Three steps to hiring: how we attract lovely developers

Culture, Human Resources, madewithlove

Three steps to hiring: how we attract lovely developers

Yannick De Pauw

Yannick De Pauw

We really care about everyone that works at madewithlove. So we want to be doubly sure your core values will match our company culture, before you even open your madewithlove-stickered MacBook the very first time. Most of our developers are here to stay… and that’s a track record we aim to keep.

People sometimes ask what makes our people happy and how we keep everyone motivated. Or where do we find those interesting profiles? Well, the answers are partly to be found at the start of everyone’s madewithlove adventure: our hiring process. Let me explain.

First comes a quick culture check

“I’m Yannick, nice to meet you. I’ve got a bunch of job titles here at madewithlove – including product manager, marketing guy, rusty designer and HR wingman. A big part of my work is the first screening of all the interesting profiles that apply to madewithlove. That’s the conversation we are going to have now. By getting to know you via a phone screen, it’s easier for both of us to tell if you’ll make a good company fit.”

I kick off most applicant interviews with a video call and the words you’ve just read. Apart from asking a few obvious questions, I try to dig deeper and understand how they stand in life. What makes them happy? What are their near-term goals? Which steps are they taking daily to achieve them?

In my opinion, this first step is one of the most important in the whole process. Not everyone would feel comfortable working the way we do. We can’t offer everyone a technical assignment. This is quite time-consuming for both parties, which might also raise a few frowns among our dear clients.

After this subjective check, who goes through to the next step? I do check some of the applicants’ practical and communication skills, but it’s mostly down to gut feeling. The ones that got me interested are the people who can fit into our culture and those we can entrust with the freedom of remotely working with us. Those are the people with ambition, passion and other interests than just developing. Or applicants that made me smile or those who asked a question I couldn’t answer. It’s hard to define this trigger.

OK, let’s get technical

Not being an experienced developer myself, I’ve got no business checking applicants’ technical skills or asking which fancy PHP or JavaScript framework they master. To be honest, I mostly ignore their tech specs. But these skills are crucial, so we kindly ask every applicant in the second step to take on a technical assignment.

What’s involved in this assignment? Well, the task is rather small, but requires proper communication and engineering skills. There are hardly any guidelines and for good reason. We learn a lot about our applicants; how they take on this assignment, rather than the output or the languages used. Our goal is to delve inside a developer’s head and understand their solution thinking.

Two madewithlove developers thoroughly review every assignment – which we started anonymising recently to make sure we avoid any bias – for around 20 to 30 minutes. Here is where most of our applicants’ journeys end, because we try to maintain a very high standard. The nature of the job at madewithlove requires a level of responsibility and knowledge not often found. This does not mean you have to have years of experience, it means you have to have the right frame of mind.

All applicants get to see their feedback: what they did well or not so well plus several specific tips on ways to improve their skills. For all applicants with questions about their assignment, I arrange a sit-down with the reviewers. In other words, participating in our tech assignment is never a waste of time… even if you failed to land a job with us.

Last up, meeting our management

If an applicant reaches step three, we know they have the ability to develop and think according to our standards. Now it’s time to talk business and numbers. Here you get to talk to Andreas, Jonas and Dimitri and to discuss future career plans. This conversation can take you down any avenue: you could chat about ideal clients, engage in technical talk, or get philosophical and discuss moral dilemmas in business.
Once you have agreed to the job terms, you get to meet two other faces of madewithlove. With Tim, our COO, and Anne-Julie, our Management Assistant, you can finalise the paperwork. Before putting pen to paper, you’ll actually have spoken to almost a quarter of the people working at our company.


How long does the application process take?

We don’t do deadlines. That’s one of the first things we tell most of our clients and that’s exactly why you don’t get a deadline for finalising your technical assignment. We discuss all applications and phone screening at our Monday meetings. In summary, the length of the whole hiring process really depends on you. Not to mention our challenge of finding a free window in the calendars of all three managers, but generally it will take you 2-4 weeks.

Why are so many people involved?

Having sat in on several interviews with job candidates in my previous jobs, I quickly understood that you learn more about a company when the manager leaves the room. At madewithlove, I think this is not really an issue, but for the applicants not knowing us, it might take away an extra barrier to talk to other employees first. I’ve noticed it also works the other way around: some employees voice their opinion faster when answering the candidate. It benefits both parties.

Since we care a lot about transparency, I think we are right to involve so many employees in the hiring process. We like to give all our developers the opportunity to review the code of others, including job applicants. Team members who do the reviewing directly get a say in whether or not they would like the applicant on board. There is just one question they must all answer: Would you be happy to work with this code if you received it from your colleague? If they say “no”, that’s pretty decisive in our hiring process.

Applications always welcome

Madewithlove is not interested in growing just for the sake of growing. We don’t always have job openings ready, but are always on the look-out for bright new talent. If you can convince us you’re just what we need, we might well find room for you. We don’t reject talent.
Even if there is no immediate opening, we still may be able to get you on track. After all, we also help most of our clients by looking out for talent to strengthen their team. When we find interesting profiles but can’t offer you a seat at our company, we may be able to introduce you to one of our amazing clients. A true win-win, wouldn’t you say?


Want to work for madewithlove?

We are looking forward to meeting you. Check out our job openings page.

Hire Yannick as a speaker?

Hire Yannick as a speaker?
Yannick De Pauw

Yannick De Pauw

Translating clients’ wishes into understandable developer language… that’s why this product manager sets his alarm clock on weekdays. When Yannick is not busy trying to grasp exactly what clients want and how users actually use an application, he’s probably globetrotting. And writing nice articles about the world, for his travel blog.

our blog Related blog articles

Do you have a question? Leave a comment