Does Your Startup Know How to Hire Engineers


In an age of mobile device dependence, cloud computing, and constant technological innovation, engineers have become an indispensable company asset for their ability to streamline business processes via innovative software development, troubleshooting solutions, and commercial applications. Every company needs avid engineers to be the backbone of the team. For a startup that is trying to “get deep” into a competitive market, hiring the right engineers is more important than ever. Here are some practical tips that will help startups and entrepreneur to more effectively hire talented engineers:

Define Your Ideal Candidate

As a startup, the first few hires are the ones that will shape the company’s culture and vision many years down the road. This is why one must be specific with their requirements, ensuring that the job description, educational/training qualifications, and ideal candidate profiles are in line with the business’s short-term and long-term objectives.

While there are many qualities one may be looking for in an engineer, a long-term research study conducted at Bell Labs about hiring engineers has found that top-performing engineers are not necessarily the ones with the most impressive academic talent and innate abilities. According to the study, the nine characteristics the most valuable engineers share are: (1) taking initiative, (2) networking, (3) self-management, (4) teamwork, (5) leadership, (6) followership, (7) perspective, (8) show-and-tell, and (9) organizational savvy. In other words, look for a candidate who not only can fulfill the technical aspects of the job, but who also can excel as a team player, a leader, and a visionary.

Develop the Right Interview Questions

Once a startup has identified the ideal candidates for their engineering position, it’s time to develop a list of questions that will help to assess his or her competencies. According to Jared Friedman, Co-founder and CTO of Scribd, startups need to use challenging questions, but need to do so in such a way that gives the candidate enough time to approach them. One technique he suggests is to ask progressively harder questions. Another tactic is to ask average questions but grade the candidates based on originality, comprehensiveness, and creativity.

When determining the effect and appropriateness of questions, Emil Ong, Principal Software Engineer and Engineering Lead from Lookout, suggests that having people across the company to mock interview each other “is a great way to evaluate new interview questions and engage employees as part of the process.” As explains, doing mock interviews enables startups to develop questions that help them to find candidates who can do the job and enhance the company culture.

Make Your Company Stand Out

A great engineer is hard to keep. According to, while startups should focus on personality, compatibility, and due diligence in their interview process, a “job interview goes both ways. We interview you. And you interview us.”

Once the ideal candidate has been found, a startup needs to convince him or her to choose them over the competition. Incentives such as the ability to take a lead role in developing a live product, having a chance to play a crucial role in the business decision making processes, or a positive impact on future career opportunities, can add value to the compensation package and attract a candidate like a customer.

Be honest and transparent with who the company is and what it does. In order to get the right candidates to apply for a startup job, recommends startups to network with engineers on social media platforms to promote company visibility and attract talent.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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