Technology

Java, Python, C++? How to Hire Engineers When You Don’t Speak the Language

4 Mins read

As someone who doesn’t speak tech, you might feel like a fish out of water when recruiting software engineers. Programming languages like JavaScript aren’t your cup of tea, so it’s challenging for you to evaluate candidates for the job. You might not be comfortable assessing an engineer’s technical skills. And you might not know what tech-related abilities you should consider.

But hiring managers without technical backgrounds can still successfully recruit and evaluate software engineers. Yes, you may need the help of coworkers or outside experts who know tech like the back of their hands. Yet, communication, problem-solving, and other soft skills are abilities that fall within your domain. Below are some tips on how to hire engineers when you’re unfamiliar with their area of expertise.     

Use Tech Staffing Agencies

If anyone knows how to evaluate and hire software engineers, it’s a staffing agency that specializes in filling technical roles. Working with engineering staffing agencies is a streamlined way to gain access to recruiters with technical knowledge. This may be the right solution if your organization is hiring software developers for the first time. Or your in-house tech staff doesn’t have the time to assess candidates or sit in on interviews.

Engineering staffing firms can take charge of your recruiting process, including posting open positions and screening candidates. Agencies can also review resumes, oversee coding tests or other assessments, and interview developers for specific roles. These positions may include mobile app engineers, programmers for network solutions, and hardware designers. Agencies also help fill a variety of staffing needs, including temps and direct hires.  

Notice How They Explain Technical Concepts

A skilled engineer is going to know how to speak like someone familiar with code and software design. But this isn’t the way a developer should talk with clients and those who don’t have the same background. During interviews and other interactions, notice how candidates explain technical or complex topics. Can they explain those concepts in simple language that non-techies will understand? Or are their explanations too convoluted and hard to follow?

While you want engineers who are masters at code and technical problem-solving, you also want employees who can communicate. Someone good at designing and building software won’t be as effective if they can’t explain what they’re doing. It’ll be a challenge to develop relationships with clients or persuade decision makers who don’t have software engineering experience. Your team needs developers with both tech and soft skills to be successful.       

Give Them Coding Challenges

No, you don’t have to be a techie to give job seekers coding challenges. You won’t need to design the tests if you use online and automated tools that help screen software developers. These applications come with pre-designed coding challenges and test assignments for various programming languages.

Go ahead and choose the type of test you need and send invitations to your shortlist of potential team members. Some of these coding challenges can be done live as part of an interview. You can also use them as a screening tool to determine who you want to interview in the first place. If you’re worried about assessing the test results, don’t be. Many automated coding challenges use artificial intelligence to score and evaluate the outcomes. 

Ask Experienced Tech Staff to Help

If you already have a team of developers or staff with technical expertise, you can ask them for their input. They might be willing to help write job descriptions, screen resumes, and conduct interviews. Some may also help out with in-person coding challenges or tests. These may involve hypothetical scenarios where you act as the client. Meanwhile, your tech staff works with candidates to come up with solutions or answers.

This exercise reveals potential engineers’ technical and soft skills, such as the ability to collaborate or work on a team. Live coding challenges also show how different candidates might fit into an existing group. After onboarding, the team’s dynamics won’t be as much of a surprise for either side. Your existing engineering staff can also provide an honest assessment of each interviewee’s technical and problem-solving aptitudes. This will supplement your evaluation of their soft skills.

See How They Approach Behavioral Questions

As a skilled interviewer or recruiter, you may already rely on behavioral questions to vet candidates. You’re aware these questions ask interviewees to describe how they would solve a hypothetical problem or act in a scenario. Software engineer candidates’ explanations may give you important clues about their past job performance and behavior.

Managing fruitful interviews involves asking conversational and behavioral questions and listening to how potential hires answer them. A software developer should give explanations with tech-oriented solutions or actions. For example, you might ask a question about building features for a mobile app. See if candidates’ answers provide steps on how to create those features so that they’re functional and user-friendly. Also, evaluate each answer’s thoroughness.   

Hiring Engineers When You’re Not a Techie  

Recruiting job seekers for software engineering roles might seem intimidating to non-technical hiring managers. However, there are several ways you can fill tech-related positions by relying on your interviewing skills and others’ knowledge. With the increasing demand for dynamic software engineers, organizations must assemble hiring teams with more than technical backgrounds. After all, today’s engineers must speak in ways that everyone will understand.         

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