Building a Robust Recruitment Process - How to Hire Software Engineers in Malaysia
Hiring software engineers in Malaysia is becoming increasingly more difficult due to the intensity of competition for talented engineers in the Malaysian market. With the need to scout through a huge talent pool, the entire recruitment process can be a long, messy and complicated process. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the hiring process, we have been relying on the 4S methodology to bring more structure and clarity to help hire high quality candidates, faster.
Step 1: Qualifying the Role
Before sourcing, qualifying the role is vital to ensure that sourcing is able to be completed efficiently and effectively. Without a proper qualification of the role, identifying suitable candidates would be difficult at best, and impossible at worst. In order to overcome this, a detailed job brief should be prepared, which in turn will also be the foundation to setting up a structured interview process.
Free Resource: Role Qualification Form
At TRIIIO, we use this Role Qualification Form to efficiently understand roles in as much detail as possible. The document asks for all the information we need to help identify the best candidate as quickly as possible. This includes:
Business context - Why is this role open? What is the aim of hiring for this role?
Budget - Is this flexible? If so, how flexible?
Technical skills - What are the top 3 needed technical skills, and which are just nice to have?
Non-technical skills - What are the soft skills needed to succeed in this role?
Red Flags - What do we not want in a prospective employee?
Value Proposition - What are the selling points for the company, team, and employee growth?
Once a detailed role description has been written out, we can officially enter the Recruitment process.
The 4S Framework
At TRIIIO, we have created a tried and tested recruitment methodology - coined the 4S framework - which provides a concise breakdown of the recruitment process. We believe drawing clear lines to segment the entire recruitment process into more manageable chunks allows for easier measurement of the effectiveness of the process. With this, it becomes easier to understand what works for your company. The 4S’ we use to hire Software Engineers are:
Sourcing - Creating a long list of candidates.
Screening - Shortlisting your candidates.
Selection - Offering the right candidate.
Service - Ensuring the chosen candidate starts.
Step 2: Sourcing
After gaining an understanding of the role, your next step should be to research the kind of candidates that might fit the bill. This is where sourcing comes in, which is the process of building up a long list of potential candidates that meet the requirements of your Software Engineering vacancy.
We recommend creating a long list of approximately 50 to 70 candidates at this stage. Ideally, this list is made up of candidates from different sources to ensure a diversity within the selection. Diverse candidates, along with a structured interview process, will allow you to make a well-informed decision at the end of the recruitment process. This is best practice, but we recommend you experiment with the options available to you.
Where do I find Software Engineers?
In order to find talented IT professionals, keywords within the job description play an important role. Look for specific phrases such as “.Net”, “ReactJS”, “Kubernetes” - any of the main technical skills required for this role.
Knowing where to find candidates will significantly reduce the sourcing time. From our data, sourcing is often one of the largest time sinks within the entire recruitment process which is why it is important to try a number of channels and adapt to find what works best for your company. Here are a few places you can start your search:
1. Your own network
The best place to start the sourcing process is from your very own network. Ask your friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues who may be a fit for the role. If they’re not interested, ask for a referral! Oftentimes, those within the organisation are able to provide helpful referrals, as they have a clear understanding of the cultural fitments for the role.
2. Social media
LinkedIn is an excellent place to build your long list as important information such as the name, skills and current organisation of the candidate is visible to most LinkedIn members. The chat function also allows you to directly connect with potential candidates, to gauge their interest in your opportunity. LinkedIn Recruiter also allows you to make use of their built-in CRM features to keep track of your activities.
3. Job Boards and Job Portals
TRIIIO’s go-to job portal is Jobstreet, which allows recruiters to purchase access to their resume search feature and filter candidate profiles based on specific keywords and criteria. However, candidate names and contact details are only available after purchasing the specific candidate’s resume. Another similar portal is Monster, which also provides you access to their database of candidates.
4. Job Advertisements
The effectiveness of job advertisements is debated, with some companies swearing by this method, whilst others feel it is a waste of time and money. The best way to decide if this method is for you is to try! When exploring this method, be sure to record the results of your advertisements and adapt your approach accordingly. From our research, job advertisements work best for companies with strong employer brand presence, but this doesn’t mean smaller companies shouldn’t give it a go!
To mark the end of this stage, you should have a long list of candidates whose profiles meet the requirements. While we recommend a list of 65-70 candidates, this is ideal and some roles will be too niche for such a long list. Work with what you have, and adjust your requirements accordingly if this is absolutely necessary.
