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Stripe: 4 Principles of a Respected Developer Brand

The name Stripe holds a lot of weight within the developer community. They’ve built an API platform that allows companies to receive online payments. But there are many API companies here in the Valley; how did Stripe grow to become one of the most beloved developer brands?

We got to learn about Stripe’s recruiting philosophies at our HackerRank main() event in San Francisco. In a fireside chat with our CEO Vivek Ravisankar, Stripes Developer Relations expert Michael Glukhovsky shared 4 tips to successfully recruit developer candidates:

Be an Advocate, Not an Adversary

Stripes tech talent brand mirrors their principle of success: putting developers first. Michael describes their approach as “thinking about it as a relationship that needs to be fostered and helping developers express themselves well.”

This is the same approach they take in their recruiting process. Rather than the dated tactic of trying to stump a candidate during the interview, Stripe focuses on getting to know them. They want to understand how they’ll perform on the job and whether they’d be a great person to work with day-to-day.

You can set the tone for the candidate experience with a warm welcome. Michael believes “if you remove the pressure from the situation it makes for a more positive process.” Plain and simple: If you believe you want to hire this candidate, be their advocate.

Set Your Candidates Up for Success

Software development is a deep subject. Candidates may not know what skills or principles to focus on for your technical interview. Preparation usually results in studying anything and everything that may be relevant to the field–this won’t yield their best performance.

Instead of leaving candidates wondering what to expect, Stripe helps them prepare. They provide assessment guides and software development tools that can be used during the interview. Giving candidates these resources maximizes every chance for success.

Remove Friction

Make the technical interview as natural and comfortable as possible. Stripe allows candidates to use their own machines and limits the number of whiteboard activities throughout the process. “The goal is to understand how someone thinks, and if you’re creating friction for them because it’s not how they would normally work–it can be counterproductive,” says Michael.

This also ties into what programming languages their candidates can use during the technical interview. No surprise: Stripe has no limitations. Candidates are encouraged to code in whatever language they’re most comfortable with.

“If someone is a sophisticated and thoughtful engineer, it shouldn’t matter what language they came through the door with.” Because while you can become specialized in any programming language, there are basic principles that translate from language to language that make it easy for the best programmers to learn if needed.

If your goal is to find quality tech talent, don’t limit your candidates. The best will be able to adapt to the technology you work in, they just need the opportunity to prove it first.

Maintain a Standard Process

This is advice we hear often. So it’s no surprise that Stripe has adopted it into their process. But what makes standardization so important? “Consistency in the recruiting process is critical. Sometimes you can get excited about a candidate–but then you’ve introduced bias,” says Michael.

Steer clear of bias by evaluating on a level playing field. Stripe does this by using a set of rubrics to grade their candidates on. Quantifying things like how clear a candidates documentation was or the number of bugs they caught allows Stripe to compare candidates apples to apples.

But a standard process does not mean perfection. Stripe continues to optimize their recruiting process by conducting a candidate review process. “We look at the candidates who did not pass and we ask why? What could we have done to improve the process? We do this to expose the weaknesses of our process.” Stripe has been successful at scaling their recruiting process due to this continuous cycle of iteration.

The Bottom Line

Treating the recruiting process like a rigid one-sided exchange won’t help you find top talent. Stripe has become a beloved developer brand due to continuous iteration and relentless efforts to help their candidates succeed. Take a page out of their playbook; advocate for your candidates’ success. In the end, you’ll see the best versions of your candidates.

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