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That’s why we learned to approach hiring a little bit like sales.
Our tool of choice, worked out during 1.5 years of scanning 1285 candidates and hiring 17 amazing people, is a hiring funnel.
It gives you the ability to find, attract, and filter candidates according to your needs, while simultaneously presenting your brand culture.
After reading this article, you’ll know how to create a hiring funnel of yours and how to prepare for each step.
No time to waste. Let’s dive in.
A hiring funnel is a tool that will allow you to set up steps needed to filter the right candidates. But to be able to establish it wisely, you need to know who you’re looking for.
There are a few steps you can’t skip before kicking off the recruitment process, like defining your company culture and the qualities of the people who fit in.
And after building a funnel, you need to prepare for the process: choose tools, people responsible, gather materials.
There’s some homework to do, but it’s worth it. Plus, we will take you by the hand through the whole process.
Determine your needs
Building a team? Avoid ninjas
Ninjas, A players, rockstars. Many companies brag about having a bunch of them onboard. But the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to build a team of rockstars. Most often, rockstars are not the best teammates.
Look at Jonathan Siegel’s matrix below. So-called rockstars are placed in the upper right square. They are great consultants to join the project for a short period.
In the bottom-left square, there are unskilled employees who have trouble working in teams. Fixing both of these things is too hard.
In the lower-right square are highly-skilled developers who constantly grow and are great teammates. That’s where we’re aiming at. But unfortunately, they are extremely hard to hire, because employers won’t let them go.
The best way to get there is to develop your people skills to bring them to this square.
You can do that with candidates from the bottom-right square. These are underdeveloped talents who are engaged and want to grow their wings in the right environment. With the right support, they will become high-performing developers, remaining great teammates at the same time.
The importance of culture and values
Cultural match makes communication easier and work more efficient. Gathering a team of like-minded people, who share similar values, it’s the first step to frictionless cooperation and satisfaction.
Think about your company’s culture. What kind of people share it? Make a list of qualities.
- Eager to grow and learn
- Not afraid to take responsibility
- Great teammate
What can help is choosing a well-known character, from a movie or book, that represents your culture and describing the character’s qualities.
Think about your needs:
- Do you need a full stack developer?
- Do you need them to have experience with mobile app development, web development, desktop apps, or all?
You may want to establish a candidate’s knowledge and experience with:
- DevOps culture (CI/CD)
- Agile methodology
Determine a set of essential soft skills your future developer needs to have to fit your team. These can be, for example:
- Communication skills
- Organization of work
- Willingness to learn
Their way of thinking
A candidate can solve your test task wrong or make a mistake answering your technical questions, but in the meantime, manifest a creative way of thinking and an unusual approach to solving problems. Sometimes it can mean more. If you’re impressed by a candidate’s intellect and mindset, don’t reject them because of a mistake or lack of some tech knowledge they can quickly catch up.
The level of English is especially important when you don’t live in a natively English-speaking country and need your developers to work for an external partner or cooperate with people abroad, or you do but you look for developers overseas.
However, English fluency is something that can be improved fairly quickly, for example, during a Bootcamp. And again, it’s a matter of mindset. If someone is willing to learn and actually improve, mediocre knowledge of a needed foreign language shouldn’t be a blocker.
Sounds awkward? Business knowledge allows developers to impact the project in a more profound way. It helps them to make business-wise decisions.
If a developer understands the business value of a product, he can do a lot more than just writing a piece of code or a bunch of features.
Either way, it’s a good practice to break down the walls between business and tech. Knowledge silos make it harder to communicate, understand the big picture, and make product-wise decisions.
Build a hiring funnel
After gathering all those demands, it’s time to build a hiring funnel. For us, it looks like this:
- Candidates screening (job ads, reaching via social media or LinkedIn, brand awareness/marketing)
- Test task (sending a task/small app to do)
- Giving specific feedback
- Interview (checking the team/culture fit called Team-Fit Test)
Let’s take a look at the details of each phase.
1. Candidate screening
Start with filling the pipeline with potential candidates, who seem to fit the profile you’ve created earlier. Look actively. Besides, put job offers in the right places.
2. Test task
It’s not only about verifying tech skills but also engagement. If a candidate really wants to work with you he will be eager to spend a few hours on a test task. It’s a good move to ask candidates to deliver a task in a framework that they’re familiar with. It helps to see their way of thinking and check if they can find creative solutions.
3. Technical test
4. Giving specific feedback
It’s crucial to give your specific feedback on the test task and technical test. They devoted their time, now it’s time to devote yours. Send them resources they can use to improve the weakest points.
