How to Hire Software Developers: 6 Stages of the Recruitment Process and How to Avoid Failing at Each of Them

13 min read

Business, Python
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Continuing with the subject of hiring software developers, this week we’ll discuss the very backbone of hiring: the recruitment process itself.

It comes as no surprise that adding new members to your development teams requires putting in place a carefully constructed system; that’s why it’s called a recruitment process. The process varies from company to company, but it’s always made up of several steps designed to be followed closely.

Your recruitment process speaks volumes of your company and plays a big part in your reputation on the job market. You stand to gain or lose more than you may think depending on how you conduct your recruiting.

We suggest a recruitment process made up of 6 stages to ensure that the experience is as efficient and beneficial as possible for all parties involved.

Additionally, along with the descriptions of the stages, we have included subsections devoted to the most common mistakes made at each stage that may result in failing at them altogether.

This strategy is a result of our 13 years of experience recruiting developers. We hope it’ll serve you as well as it has and continues to serve STX Next.

1. Job offers

First things first: you need to make it known that you’re looking for fresh developers. At this stage, two methods of recruitment apply: outbound and inbound. We’ve already written not one, but two articles about this on our blog a while back. You can read the posts in question here and here.

To recap, suffice it to say that outbound recruitment means you find the developers, while inbound recruitment means the developers find you.

Common mistakes: job offers

A common mistake at this stage is mismatching the offer to the candidate and not including enough information about the position. Candidates should have a clear picture of your tech stack, your projects, and your team composition. By this point you should have identified the strengths and weaknesses of your team; here is where you look for solutions to your potential problems.

Most importantly, after reading the job offer, your candidates should know precisely what your expectations and requirements are, so that they can decide whether submitting their application is even worth their time—or yours, for that matter.

2. Collecting CVs

Once your job offer is out, people will (hopefully) start turning their applications in. If your posting is attractive enough and you promote the opening properly, you should expect significant traffic with many candidates fighting for the job.

Common mistakes: collecting CVs

The biggest mistake you can make at this stage is having a leaky system for collecting the CVs. This essentially means “losing” a candidate’s CV and never even responding to their application. Most of the time, you only learn that this is happening long after the fact, when it’s too late and the damage is already done.

It’s a huge blunder and very bad practice, resulting in highly negative word of mouth from the candidates mistreated so, not to mention potentially losing valuable team members for good—as they’re not likely to want to work for you ever again—due to simple sloppiness and negligence.

Contacting all the candidates is essential—even the most ridiculous, absurd cases. Even if they are a very poor fit for the job, each candidate has taken the time out of their busy schedule to reach out to you in hopes of professional cooperation. The least they deserve for that is a rejection with an explanation and thanks.

Your failure to provide each candidate with this bare minimum will cause justifiable anger and bitterness, but it goes even further than that; it gives your whole company a bad name, making you look incompetent and careless. Naturally, that’s the last thing you want people to associate your business with.

So to prevent such unpleasantries from happening, make sure you have a tight, fail-safe system for CV collection, and that you reply to each and every application.

3. Screening

At this stage you screen your candidates, meaning you go over their CVs and LinkedIn profiles, and decide whether you want to move on to the next stage of the recruitment process with them.

Screening is advantageous because it verifies whether a candidate checks all of the most important boxes for the job of a software engineer, such as:

  • technical skills
  • professional background
  • salary expectations
  • knowledge of English
  • willingness to work on a B2B basis (if your company uses this business model with developers)

If a candidate doesn’t meet those basic requirements, you can safely turn them down already at this stage. It saves you, your HR recruiters, and your IT recruiters precious time later on.

However, if you find a candidate who is to your liking, this is when you schedule an appointment for the interview with your HR department.

Common mistakes: screening

A couple of mistakes sometimes occur here:

1. Setting up the meeting for the next day after reaching out to your candidate and not giving them any room to move it

This is simply inconsiderate of your applicants’ time.

You have no way of knowing what their current situation is, professionally or personally. As such, it’s possible that they simply won’t be able to adjust to a schedule this tight on such short notice.

Being inflexible about this may cost you a potentially valuable developer. It also gives your company an unfavorable appearance of not caring about your employees’ well-being too much.

On top of that, it suggests poor management skills on your part, if you’re so desperate and hard-pressed to hire someone new.

2. Promising contact and never delivering

You can’t have it both ways; either you reject an applicant during screening (and explain why!) or you show interest to continue talking, promise contact, and follow up.

It’s completely unacceptable to respond saying you’ll “get back to them soon” and then never do. They have taken the time to talk to you and you have already given them hope that you’re at the very least considering interviewing them for the job. Leaving the candidates hanging at this point is unprofessional and disrespectful, showing no regard for them or their time.

4. HR

The main purpose of the HR interview is to get rid of the candidates who are clearly not right for the job. They may have checked all the boxes at the CV-level, but actually sitting down with a person face-to-face and hearing them answer your recruiters’ specific questions is something else entirely.

Since conducting interviews is centered around coming into contact with new people, the greatest quality you want in your recruiters is people skills, chief among those being empathy.

Both your recruiters and your candidates are living, breathing individuals with thoughts and feelings of their own. A truism, to be sure, but one that plays very strongly into human interaction, also in the professional context.

Though the setting is formal and serious, there should always be room left for a hint of partnership and cooperation, even this early in the process. After all, the shared interest is undeniable: one side wants to hire, the other wants to get hired.

