How to Attract and Retain Top Talent For Your Tech Company

Eric Mochnacz
December 12, 2022

The tech sector is at a unique crossroads.  While our LinkedIn feeds are clogged with news of big tech layoffs, smaller companies are growing their workforce and competing with top tech talent in a continually changing job market.  As an HR consulting firm with proven success in working with tech companies, we have direct knowledge of working with tech leaders in recruiting and retaining top talent for their business as it scales.  In this blog, I’ll outline the strategies we implement with our tech partners to enhance long-term business performance through recruitment and retention strategies in a job market with high demand for tech professionals.

Create a Seamless Recruiting Process

In a recent networking group meeting, one of the members wanted my thoughts on a company that has an eight step interview process.  This process can take over a month, and requires candidates to meet with different people throughout an organization for very intense interviews, some of which take hours to complete.  Candidates remove themselves from the process frequently, but the people who stick it out appear to be great fits for the company. 

My response?  A company should be able to make a decision on a candidate after three interviews.  Human resources conducts an initial phone or video screen to introduce the company and begin building rapport.  The purpose of the phone screen is to confirm the candidate’s experience on their resume, interest in the role, and salary budget.  If they meet the initial screening criteria, the candidate meets with their potential manager.  Depending on the manager’s skill level and the organization, the manager makes a hiring decision.  If not, the candidate meets with the senior leader responsible for the function.  This interview’s goal is to confirm the manager’s instincts and provide guidance on a final decision.  

Even with a complex job market, and daily news of large-scale layoffs, candidate experience is still critical to the success of your recruitment process and employer brand.  In the first example, how is it appropriate for a company to demand a candidate be available for eight separate interviews over the span of a month or two?  In a streamlined recruitment process, you are creating a positive, efficient process for the candidate – and one where they don’t need to excessively burn PTO in support of making their next career move.  Ongoing communication with the candidate is essential throughout the process.  Establish communication milestones and clear timelines for each process, so the candidate knows where they stand and when they can expect to hear from you.  You want a candidate to speak positively about your company, even if you aren’t able to extend them an offer.  

The ability to move quickly through a process and make a sound hiring decision is based on a company’s ability to ask competency-based behavioral interviewing questions.

Utilize Behavioral Interviewing 

Behavioral Interviewing is based on the theory that the best predictor of future performance is past behavior.  When we introduce behavioral interviewing techniques to a client, we are implementing a recruitment process that allows the tech company to make better hiring decisions based on objective, job-specific data.  The type of questions an employer asks in the interview is critical to finding – and keeping – the right person in the right seat.

In my experience, human resources and hiring managers are more familiar with asking hypothetical or theoretical questions.  Hypothetical questions ask “What would you do if…”  The problem with hypothetical questions is candidates tend to give hypothetical answers.  There is a greater likelihood they will say what they think the interviewer wants to hear, rather than provide a specific example from their past to help you understand how they’d perform in the role for which they are interviewing.  

Let’s talk through an example of a hypothetical question and how we reframe it so the candidate is encouraged to provide a higher quality and job specific response.  Specific to the tech industry, a hiring manager may commonly ask “How do you implement a new technology?”  In behavioral interviewing, we ask the following question instead – “Tell me about a time you implemented a new technology.”  A small tweak, but it changes the tenor of the answer you’ll receive from the candidate, especially because it invites them to speak to a specific past experience, which better illustrates how this person will perform in the role at your company. 

Similarly, business leaders have a tendency to ask theoretical questions.  They want to understand someone’s theoretical approach to their potential job responsibilities.  For example, a hiring manager may ask “What’s your theory on employee accountability?”  Again, the candidate will most likely provide a theoretical answer.  A better way to ask the question is “Can you recall a time you had to hold a member of your team accountable?”  This question is conducive to a specific, job-related response.  

By implementing behavioral interviewing, your company is skilled up in asking better interview questions to get better answers.  In getting better answers, you are more confident in making hiring decisions, because the top candidates have provided comprehensive, substantive answers that have helped you understand how they will perform for your company.  If you get to the end of the recruitment process and are hesitant to make an offer because you don’t know enough about the candidates – it’s most likely a process problem, not a candidate problem.  Implementing behavioral interviewing is a proven solution to that problem.

Creating and Showcasing a Great Company Culture 

Company culture is how your employees feel about reporting to work in the morning.  Your ability to showcase your company culture and integrate it into your employee lifecycle, including recruiting, helps you attract and retain the right tech talent.  Employees’ ability to connect with workplace culture matters to job satisfaction.  Work with human resources to weave your culture and core values into your people processes, so they are felt and experienced throughout the employee experience, and not viewed solely as words on the website.

Company culture is also how your current employees talk about you as their employer to their friends, on social media and to interview candidates.  If your culture is strong, and you genuinely believe they are bought-in to the culture, encourage employees to talk about your tech company on LinkedIn and other career-based sites.  Integrate current employees into your interview process, so candidates can learn about the culture directly from those who experience it.  An employee referral program incentivizes employees to find candidates within their networks who they believe will also add to the culture.  

Empower Employees to Innovate

Employees thrive when they are connected to their work and given the opportunity to contribute directly to business growth through innovation.  Tech employees are innovators, so it makes sense they want to work in environments where they are empowered to do just that, whether on internal processes or customer deliverables.  By encouraging employees to innovate in their day-to-day work, they are able to see how their contributions directly impact the overall business goals and its success.  When employees see how their new ideas contributed to positive outcomes, they understand what “good looks like”, and will continue to innovate for the progress of the business.  Employees who are engaged and connected to their work, and see it getting rewarded and encouraged, are more productive and more likely to stay with your tech company. 

To stand out as a tech firm that encourages innovation, as part of your job design process, allocate a set amount of required hours that are client facing and hours that are committed towards internal projects.  This approach to job creation encourages employees to flex their creative muscles across all aspects of their position.  Also, companies incentivize employees to innovate by connecting bonus compensation to certain criteria related to innovation efforts.   

If You’re a Tech Company in Need of HR Support – Red Clover Can Help

Red Clover is an HR consulting firm that partners with tech owners to drive their business forward through innovative people solutions and complete HR process overhaul.  If you’re a tech leader who is overwhelmed by the prospect of attracting and retaining top talent, look no further.  Our team is ready to jump right in and partner with you through a variety of our HR consulting offerings to drive success in your people function.  Reach out!

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