Our 10-step guide to hiring the best engineers

A well-defined hiring process will help your company run and grow because you’re guaranteed to get quality engineers. However, recruiting and keeping top talent is a herculean task. Below is a 10-step process tested to help recruit the right engineers.

Process 1: Resume screening

Source for talent via every reputable source you can get – friends, meet-ups, LinkedIn, Twitter – anywhere you could get someone good. Getting 100 profiles is a good start, you need as much as you can get.

Process 2: First phone screening (to determine if they’re culture fit)

After deciding on which profiles to follow up based on the resumes, a “culture fit phone call” should be the next step. You should screen for things like:

  • The person’s motivation – what they care about.
  • What they’re great at.
  • Are they specialist or generalist engineer? (It’s better most times to hire generalists.)
  • How excited are they to join a startup?
  • Do you feel the person is a strong engineer?
  • Do they seem like a good culture fit?

Also, ensure you sell your company to the person as you are not the only one conducting an interview, the person is doing the same.

That should take 15-20 minutes but ensure you set aside 30 minutes, just to be on the safe side. Within 5-10 minutes you would know if you’ll be giving the person a second call or not. 

You could decide to meet very promising people for tea or someone you’re trying to convince to leave current employment. 

Process 3: Second phone screening (an engineering interview)

The second phone screening should focus more on engineering questions to ensure the person is technically strong and deserves to be met in person. This would be more efficient if you can get two to three senior engineers to take turns performing the interview. It could take 30-45 minutes but you’re sure to get your desired result. 

Process 4: Interview

The few who make it past the first three processes then get to come in for an in-person interview. Ideally, it should not last for more than 45-60 minutes. Get members of your technical team screen candidates also.

  • Ensure that the interviewers do not share their thoughts about a person with other interviewers, so they would go in without bias. Having unbiased responses is very crucial. 
  • Get a reaction about what an interviewer thinks of a candidate immediately after each interview. If the number of negative reaction is much, it’s better to cut off the rest of the interview to save time.

Process 5: Review the candidate

Have everyone involved in the interview process write down their thoughts about candidates before reviewing them. Ask them each about their opinion on a candidate, also ask how they rank a candidate against others they interviewed.

You can rank them based on feedback from interviews and how strong their profile is, mostly in terms of experience.

Process 6: A day’s work with the team

You ask the selected few you’re going forward with to come work with the team for a half-day or full-day to know how they work. This is done to know how they work, how much they can do in a day, engineering and design choices they make, and also to know how interested they are in the company.

Having them come in to work for a day could get you more excited about the candidate. Furthermore, a candidate who might have been seemingly average during the in-person interview but has great coding skills would be discovered.

Process 7: Beer test

Taking candidates out for lunch or drinks to see if they’re a culture fit isn’t a bad idea. You need to be sure it’s cool hanging out with them especially when the team is a small one. 

A few people would spill company secrets when they’re having a good time with alcohol, you sure don’t want someone like that on your team. 

Process 8: Reference checks

You should check a minimum of 3 and maximum of 5 references per candidate. The references should be people who have worked closely with the candidate.

Set a context for the call before placing it – have a list of things you want to ask, introduce yourself & company properly, you should let the reference summarise what they feel about a candidate and be open to questions from them at the end of the call.

Process 9: Make offer

Offer can be made to the candidate in person or on phone, depending on the level of relationship. Be open to listening to the candidate also and make special consideration where necessary.

Process 10: Close candidate

The candidate can be closed using several methods. You could make them meet the CEO who will tell them why their expertise is needed and would appreciate them joining the team. You could also invite them to company events, seminars, or one where the company is speaking. It’s a way of adding value.


The above-listed processes require dedication and might be slower. However, it is worth the sacrifice. Would you rather have a mediocre team put together within a short time or an exceptional and reliable team built over some time? Think about it.

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