For non-tech founders: How to assess tech candidates during the interview process

Teri Chong
Teri Chong
June 21, 2018

Don’t let your non-tech label wear you down! As a non-tech founder, it may be daunting to assess tech candidates for your tech department. How exactly do you know what kind of tech-talent you’re searching for? What questions do you ask potential candidates to get into the nitty-gritty techy bits?

Fret not! Here’s a guide to show you what exactly you should look out for when you assess tech candidates. Whether it’s hiring tech or non-tech talent, there are similar talents and skills you’d want your employees to have. Despite coming from a non-tech background, you would already know exactly what your company needs and wants. Start from that, and you’ll be on the right track.

Step 1. Know What You’re Looking For!

The most important thing to do before starting to assess tech candidates, is ask yourself what your company needs. Being a non-tech founder doesn’t mean you’re clueless about your products. Start by laying down what your product is. For example, explain the user interface, the domains and languages used to build it and the skeleton of it.

The main purpose of this step is to fully understand the workings of your product and the tech support your company needs. By projecting possible issues with your products, you can then understand the type of developer and tech hires that you should be on the lookout for.

Step 2. Scout For Talent

Start with your own network! Let your network know that you’re on the lookout for tech talent in specific aspects. Whether it’s a technical co-founder or a developer, let the masses know what you’re on the hunt for. Here’s two ways you could shout it out to the world:

1. Plaster it all over Facebook

Let it rip all over Facebook, you’re bound to get a few likes and reactions from the crowd!

2. Share it on LinkedIn

What better way to start your hunt for tech talent with a message blasted on the biggest corporate networking site?

We recommend including a short and sleek job description. This is essential in providing interested candidates with a peek into what your company does. As a non-tech founder, explaining your product clearly and the skills you’re looking out for can really help to amp up your brand!

Related: The Singaporean employer’s guide to copywriting for effective job descriptions

It is one thing to offer a good price, but another to prove to tech candidates your passion in tech, despite coming from a non-tech background. Make them WANT to know more about your product.  

And of course, you could always stalk potential hires on LinkedIn!

Step 3. The Interview

Now that you’ve narrowed down your pool of candidates, the interviewing process is your shot at getting to know your tech-talent better. Invite them down for a chat, and find out more about their passions and technical experience. Here are some possible interview questions to consider:

1. What is your strongest skill?

Their answer will give you an insight on which skill they value the most. From this answer, you’ll be able to identify whether or not their values align with that of your company’s and whether or not they have the same vision as you do.

2. What is your favourite programming language and why?

Asking tech talent this question will give you an idea on how passionate and interested they are about what they do. If the interviewee has a strong opinion about their work, it showcases their genuine interest and drive in their area of expertise.

3. I’m facing this problem with my product, what solution would you suggest?

You want to hire a person who’s excited about solving problems! A person well-versed in tech will be able to give you a clear technical solution over the usual business answers. Moreover, ask them to explain the technical codes to you using layman terms as this will showcase their communication skills.

Step 4. The Tech Test—What to do look out for as a non-tech founder?

Now, how could you end your interview without a technical test? When you assess tech talent, a tech test is a sure fire way to cement your hiring decision. We know technical tests aren’t exactly your forte, so we have a couple of suggestions for you:

The Basic Test

Ask your interviewee to write a simple code or algorithm for you, on the spot. This is a critical skill as you’ll need someone who’s accurate and speedy in solving bugs in your product. Great tech candidates will not only be able to provide you with an accurate code, but also give you multiple solutions! Let them explain the solution to you in layman terms again to see if they are able to communicate ideas in a concise way.

The Test of Time

Get your tech talent to debug an existing problem your product is facing or build something entirely different! Usually, this will be a take-home test lasting 24-48 hours. Debugging an existing issue is tough work, and this take home test will show how efficient and detail oriented they are! Building something for scratch isn’t easy either, and this hurdle will definitely show you who’s a tough cookie.

Step 5. Assess your tech candidate – are they suitable?

For the technical aspect, let a techie friend review the code after the interview to see if it’s up to par. Be it tech or non-tech, you’ll want to bring someone on board that’s passionate and interested in what they do. Always look out for candidates who display similar values and visions as you on top of their tech skills. Other than brilliant technical skills, the workers you want will be those that embody great character traits.

Tip: pick up a code or two! Once you understand the basics of coding, it will be easier to distinguish the right tech talent you need for your products. Amassing a technical team might seem an intimidating task to a non-tech founder, however it is not as scary as it seems. As long as you have a clear head on what your company strives for, garnering new tech team members will be as easy as pie.

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