How to Hire Engineers in 2023: Going Beyond the Technical

Learn what to look for in your next engineering hire

Angela Lin
Angela is a Data Science and English major at UC Berkeley who juggles interests in machine learning with short fiction. Outside of writing blog posts, she can be found painting Bay Area views or trying new recipes.

The current landscape of engineer hiring

Despite the recent wave of tech layoffs, engineers are still near the top of in-demand jobs. In fact, the number of open tech jobs has increased in industries such as aerospace, finance and healthcare. Software developer jobs are expected to grow 25% over the next decade. 

With available talent on the market, here’s what you need to know when hiring your next engineer.

Focus on the qualitative: culture, communication, teamwork

Every guide on hiring engineers starts with the skills test. Coding challenges and pair programming are on the rise, and for good reason. But technical skill is only part of the equation. 

I sat down with Stella Garber, Co-Founder and CEO of Hoop, for her take on what makes a great engineer. 

“The skill level is the basic requirement. But above and beyond that is the collaboration, the feedback, the attitude. Like any other discipline, the craft is important, but equally important is how this person will fit on the team,” Stella shares. And depending on your team and the stage of the company, the type of person you’re looking for changes. 

So yes, assessing skills is essential for hiring software engineers. But don’t forget to make sure that they’re a team player. 

In the below podcast with Priyanka Phatak from Lyft, she shares the qualities of a valuable engineering teammate.

Prioritize long term potential

A strong engineering team isn't one that’s only successful today, but one that can adapt and grow with time. Software tools and frameworks are constantly evolving. For example, the past three years has seen React and Node.js rise in demand and popularity

In addition to setting skills-based requirements and tests, provide opportunities for candidates to showcase how they learn. Ask about a time they learned something new in a short amount of time. What steps did they take to figure it out? Challenges they overcame? Don’t miss out on candidates with strong potential because they used different technologies in previous roles. What really matters is their ability and willingness to develop their skill set. 

Attracting engineering talent

Like any other job, attracting tech talent is about company culture, competitive salary, and a transparent hiring process. Also consider your company’s stance on remote work. While several companies are returning back to office, many engineers value the flexibility of having hybrid options.

For Stella’s team, being remote has given people autonomy. “Engineers want to choose when they want to work, how they want to work, and where they want to work,” Stella said. And engineers value outcome based performance metrics over things like the number of hours spent in an office. 

Finding the best people for your team is about understanding your candidates. Then prioritize what they value.

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