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The key idea of the video is that hiring engineers for a startup involves a funnel process of sourcing, screening, and closing, with a focus on personal compatibility and utilizing personal networks to find trustworthy candidates, and using structured interviews with defined criteria to reduce biases and ensure consistency.

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    Hiring engineers for your startup involves a funnel process of sourcing, screening, and closing, with a focus on personal compatibility and utilizing personal networks to find trustworthy candidates.
    • Triplebyte's co-founders share their insights on hiring engineers, covering topics such as where to look for engineers, evaluating technical skills, and making offers.
    • Hiring involves a lot of repetitive work and rejection, and building a hiring process should be thought of as a funnel with three parts: sourcing, screening, and closing.
    • When hiring for a small company, it's important to consider personal compatibility and utilize personal networks to find trustworthy candidates.
    • To hire the best engineers for your startup, create a list of potential candidates, make the ask, tap into personal networks, and hold team events to brainstorm and incentivize referrals.
    • Hiring marketplaces work like dating sites, allowing companies to reach out to engineers who are actively looking for work, but they can be competitive and expensive, with Aircast being a recommended option due to their higher percentage of successful candidate interviews.
    • To maximize the chances of finding good candidates, early-stage startups should focus on personalized and targeted messages to engineers on LinkedIn and Github, and make their job listings unique and interesting.
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    In-person meetups may not be effective for finding qualified candidates, but hosting technical meetups and building a network of engineers can be a good way to source talent.
    • In-person meetups are unlikely to be effective for finding qualified candidates, but technical meetups and hosting meetups at your own office can be a good way to build a network of engineers.
    • Wait until you've hired your first engineer, have a good hiring cadence, and spend no more than 50% of your time sourcing before considering bringing on a technical recruiter, who can be a contract, in-house, or agency recruiter.
    • Start with a contract recruiter to focus on sourcing engineers, then consider hiring a full-time in-house recruiter to do the initial calls and set up on-site interviews.
    • The speaker discusses the importance of personalizing messages and building a pipeline for future hiring, and shares insights on how to screen and evaluate technical skills of engineers in the hiring process.
    • The hiring process consists of a resume screen, a recruiter call, a technical phone screen, an optional take-home project, an on-site interview, and a decision meeting, with companies making offers to 2-8% of engineers who apply and the top few percentage points of programmers receiving job offers after most of their interviews.
    • Interview processes are inconsistent and noisy, with interviewers agreeing on the best candidates at a rate similar to that of Netflix viewers rating movies.
  • πŸ’Ό
    Hiring tip: Clarify important skills, prioritize relevant skills, use structured interviews with defined criteria to reduce biases and ensure consistency.
    • Trial employment is a great option to evaluate potential employees, but since only 20% of engineers are willing to do it, a traditional interview process is still necessary to avoid scaring away good programmers, and reducing the noise in the interview can be achieved by deciding what skills matter for the company.
    • Before hiring, founders should clarify the important skills for their company to avoid interview bias and failure of candidates in irrelevant areas.
    • When hiring, decide on the necessary skills and expertise, whether it be fast iterative programmers or those motivated by building products, and prioritize relevant skills while allowing for learning on the job.
    • Structured interviews are more predictive and accurate than free-form interviews, and it is important to use them by asking every candidate for the same job the exact same set of questions and giving interviewers defined criteria to evaluate.
    • To reduce biases in interviews and ensure consistency, use defined criteria for evaluation, have a centralized decision-making process, and use better interview questions.
    • Questions should have a gradual ramp of steps leading to a solution and should not have a single fact that can be communicated, with an example of a bad question being the plastic question and a good question being one with a clear solution path.
  • πŸ’‘
    Stick to basic CS concepts, ask easier questions than intuition predicts, and use trilobite questions to test algorithm implementation skills to find skilled programmers in interviews while avoiding bias and false negatives.
    • Multi-step problems are ideal for interviews as they allow for hints and demonstrate skills, while avoiding specialized knowledge and focusing on general programming abilities.
    • Stick to basic CS concepts, budget three times the amount of time it takes to solve a problem for a candidate, ask four or more questions in an interview, and ask easier questions than what intuition predicts.
