Sourcing, Interviewing, and Hiring When Time is Sensitive

Alexandra Sobhani

Engineering Manager at Google



"When I started, I didn't realize how much trouble I was truly getting myself into when three engineers had quit just before my arrival and four more within my first week as manager. In a span of two weeks, I went from having a team of eight to a team of two. I took it as a good thing, knowing it wasn't my fault, but rather that of the previous manager, and with the push of my superior, set out relentlessly to recruit new engineers."

Actions taken

Sourcing - By Night

  • "I became good friends with all of our recruiting agencies and gave them very actionable feedback as to why the candidates they sent were either good or bad. I only used the ones we already had in place and if anyone said they wanted a contract with us, which I knew was not cheap for the company, I would put them on a probationary type of work. I'd let them send me four resumes and if one of the resumes they found us came for an onsite then we could work together. None of them did, I didn't have the time to work with them because the time to get a good hire out of them was the same time cost to me as our other sources even though it costs the company far more in fees."
  • "I did >20 interview requests a week through Vettery which we now have an unlimited hiring contract with and use as our preferred method of recruiting, eliminating the further need for recruiting agencies."

Interviewing - By Day

  • "I sat down with my teammates to discuss a method for the interview process. In the past, we were lagging on and wasting resources. I devoted myself to revamping the interview process, which would often lapse over into my nights and weekends."
  • "I decided we needed to do a coding interview asap, as quickly as possible after the preliminary screen."
  • "We eliminated take-home tests to forgo the elongated time that someone would spend in the pipeline."
  • "Originally, I would interview people to find out what they wanted and if they were a good fit for the company while my engineers did the coder pad. We later change this to have me doing the coder pad as well so my engineers didn't have to context switch away from their worked (needing more people means we're also short staffed on our dev work)."
  • "We slowly made the questions more difficult and implemented the rule that there needs to be 'at least a 60% chance of the recruit getting a job offer from us' before bringing them onsite for testing. That would mean that we extend job offers more often than not which is not the case but it helps frame up who 'passed' a coding interview and how much benefit of the doubt to give."
  • "I also followed up for feedback. Whenever I liked a candidate but my team didn't we went over why they felt that way and what flags I could have seen earlier so that we wouldn't make the same mistakes as quickly."

Lessons learned

  • "I worked tirelessly recruiting and ended up hiring nine engineers in 100 days and three more shortly thereafter."
  • "I believe I did the best thing possible for this catastrophic situation by getting people in there and hiring correctly."
  • "I find that people who do not have success with marketplaces for recruiting are not extending enough interview requests. There are definitely hidden gems (one of my now seniors was marketing himself as a low-mid. I never would have known he was really good unless we coded together. And even when I hired him I didn't know how soon I'd be promoting him.)"
  • "With my prolonged search and my direct line of communication with my account executive, I was able to reap the benefits of a perfect record with Vettery, in terms of never making an offer that was rejected."
  • "If you are just talking to recruits, you can't truly understand their ability to code. And you might fall in love with how they tell their story."
  • "By switching the responsibility of testing the coderpad to me, my only two engineers at that time were freer to focus on more engineering tasks."
  • "I was interviewing 40 people a week at that point and there was no way we could bring all of them on site. By creating harder questions, creating a 60% success rate directive, and using feedback to enhance early screening we decimated the probability of fall out when recruits came onsite for final assessment."
  • "Although strenuous, it was a short term process that was well worth it in the long run."

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Alexandra Sobhani

Engineering Manager at Google

Engineering Management

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