September 29, 2020

Learning The Hard Work Of Hiring, with Randy Syring

By Kevin Huynh

On today’s episode of Scaling Software Teams, we’re talking with Randy Syring, Chief Executive Developer at Louisville-based software development firm Level 12.

Randy has one of the more unique backgrounds of any tech leader you’ll find – trying his hand at flying Apache helicopters and pursuing a career as a pastor before getting into engineering full-time.

But once he fell into software development, he never looked back.

Still, it’s precisely that background that’s made Randy such a fantastic team leader.

His military background taught him that communication within your line of command can be the difference between life and death, while his time as a pastor ingrained in him the importance of understanding the needs of your congregation.

Consequently, Randy was cultivating his communication skills long before he decided to get into software development, and that informs his team’s approach.

Randy knows that Level 12’s success doesn’t just rest on their ability to code, it’s their ability to deliver what their clients need to make their business successful. He’s therefore developed a leadership style that prizes effective communication, listening, and understanding to help meet client needs.

“You can create the best code in the world and, if you build the wrong thing, it doesn’t add any value to the customer,” he says, adding “Make sure you know the user. Make sure you know what they need. Make sure you’re building something that actually has value to them.”

Here are a few of the key lessons we picked up from Randy:

Natural Problem-Solving Ability Is As Important As Coding Knowledge

There are plenty of elements of software engineering that you can teach, but problem-solving is definitely a skill that some people are more gifted with than others. Incorporating on-the-job problem-solving as a central part of your screening process will help you hire the right engineers as your team grows.

Use Communication Abilities As A Proxy For Hiring

Randy’s team can write the best code in the world, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t build the right product. That’s why he looks for engineers with a keen ability to communicate technical issues in non-technical language to ensure all of the clients’ needs are met.

Hiring is a Skill

Finally, as Randy points out: “Just like development, hiring well is a skill.” It involves recruiting great engineering candidates and uncovering evidence that they can be successful in the role.

Hiring is about more than just a gut feeling; it’s about gathering data relevant both to the job itself, and to the way a new hire will fit into your existing team – then using that data to make a rational, informed decision.

After all, as you continue growing, how you hire for your team is just as important as the products that team will build.


This show is brought to you by Woven. At Woven, we help software teams screen engineering candidates so they can spend less time on bad interviews, uncover hidden gems, and back their hiring decisions with evidence. If you want to learn more about how Woven could help you scale your software team, you can check us out here.

Our team is excited to help you build your perfect software team, and we are always looking for your feedback about how to make the show better. If you have anyone you think we should interview, tweet us at @woven_teams and our team will reach out.

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