How to hire the best developers? The experience of global companies in hiring software engineers

We should immediately note that no one can give a certain answer to this question, not even Laszlo Bock (and this, by the way, is Google’s vice president of personnel). Still, it is worth trying to form starting points that will help move in the right direction and find the best of the best.


Someone might think that the same Google just excludes “chosen” from the endless stream of responses. But no! The company is actively identifying the best among those who are not ready to declare themselves yet but have everything to have a great career as a successful programmer. And often it takes the first step itself.

A couple of years ago, the story of Max Rosett rumbled around the Internet community, and the search webpage literally opened up for him. Google offered Max to participate in a kind of game that represents a kind of test. Why? Yes, because the search system saw that a person enters specific requests, and has the goal to develop his skills in the right direction.


At a minimum, the following things:

  • If it is possible to automate the search for suitable candidates for certain parameters, just do it.
  • It is advisable to create some kind of intrigue to involve the candidate you are interested in. And we go back to Max story after the proposal was accepted, the system redirected it to the page (do not try to get to it because the entrance is allowed only by invitation), where he was asked to go through a kind of “quest”. But we all know, one has only to hook the interested person…

Yes, not everyone has the opportunity to hire a search engine and track down the best programmers. But you can think about using other tools. No one bothers to agree, for example, with the owners of any specialized sites and stir up something similar (the only question is about money).


You do not have your own search system with hidden tests for candidates? Let the recruiters work.

Again, you can find stories in the network, that “one day I got the mail …” and it started. This approach is practiced by many, Google, and Uber as well. Hence the conclusion, you should not wait until a good programmer himself knocks on your doors. Find him, otherwise, it can happen that someone else will find the specialist faster.

By the way, you can find some life hacks of the correct search and selection of the right candidates in our Indigo school for technical recruiters.


During my studies in the 10th grade, my mother decided to check how ready I am for an English lesson. She picked up a textbook and prepared to check (well, you remember, there is a type of “London is the capital …”). I knew that she had taught German in her time. So, my confident face and use of the entire supply of English words made it happen, my mother had a wide smile on her face. Although in fact there still, as they say, the horse did not roll. The same with programmers, it is difficult to adequately evaluate programmers expertise to a person who is far from technology.

Typically, recruiters are armed with a bunch of tests for each of the many stages that precede the final interview. But in fact, only two things are enough. First, the recruiter evaluates the software and hard skills of the candidate, and then passes the communication to the person who is leading the project, can tell about the upcoming tasks and ask the right questions.

In any case, to make candidates’ search on a high level, a recruiter must be technically savvy and understand technologies at an elementary level. Now there are a lot of services and resources for training like Glossarytech. Teach your recruiters to interact with the team and in the end, if the recruiter is poorly oriented in technology, nothing prevents him from approaching the project manager and asking him to explain all the details on sticks and circles.


We got used to the fact that one of the stages when selecting specialists is their conversation with the future manager. But Google is trying to change this “vicious practice”. Quite often, when selecting specialists (including programmers) who will have to supervise subordinates, these same subordinates are also involved in the interview. Such an approach makes it clear whether people can work productively under the authority of a new leader or not.

If you still expect that the programmer will find you by himself, do not limit yourself to post vacancies on special sites. By the way, Max Ischenko, the founder of, believes that the main problem of such resources is the noise. Figuratively speaking, the mass of candidates may respond to a vacancy, and only a couple of them will suit it. And you will spend a lot of time searching for this pair.

Services like Greenhouse, SkillSurvey, СlearCompany, Jobvite work excellently. They help to make search and selection really effective.

Also, do not be afraid to hire supercool specialists, thinking that they will pull you out with time (of course, this is a kind of risk, but who does not risk, you know the result, right?). Alan Eustace, during one of his interviews as Google’s senior vice president of science, said, “Each of those I hired was better than me in some important business … Anyone of them could take my chair even tomorrow.”

And finally, a few more hacks for programmers effective selection:

  • Do not focus on core education (Evil Martians, for example, the thing the same). Nice programmers may not have it. Some co-authors of the Linux kernel and even the creators of programming languages can be good examples. David Karp, who quit school at 15, created Tumblr and then sold it to Yahoo for 1,000,000,000 dollars. Finally, even Zuckerberg left his studies at Harvard in his second year.
  • Organize “cross” interviews, where experts who are not related to the work of the applicant will also take part (without fanaticism, of course, otherwise it can turn out like in the story with the mother described above). From Google’s experience, it gives good results.
  • Give the applicant a clear understanding of what he should expect from working in your company. It is important that your expectations coincide in the long term. For example, if a candidate has a car loan and two children, he is unlikely to be ready to say goodbye in six months when the project ends.
  • Before the interview, give the candidate links to materials, projects and products that are worth studying. Google and Facebook and many other large companies do it this way. At the initial stage, such an approach makes it clear how interested the candidate is in his professional growth and this way you can also assess the level of his executive discipline.  
  • Involve your friends in the search (including social networks) and ask them for recommendations. Representatives of many companies say that often this brings more significant results than using specialized sites. In particular, this approach is practiced in ICONIC MOBILE, HTML Academy, Google, etc.
  • Do not just look for employees. Develop a model for hiring the ideal employee that you need specifically for the team. Who is needed? Someone who answers your questions in the right way, or who solves project problems? By the way, in fact, questions about why an employee chose your company does not show how well he will work for you.
  • Hackathons and competitions are an excellent resource and a reason for cooperation with talented developers.

And there is another thing. It’s not enough just to hire developers. You need a cool technical management, then it will be clear how and by whom exactly to strengthen the team and processes.

If you submit the task of search to recruiters, then add a maximum of specifics to the description of the project and position, and also always provide feedback on the submitted candidates.

Are these tips and tricks to find the best programmers enough? Of course not. Processes and rates constantly dictate new conditions and new approaches. If you need advice or real help in finding technical talent, just knock on our door, we will tell you how.

by Denis Malov