Recruitment and Selection Guide for Software Developers

Ever wondered how to recruit and hire great software engineers? What is the best practices for recruitment and selection? What are selection methods for hiring? This article contains some notes I have developed over the years (which I add to overtime as my experience increases). The remainder of the article has sections on recruitment procedure, interview questions, key advice and implicit bias.

Recruitment & Selection

Role of the Chair

Objective is to recruit the best possible candidate fairly and transparently.

  • Selection criteria clearly states purpose and scope of the role.
  • Accuracy job description and advert.
  • Advert reaches credible and any under-represented candidates.
  • Balanced interview panel (gender etc)
  • Declared conflicts of interest
  • Conducted free from bias and inclusively as possible.

A chair needs to actively do the following:

  • Challenge bias
  • Challenge un-evidenced statements by interview panel
  • Resolve conflict


  • Evidence of candidate suitability.
  • Plan interview structure
  • Lead constructive post interview discussion
  • Ensure notes of any decisions are kept as evidence


Candidate trust the recruitment process is fair and equal Confidence that the best candidate is selected in a fair and equal

Protected characteristics: gender, sexual orientation, marriage, disability, race, ethnic origin, age, pregnancy, religion

Recruitment Procedure


1.Job Description

  • Selection Criteria
  • Attracting candidates


3.Selection methods

4.Interview planning

Questions (follow up)

  • What was your role in the project
  • what challenges did you face
  • How did you overcome challenges
  • What did the project deliver

During interview

  • Write note on what candidate said (not your judgement)
  • Do not write personal comments (looks)
  • Notes should be archived and kept for 6 months


  • Pre-employment checks
  • Occupational heath check


Feedback with respect to selection criteria Offer written feedback to candidates who attended interview (signed off and sent via HR)

Interview Questions

This section lists a few categories of interview questions I like to ask when on a interview panel.

(I have/am updating this list as and when I come across new and interesting questions).

Failure/Difficulty What did you like least about your last job? What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it? What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?

Career Move Where would you like to be in your career five years from now? Why did you leave your last job?

Difficult Colleagues Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it? How do you handle working with people who annoy you? Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job?

Key Advice

If in doubt, do no appoint. Taking on an unsuitable candidate can drain management time and team resources, it if often more beneficial to run an additional round of interviews or re-advertise than deal with a bad appointment.

Are you bias?

In reality, we are all bias to a certain degree. We are programmed to categorise the things around us. We do this mostly unconsciously. We make swift judgements based on assumptions and jump to conclusions.

  • In-groups - people like us
  • Out-groups - people not like us
  • Self awareness - hidden or unconscious thoughts


Unconscious - unaware of a bias we hold. (once we become aware, we must act to remove, otherwise the result could be prejudice (endorsing negative views) )

Equality - Eliminate negative bias that limits creativity, opportunity or leads to discrimination.

Bias is a result of natural evolution. We have an instinct to detect friends from foe We regularly put people into groups to help our survival.

Test if if you have implicit bias, and by how much.

Implicit bias test developed by Harvard university.

Creating your first programming language is easier than you think,
...also looks great on your resume/cv.