Your Pitch



Updated August 24, 2022
Technical Recruiting and Hiring

You’re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Technical Recruiting and Hiring, a book by Osman (Ozzie) Osman and over 45 other contributors. It is the most authoritative resource on growing software engineering teams effectively, written by and for hiring managers, recruiters, interviewers, and candidates. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, over 800 links and references, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Next, it’s your chance to express your company’s value proposition to the candidate and answer any questions about the company or the role that they may have. You have built a compelling narrative for the company and the role, and have learned enough about the candidate to communicate the opportunity to them in terms of what they value. Without being pushy, scripted, or salesy, you have to remember that the candidate is meeting the company through you; you and the company are being interviewed too, so you want to put your best forward.

Begin by asking the candidate what they know about the company. This can serve as a good transition between getting to know them and talking about the job. It will also prevent you from repeating things they already know, or overwhelming them with detail too soon. Based on how much they already know, and what they think they know, you can begin talking about the company and the role.

While you might have a general backdrop that you use for this part of the conversation (something about the company or its history that you like to focus on, some theme or part of the mission that you personally connect to, or something else), it’s helpful to customize your script based on what you now know about the candidate. Connect dots that they might find appealing (or better yet, let them connect the dots). This is where having more than superficial knowledge of the candidate helps.

For instance, let’s use our candidate who said she wanted to work at a consumer internet company. If that’s all you know, and you’re recruiting for an enterprise company, you might hit a dead end. But if you know that the candidate is interested in consumer internet companies because of the scale, and your enterprise company also has interesting scalability challenges, that is something you can focus on.

Finally, it might be worth proactively volunteering any areas where the dots don’t connect, and asking them if that might be a problem. For example, if they mentioned that they prefer technical challenges to working on user-facing products, which is important to the role you’re filling, ask them how they feel about that potential alignment issue. This is another point where empathy can serve your interests in a way that might seem counterintuitive. If the candidate responds that a certain attribute of the role or company might be a deal-breaker, that’s actually helpful—you’ve caught the deal-breaker early on in the process. If, instead, the candidate starts selling the role to themselves, that’s a great sign. They might be connecting the dots in a way that you weren’t able to.

Evaluation and Next Steps

If you’ve covered everything in the previous sections and the conversation has gone well, you may not need to ask the candidate further questions. You’ve already spent time understanding what the candidate values and what they have worked on in the past, so you may already be able to tell whether they would work well with the team or have the particular skill sets required by your role.

If you feel like you do have a few specific questions you need answered, now’s the time to ask. But the less evaluative you can make the first conversation feel, the better. Leave the technical grilling for later, when both you and the candidate have more explicitly opted-in to continuing the process.

At this point, there is a menu of options, and you have to pick one:

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