Recruitment and Interview Rotas: the Engineers’ Way

Jeff Foster

Head of Product Engineering at Redgate



Hiring is a taxing and time-consuming activity and most engineers prefer working on exciting, new features to sitting at the interview panels asking questions to a bunch of candidates. Moreover, the time of the interviews often interferes with and disrupts their work process and prevents them from focusing on their projects.

As an engineering manager, I don’t want to be spending any time hunting down engineers to perform interviews at the last minute. How can we simplify the process?

Actions taken

Engineers who were taking part in the interviewing process gathered together to discuss how it affected them and how they could improve it. They came up with several proposals.

In the end, they decided to form a team to own who would attend the interviews. Each Monday morning the recruitment team and interviewers would get together and self-select who will interview when. This empowers engineers to take ownership of the process, encourages horse-trading, and lets them match interviewing with their schedule.

Putting the engineers themselves in charge of the process gave them a sense of ownership of the process. Instead of interviews that were being done “to them”, the engineers were an integral part of the interview schedule.

They were most qualified and motivated to create a tool that will allow them to best spend their working time but also contributes to the hiring process with their own innovations. For example, sometimes we have to interview candidates with very short notice and the engineers came up with the idea of having an emergency interviewer available each day. Similarly, if details change at short notice (imagine an engineer having to return home) then a Slack channel can be used to locally make decisions without needing any management time.

Lessons learned

  • Create an environment where people can solve their own problems, where they can initiate and carry out problem-solving, is a healthy and productive working environment.
  • Building systems that allow people to solve their own problems allows you to focus on other higher leverage tasks. It spares managers the time and burden of micromanaging and allows them to use their potential to the fullest extent.
  • Giving up control results in a more productive environment as people are encouraged to be pro-active, take the initiative and make things happen.
  • Those closest to the problems are best placed to come up with solutions. Their initiative to bring about to positive changes resulted in a strong sense of ownership that consequently implied responsibility and commitment.

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Jeff Foster

Head of Product Engineering at Redgate

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