    • Use trilobite questions to test a candidate's ability to implement an algorithm and reduce bias by ignoring credentials during interviews.
    • Consider both credentials and performance in the interview to find skilled programmers, especially those who lack traditional credentials, and be mindful of the false negative rate in the interview process.
    • False negatives in hiring are costly and often overlooked, as there is a cognitive bias towards false positives, but passing up a potentially productive candidate can also be expensive.
    • Design processes with consideration of false negative rates and calibrate on the maximum skill of candidates rather than their average or minimum skill.
  • πŸ’Ό
    Candidates should be allowed to work in their own environment with their own tools, while interviewers should be coached in soft skills such as being friendly and providing breaks to reduce stress and improve interview performance.
    • Don't fail someone just because they look stupid on one portion of the interview and make sure to design an interview that provides a positive candidate experience.
    • Stress has a significant impact on interview performance, and to reduce stress, candidates should be allowed to work in their own environment with their own tools, while interviewers should be coached in soft skills such as being friendly and providing breaks.
    • Ensure that every candidate leaves the interview wanting to join your company, avoid hazing, and maintain high hiring standards.
    • Design a structured interview around the skills that matter for your organization, use good interview questions, hide credentials from the technical interest, think about the false negative as well as the false positive cost in your interviewers, calibrate around the maximum skill that each candidate brings, and provide a positive experience for the candidate.
    • Designing interview questions that assess important skills can reduce bias and false negatives, but small companies should still be cautious about hiring bad candidates.
    • When hiring for early stage companies, prioritize productivity and ownership over code quality to quickly get projects done and better screen all applicants.
  • πŸ’Ό
    Practice mock interviews with co-workers to improve communication and technical skills when hiring outside of your area of expertise.
    • To hire an iOS engineer as a web developer, ask them to explain their answers to ensure their skills and understanding.
    • Hiring someone outside of your area of expertise can be a good trick, but it's important to consider communication skills as well.
    • The speaker developed an exercise for interviewers to become more aware of their limitations and improve their skills by doing a mock interview with a co-worker.
    • Practice giving intentionally bad and good answers during a mock interview with a coworker to receive honest feedback and improve interview skills.
    • Reverse roles to highlight areas of weakness and strong disagreements about technical questions, and follow best practices to optimize chances of people accepting offers in a startup.
    • Being fast and responsive in every step of the hiring process, training interviewers to have a good bedside manner, and being prepared to talk about company culture are key factors in successfully hiring candidates for startups.
  • πŸ’‘
    Startups can compete for engineers by emphasizing learning opportunities and decision-making experiences, which can outweigh larger compensation packages offered by tech giants.
    • Be prepared to answer questions about diversity and differentiate your company culture by discussing trade-offs rather than using generic adjectives like open, transparent, and collaborative.
    • To increase your closing rate on candidates, involve your team and investors in the process, pick investors who are good at closing candidates, and present full and transparent offers with all the details.
    • To compete for engineers against tech giants, startups can emphasize learning and real decision-making opportunities, which can provide valuable experience and outweigh larger compensation packages.
    • Career progression in the tech industry is a meritocracy where executives tend to be younger due to the opportunity to grow with a startup, and while working at a big safe tech company is largely fungible, working at a startup offers a unique experience and opportunity for mentorship.
    • The focus is on background-blind hiring and assessing technical skills separately from personality traits and soft skills, and for non-technical founders, it's helpful to have a technical co-founder to assess applicants' technical skills.
    • For startups, it is difficult to rely on universities and colleges for hiring due to graduation deadlines and competition from big companies offering signing bonuses a year in advance.
  • πŸ“
    Roleplaying bad interviews with intentional mistakes can provide honest feedback and create social pressure for interviewers to be critical, but claimed high success rates for hires may not match reality.
    • Roleplaying a bad interview with intentional mistakes by the candidate allows for honest and critical feedback from the coworker playing the interviewer.
    • Create social pressure by intentionally making mistakes in interviews to incentivize interviewers to be critical and point out flaws, which can be a humbling and useful experience.
    • The claimed 95% success rate for hires doesn't match the experience of many hiring managers, but surveys show that only 10% of hires are considered top performers by companies.
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