Hiring software engineering talent is a struggle for most companies. The ever-growing demand for software in almost every business leads to extensive searches for the right candidates. Hiring is rated as one of the biggest obstacles to growth by most CEOs. Hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers all wrestle with how to source candidates, interview fairly and effectively, and ultimately motivate the right candidates to accept offers. The whole process is often costly and frustrating for companies, and all too often stressful or unfair to candidates navigating this high-stakes process.
Anyone who cares about building effective software teams should benefit from the experiences and knowledge of those who have tackled similar challenges, and avoid repeating common and costly mistakes. In this Guide, we’ve assembled know-how from some of the most insightful and experienced leaders and practitioners—senior engineers, recruiters, entrepreneurs, and hiring managers—who’ve built teams from early-stage startups to thousand-person engineering organizations. The lead author of this Guide, Ozzie Osman, previously led product engineering at Quora and teams at Google, and built (and sold) his own startup. Additional contributors include Aditya Agarwal, former CTO of Dropbox; Jennifer Kim, former head of diversity at Lever; veteran recruiters and startup founders Jose Guardado and Aline Lerner; and over a dozen others.
We believe recruiting and hiring can be done well, in a way that has a positive impact on companies, employees, and every candidate. With the right foundations and practice, teams and candidates can approach a stressful and difficult process with knowledge and confidence.
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Definition A job requisition (or job requisition form) is an internal company document a manager uses to formally request permission to fill a role or position. These documents are particularly useful for coordination and wider alignment at larger companies. For instance, the requisition might require approval (often from finance, HR, and upper management) to ensure sufficient space and funding are available for a new hire. Once the requisition receives the necessary approvals, it can serve as the starting point for a discussion between the hiring manager and their designated recruiter (for instance, at a role intake meeting).
danger️️ Wording in your job description can have unintended consequences in determining who applies. Attempts to make your roles sound more enticing can actually discourage people from applying. Researchers have found evidence that using gendered language contributes to an imbalanced pipeline of candidates; certain language can also discourage older candidates or candidates from marginalized communities from applying.
confusionPeople often confuse percentiles and percents, with serious consequences. When someone recommends compensating at the 75th percentile, they are talking about percentile rank, or paying at a rate that is greater than what 75% of companies pay for a role (in a given market, stage, et cetera). This is very different from paying 75% of what a fair market salary would be.
controversyThe “best” interview format for coding questions is a notoriously controversial topic. While many companies rely primarily on onsite, face-to-face coding interviews, a significant fraction of engineers consider “whiteboard coding” to be intimidating, stressful, and not predictive of job performance. On the other hand, alternatives like take-home tasks have drawbacks as well.
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