Recruitment Based on Personalization and Feedback

Magdalena Szychulska

May 6, 2021 • 11 min read

We’d like to help you prepare for the hiring process at Netguru - we share tips on what to expect at interviews and what to expect from us.

Is it possible to run such a process in an equitable manner? We tried!

Can you prepare for the recruitment process and predict all scenarios? Is it worth learning the answers to the most common recruitment questions by heart? Which article to read in order to avoid being surprised by the recruiter? And the key question "do I want to get involved in this process at all?" :) Read the article to find out the answers to these questions.

There are certainly many factors that will influence the decision to start a recruitment process - starting with the branding of the company itself, through technology, or the product offered. There is a lot of talk about factors that discourage applicants - a complicated process, extensive forms or unnecessary stages. We decided to bet on a highly personalized process. We know how important an individual approach is for the applicant. In the age of automation and recruiter AI, we tested the old school approach as the "new school" - we bet on a live recruiter.

In the example of recruiting for the Node.js team, from the very beginning of the process, the candidate has contact with the recruiter, not with artificial intelligence. No application is left unanswered. If, after verifying the CV and application form, we see that a given candidate unfortunately does not meet the requirements of a given position, he or she is informed about it. From the very beginning we also try to send candidates interesting materials which can introduce the company or make the time spent waiting for the next e-mail from a recruiter more pleasant. A good example of this is our Culture Book, or the recent publication of a playlist on Spotify - containing tracks added by employees or interviews recorded in recent years.

Task

When a candidate begins the recruitment process, they are usually asked to complete a recruitment task. However, we know that most candidates are still active professionally and involved in projects, which makes it harder to find time to do recruitment tasks. In such cases, we ask candidates to send us code they wrote in the past. Of course, we want it to be code written entirely by the candidate, presenting the current level of skills, and which will be the starting point for further discussions.

If a candidate decides to complete the task, they usually have 4 working days to do it. When we introduce a new task, we ask candidates for feedback - this allows us to catch possible mistakes, make changes, and check whether the prepared test is not too difficult or monotonous for the candidates.

Some of the feedback received for our current assignment:

The task is short and easy to understand, but has enough complexity to show your strong sides. This is really good because it doesn't take up too much time and I was able to easily finish this over the weekend without too much sweat.

I think that it's a really great recruitment task. There were no specified tools to use so you can choose them according to your needs.

On the first look it seems to be very easy, but additional dependencies make it harder. I think this kind of tasks are so much better than "reverse string" or another FizzBuzz.

The thematic scope covers many issues that are pleasant to solve and did not cause me major difficulties.

Why do we think this step is important?

The task allows us to test the candidate's practical knowledge and evaluate it according to the same criteria. It is definitely more difficult to make a comparison when the candidate's own code, created according to different criteria, is evaluated. Additionally, a task tests a candidate's skills when they work without pressure and can spend any amount of time polishing a solution. From a recruiter's point of view, asking for a task also saves the candidate time - when engaged in interviews, without first verifying technical skills, one can walk away from the hiring process with a sense of lost time. What's more, while already performing the task, the candidate can verify that they have the skills at the right level.

HR meeting and technical part

The next stage of recruitment is an online meeting. the candidate chooses himself:

  • Whether they want to meet separately with the recruiter (about 30-40min) and then participate in the technical part (about 90min),
  • Whether they want to combine the two stages into one meeting (about 2 hours).

The HR part, apart from confirming the formalities, is usually conducted entirely in English. It is often asked on forums why in recruitment so much emphasis is placed on English, even though the recruiter is also from Poland. At Netguru from the very beginning of the process we communicate only in English. On the one hand, this allows us to check the candidate's written skills, and on the other hand it is a facilitation for the people involved in the process (e.g. Developers or Hiring Managers) who do not speak Polish. We are a company open to foreigners, the language used for official communication within the organization is English, hence it is completely natural for us to check the language during the recruitment process.

What is the HR part like and will the recruiter ask about your biggest flaw?

