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28. 11. 2023

6 min read

Žaneta Medveďová: Developers' soft skills are often overlooked

Sudolabs' developer hiring process comprises several stages: a phone screen, an intro talk, a technical round, and a home assignment. Sure, it might seem like a bit of a ride at first, but we're after candidates with more than just technical skills. So, who are we seeking, what is the approach to each round, and how to prepare for it? Žaneta, our recruiter, breaks it down for you.

Silvia Majernikova

Social Media Marketing Manager

Žaneta, Sudolabs' recruiter, hiding behind a bowl of popcorn with a smile on her face

Žaneta with her favorite office snack - popcorn

What is the typical hiring process at Sudolabs, from the application to the offer stage?

Candidates reach us through various channels, expressing interest by sending a CV, getting recommended by current colleagues, or catching my attention as I actively seek new talents. The process kicks off with what we call the "phone screen," a quick chat where I get the lowdown on the candidate, their expectations, and the basics of joining us.

Following the phone screen, we move to what we fondly call the "intro talk." This isn't a usual meet-and-greet; it's a dynamic 1.5-hour call with me and one of our engineering managers. Together, we're not just checking boxes; we're seeing if there's a match. I'm big on making sure it's not just us picking a new team member; the candidate's choosing us too. Compatibility must therefore be on both sides. So if the vibes align, we can push forward to the technical round.

The final phase, known as the Hiring Committee, takes place independently of the candidate's presence. At this stage, the candidate undergoes evaluation and is placed at a specific level within our organization. Our approach ensures a clear and transparent recruitment journey for both the candidate and our team.

You mentioned tech rounds. How are they structured and why do we do them?

In the technical evaluation phase, we gauge candidates through a two-part process: an online technical round and a 2-hour at-home assignment. The online round? Three acts.

First, we hit candidates with "Hot Questions" - a mix of theories, but without a joker or the possibility of calling a friend :)) Next up is a live coding task, which might give some candidates jitters. However, I don't see a reason for stress, as the colleagues who lead the technical rounds are very pleasant and helpful and try to point the candidates in the right direction if they get stuck on a solution. The last part of the technical round is a simple system design exercise.

Post-online round, there's just one thing left - a 2-hour homework assignment. We make it clear to candidates that while they could spend hours on it, the focus is on quality rather than quantity. After submission, candidates move on to a "review call," typically with the colleague who led the technical part. This call aims to uncover the candidate's approach to preparing an assignment.

Although our selection process may initially seem challenging or time-consuming, we prioritize quality over quantity when welcoming new team members. We aim to bring on board top-notch candidates who bring more than just technical expertise. Joining our company means becoming part of a team where colleagues share similar mindsets, enabling mutual learning and the exchange of valuable experiences and knowledge.

I know many candidates dream of a short interview leading to an offer without a technical round. It's worth considering what such a process communicates about the company. There is a certain probability that they have quality people, but they probably also have a low retention rate (a situation where a company or organization is experiencing a high rate of employee turnover).

It is worth asking yourself a question - Do I want to join a company that recruits quality people for its team? We take pride in our high retention rate which means developers thrive at Sudolabs.

We have recently started looking for AI engineers, is the hiring process any different?

Our selection process closely mirrors the one for software engineers, as we built upon the existing framework. However, it's essential to note that the technical round's content is entirely distinct, reflecting the unique nature of the work involved.

What qualities and skills do you look for in candidates for software engineers?

Technical skills are just one piece of the puzzle, not the whole picture. We seek a team player capable of collaboration yet independent when needed. Our ideal candidate is a product-oriented developer, someone who values the product and envisions its impact on future users. Innovation is key—we're after developers who think creatively, challenging the status quo and exploring new approaches. Beyond technical prowess, we equally value soft skills, often overlooked but deemed just as crucial as technical expertise. Soft skills are crucial for software engineers as they facilitate effective collaboration and problem-solving. Having cross-functional teams at Sudolabs means communication is key. It involves explaining technical concepts to non-technical colleagues and collaborating seamlessly on projects.

Žaneta grinning and engaging in a lively discussion with data scientist Erik at Sudolabs' common office space

How do you communicate with candidates throughout the hiring process? What can candidates expect in terms of feedback and updates?

Having been on the other end of the selection process, I understand the frustration of waiting for responses or feedback from a company I'm interested in. To ease this process for candidates, I make it a point to maintain ongoing communication during the active selection phase. I gather their feedback post-technical rounds, ensuring a transparent exchange by keeping them in the loop with updates.

How important is cultural fit in the hiring process?

Sudolabs is built around a common goal that brings us together. Choosing individuals who resonate with this objective and contribute to our collective effort is essential for moving in the right direction.

Žaneta and Martin smiling at the camera enjoying good food and drinks at the Sudolabs' anniversary party

If you could give one piece of advice to job seekers, what would it be?

Get crystal clear on what you're after and toss around a few key questions: What work groove lights my fire—structured or the wild west of idea generation? What projects spark my interest? Where do I envision my career heading, and what kind of colleagues do I want to work with? Answering these core questions sets you up to choose a company where you'll be grinning for the long haul. Oh, and here's a pro tip: Don't just fire off your CV to every company like confetti; take a second and do some research. It pays off big time!

What's the strangest or most memorable interview experience you've had?

Hmm, one standout interview? No doubt, it was with a married couple applying to our company together as a team. But I also like to think about the times I was puppy-sitting and it stuck to me like glue, being an active part of the interviews. It served as the perfect icebreaker.

Which round do candidates usually drop out of most frequently? What do you believe is the reason behind this?

Technical rounds. There are various reasons why someone might come across a roadblock. It could be that candidates don't quite ace the technical challenges, or maybe they experience what we call the "coding freeze" when stress kicks in, and coding feels like an Everest climb.

In my view, there are numerous ways for candidates to prepare for interviews. Could you share some tips with us?

The best way to prepare for an interview is to do basic research about the company and craft questions you want answers to. The golden rule? Don't stroll into an interview blind—know your company. The worst move a candidate can make is showing up clueless. As for gearing up for technical rounds, candidates can find plenty of tasks from various companies on Github to practice with - e.g. Frontend_Assignment

What is your guilty pleasure?

Food! A contest for the longest time spent in the sauna despite the fact that the others don't know about the ongoing contest :D and funny memes.

If you've reached this point, it probably means you're keen on joining our team (or perhaps you're just a big fan of Žaneta). So, what's the holdup? Don't wait any longer—reach out to us now!


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