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How to: Reduce your time-to-hire Software Engineers while retaining an effective technical assessment

Calendar icon 6th December 2022

By Dan Clouting. Dan is a Senior Consultant at Zeren, and is a member of our Technology hiring vertical in the UK.

The age-old saying is time is money. In the world of high-growth technology companies, that couldn’t be more the case.


Delays in the hiring of Software Engineers can lead to hold-ups in other areas and eventually lead to a severe lag in company progress.


The difference between a good and bad Software Engineering hiring process is minuscule but it can feel like a chasm. Often, you are never as far away as you think from your unsuccessful hiring process becoming successful, or vice versa.


The key is consistency.


In this article, I will explore the tips I use to advise my high-growth technology clients, that I am lucky to call partners to reduce their time-to-hire and, importantly, retain an effective technical assessment to ensure low staff turnover.


1. Prioritise the candidate’s calendar


You’re immediately starting the interview on the right foot. The software engineer market is by far the most competitive and fast-paced, and ensuring the process is organised right from the start, will help ensure success.


In a hiring round, the candidate is your customer. Consider how you would manage your diary for your client’s convenience.


Software Engineers, in particular, often have specific slots in their days where they like to do certain activities. They enjoy compartmentalising and, if thrown out of kilter, their interview performance may diminish, and you may not see your best self.


By prioritising the candidate’s calendar over your own, you will reduce your time-to-hire and gain back time in your diary in the long run. This is a sprint, not a marathon.


2. Define your consistent Candidate Experience


It is everybody’s responsibility in your company to understand and replicate the candidate experience you want to deliver.


Without this being fully defined, there will inevitably be inconsistencies. With inconsistencies comes unfair candidate evaluation, which can lead to either rejecting strong candidates or spending time on candidates that aren’t a match for your requirements. Both, increase your time-to-hire and ensure that everybody in the business has some high-level knowledge of the representation your business wants to convey to the Software Engineering market. Even the intern may have someone within their network which is considering applying and wants to understand what you stand for.


Beyond that, those in your company that is undertaking the interview process should be trained to convey your message to a deeper level. From there, ensure that everybody is aligned on what they assess so that you do not waste time covering the same ground.


Having this template not only improves the candidate experience but also provides an internal framework to understand where the gaps in the requirement funnel are. This way, instead of coming up against the same outcomes, you can make amendments to the expectations and reduce time-to-hire.


3. Ensure an SLT member is the last person candidates speak to


The Senior Leadership Team in most companies is going to encapsulate everything that is positive and good about the business. By the time the Software Engineer has reached a point where they are speaking to a member of the SLT, they should have a relatively clear picture of what they are excited by but also concerned about joining the business. If these have become obvious during the interview process, ensure that the member of the SLT discusses these topics openly with them.


These final conversations should be as candid and transparent as possible. Discuss the challenges as much as the successes so that the candidate can feel confident that they understand all the complexities of the leap of faith they are making.


One of the biggest barriers to change for Software Engineers is uncertainty. Even if the information the SLT are passing on could be perceived as a negative, if it is not a deal-breaker for the candidate, it can be seen as a net positive because they have greater certainty in the proposition.


By implementing this practice, you will reduce the number of offer rejections down to uncertainty as well as increase your retention rates because fewer candidates will join with a warped idea of what they are embarking on. Both, reduce your time-to-hire.



Zeren exists to empower the world’s change-makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.


We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.


We partner with both high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.