How To Recruit Software Engineers More Quickly and Effectively

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On average, a startup spends about more than 500 hours to recruit their first 10 engineers. If you divide the number by 52, you have to spend almost 10 hours per week (including weekends) in order to recruit 10 engineers in a year.

Lack of software engineers is the biggest challenge here in Southeast Asia today. Yet many fast growing startups often hand-pick their first handful of engineers from the founder’s personal network. Some succeed, but some may ged bad hires.

Here are tips on how to recruit engineers more quickly and effectively that can potentially save you a lot of time and money:

Source engineers from various websites including LinkedIn, Github, StackOverflow

While LinkedIn may seem the obvious place to find great software engineers, do not forget about Github. With 12 million members with 31 million projects, Github has been one of the largest online community for software engineers. It’s very likely to find a great software engineer from Github. In addition, since the developers’ code is public on free pricing, all the content is up to date.

StackOverflow is another place where you could find nearly 2 million developers from all over the world ask and answer programming-related questions. To search engineers from StackOverflow, you can take a look at the reputation. For example, users with the reputation of 32,000 is in the top 1% for the year.

Interview engineers and assess their cultural fit and role fit

Hiring is about finding a fit. There are 2 fits in hiring: role fit and cultural fit. Role fit is about executing their job description. Role fit makes sure the candidates can perform well in the company. On the other hand, cultural fit is about how the candidates fit the company’s traditions. Before assessing their cultural fit, you have to define the culture of the company. Culture is all about delivering values. For example, the values at Netflix are freedom & responsibility, high performance, and context, not control. Culture will change as you hire more people to the company. One study found that companies that hired for culture fit had higher chance to succeed. However, they may suffer from problems like lacking of diversity and slow to change because they think alike. An example of this is Polaroid. Polaroid was founded in 1937. In 1991, it has $3 billion revenue. However, they went bankrupt in 2008. Polaroid was killed by smartphones. The solution to this problem is to build dissent into your culture.

Here is what to do to be able to hire for ‘fit’ in software engineering. First, you have to interview for passion and perseverance. Questions like “Do they use your software?”, “Are they deep thinkers about your programming language?”, “Can they articulate the future of your software?”, “Can they overcome difficulty in solving complex coding problem?”, “Do they have a personal story behind their passion to be software engineers?” will be useful to address the passion and perseverance of a candidate.

For senior hires, for example software engineering manager and VP of engineering, try the 100-day plan. First, settle on your top candidate. Afterwards, ask them to create a plan on what they are going to do in 100 days since they are hired. You can ask questions such as “How can we scale to X times for our infrastructure?”, “How do we increase the performance of the software?”, and “How do we distribute the engineering project to the team member to make sure we are on the right track?”. Finally, invite the candidate to present in front of the C-level executive and upper management. Ask the team’s opinion whether they like the candidate. What is important to evaluate the candidate for the senior hires is not them being right, but understanding their thought process.


Hiring matters. Bad hire costs you a ton of time and company’s money, especially software engineers. You’ll need to identify the rising star quickly in order for your company to grow.

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