A meeting with a recruiter may seem unnecessary - some people are afraid of being asked about their biggest flaw, or what animal they would like to be. Questions about the number of windows/sewage pipes in Warsaw or instructions to sell a pencil to a recruiter are the stuff of legends. It's no wonder that somewhere in the back of your mind there was a bias against the HR part. So, what will a Netguru recruiter ask you at a meeting?

First of all, we'll want to have an initial conversation about your experience, and it's not about repeating information from your resume. Often, the frameworks listed there are just keywords, and the overall scope of responsibilities can be assigned to a really wide variety of positions.

We want to dig deeper into these areas to get the best understanding of what the candidate has done at previous companies. We ask about projects, difficulties associated with them, and challenges. It's a good idea to have a few examples ready so you don't feel stressed by such a question and have to come up with ideas on the spot. Developers at Netguru are committed to interacting with our clients. That's why we ask what kind of experience does the candidate have in cooperating with clients and how does he/she feel in an advisory or consulting role.

You can expect some questions about the team, the division of responsibilities or the working methodology, as well as the tools used on a daily basis. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to ask yourself whether you have had to deal with conflict situations in your team? How did you deal with them? During a meeting, our time is limited and it's hard to get to know the other person hundred percent, but concrete examples of actions and situations are very helpful.

Applying for a Senior role

If you apply for a Senior role, you can expect questions about knowledge-sharing and mentoring of less experienced colleagues. These are very important aspects for us - we value mutual help and teamwork. We would love to hear about feedback (not only received, but also shared with team members) and best practices in daily work. Finally, share with us your motivation and tell us about your expectations from the company you are applying to. In preparation for the interview, you're sure to look at the website and check information about the company. You can tell the recruiter about your specific expectations, e.g. regarding the work environment or working with a leader to develop yourself.

The next stage is the technical interview. It consists of three elements - technical questions, pair programming on a shared screen, and time for the candidate to ask about all the issues bothering him. We try to cover all the elements listed in the job description, such as knowledge of databases, design patterns, ability to write tests, or familiarity with cloud services. We rely on the competency matrix prepared for each level in the team. This allows us to easily relate to the candidate's skills and assess their level of knowledge. It often happens that we see gaps in experience or skills and then we propose to start cooperation at a lower position, with the possibility of rapid advancement in the organization when the developer makes up for the lack of knowledge.

A common question at this point may be: will such a change meet my financial expectations? The honest answer is: not always. We are transparent with the ranges offered for a given position and we clearly communicate this, usually confirming it via email, even before the invitation to an interview with the team lead. This does not mean, however, that entering the organization at a lower rate, the candidate will not have the opportunity for a raise. We conduct salary reviews twice a year: the employee reviews goals and progress with his or her leader, so he or she can have their salary raised.

Interview with the team lead

The final stage of the recruitment process is a leadership interview. It usually takes about 30-40 minutes. The candidate has a chance to get to know his/her future leader and to ask him/her all questions concerning the structure of the team, the problems he/she is currently facing or development opportunities. The interview is usually very informal, it allows candidates to discuss the feedback received earlier and check whether the candidate would see himself working with a given leader on a daily basis. Such a meeting may also be combined with a preliminary offer submission and renegotiation.

Offer

When the willingness to work together is mutual, we send an offer :) In the email the candidate receives the whole package of information, contract templates, Onboarding Guide, and information related to the onboarding process conducted, due to Covid-19, online. The recruiter is available throughout the process as well as after the process is over while waiting for onboarding.

Most importantly, the candidate always gets feedback from us at each stage of the process. This is divided into "what went well" and "what aspects need improvement". We always try to give concrete examples of what could have been done better and sometimes suggest sources where the necessary knowledge can be drawn from. We also never cross out a candidate at the end of the process - we always invite them to apply again! We also ask for feedback for us - what the candidate liked about the process and what we could improve. Such a survey is anonymous, takes less than 3 minutes, and we read every comment and try to introduce changes. We value candidates' opinions.

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