This article was originally published on HR Daily Advisor, written by Shawn Doyle, Director of Culture and software engineer at STRATIS. Some edits have been made to adjust to this format.
It is a good time to be a software engineer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2020 to 2030, employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers will grow 22%, which is much faster than the average for all positions. With that much demand, it’s not surprising that hiring engineers is hard and likely to only get harder. However, companies can gain a competitive advantage in hiring engineers by tweaking their advertising and hiring practices so they attract more candidates and put them in the best position to succeed.
1. List the Requirements Needed to Get the Job, Not Do the Job
When writing the technical section of a job description, far too many companies fill the technical requirements with a list of every technology the software engineer might work with. Those may be requirements to do the job effectively, but they are generally not requirements to actually get the job. An experienced developer generally only needs to learn a few syntax differences to get started writing code in a similar programming language. Programming languages, frameworks, and tools change so rapidly that a software engineer who can apply their current knowledge to learn new technologies might even be more valuable in the long run than one who already meets every requirement.
When listing the technical requirements, companies should consider what they’d need to see from a candidate to indicate they could do the job. Hiring managers should be more concerned with a candidate’s potential with the company, not their past.
2. Train Engineers How to Interview Candidates
Assessing a candidate’s technical knowledge means that at some point in the process, engineers will need to speak with the candidate to gauge the depth of their skills. However, too often, engineers enter these interviews without any training on how to assess a candidate’s potential. They typically fall back on two methods of interviewing: “gotcha” questions and whiteboarding. “Gotcha” questions delve into obscure cases within the language that even experienced engineers might not know, and if they ever were to in the future, they’d likely learn it in the same way the interviewer would: by googling it when they got stuck.
Whiteboarding is giving a candidate an arbitrary problem to write out an algorithm for and solve on a whiteboard in front of a panel of interviewers. In some cases, it can give insight into how a candidate thinks. However, it bears little resemblance to the actual work environment in which a candidate would be expected to perform, and when a candidate gets stumped or is too nervous, the experience can undermine an otherwise promising interview.
Engineers can learn more about a candidate’s potential if they are trained to ask technical questions in a behavioral interviewing style. Asking a candidate about their approaches to a challenging problem lets the interviewers gauge the person’s depth of experience and lets the candidate show their expertise.
3. Understand How Current Processes can Enforce Disparities
The cost of overloading the job description’s requirements section equals the missed opportunity to interview qualified candidates, which results in (gender) disparities. In the Harvard Business Review, Tara Sophia Mohr, author and expert on women’s leadership, looked into the statistic that men will apply for a job when they meet 60% of the requirements, while women will apply when they meet 100%. She then surveyed people on why they chose not to apply for a job if they didn’t meet all the requirements. Results indicate that women self-select out not because they lack the confidence that they can do the job, but because they don’t think they would be able to get the job (and they didn’t want to waste their time and energy). While that thought was skewed higher for women than men, it was consistently the highest answer across survey participants. Outlining requirements versus “nice-to-haves” in a job description is a clearer way to show candidates what exactly is needed to succeed in the role.
In today’s digital-first world, every company is a tech company to some degree, and hiring the right talent when it comes to software engineers is crucial. Hiring managers can use these tips to ensure they hire the right talent for the position who will grow with the company over the long term.
STRATIS®, a RealPage Company, creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings and is the only platform of its kind built for the complexities of multifamily and student housing. STRATIS is installed worldwide across the U.S., in Japan, the UK, EU, and Latin America. STRATIS now serves hospitality, retail, and small to mid-size commercial, as well. STRATIS is an Inc. Magazine “Fastest Growing Company in America” and a Top Ten Entrepreneur Magazine “Best Company in America.” STRATIS was recently acquired by RealPage to enable STRATIS Smart Building, a more connected lifestyle, and unleash hidden yield through new revenue streams.