The 10 Most Common Mistakes when Hiring Tech Talent

Pedro Oliveira
5 min readJan 22, 2020

A while ago I wrote this article and I have recently come across it. I feel this is so relevant now as it was in 2015, so we’re publishing it again on our own blog.

I’ve been working with many companies and consider myself privileged since I was able to have a glimpse inside very different recruitment processes, all of them unique in their own way.

Startups tend to have leaner recruitment processes when compared to corporate peers, however, they still have a long road to run.

If you asked me to pick the biggest problem organizations have when it comes to tech recruitment, I’d answer:

  • Taking a long time to reply to candidates
  • Going silent can backfire as the recruitment market speed is increasing and companies must keep up in order to succeed

Hiring is always a challenge.

But, I guess you could say that hiring in tech is way more difficult compared to other sectors. Demand is super high and the recruitment market clearly needs an upgrade. So, if you’re building a tech team, or even if you’re hiring just one tech professional, read this carefully.

Avoid these common mistakes and seize the opportunity to grow your business with your new tech hires.

Mistake #1: Taking too long to get in touch with candidates who showed interest

Don’t play hard to get when you’re hiring in tech, especially software developers! Some companies take weeks to reply and eventually candidates lose interest because they have way too many offers on the table. In a blink of an eye, you may lose the perfect candidate, just like that. Puff.

Mistake #2: Interviews, interviews, and more interviews

Well, let’s just put it this way, you don’t need to schedule 10+ interviews and meetings before you hire someone. In fact, your time-to-fill shouldn’t take much longer than 6 weeks before you make the final decision! If your company is flexible enough and willing to make the extra effort, an interview with one of the Founders will be quite helpful, especially for the candidate to get to know of your company’s culture. In the end, it’s all about making the wisest choice but not wasting too much time with minor details.

Mistake #3: Using “Rockstar” or “Jedi” on job descriptions

It’s okay to be creative when writing job descriptions but don’t go too far. Don’t use any clichés as you might be making the wrong assumptions in general. Go straight to the point and let people know the benefits and perks of joining your team (e.g. employee stock options plan, health and life plans, flexibility/remote policy, free office lunches, etc).

Mistake #4: Posting on job boards and expecting something in return

Oh boy! Job boards can be your worst nightmare. They’re crowded with thousands of job openings and most tech professionals don’t even bother to take a look. Go for unconventional tactics when recruiting and post your open roles on targeted platforms that also evaluate talent for you, such as Landing.Jobs.

Mistake #5: Making pointless questions during interviews

Keep it relevant and challenge candidates during interviews. Use case-scenarios, ask real-world tech-related questions, try to figure out if they went through the trouble of learning more about your company before the interview. Take the time to explain your business and the potential role of the candidate standing in front of you. Questions, like “What’s your favorite XX century character?” are quite pointless, don’t you think?

Mistake #6: Underselling your organization

One of the main challenges in recruitment is convincing your candidates that your company is where they want to take their next career step. You should inspire them and share your passion for the business in order to get them on board. You don’t need someone great with Human Resources for this job… What you need is someone with enough sales skills who has the ability to sell the purpose of your company and, ultimately, persuade candidates. Nonetheless, it’s important to manage expectations, you shouldn’t act like a politician and make promises you can’t keep!

Mistake #7: Spamming all around (calling, emailing and sending LinkedIn messages)

Don’t be an all-around shooter. Choose the people you want to contact carefully and send them personalized messages instead. Take some time to get to know the candidates, where they spend their time and tell them why their profiles fit the role you’re looking to fill. Just watch out for LinkedIn, some profiles might mislead you by using deceiving skills. It’s definitely a cool network to browse candidates, but it shouldn’t be the only tool you use.

Mistake #8: Thinking that tech recruitment is a job anyone can do

Tech recruitment is a tricky job so cut the crap and contract/hire someone (or a team) to do it properly. What you need is a Talent Advocate i.e. a professional who understands what HR Tech is and makes use of adequate technology and unconventional tactics to scout for the right tech talent. This person must be tech-savvy and have amazing sales skills! You can also use services and tools to help you get the right candidates, such as Landing.Jobs, which is less of a hassle.

Mistake #9: Not taking advantage of referrals

Referrals are very powerful, especially if they come from reliable people within the industry. At Landing.Jobs, for example, we find amazing software developers, UX/UI designers, data scientists, and digital marketers by using referrals. Get your employees to spread the word about your culture and, if they know someone who might be interested in the job, they should make a proper referral! And don’t forget to reward them for making an on-target referral ;)

Mistake #10: Not challenging/testing candidates

When you’re recruiting in tech it’s crucial to test your candidate pipeline. One candidate might tell you that they’ve worked with Javascript before, but if that was 5 years ago… they might not keep up with the daily tasks… Create a tech challenge and assess their problem-solving skills, quality of the work and rationale. Here are some good examples:

  • Work side-by-side with a future colleague: have your candidate work a couple of afternoons or days side-by-side with one of your teammates. I’ve seen companies like Automattic asking for candidates to come work with them for several days (and paying them for their work they produce, of course).
  • Live tech testing: having a series of live tech tests or a technical questionnaire with a couple of teammates from your company leading the process.
  • Moonlighting: create a mini-project within your company for the candidate to perform after-hours. At Landing.Jobs, our first two tech hires were done this way ;)

So, there you go, if you avoid these common mistakes, you are clearly improving your company’s tech hiring capacity.

Feel free to reach out if you have any suggestions or if you wish to know more about tech recruitment. And of course, in case you’re interested in mastering your tech recruiting skills, take a look at Landing.Jobs.

Aim for more,
Pedro Oliveira
Co-founder @ Landing.Jobs

PS: This article was originally posted on portugalstartups.com.

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Pedro Oliveira

CEO and Co-founder at Talent Protocol. Co-founded Landing.Jobs and CTO Portugal.