Some Useful Tips For Hiring the Right People

Jimmy Fountain

Head of Technology at MassChallenge



We are a medium-sized company that is always on the lookout for engineers. This can be a challenging and daunting process in many ways. But before jumping into hiring someone you should understand how the hiring process differs depending on the type, size and/or developmental stage of a company that plans to add some more engineers. Understanding this will help you to create and run a hiring process that will result in getting the best candidates. In a nutshell, you want to hire smart people who get things done and with whom you can get well along.

Actions taken

First off, you should understand what kind of company is yours and what exactly are you are looking for. If your company is a small one, most likely you will be able to offer more opportunities, but perhaps not as a competitive salary as bigger companies.

As a small company, you will need people who had a smaller company experience and are either interested or already had the experience of doing a lot of different things. Also, you should prefer a generalist who is enthusiastic about your mission over an over-specialized person.

At the early stage, you will need people who want to grow and particularly grow into leadership roles, because they will need to hire and train new people and help level them up. If you are a large company and have a big brand name -- that itself will attract people. As a smaller company, you will have to rely more on networking, particularly on word-of-mouth and friend-of-friend referrals. Another approach is to post and promote the role publicly and that can result in a mountain of resumes coming from all over the place. In that case, you may think filtering the candidates with an introductory take-home exercise is a good idea. However, excellent candidates are swamped with opportunities (many of which from large, big brand companies) and are very selective about which test they will take. If you opt for a test, it should take place sometime later in the process and if it includes coding make sure to provide your candidates with a comfortable environment and the possibility to use laptops.

Lessons learned

  • Make sure that your hiring process is a positive experience for candidates. Even if they don’t receive the offer they should walk away feeling good about your company. You will meet many people during that process and your reputation will be known.
  • All messages during the hiring process should be clear and unambiguous. You don’t want candidates to hear conflicting role descriptions or to show up on their first day at work learning that their role is different from what they have been told. Be respectful of everyone’s time -- both candidates and people from your organization. Hiring is time taxing, but it is a team sport and everyone needs to be involved.
  • After you make an offer, bring back a candidate for an informal meeting with a team over a coffee or lunch. Managers should not be present; they should meet with their peers and get a sense of what it is really like to be an engineer there. After meeting their peers, you can organize for a meeting with managers and/or high-level people like founders or a CTO.

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Jimmy Fountain

Head of Technology at MassChallenge

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