Hiring Engineers When You Don’t Have An Engineering Team

Shiv Deepak

CTO at Touch AI



"I moved to the US from India in 2015, to begin work as an Engineering Manager for HackerRank. I had previously been working for HackerRank in India, but before this point, the company didn't have an engineering team in the US, so my goal was to build one. This was a challenge, as nobody wants to start working for a company where they don't have engineering peers."

Actions taken

"There are two ways of hiring - either you have to source engineers, or you have people apply for your roles. I focussed heavily on people applying to us through all kinds of means. Because HackerRank itself was a technical hiring platform, I was able to engage with our community to find engineers. I also posted information on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages, but didn't put much focus on sourcing. The reason for this was if you start sourcing, you spend a lot of time sending emails, browsing on LinkedIn, and following up with people even before interviewing with people. Asking people to apply was a much more efficient route, especially as I was focussed on short-term requirements."

"Once people started to apply, I talked to every single candidate who applied. This isn't recommended but I did this to get a feel for the people who were applying and of the community applying. Over time, as I realized this was inefficient, I began to focus on only interviewing the more talented candidates. I ended up interviewing 15 candidates onsite, but most were not suitable, mainly due to cultural fit."

"I set up a pipeline, where candidates would go through a phone interview before coming onsite for a more in-depth interview. When setting up the pipeline I also set up some predefined guidelines for the role, as it is very easy to lose focus and accidentally hire someone who isn't actually a good fit for the role. I worked with my CEO and Engineers from India to come up with these guidelines and then evaluated all of the candidates based on these guidelines."

Lessons learned

"It's important to have solid job guidelines for assessing your candidates against. This helps to ensure consistency across your interviews. Then, keep an eye on your pipeline to assess when people are being rejected, so you can focus your efforts on strengthening up that part of the recruitment pipeline. Then, incorporate that into your sourcing and recruitment strategies."

"Hiring tends to be more about selling the job to candidates than anything about technology. Intro calls are important as they allow you to quickly convey this information, while also allowing you to determine whether the candidate will be a good fit. This prevents wasting time on candidates who will ultimately be unsuccessful."

"In addition, while networking can work, if you are hiring for the short-term, focus on your guidelines and stick to your hiring pipeline. Finding people who engage with your company's communities (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) is useful, as you know those engineers are already excited about your company and its mission."

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Shiv Deepak

CTO at Touch AI

Engineering Management

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