You’ve filtered all the candidates regarding the tech skills you need. Of course, during the interview, there’s also a place for tech-related questions, but it’s a perfect moment to check soft skills (communication, English level, teamwork, willingness to learn, etc.), cultural fit, and team fit. Prepare questions that explore the candidate’s values, goals, and attitude. And bring a team member for the interview – they will express their opinions then and help you decide.
A candidate needs your final feedback regardless of what it would be. Discuss with them openly why they won’t be hired, what they need to improve, or give them the good news and talk about the terms in more detail.
Prepare to the whole process
Write a good job offer
It’s time to compose your requirements into a job offer.
Use a clear job title so as not to create confusion. Include a brief description of your company’s culture, detailed description of the job, list of responsibilities, expected skills, and qualifications, as well as benefits and perks. Plus, candidates always appreciate when a salary is not a secret.
Pro tip: a job offer should illustrate your company’s culture and values. That will be your first candidate filter. Try to blend it into the whole text, instead of writing two strict sentences about it.
Prepare a few challenging questions to check your candidate’s knowledge and discover how they think and solve problems.
Of course, there will be a set of indispensable skills you’ll want to check, but besides that concentrate on throwing your candidates a challenge and observing how they react.
Determine how to check team and cultural fit
If you haven’t done it yet, start with defining your company’s culture and values.
It will be your north star. You’ll be able to avoid mismatched character traits.
Then, prepare the right set of questions to ask during the interview.
- Describe a work environment in which you would be unhappy.
- What characteristics make the best leader?
- You said you like to grow at your workplace. What do you mean by that?
- How do you like to learn new things?
Invite a team member to this interview. If there’s an instant vibe between your candidate and a team member, that’s a great sign. Plus, after the interview, your employee’s opinion will be indispensable.
Pick the best tools
You have to gather the whole toolset to suit your specific requirements, but most likely you’ll need tools for communication, prospecting, and following-up talks.
A few examples for each category:
- Communication: Gmail, Skype, Zoom, appear.in,
- Prospecting: Linkedin, Github, Paid Advertisement, Meetups
- Following-up talks (CRM): Hubspot, a dashboard to control the progress (example below)
- All-in-one: Recruitee, Personio, Workable, Breezy HR
Test a few tools (most of the paid ones have free trial options) and choose the ones that suit your team’s needs best.
Using job boards allows you to reach a high number of programmers easily, however, you may also receive a lot of applications from non-suitable candidates.
It’s a great source, especially when you want to research candidates on your own, not only wait for the applications to flow towards you. The downside of LinkedIn is that not everyone keeps their profile updated. However, LinkedIn makes it easy to land in the promising developer’s mailbox.
Other social media platforms
Depending on what qualities you seek, you can try screening also other social media, along with groups. Some developers actively publish specialized content on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also look at blogs.
For instance, the famous Toptal Screening Process starts with a comprehensive language, personality, and communication interview and continues with an in-depth skill review, live screening, test projects, and ongoing evaluation. Typically, fewer than 3 percent of all applicants are accepted by Toptal, which is why the platform is trusted by leading companies like Hewlett Packard, Zendesk, Thumbtack, Pfizer, and NetApp.
Other popular matching services include Hired and Gun.io. The former combines intelligent job matching with unbiased career counseling to bring transparency into salary offers, competing opportunities, and job details, while the latter claims to have the most comprehensive vetting process in the entire freelance industry.
Software development agencies
Plus, it’s not easy to hire people at all. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said that if you hire the right people over 50% of the time, you can consider yourself talented.
What is the solution?
But to be honest, the solution is pretty simple. You need a process, engagement, and persistence.
Build a process, and we mean establish it carefully, with all the details. Experiment with various solutions. Engage, do your research, and don’t give up. Be stubborn about it. And learn from your mistakes. It won’t be easy in the beginning, but it will get easier with every candidate.
- Define your company culture and values. It will serve as a north star to gather a team of like-minded people.
- Determine your needs. Create a list of tech and soft skills needed. What level of experience does your candidate need to have? Choose which bars you’re willing to lower when someone’s mindset amazes you.
- Take a close look at Jonathan Siegel’s matrix and choose what kind of people you want to hire.
- Build a hiring funnel﹣establish all the steps needed to perform a successful hire.
- Prepare for tasks and interviews. Gather all the materials needed. Pick your questions to check team and cultural fit. Write a perfect job offer.
- Choose employees who will engage in particular phases. Invite a team member for a call when you will be checking team and cultural fit.
- Pick the most efficient and useful tools for your recruitment process.
- Give specific feedback. Build a positive brand image.
- And learn from your mistakes during the process. With each candidate, you will get better and better at this.
Put some effort in the beginning, immerse yourself in this process, and we’re sure that you’ll end up with an awesome team of like-minded, engaged people who will grow their wings with you. Just like we did.
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