How to hire the right developer and where to find them

Brian Sierakoski how to hire a developer Q&A with
SmartLogic’s Director of Client Services, Brian Sierakowski, recently held an Ask Me Anything chat about technical hiring for on Slack. If you missed Brian on Slack we’ve got a recap of the Q&A.

Q: SmartLogic is “Almost never hiring, but also never not hiring.” Can you tell us about the advantages of this approach and how you do it?

A: I guess the key point there is that since we’re always out in the community, we’re constantly running across cool talented people. It’s pretty rare that you run into someone at the exact time that they’re looking for a job, especially if they’re really good. So for us, the door is always open. We actually just posted a job; so I guess we’re hiring.

Q: How do you keep those folks in the loop on what's going on with SmartLogic? Do you have a strategy for keeping that pipeline in touch with your work and new hiring opps?

A: We use Workable to manage our potential employee pipeline, which allows you to tag people as potential employees. We don’t really have pipeline specific updates, but that’s a pretty good idea if you’re looking to hire. We just sponsor everything and get our news out that way to the dev community.

Q: On the sponsorship tip - one pretty well-known sponsorship strategy you guys have is buying the pizza for meetups. how does that help you reach more folks in the Baltimore tech community in a cost effective way?

A: Food sponsorship is kinda the consummate need of meetups; they all need someone to buy food and drink for their event. It’s a pretty easy thing for us to do, and, it’s had our name in front of all the people who choose to talk tech in their free time, which tends to self-select to the better developers

Q: Any thoughts on more diverse hiring? Tech is generally heavy on the white guys and it’s been a challenge to get interested people that are outside of that circle.

A: I think given 2 equally qualified people, picking the person more diverse from your team is the better choice. Especially from the context of product development, that different viewpoint is a strategic benefit. There are some cool events that target diversity; it’s good to hang out there to meet new people. I’ve taught some classes for Girl Develop It. The organization is an awesome way to meet and encourage non-dudes to become developers.

Q: Would love to hear more about other technology or services you utilize in the hiring process.

A: Workable is awesome to manage the workflow of hiring; generally the other steps are pretty standard/non techie. After an applicant makes it through Workable then there is a phone screen, then developer meeting, then culture meeting. We typically let developers do their meeting with whatever tech they use, programming language/choice of text editor. I think that’s probably a freedom that product companies might not have

Q: How do companies who aren't as technical as SmartLogic know they're hiring the right person?

A: I think there’s a few thing to check for when hiring someone technical. A lot of them are around process and communication. For example, if you’re not technical and you’re conducting a development interview, if you ask a question about why they did something a certain way but they can’t answer, or, are rude about it then that’s a red flag. Checking for other awareness of dev process is good too—pull request, peer review, testing, etc.

Q: I can assess for "process fit" as it were, but not "is this person actually good at writing code,” what should I do to find the right person?

A: I think it might help to be able to call a lifeline to say does this person have technical chops; we’ve done that in the past, especially for our startup clients who start to hire. we help them screen, then get them up to speed on the process, which is a huge thing—people who are non technical don’t know how to manage developers/the dev process, that’s an important muscle to build.

Want to learn more? Check out our other resources:

If you still have questions and live in Baltimore then join SmartLogic for a Lunch and Learn. We’d love to help!


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