Recruiting developers is hard — this process makes it easier

Need a simple tech recruiting strategy to make better technical hiring decisions?

As you might know, hiring technical talent is not the same as hiring non-technical talent.

Hiring developers requires a good and quick process in place.

Why? Because...

  • It’s hard to know someone’s skill level. Someone might say they’re a senior Java developer, but are they really? Seniority is not just based on years of work experience, but also skills.
  • Educational background doesn’t say much about a developer’s skill set. In fact, many great programmers don’t even have a strong educational background in computer sciences. More than 70% of developers are at least partially self-taught.
  • Even if someone is a great developer, are they the right person for your team?
  • It takes a talented developer to know a talented developer.
  • Talented developers are highly sought-after. If you want them to join your team, you need to provide a great candidate experience and a quick-but-effective hiring process.

Obviously, the developer hiring process is completely different than when you’re hiring, say, a certified public accountant.

A big reason for this?

Standardization. To become a CPA, you have to undergo a stringent process. You have to get the degree, pass the certification exams, and spend some time working with other CPAs before you can become one.

By the time you’ve attained the certification, employers will know more or less what level of experience and skills you have.

But with developers, it’s different.

After all, code is much like art.

Also, since you’re already spending big on your recruitment process, you probably want a great ROI. (Employers spend an average of $4,129 per job.)

Fortunately, there are strategies to simplify your inbound recruiting process.

The strategies we talk about here below were designed for smaller companies that are new to building a team of developers, but they can also be applied by larger and more experienced teams.

The look you want your candidates to have when they open your emails

So, what do the strategies look like? Here you go.

A simple and effective 6-step inbound tech recruiting strategy looks like this:

1. The candidate submits their CV and perhaps some supporting materials

2. Someone from the hiring team will review that submission (typically a colleague from HR, but in really small teams, maybe it's the CTO or tech lead)

3. Promising candidates are invited to an introductory phone interview (30 minutes) with whoever screened their application

4. If that phone call goes well, then the candidate is invited to complete a skill assessment.

There are a lot of ways to assess developer skill, but the best way to do it is with a take-home project that can be completed on the candidate’s own time.

But keep in mind: candidates hate nothing more than completing an assessment and being “ghosted.” After all, they’ve used valuable time on the test and it’s only fair to offer feedback on their efforts.

The hiring team should review the take-home and ideally get back to them with feedback (for this reason, I always suggest having hiring manager interviews after the assessment!)

Need help with assessing your candidates? Read our developer assessment guide here.

5. If the assessment goes well, then the candidate moves onto the final phone interview with the technical hiring manager (here is the perfect opportunity to discuss a take-home project in greater detail!)

6. The candidate is then invited for a final onsite interview to ascertain “culture fit” and to meet their potential team. You may decide to check their references around this time too.

If the fit feels right, then it's time to make them an offer.

Congrats! You’ve got a pretty good tech recruiting strategy! This hiring process is not only quick, it helps you identify the absolutely best talent.

What Not to Do: Skill “Screening”

You may have noticed that I’ve put the take-home project toward the back half of the hiring process. There are three major reasons for not making it an early-stage hiring strategy.

1. Screening questions are a waste of time

Screening questions like brain teasers are a complete waste of your and the candidate’s time.

Senior developers have better things to do than to prove that they can solve FizzBuzz. Nobody wants to reverse a binary tree.

These types of tests don’t help you identify great talent. They only work to identify developers who are willing to comply. For example, Facebook uses screening questions because they have too many candidates.

But if you’re looking for the best developers for your growing startup, you’ve got to provide a much better hiring experience than your competition.

2. Make coding challenges worth your candidate’s time

A coding challenge is a time investment for developers. That’s why you first need to show them WHY they should make that investment.

Candidates want to talk to a human before they invest their time into your skill assessment.

You see, this way, they can assess themselves if they feel you’re a good fit for them.

So, skip the screener questions and give candidates a call before asking them to complete a coding test.

3. Save time!

Finally, moving the take-home coding challenge to the end of the hiring process saves you time. This way, you only have to review submissions by candidates you are very interested in.

And candidates, again, have progressed far in the process. This means they are likely to want to invest time to complete your assignment.

The quality of submissions improves. You could even see completion rates of nearly 100%.

In this guide, one developer explains why she prefers take-home challenges instead of screening questions.


And that's it! A simple but strategically structured process for tech hiring.

With this tech recruiting strategy, you make sure that you hire the right developers. At the same time, you offer a great candidate experience. This builds your employer brand and makes your company even more attractive to top tech talent.

Don’t forget to check out CodeSubmit for all of your developer assessment needs :)