How to hire the best senior engineers?
VP Engineering at Egnyte
Conventional wisdom states that it is very important to create balanced teams, in order to ensure a team's effectiveness. One of my engineering managers was leading two teams that were extremely balanced in terms of profiles and years of professional experience (graduates, mid-level engineers, senior engineers etc.). He expected both of these teams to be equally productive and efficient. However, it turned out that one was clearly less effective than the other. So, he decided to hire another senior engineer for the less effective team. However, this team was still less effective than the other.
My engineering manager came to me, and we analyzed both teams carefully, starting with the senior engineers. In both teams, the senior engineers were reliable, did their tasks on time and produced high-quality work.
However, we noticed that in the less productive team, the senior engineer was really focused on execution and on his productivity, while in the other team, the senior engineer was helping and coaching his peers and was, therefore, improving the team's productivity. Junior staff need guidance and the productive team's junior staff's productivity was boosted by their senior engineer.
I learned from this comparison that it is key for senior engineers to not only perform their duties as engineers, but also for them to help improve their team's productivity by helping others, reviewing their work when needed, and giving them some advice. Now, when I hire senior engineers, I try to measure the candidate's productivity, as well as the productivity they bring to others, by asking questions, such as:
- "Describe the dynamics of your current team"
- "What happens when an engineer is facing a problem?"
- "In your day to day work, how much of your time is dedicated to coding or brainstorming?"
Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders
We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.