Hypergrowth hiring: what engineering leaders need to know


Best practices for navigating hypergrowth hiring to build great software engineering organizations

Hypergrowth is a buzzy term these days. We’ll spare you the financial definition of “hypergrowth” and focus on what it means for engineering organizations. For most engineering orgs, hypergrowth hiring means they are growing their team by more than 50% per year, which is a tipping point in terms of interviewing capacity.

This is obviously an exciting time to be part of a growing company, but it’s also a challenging situation to navigate for teams with aggressive hiring targets and even more aggressive product roadmaps. If not done correctly, the negative effects of poor hiring practices can have a long-lasting impact on your team.

The symptoms of hypergrowth hiring are visible across four primary stages:

Engineering and Recruiting Operations

  • Lack of a structured process can leave candidates ghosted or stuck in limbo losing great potential hires and harming your employer brand
  • ATS data is inconsistent making it difficult to identify issues

Sourcing

  • Your recruiting team is scaling quickly but doesn’t always know what the right attributes are for candidates. This leads to low tech screen pass rates and poor onsite to offer ratios
  • Heavy referral hiring impacts the ability to hire a diverse team, DEI goals are an afterthought

Interviewing

  • Engineers are spending 5-20 hours per week leading to interviewer fatigue and putting product roadmap plans in jeopardy
  • Recruiters struggling to find available engineers, and interviews are being conducted based on ability, not experience creating interview fatigue and hurting morale
  • New employees are interviewing soon after arriving and aren’t able to answer candidate questions appropriately
High interview volume from hypergrowth hiring can negatively impact morale and be a financial drain
Survey of engineering leaders by Harris Poll in May 2020 as part of the Interview Gap report.

Close

  • New recruiters struggle to sell candidates after a poor experience – lower close rates
  • Lack of formal scoring rubrics leads to an inconsistent process and opens hiring up to unconscious bias
  • This leads to inconsistent hiring quality, low onsite to offer rates creating even more churn

Tips for navigating these stages and conducting your hypergrowth hiring in an efficient, effective, and equitable way

Engineering and Recruiting Operations

  • Model out resourcing (headcount, eng time, recruiting pipeline) to hit goals
  • Build an extremely close relationship between eng and recruiting by developing a structured and consistent interview process that treats candidates fairly. This will reduce delays and bad experiences that might otherwise increase candidate drop-off
  • Pre-block time on eng calendars or consider batch-hiring periods

Sourcing

  • Tout your hypergrowth; shows employer brand strength
  • Assess a higher % of direct applicants. On average, just 4% of the direct applications we see make it to a tech screen, but we often see this cohort outperform other sources. Be wary of over-filtering with resume screens that aren’t indicative of a candidate’s coding abilities
  • Don’t neglect DEI. Especially in early career hiring, candidates are increasingly expecting that the cultures they enter into are inclusive. If all of your interns come from the same school, you’re setting your future self up for failure

Interviewing

  • Training for recruiters and engineers: Ensure the technical/recruiter screen is as consistent and high quality as possible–start here!
  • Formal scoring rubrics & hiring bar: Prioritize fast-learners comfortable in a dynamic environment
  • Make interviewing an OKR and review your interviewer performance
  • Lean intro external interviewing partners where possible to reduce your team’s interviewing burden

Closing

  • Differentiate amongst candidates: Invest some eng time upfront for most promising candidates
  • Don’t lose candidates at the offer stage. Utilize signing bonuses
Karat interview recommendation tiers
The highest performers on Karat interviews receive a “fast track” designation to accelerate the hiring process

Hypergrowth hiring can make or break a company

This is a critical time for your entire organization. Keeping up momentum and upwards trajectory by growing in a consistent and scalable way will not only ensure you’re attracting the best talent but also will help retain your great existing engineers by not burying them in a frustrating interview process.

For more hypergrowth hiring best practices, see how a more human approach to hiring engineers helped Ethos Life accelerate growth.

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