Step 3: Screening
Now that you have compiled a long list of candidates, you will need to start screening these candidates to create a shortlist of around 10 individuals to proceed to interviews with your hiring managers. As this is typically the first time you will be in touch with the candidates, it is important to ensure a positive experience. This experience will eventually influence your candidates’ decision-making process throughout the later stages.
Skills, Goals, Interest
To help simplify the screening process, we recommend a simple framework to be used when speaking to candidates for the first time. Within the first touchpoint, the following information should be collected:
Skills: Understanding what your candidate’s strengths are. This is important to check the boxes of your hiring manager’s requirements.
Goals: Understanding what your candidates want to achieve with their career move. Here you should understand if this role can offer what the candidate wants for the long-term.
Interest: Understanding what your candidate’s expectations are in regards to salary, location, and responsibilities.
The key to ensuring your candidates have a positive experience is ensuring that all expectations are properly managed. By the end of the screening stage, you should have between 5 to 10 candidates to be moved into the next stage of the recruitment process!
Step 4: Selection
The Selection stage of your recruitment process is vital in producing a robust hiring system. It starts from any form of interview stage and continues all the way through to the acceptance of employment. Along this path, a strong selection process will likely contain a combination of 3 key assessments: a structured interview, technical assessment and cultural fitment. High impact factors such as the length of each stage, competency of the facilitators and candidate feedback time will greatly affect a candidate’s recruitment experience.
Assessment and Interview
The assessment and interview process differs for each company, but involves a number of stakeholders and key decisions that must be aligned throughout the entire process. First, hiring managers must review the key requirements for the role and decide how these skills are assessed. For software engineers, a technical assessment is particularly important to objectively evaluate the candidate’s skills with the required coding languages for the role. These assessments may take place in a number of forms:
Assessments which can be done in the candidate's own time have become increasingly popular, as hiring managers are able to clearly see the coding skills of their candidates. This method also reduces the interview nerves, and allows candidates to shine in their own space and time. Additionally, hiring managers save time during the process as they do not need to sit with the candidate during this time. However, take-home exams may be time-consuming if the test is long-winded. Popular sites used for such assessments include HackerRank, GitHub, CoderByte, or simple PDFs sent to the candidate with technical questions.
Live coding is another popular method used to assess software engineers, allowing their skills to be directly assessed in real-time. A huge benefit of this is the ability to directly understand the candidate’s thought process, particularly if they are allowed to search online for additional information to provide stronger responses. This provides a more realistic view of how a candidate may work in a particular role, and can be more efficient than a take-home test. However, interview anxiety can often lead to poor performance from candidates, which may lead to talented, but more introverted engineers being missed out on.
Verbal technical questions
Technical hiring managers may also opt to verbally ask technical questions. While this creates a much more subjective assessment of the candidate, though this may be favoured by some. Such questions may come in the form of situational or scenario-based questions, and deep diving into the responses given to understand more about the candidate’s thought process and ability to think quickly. In-depth questions regarding their experience on specific projects are also helpful in understanding the skills of a candidate, though are hard to objectively assess against other candidates.
Besides technical assessments, it is also crucial to assess competencies such as adaptability, team-work and leadership. Here, it becomes possible to understand the strengths an individual possesses outside coding. The intention of such competency assessments are to understand the candidate beyond their credentials, and assess the soft skills which are harder to train. If focused on these competencies and soft skills, the talent pool will see greater diversity - candidates of all ages and backgrounds are able to score well, regardless of experience. During this time, you may also add your own questions to assess cultural fit, which is especially important to ensure both parties are able to work harmoniously. Such assessments can be done in various forms:
CBIs are TRIIIO’s favourite type of assessment for a candidate’s soft skills, which we use during our own hiring process. These interviews are well-structured, with questions that each assess specific skills. The questions should focus on identifying real-life examples, as opposed to the “right answer”. A marking system is then used to score the candidates against each competency, thus allowing interviewers to reliably assess each candidate.
SJTs are an aptitude test which assess a candidates’ response to day-to-day challenges for the role they have applied to, typically with a time limit to complete the set of questions. This assessment works two ways - while the hiring managers are able to understand how a candidate would react in a certain role, the candidate is also able to get a taste of the role. This method is favoured to provide a view of the candidate’s judgement when faced with the realities of the role.
