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How Talent Acquisition Can Empower Engineering Hiring Managers to Be Better Interviewers

Hiring Developers

We understand how infuriating it can be, when working in Talent Acquisition, to source and screen developer candidates only to see them drop off at the interview stage. Although you’re probably not the one conducting technical interviews, there are things you can do to try and engage and empower your hiring managers. 

🔖 Related read: 7 Cracks in Talent Acquisition <> Engineering Manager Relationships and How to Fix Them

Leverage quantitative and qualitative data

How can you highlight the importance of interviews? A smart approach is to leverage quantitative and qualitative data. 

Dive into your analytics and take a look at each interviewer’s statistics. Where are you losing candidates? Which candidates are dropping out? Are there any trends? Is there an interviewer with particularly bad results? Present those numbers to the team and suggest areas for improvement. 

“You need to know their interview stats […] You need to dissect the whole process, before you can even hop in on a call with this hiring manager […] This is your time, but data rules all worlds. You can say: ‘Oh I think this, I think that, I’ve seen this trend…’ No! Here’s the data right in front of you. Share screen, be prepared, show them!”

Brianna Rooney, The Millionaire Recruiter

In addition, grab any opportunity you can to gather qualitative feedback from candidates—whether that’s direct feedback (a company survey or a phone call) or indirect feedback (on social media or review sites such as Glassdoor). 

Identify recurring issues (or praise!) and support engineering managers in making relevant adjustments.

Give actionable advice

Sure, provide theoretical advice and training (legal training, for example, is rather necessary—make sure your interviewers know what questions they can and cannot ask).

But make sure you provide actionable feedback too. Can you sit in on interviews, or watch replays? Can you pinpoint areas for improvement and provide real-life examples? 

Try and get creative in the way you provide support: how about a checklist, a Loom walkthrough of best practices, a role-play exercise? If you’re getting pushback, ask your hiring managers what they feel would be most helpful.

Note: remember to brief interviewers on how to react if candidates ask non-technical questions. Discuss how interviewers might talk about company culture, team values, internal processes or compensation. Invite them to transfer relevant questions to you.

🔖 Related read: How to document interview feedback for your hiring team

Identify advocates

Okay, so not all hiring managers are passionate about recruitment and candidate experience—but some are!

“Whoever is responsible for filling a role on the recruiting side and the hiring manager are really partners in a sale. The hardest part of landing really great candidates is being really great at the pitch for the company and the team. I really don’t think that’s talked about enough. Candidate experience is something I feel very strongly about. Yes, you need to assess skills and assess fit, but you also really need to actively sell the experience in the company. I want to put that in bold and put that into everybody’s head.”

Nathan Sutter, Global VP of Engineering at CoderPad

Identify those great interviewers. Work with them to find new ways to elevate the whole team’s interviewing skills. Your hiring managers are likely to pay attention to their peers. 

Align on shared goals

🔖 Related watch: [WEBINAR] The Secrets to Aligning Talent Acquisition & Engineering Teams

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: TA and hiring managers have the same end-game. Your goal isn’t to criticize or nitpick. Your goal is to hire the best developer for the job. 

Remind your engineering counterparts of this. Reassure them that you have done your research, that you understand what’s at stake, and that you’re committed to doing the best job possible. In turn, you expect them to do their best too!

“I try to make sure that there’s buy-in on both sides. [An understanding] that recruiting is going to help the business, and we’re not just annoying people who are asking for tons of time, we are really thinking through this thoughtfully, because we’ve invested time into learning what you do day to day. Knowing that there’s a commitment on both sides is really helpful.”

Sara Ali, Engineering Recruiting at Hightouch

Set candidates up for success 

Hiring managers aren’t the only ones you can set up for success in interviewing. It’s also your job to support candidates. 

Help candidates prepare for their interview by providing useful information:

  • Date and time
  • Meeting link or location and instructions
  • Who will be on the interview panel: their name, position, background
  • Topics of discussion
  • Interview format
  • Duration of interview  

You can also include a few friendly words of advice and encouragement—simply be aware of any bias you may introduce. All candidates should go into their interview with the same information. 

“It’s really all about communication and getting to know your hiring managers, so that you can say ‘Hey, Vanessa is going to interview you for this position. She’s looking for this and this […], she does this, she went to this university, if you have a conversation about this, you can lead in this way’. Knowing your engineering team is a game changer. Knowing who they are, what tools they use, etc. will really help you drive an interview and prepare candidates. It brings a human side to a very technical process.”

Gerardo Tobar, Senior Team Leader, Talent Acquisition at Telus International

In conclusion, empowering engineering hiring managers to be better interviewers is crucial for improving candidate experience and, ultimately, hiring the best developers. By implementing these strategies, talent acquisition can play a pivotal role in driving successful engineering hires.