Common mistakes: the HR interview

At the HR interview stage, a couple of mistakes can also be observed frequently:

1. The recruiters are ill-informed about the position, the company, or the software engineering community

We’ll be delving deeper into what makes a good recruiter in our next blog post on hiring software developers, but for now suffice it to say that they need to be competent. This means both asking the right questions and giving the right answers to any questions the interviewees may have.

From the perspective of the applicants, your recruiters are the face of your company. As such, they need to have the basic know-how to represent your brand in a worthy manner.

2. The recruiters have no control over the interview

When interviewing candidates, recruiters need to be in charge of the situation. It’s important not to create a hostile environment—this is an interview, not an interrogation, after all—but don’t lose track of the fact that it is the recruiter who dictates the terms of the arrangement, no matter how friendly or inviting they may otherwise appear.

Make sure your recruiters come prepared and on time. The questions they ask need to be matter-of-fact and to-the-point. If it helps them, using extra materials is not a crime, but they can’t be reading from them all the time. A general aura of authority and professionalism is in order for the interview to go well.

Side note: if a candidate has over a year of commercial experience, it’s common practice to conduct the HR interview by phone, then follow up with a longer IT interview should the candidate pass this stage.

5. IT

For the purpose of hiring developers, having professionals with the technical know-how conduct this stage of the recruitment process is a must. While basic involvement and interest in the software engineering world should be expected of your HR department, they do not have the knowledge necessary to test the specific competences of your applicants. This is why this stage of the process exists in the first place.

First, your IT recruiters get information from the HR recruiters about the candidates who have passed the HR interview. Then, they sit down with an applicant and describe to them in greater detail the ins and outs of working at your company. They discuss past and present projects, the tech stack, the challenges that come with the job, etc.

The bulk of the IT interview consists of test tasks evaluating the technical skills and competences of the candidate. Regardless of the programming language your company specializes in, the test tasks should reflect the actual, everyday work the candidates would be expected to do at your company. Abstractions don’t do anybody any favors.

Common mistakes: the IT interview

The greatest mistake you can make at this stage is having the wrong people conduct the IT interview. Granted, they need to be excellent coders in order to properly assess the candidates, but even more so they need to be social. Programmers or not, this is still a person talking to a person; the ability to express yourself and show your feelings goes a long way.

Once again, it all boils down to being prepared—both professionally and personally. The candidates may need help from your IT recruiters, and the recruiters should be able to provide that help. Rudeness or unpleasantness help nobody, and will only have negative effects later on, whether a candidate gets the job or not. Just like with the HR interview, it’s empathy above all else.

6. Feedback

When all is said and done, it is time to make the decision whether you hire a candidate or turn them down. What comes with that is the last stage of recruitment, often neglected, yet absolutely crucial: feedback.

Regardless of the choice you make about the hire, giving feedback is equally important.

If you make the hire—tell your candidate why, what they did well, what they could’ve done better.

If you don’t make the hire—tell your candidate why, what they did well, what they could’ve done better.

Always give feedback. And when you do, make it specific and to the point, don’t beat around the bush. Talk about both the good and the bad. Be critical, yet constructive. Look back on their past, but also ahead into their future.

Don’t forget that positive feedback is just as valuable as negative feedback. While pointing to potential weaknesses and shortcomings may seem like a priority, appreciating your candidate and commending them on what they bring to the table is a great morale boost and makes them feel valued from the start.

Your HR recruiters and your IT recruiters should also exchange feedback among themselves to improve either of their stages of recruitment—or both.

Lastly, get feedback about your recruitment process from the candidates themselves. Ask them to tell you what they liked and didn’t like about it and why. Encourage them to be transparent and brutally honest while they’re at it. Their opinion is the one that counts the most.

It all comes full circle. The work never ends, and there is always room to get better. Adapt the principle of continuous improvement; give feedback and get feedback all around. It will pay dividends in more ways than you may expect.

Common mistakes: feedback

Unsurprisingly, the most common mistake made at the final stage of recruitment is not giving feedback or giving insufficient feedback. The insight your recruiters can give the candidates into their performance during recruiting is priceless, especially if you don’t hire them.

Recruiters are often professional educators for candidates who wish to get into a new line of work or climb their career ladder, but are not yet in a position to successfully do either. Explaining at length and in detail what they’re missing and what would need to happen for you to hire them is the greatest favor you can grant them—and one you also stand to gain a lot from in the long run.

If a candidate you turn down has a positive recruiting experience at your company and gets helpful feedback from your recruiters, chances are they will feel motivated to improve their skills and try to apply for a job at your company again once they get better. Imagine their satisfaction and enthusiasm if their second attempt to work with you is successful. Also, imagine the merits of adding such a developer to your team.

That being said, you and your company will also benefit from giving equally thorough and comprehensive feedback to the candidates you do end up hiring, as well. This lays good groundwork for your future cooperation and provides a solid foundation for effective communication down the line.

Final thoughts

There you have it: 6 stages of the recruitment process and how to avoid failing at each of them. If you’ve gotten this far, you should realize full well why paying extra attention to every aspect of the recruitment process is essential for your company and its well-being.

But what you should also realize is that devising a sound recruitment process is a daunting task to say the least. It takes a lot of work and resources: time, money, people. You may not be prepared to take on the burden of recruiting all by yourself—and that’s okay. Instead of adding in-house developers to their teams, many companies choose to outsource. Just take a look at our Portfolio to see some examples.

Whichever hiring road you take, we have more free resources for you to use. If this article has caught your attention, there’s a lot more where that came from in our brand new ebook.

Plus, more installments of our hiring software developers quadrilogy are on the way. Thank you for reading this part, and see you in the next one!

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Author

Adam Stempniak

Content Writer

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