Gamified assessments are psychometric tests used to measure candidates’ personality, aptitude, intelligence and behavioural style. Many of these “games'' require a combination of skills and are typically set with a time limit. Personality traits such as risk averseness can be measured without a standard, formal setting, allowing candidates to let their guard down. There are a number of platforms that support such assessments, for example Criteria (fka Revelian), Arctic Shores and Pymetrics.
These are just some of the assessments that can be used to evaluate specific competencies required for the role, and can be adjusted accordingly throughout the selection process. However, having too many layers may unnecessarily drag out the process, making it tedious for both sides. It is typically agreed that 2 to 3 levels of evaluation is ideal for the selection process, often seen in the form of a technical assessment, a cultural fitment interview with 1 or 2 hiring managers, and occasionally a separate session with HR. By slimming down the selection process, the system remains concise with clear objectives.
Feedback is an aspect of the selection process that is often overlooked, despite being incredibly important. It can also be used as part of the assessment process, to understand how candidates react to constructive feedback, and their ability to quickly adapt to such comments. We strongly believe that all candidates should receive some form of feedback within 24 to 48 hours of their interview, regardless of performance. Such feedback can be conveyed in a number of ways, though we strongly encourage a phone call to allow for a conversation with the candidate. However, any form of feedback is better than none at all, so an email can also suffice. Along with the interview process, this particular step is often reflected in Glassdoor and Jobstreet reviews, and poor experiences negatively impact the decision-making process for candidates looking to apply.
When you’ve settled on a candidate, the next challenge is to ensure the candidate also chooses you. By this stage, the motivations of the candidate should be relatively clear and it is up to you to use this to your advantage. It is easy to assume a higher monthly salary will pull in more candidates, but this is not always the case. In cases where there are monetary limitations (internal equity, budget restraints, etc.), companies must get creative. Would a one-time sign-on bonus encourage the candidate to accept? How about relocation assistance? Sometimes, it is as easy as asking the candidate to visit the office to experience the culture first-hand, and explaining the offer package in person. In smaller companies or companies which pride themselves on a strong team culture, this is a strong pull factor that often sets them apart from other companies.
Step 5: Service
Congratulations! Your candidate has accepted your offer. So, now what?
Well, don’t stop there. Treat your candidates as your most important customers. Service is a vital part of the overall recruitment process and experience, it is present throughout. However, for the purposes of this section, we will only talk about the service provided after the offer stage, all the way up to the end of the candidate’s probationary period. For the best results, most organisations split Service into two: Pre-Onboarding and Post-Placement Services. This ensures your candidate receives regular touch points and mitigates hiring risk for you and your firm.
The pre-onboarding stage is often overlooked, but is important to ensure a smooth transition for the candidate and to keep them from withdrawing their interest. Effort must be made to keep the candidate engaged throughout their notice period, particularly if it will be a few months before they are onboarded. At this stage, we would encourage a physical meeting in the office, to allow an early meeting with the team. Otherwise, simple monthly phone calls to check on the candidate’s status help the candidate feel welcome, whilst keeping the company in the loop. This is also a great time to address any concerns that may come up from either side, and ensure the candidate is well prepared to join the team. At this stage, the candidate can also be encouraged to view assigned materials to understand what will be expected of them during their new employment, and expectations should be aligned throughout the pre-onboarding period. By showing a positive and caring culture, it is possible to minimise the chance of losing the candidate to counter-offers or other potential opportunities.
Once the candidate has joined, it is the responsibility of the HR or recruitment team to ensure the candidate is settling in well. Again, keeping expectations aligned is incredibly important - Is this the role they expected? Do they understand what the company expects of them? Such questions should be asked during the employee’s onboarding, and regular check-ins should be provided until at least the end of their probationary period.
It is also important to ensure they are provided the necessary tools to perform their new responsibilities. This includes, but is not limited to:
Laptop and other necessary devices
Company email, and other communication accounts
HR system account
We’ve shown you how the 4S framework allows you to hire software engineers and developers efficiently and effectively. By Qualifying the role, then Sourcing, Screening, Selecting and Servicing, you too can create a robust recruitment process that works for you!
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TRIIIO is a Malaysian recruitment firm focused on partnering with companies to find and recruit top talent and build their Software Engineering teams. For more information on how we can help you recruit Software Engineers in this candidate tight market, visit our service page.
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