Do not make compromises when hiring under pressure

Satish Ramakrishnan



As I'm the Director of Engineering at Polaris Wireless, I was building a new mobile engineering team. We were under pressure to start developing, as we had a deadline of just a few months to deliver the first version of our product. To build the team I had to hire a new team of five iOS and five Android engineers. Others thought that I should be able to hire candidates in three weeks, however, as a small company, we don't always get the best pool of candidates to hire from. Because of this I was interviewing people but wasn't really finding many quality candidates.

Management was putting a lot of pressure on me to hire, but I decided that I wasn't going to bow to that pressure, so I needed to find a way to mitigate it.

Actions taken

I wanted to stick with my standards for hiring, as I wanted to avoid hiring someone and then having to let them go due to them not producing work at the level we required. My first step was to hire some contractors. I wasn't willing to initially hire the people I hired as contractors as full-time employees, as I wanted to be sure that they would work out. This allowed me to avoid having to fire anybody later on. However, even after hiring the contractors, the pressure to quickly hire more people continued to mount.

I resisted the pressure, but reassured my stakeholders and management team that the date of delivery of the product would not be affected by me taking my time with the hiring process. I also reassured them that by hiring the contractors I had been able to start the required work, and although it was moving slowly, that when I hired more people we would be able to catch up.

It took a while to get people on board, but when I found the right people I immediately hired them. Because the hires I chose were high performers, they often received multiple job offers from different companies. However, everyone I offered a job to came on board, due to how open I was with them, and how I described the work they would be doing.

Lessons learned

Don't hire in a hurry, and make sure you're hiring people for the right reasons. Ensure that you keep your standards high. In the end, by sticking to my guns, I was able to hire a great team. Someone may be a great developer, but may not fit a team's culture, so be willing to interview multiple people.

Some of the contractors that I had started out with did not end up working out, so it was right not to hire them as full-time employees straight away. However, I was also able to offer the better contractors full-time work, and some of the accepted this. By hiring contractors when starting a team, you have more ability to keep on talented staff, and can more easily let go of the less talented ones.

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