Swedish Startup Space

How to Recruit Developers by Micael Widell

Written by on June 25, 2013

Editor note: This post originally appeared here and was written by Fyndiq CTO Micael Widell

One of the hardest, riskiest things we do at Fyndiq is recruiting developers. It is hard because the number of people out there who fit our demands are few, and a lot of other companies want to hire them.

It is risky because a mistake will usually take a long time to discover and solve, and it will cost a lot of money. Not only in terms of salary, but in time spent by other team members.

Our recruitment process has gradually changed as we have learned new things, and it will continue to change over time as we grow and as our needs change. The introduction of external consultants that help us with recruitment, plus in-house dedicated HR staff in our company, will also probably change what would be the optimal process.

But the below process has worked really well for us so far. It is efficient time-wise, and it brings out high quality candidates at the other end.

The reason we have heavier technical focus towards the beginning of the funnel is because this is where most people will not have what it takes. It is more likely that a person is nice and easy to communicate with, than that the person has excellent technical craftsmanship.

1. Screening of resume

This step is really quick. 1-2 minutes. I usually look mostly at relevant work experience, what kind of companies the person has worked at before. Usually I don’t care that much about educational background. A warning sign for me is if the person has spent a long time working with other things than being a developer. All really good developers we have hired so far share the trait that they have continually been programming in some form since their teens. What I love seeing here is links to hobby-projects or github profiles. Tangible work samples always tell me a lot more than a fancy education.

2. Short phone call

This is where we filter out people who do not have the basic technical knowledge required. We ask some basic technology questions. A lot of people fail here because they have claimed in their resume that they for example are experts in SQL but cannot even explain what a JOIN is. I am still blown away by how many people we have to cut off already here, because they write stuff in their resume that they don’t know well enough.

3. Technical interview

During the interview we focus on technical knowledge. The interview is typically performed by two technical team members. We ask a lot of knowledge related questions within the areas where the person will work. We do this not because we think it is important that people memorize a lot of details about everything, but because we know that people who are driven and good at what they do and spend a lot of time doing it, will as a consequence collect a lot of knowledge. We usually also ask them about the current real problems we are facing in Fyndiq at the moment and how the candidate would solve these.

4. Assignment

If the person performs well on the interview we send over an assignment. This usually is a simple coding assignment that can be completed in maybe 4-5 hours. The purpose of this assignment is to make sure the person can structure code in a good way, make it readable, follow best practices – but also to test that they can read an assignment, interpret it and solve it in the way requested.

5. Last interview

If all lights are still green we will perform a last interview where we dive deeper into the personality and philosophy of the interviewee. Here we will invite our CEO as well to get more feedback. The main purpose of this interview is to make sure that the candidate will fit culturally into Fyndiq.

6. Done

Contract signing!

  • Company
  • Micael Widell

    As a sidenote, this post is just about one specific aspect of recruitment – filtering out the best candidates in an efficient manner. There is so much more to the whole tech recruitment process – like how to attract the best talent, how to make people flourish in the organisation and want to stay etc. I’ll probably expand on this in coming blog posts.

  • Rocky

    I have been working professionally for 15 years as a software engineer (got a M.Sc.). I know that I am good, and that any companies need me more than I need them.
    I am freelancing as a contracter since 9 years, and have not had any gaps (apart from vacation). I am not looking for any permanent positions, but regularly get requests from companies that want me to apply.
    (Just mentioning this to give some relevant background that I am not talking out of my arse here).
    A company that demanded me to do a 5 hour assignment I would turn down instantly. Also, any good people I know would definitely not degrade themselves doing something like that.
    I do not have time to do that, and if you are not convinced I am the right guy through interviewing me, we already have a communication and trust problem. The probation period is there for a reason.
    You are probably scaring away the really good people, and get the most desperate people that are willing to perform such a task, alternatively people that are so in love with your company that they will degrade themselves doing such a task (the latter seems very unlikely though).

    My $.02

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