don’t think they can find quality applicants there. We analyzed thousands of software engineering job applications and found the opposite to be true. In fact, 86% of top-performing software engineers hired via Woven in 2019 applied via job boards.

If your software hiring process doesn’t heavily include job boards and social media, you’re likely missing out on highly-talented, passive job seekers. Top hiring managers are putting these channels at the top of their hiring process checklist, and we’ve seen evidence that this is a great idea.

Here are three steps you can take to ensure that your jobs are properly represented:

  • Optimize Free Job Boards: First, ensure your job posting is being indexed by Google Jobs. Indeed.com isn’t crawled by those bots, so you’ll want to repost the position on other sites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and CareerBuilder. After you’re indexed, you should post on Indeed as well.
  • Speak to Remote Workers: If your position is remote, you need to make sure you’re in front of the remote software engineers that are looking for those positions! Sites like AngelList and weworkremotely.com cater specifically to the engineers going through the work from home hiring process.
  • “Bump” Posts, In Moderation: Reposting your listing will keep the position at the top of most feeds and in front of more engineers’ eyes. We also encourage companies to use this strategy to customize the size of results that they’re looking for. On week one, you could post a Senior Engineering role, but by week three you could remove that position and post a Mid-Level Engineering role if the scope has changed.

Here are the top job boards we see for hiring high-quality developers, in order of average candidate score:

  • Stack Overflow
  • Glassdoor
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed

✔️ Turn Around Every Application in 24 Hours

Today, speed is the core of hiring effectiveness.

There are a ton of high-quality candidates on the job market right now, but there are also a ton of hiring managers looking to bring them on board. According to our internal data, many top software engineers are on the job market for only 10 business days before they accept a job. That means your software hiring process has to be as lean as possible so you can attract great-fit candidates before they go somewhere else.

After looking at some of the best-in-class hiring processes, you should be moving quality candidates onto the next stage of hiring within 24 hours of their first application. Schedule an interview with them within the first week, and be prepared to make an offer within that 10-day window.

✔️ Quit Hiring Based on Resumes

Another barrier to hiring success for many hiring managers is the resume.

Not only have studies shown that resumes are terrible predictors of on-job success, but they artificially limit your applicant pool. In a competitive hiring market, you are more likely to hit your goals if you’re casting a wide net in regards to background and sorting based on proven ability to do the job, not whether or not a candidate has the right degree or years of experience.

As Charity Majors, CTO of Honeycomb, said in an interview: “It’s about hiring for strengths, not for a lack of weaknesses.”

We analyzed software engineering hires across the country and found that candidates who complete a realistic work simulation as part of their interview process are ⅔ less likely to fail in their first 120 days than industry averages. If you’re looking to improve your hiring process, you should consider throwing out resumes altogether and replacing them with a signal that’s more predictive of success.

Which brings us to…

✔️  Use a Technical Assessment

In order to properly assess candidates, we recommend using a technical screening test for software engineers.

This will help you quickly identify the best-fit candidates by having them complete a task that is relevant to the role they are applying for. Technical tests reduce your time-to-hire and increase qualified hires by sorting your applicants based on performance.

There are many different types of technical screenings, but one of the most popular is the coding challenge. In this process, candidates are given a problem statement and asked to submit their code solution within a certain amount of time.

You can also use work simulations to assess candidates’ ability to do the job. For example, if you’re hiring for a position that requires systems design skills, you’ll want to ask candidates to complete a design challenge.

For a more comprehensive assessment, consider using a tool like Woven. Woven’s technical interview platform helps you find the right person for the job and gives you the confidence to move fast. Our challenges are tailored to the role you’re hiring for, take less than two hours to complete, and have a same or next-day results turnaround time.

It’s a win-win for you and for your candidates.

Conclusion

Hiring high-quality developers can be a daunting task. We hope that this checklist   provides you with a few actionable items that you can use to improve your hiring process.

Remember: It’s important to perfect your job description, market the role, and assess candidates with Woven so that you can move quickly. Follow these tips and you’ll be onboarding your unicorn developer in no time.

Good luck!

Looking for more ways to overhaul your software engineer hiring process and hit your hiring goals? Start a free trial with Woven today.