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Steps to Hire your First Software Engineer
Jan 5, 2024

Steps to Hire your First Software Engineer

Discover essential steps and insights to build a strong foundation for your tech team.

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One of the most important roles at a tech startup is a software engineer. In order to create your product and website to appeal to both investors and consumers, you’ll need a skilled software engineer in the team. Here's a guide to the hiring process and beyond to ensure you’re hiring the best engineers to build your startup.

1. Creating Job Description

When looking to recruit engineers you must first have qualified candidates to apply. Here you need to create an attractive job description that keeps the job seeker engaged from headline to resume submission.

Here’s how to recruit your first engineer with an attractive job description:

a. Set clear expectations. You need to get into details of responsibilities, qualifications, and the salary for the position.

b. Make your company stand out. These days, job seekers are putting a lot of emphasis in the company culture, so discussing company culture, perks, and anything else that makes your future employees feel valued is encouraged.

c. Talk about growth opportunities. Because you’re hiring your first engineer, discussing a career path and their potential future roles can excite job seekers and entice them to apply.

2. Scheduling an Initial Call

Once you have collected enough applications, schedule an initial screening call with the prospects who you think match the requirements. This allows you to speak to the candidates about their experiences and connect their personalities with their resumes. The candidates with the most potential can then be moved to the next stage of the interview process.

Here are some discussions you can have while interviewing the candidate:

a. How comfortable are they working for a startup?

b. Ask about recent projects they have worked on and their role in those projects.

c. How do they stay updated on industry trends?

d. What sort of working environment do they prefer?

3. Giving the Candidates an Assignment

An assignment is a fantastic way to assess an engineer’s technical knowledge.

You can ask the candidate to do a technical brief for a new feature they want to build for your company. This is company-specific and shows how they think within the scope of the business and what they could potentially contribute.

It is essential that the candidate writes the code with minimal guidance, though someone should be available if needed. Once completed, ask them to explain the feature and document how they would add it, including delivery, technical risks, and trade-offs.

4. Choosing the Best Candidate

Once you have assessed the coding assignments, you should ask the candidate questions about the position. The more questions the candidate asks (and the more in-depth they are), the more you can determine how eager they are to learn about the position. A few examples of these questions are:

a. What is the work environment of the team?

b. What tech stack does the company use?

c. What is the business plan of the company?

d. What does the product delivery process look like?

A candidates' questions can help you separate the top talent from the rest.

Red flags to look out for

The process on how to find an engineer with qualities that align with your company may include weeding out candidates that show certain signs or tendencies of bad habits in their interview. Keep an eye out for red flags that could mean the candidate might not be the best fit for your team.

a. Short answers with minimal detail could point to less passion in the role.

b. Difficulty answering fundamental engineering questions could mean they aren’t as seasoned or knowledgeable as you’d prefer.

c. Any form of aggression or dismissive attitude could be a sign of a toxic work environment in the future.


The founding engineer of your company will have an integral role, so bringing in the right person is crucial. Knowing how to hire your first engineer and following these tips can put you in a position to make a hire that grows with your company.

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