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One thing we software engineers can’t complain about today is the lack of jobs. On the contrary, we’re in high demand! This puts us in the fortunate position that we can often choose where we want to work – which can be a challenge for you when recruiting engineers.

If you think recruiting is a one-way process, you’re way off. Sure, you interview candidates to confirm they’re a good match. However, we use the initial interview just as much to decide if we can see ourselves working for you.

Thus, the last thing you want to do is provide us with a terrible experience that reflects poorly on your company. To increase your chances of recruiting top engineers, I’ll share four things to avoid during the initial interview.

1. Keeping us in the dark about what to expect

Going to a job interview isn’t an everyday situation for us and, therefore, often stressful. So the more we know in advance, the better we can prepare and the more relaxed we can be going into the interview.

Before the initial interview, send us a well-structured document or email with all the information we need, such as:

  • Interview date, time, and place
  • What to prepare for a remote interview 
  • Details about the overall recruiting process
  • Who the interviewer is
  • Details about the types of questions you’ll ask and how you’ll structure the interview

We expect you to have a plan and structure that guides us smoothly through the interview. For example, in programming, we often start projects with a template that already takes care of the basics to move quickly to the exciting challenges. Consider whether you also benefit from a template to kickstart your interview planning process. 

Once you have a solid foundation, you can spend more time clarifying the interview’s details. Fully understand the job description, and reach out to engineering managers if you have questions. 

Providing all this information in one place and letting us know what to expect looks professional and shows that you care about us and our stress levels. It also allows us to focus on preparing for the interview instead of worrying about organizational details.

Ultimately, we notice if you’ve put effort into your preparation, which certainly contributes to a positive experience.

Focus on coming up with questions that fit the role of the engineer you want to recruit.
Partner with your engineering managers to develop an initial interview process that makes recruiting engineers more streamlined.

2. Focusing exclusively on what we can offer you

You want to hire engineers who are suitable for the job and who can help your company grow. But remember that this thought has to go both ways: How can you help shape and improve our future? 

When planning the interview, allocate some time to discuss our possible future at your company and the team and projects. 

We’d love for you to tell us:

  • What projects will we work on, and what challenges will we solve?
  • What technologies, tools, workflows, and processes does the team employ?
  • Who will we be working with? Tell us about the team, the roles, and the people. We want to know if we can imagine working together.
  • What further training opportunities do you offer? 
  • Are there opportunities for promotion or other benefits? 

Don’t hesitate to contact the respective tech lead to learn more about these details!

3. Asking us random technical questions

Initial interviews often include a few short technical questions so that you can already test our skills. We are more than happy to answer questions tailored to the job rather than general off-the-shelf questions. 

Here’s what to consider when drafting questions:

Although technical questions don’t usually take up as much time in the initial interview as in a coding or whiteboard interview, they’re still essential to the conversation. So make sure they show that you’ve put thought and effort into them – we’ll appreciate it!

If you like this, you’ll love: Tips to Improve Your Technical Recruitment Process – Fast

4.  Not expecting us to have questions and overselling

Even well-planned interviews may deviate from the schedule. However, this shouldn’t take away from our time to ask questions – we also want to interview you and learn more about our potential workplace.

Allocate a fixed time slot, and be careful not to sacrifice it if time is short, even if that means skipping some of your questions. Again, this shows us that you’re interested in us and that we’re not just a name in your applicant tracking system.

Some candidates may be too shy or tense to ask questions. Use the time to chat or ask pin-pointed questions about their expectations and experiences. You could also come back to earlier questions and expand on them. 

Finally, try to answer questions honestly. We understand that you need to “sell” your company to us, but don’t overdo it. Because sooner or later, the truth will probably come out anyway.

Recruiting engineers isn’t a one-way street

When recruiting engineers, you need to consider what we take away from the interview, as it influences our decision on whether we want to work at your company. 

Treat us the way you expect us to treat you. Do you wish us to come prepared? Then you should also prepare thoroughly. Get feedback from recent hires and talk to your engineering managers to create a tailored experience you and your candidates can enjoy and benefit from. 

Want to streamline your recruiting process for a better candidate experience? Check out our Tech Recruiter’s Handbook for our latest insights to make recruiting engineers a success.

Natalia Kędziora, Senior Frontend Engineer at Codility

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