What is the best approach to selecting software engineers?

Quick Summary - Recruitment is a complex process that requires a strategic approach. In this article, we are looking at basic recruitment approaches and key do's and don'ts to hire a software engineer most effectively.

How to hire software engineer

9 mins read

May 24, 2023

A bad hire is expensive. That is why the candidate selection should be balanced and well-thought. What tests to conduct, what criteria to define, what competencies to emphasize – there are different approaches in recruitment. But which of them is the most suitable for selecting programmers?

Main approaches for selecting software engineers

  • rational approach

The main feature of this approach is the “one-way process.” A company decides what it needs for specific business goals, clearly prescribes the requirements, and looks for someone who can meet them. The top management makes all the hiring decisions. At the same time, an employer almost does not focus on candidates’ needs and wishes. 

  • the processual approach

Unlike the previous one, this approach involves a “two-way” hiring process. It means that a candidate becomes an equal party in decision-making. And an employer has to fight for them.

So, a company does not only look for a suitable candidate but also tries to become an appealing employer. A company works on brand development and offers appropriate bonuses and compensation packages, including potential severance pay.

At interviews, recruiters try to understand the candidate’s needs and establish a psychological connection.

  • the systematic approach

This approach involves a detailed analysis of a candidate’s professional and personal qualities. One of its main features is multi-level interviews, which can turn into 2-3 and, sometimes, even more stages of selection.

On the one hand, it allows you to identify candidates who are the best match for the position and the team. On the other hand, the process can become too long and exhausting for both parties. 

  • the competency-based approach

This approach focuses on key competencies and experiences that a future team member has to demonstrate.

Depending on the role, these competencies include technical expertise, communication skills, the ability to work in a team, respond to stress, and other less obvious soft skills.

It is one of the most popular approaches in the tech sector because it allows you to create a detailed candidate profile with all the details and create a flexible recruitment strategy for each position in each company.

Natalia Morozova
Head of Recruitment at PerceptionBox

I would combine the processual approach and the competency-based approach for successful hires of software engineers. However, it all depends on the priority goal and objectives pursued by the company, opening this or that position for a specific project/team, taking into account all the nuances. The smaller the company, the more expensive it is to hire the “wrong” candidate.

Key do’s and don’ts for successfully hiring software engineers

A weak hiring strategy increases the cost and time of hiring programmers. Instead, a precise but flexible approach allows you to optimize the process and save on funds and time. Here are some universal tips that can help you to close the position more efficiently.

  • Decide who exactly you need and create a candidate profile 

This advice may seem obvious, but in practice, the employer does not always have a clear idea of who he is looking for. A trap here can be both unrealistic expectations and an overly simplified approach to the requirements. 

Considering the type of project, you need to decide: 

  • what a software engineer does in this position?
  • what results do you expect?
  • what technologies and languages should they work with?
  • what seniority level is appropriate?
  • what additional hard skills or experience are needed?
  • what personal competencies are necessary?
Natalia Morozova
Head of Recruitment at PerceptionBox

In small projects, roles and responsibilities are often blurred. Everyone works for a result and can combine several activities. For example, a back-end developer can partially perform front-end tasks, conduct testing and support the product at the initial stage. Such clients pay great attention to soft skills when selecting candidates, which is quite obvious because communication in the team at this stage is very close. And taking the most skilled but toxic candidate can jeopardize the deadlines for completing tasks and obligations.

  • Monitor the market

Current market information allows you to formulate your request better. Compare demand for languages and technologies, and research rates to understand the situation better. 

The answer to the question: “How much a software engineer makes in different parts of the world?” contains figures that can differ by tens of thousands of dollars and, sometimes, twice as much. 

For example, the average software engineer salary in the US is $170,000 per year, compared to $132,997 in Israel and $55,000 in Poland, according to Levels.fyi. Therefore, location can be crucial.

You can also find helpful hints while researching the most in-demand technologies and languages. HackerRank analyzed which language specialists are most often sought by employers. Java, Python, SQL, C++, and JavaScript are traditionally at the TOP-5. The greater the demand, the greater the competition and expected salaries.

  • Be flexible in testing candidates

Technical expertise assessment is not only about completing a test task within the chosen technology or language. Your potential engineer must also have a strong technical background and the ability to be creative in problem-solving. Therefore, not only the quantitative results of the test matter but also the chosen solutions as well.

  • Do not underestimate the importance of soft skills

Even the most hi-qualified software engineer without proper communication skills can fail a project. The hired specialist must be able to become a part of the team and knows how to respond to challenges adequately.

Natalia Morozova
Head of Recruitment at PerceptionBox

It is easier to technically "teach" a candidate and show them possible growth opportunities on the project. This can motivate them to learn new tools, as well as change their communication style and understanding of this process. As a rule, with the transition to another product development phase, teams expand, and the roles and tasks are defined. And if we want to hire a software engineer for a long time, we should focus not only on assessing their technical expertise but also on their ability to work individually or interact with a team and a client. And we should also assess their possible development within our project/company.

  • Do not overestimate dry resume facts

Long-term work in one position is not always a good sign. It can be that the programmer avoids changes and does not seek career development. Similarly, a large number of job places in a short period does not always mean an unreliable candidate but rather an outsourcer. The resume itself requires detailed study and additional research.

Without appropriate expertise, the hiring process can seem overwhelming. Therefore, it is better to entrust it to professionals. PerceptionBox recruitment team has extensive experience, valuable insights, and functional approaches for selecting software engineers. Contact us for detailed consultation.


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