The Challenges Of Hiring Experienced Engineers

Convincing
Sharing the vision
Hiring

12 February, 2018

Roopak talks about how he helped his company to be more effective at attracting experienced engineers.

Problem

One of the challenges I have faced while hiring for Venmo is hiring experienced engineers. Most of our engineers strongly believe in a take-home coding challenge. But one of the things that we learned through our recruiting team was that experienced engineers tend to be passive candidates who don't have as much free time at home to work on a coding challenge as more junior engineers do. If they're happy in their jobs, a coding challenge for a new role is just seen as extra work, so we needed to revamp our hiring process.

Actions taken

Not only did we want to streamline the process for potential experienced engineers, but we also wanted to save time for our engineers, so they didn't have to spend time grading take-home challenges. However, there was definitely a people-management aspect involved in convincing the engineers that we should look at alternative interview methods. In the past, our Head of Engineering had tried to remove the take-home challenge, but it caused a huge amount of tension within the organization. I pointed out that if we're not using other ways of checking their coding abilities, then we're actually not attracting the diversity of candidates that we want. For example, people, such as working mothers, may choose not to continue an interview process if they are asked to complete a three to four-hour take-home challenge, simply because they don't have the time to complete the work. By providing this context, I was able to argue that it would build our company's diversity, be it in terms of experience or gender. This really helped to get over the hurdle, and people bought into the idea of making a change. We then introduced a hiring manager screen, which is a quick 30-minute call and we moved some of the take-home challenge to a pairing session as part of a phone-screen. We then removed the take-home challenge completely. We also standardized a lot of our other interview sessions, which allowed for more consistency and efficiency in our interview process.

Lessons learned

These changes have helped us to find senior engineers and have sped up our hiring process. By using this process we also save time for our engineers, as they're seeing more qualified candidates and our hiring managers are able to eliminate people who aren't the right fit.


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