When human resources representatives hire engineers, they frequently overlook the cost of bringing a new person on the team. While they naturally consider salary and benefits, this isn’t going far enough. According to a November 2016 article published on Qualified.io, the true cost of hiring an engineer averages $22,750. What many companies fail to take into consideration is the hundreds of hours spent evaluating resumes and assessing potential candidates for the job.

Between telephone screening, technical interviews, and time hosting candidates on-site, the dollars add up quickly. It’s especially discouraging when most prospective employees never receive a job offer. This is a huge waste of time for a company’s current engineers who are often called upon to help screen new applicants. Any time spent in this endeavor is time not spent on billable projects for the organization.

Practical Tips to Make the Hiring Process More Efficient

While this lost revenue is difficult for any company to justify, it could sink a start-up organization. That means hiring managers need to make better decisions from the start. It’s certainly not an easy process, but something that is worth the effort. In fact, Forbes Magazine quotes a 2016 study from Sequoia Capital that the typical start-up invests 990 hours into hiring just 12 engineers.

One of the simplest things companies can do to improve the process of hiring engineers is to remain consistent. That requires applying the same process to every engineering candidate. However, the old method of asking candidates to discuss their education and work experience isn’t always effective. Many people have learned how to play this game and can repeat the buzzwords the interviewer wants to hear. At the same time, a highly capable engineer might not be able to sell himself or herself quite as well.

It’s also important to realize that technical ability and academic achievement aren’t always the best indicators of future job success. Rather than focus too much on these credentials, it’s better to ask questions that follow a behavioral-based interviewing approach.

This technique asks questions in such a way that it uncovers a person’s core competencies rather than technical skill and academic knowledge alone. The results of a seven-year study conducted by Harvard Business Review indicate that an engineer with the following competencies is far more likely to perform well over the course of his or her career. These include:

  • Ability to know when to lead and when to follow the direction of others as the situation dictates
  • Initiative to look at the big picture and go beyond what management expects of him or her
  • Networking skills to create inside connections within the industry and remain current with knowledge
  • Ability to manage time and regulate emotions
  • Ability to work as part of a team without undermining the work of others
  • Ability to demonstrate his or her work process and not just describe it
  • Deep knowledge about the organization and what is required for long-term success

Dartmouth University and other well-known colleges instruct their engineering students on what to expect from a behavioral-based interview. Hiring managers wishing to use this technique would be wise to study what their potential candidates are learning about the process.