How to Design a Strategic Interview Process for Software Engineers

As a founder, recruiting the right technical talent is vital to building a world-class engineering team. A great software engineer will help scale your product and ensure the growth of your company. Unfortunately, few founders have the expertise to build the perfect hiring process or time to interview hundreds of candidates.

Leaning on the expertise of an agency is a great option. But if your organization isn’t ready for that, we’re breaking down tactical recruiting steps that you can easily follow. This series covers how to scope a rolewhere to find the best candidates, how to outreach to them, and tips for designing a strategic interview process for software engineers.

Creating a Strategic Interview Process for Software Engineers

Before you begin conducting interviews, make sure that your current process is effective for the role you are filling. We’ll take a look at the best strategies for the first interview call, selecting and administering assessments and closing candidates.

Here are key points to remember when interviewing software engineers:

  • Your interview process should be quick but efficient
  • Everyone involved in hiring should be on the same page
  • There is no downside to providing a great interview experience

💡 Check out The Complete Guide for Interviewing Software Engineers for more in-depth interview tips.

First Call: How to attract and pull in candidates

As an early-stage startup, you might need to do a bit more selling to convince great talent to join your team. The first call is an opportunity for you to begin assessing if they are a good fit, while also building excitement for the role.

  • Know what you are going to ask. What information is the highest priority for you to collect at this step?
  • Review what you already know. Tailor your conversation around this and save time by not asking for basic information.
  • Pause after questions. Strategic pauses allow the candidate time to consider their answer and respond thoughtfully.
  • Set clear expectations for the interview timeline. Remember, speed is one of your advantages over larger tech companies.


Assessments are standard practice in the interview process for software engineers. The option that you choose should showcase the candidate’s competencies and skills, allowing you to evaluate if they are a good fit for the position.

  • Select the right assessment. List out the skills needed for the role and design a set of assessments that test for those specific skills.
  • Keep seniority in mind. General coding tests or interviews may be a great choice to test foundational knowledge for early career engineers. With senior engineers, an assessment that tests for domain knowledge or their ability to lead projects might be a better fit.
  • Determine how your assessments will be administered. Live assessments can be time-consuming, but they also give you the best data points. Take-home options are more efficient to administer but put more burden on the candidate.
  • Test for technical aptitude throughout the interview process. Start by including some quick, technical questions as early as the first call. Save larger assessments for mid to late-stage interview rounds.

Whichever assessment you decide on, make sure to include real problems that someone in this role might face. This will give the candidate better insight into what they’ll be working on in the future. It will also allow you to test their ability to solve problems and tasks relevant to the role.

💡 Tip: Skip expensive assessment tools. Instead, share the exercise via Google Docs and/or a public GitHub repository.

Closing Candidates

Closing candidates is the final step in the hiring process, and it can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you get software engineers to accept your job offer:

  • Be honest and transparent. Make sure to provide realistic expectations about the role, team, and company.
  • Highlight the unique aspects of your company. What sets your company apart from the competition? Make sure to emphasize those points.
  • Focus on the candidate’s growth. What opportunities are available for the candidate to learn and develop professionally?
  • Be flexible with the offer. Offering a competitive salary is important, but so is being flexible with things like vacation time, remote work and other benefits.
  • Make the decision process as easy as possible. Provide the candidate with clear next steps and a timeline for making a final decision.
  • Be prompt in your response. If a candidate is interested, make sure to follow up as soon as possible.

💡 Check out How to Close Top Engineering Talent for 4 steps that you can take to facilitate a smooth offer process and avoid common pitfalls.


Designing a strategic interview process for software engineers is essential for building high-performing engineering teams. It is important to have a well-defined process that is tailored to the needs of the job and to use assessment techniques that provide direct insight into each candidate’s technical skillset. Consistent process improvement is possible through thoughtful changes based on regularly collected feedback from both candidates and interviewers. Following these steps will help ensure that you are hiring the right candidates who have the necessary skills and cultural fit to be successful at the company.

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