What to Do When Hiring Engineers: Expert Tips for CTOs

In this episode of Business Systems Explored, we speak to Cameron Gray, the CTO of NeonMob a marketplace for digital art.


So, you’ve got some funding, or you’re fresh out of an accelerator. You’re ready to go.

A VC handed you a bunch of cash, and said: “go hire as many developers as you can“.

Sounds great, right?

If only it was that easy.

We live in a new wave of the Californian gold rush. Skilled developers are snapped up by corporate recruiters with much more experience and better offers than you could hope to make.

How on Earth are you supposed to compete with that?


In this episode we speak to Cameron Gray. Cameron is our CTO’s advisor as well as the CTO of NeonMob. He’s a man experienced with recruiting for software teams anywhere between 5 and 100 people.

We find out the best places to find developers (and the absolute worst) as well as some quick hacks for screening them over the phone in 30 minutes before bringing them on for an interview.

Cameron shares some of the red flags that come to the surface when you’re screening a developer, as well as specific questions you need to be asking in your first interview.

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Show notes:

  • The first steps when building a team at your startup
  • How to set the tone for company culture into the future
  • Tips on recruiting for a great development culture
  • Red flags when hiring developers
  • Building a culture of transparency across the whole organization
  • Tools and techniques you can use to encourage 100% transparency
  • Getting input on product design from the rest of the team
  • Using your team for usability testing and UX research
  • How to source great developers
  • Finding resumes and GitHub profiles that are a good fit for your company
  • Treating recruitment like a sales pipeline
  • Customizing every message for recruitment and coming up with an elevator pitch
  • Using Hired to find development talent
  • Should you fly developers in from outside the US?
  • Why LinkedIn is totally useless now
  • Getting great intros from candidates that decline your offer
  • What to do when someone turns you down
  • The challenges recruiters face when hiring developers
  • The average salary for a Bay Area developer
  • Finding a ton of people from coding bootcamps
  • When it’s fine to hire people with 12 weeks of experience
  • The importance of vetting developers
  • The new gold rush of Silicon Valley startups
  • How to screen candidates and bring them into the first interview quickly
  • Exactly what to cover in a 30-minute screening session
  • Should you look for cultural fit in a telephone screening?
  • Specific questions to ask in a first interview
  • Spotting whether people are ‘startup material’
  • Which team member should conduct the interviews?
  • Why Cameron meets with candidates for 2-3 hours
  • Getting interviewees to fix bugs for you
  • Following up with candidates, sending them swag, offering them computers
  • Tips on making the final offer and closing the deal

Quote to tweet:

“Here are the exact questions you need to ask in a developer screening interview…” @camerondgray (tweet this)

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Vinay Patankar

CEO and Co-Founder of Process Street. Sign-up for his free systems masterclass or find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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