How Flant Hires Employees

    Flant is a technology company. Now we have about 60 people and 7 teams. What is noteworthy, almost all engineers are, to one degree or another, including managers who are no, no, and they will write a line or two of code.

    Our distinguishing feature is the constant study and development of technologies - at this stage they are mainly associated with Kubernetes, but are not limited to them. We carefully run them on dozens of projects with a wide variety of requests, and this very great expands the horizons of everyone who works with them.

    In this article I will tell you how we hire new employees in a fully distributed company and help them join our “flow”. Perhaps this will lead to thoughts on how to improve something in their teams. We came to our approach after years of trial and error, and today we are confident that those people who are hired can be given root access to client servers.

    Searches and acquaintance

    Hiring in IT companies is a sore subject: what teams just don’t do to get a new fighter. We have not yet found a silver bullet that would help to hire many engineers at once who share our values: we love Open Source, carefully choose who to work with, and then give all our best to solve real (not fictional!) Problems .

    Many of those who appear at interviews or come up to us at conferences say that they watched our speeches on YouTube , read articles on Habré and / or use our developments with GitHub . But the open secret is only one: if you want to find employees in an emerging team - look for them manually, long and hard.

    All interviews and other communications (including even sales) in our company go through Slack (more for text) and Google Meet (video) - they showed their best. Prior to this, for a long time we supported the self-hosted installation of BigBlueButton, and we continue to work with our IP-telephony, which is relevant in case of emergency and remaining telephone communication needs. For the latter, it is enough to go into the internal directory of employees, press a button, and the service will dial you and the recipient by phone to talk.

    If we move from communications to other features of the working environment, then in general they are formed by the approach that we are engineers and do not want us to interfere with solving engineering problems.

    • Schedule? Relatively free, if you need to go for a walk - write to the Slack channel, make sure that there are no appointments and promises to the client ... and please. We try to be in touch from 11:00 to 19:00 Moscow time, but in the age of victorious telecommunications, all this is a solvable task.
    • Dress code? Just keep the bounds of decency. In my opinion, this is a wonderful experience - to go to work in slippers and shorts. Of course, we still want to see people live and communicate in person. Therefore, at least once a year, we gather at a corporate party, with families. Of course, travel (like all business trips) is paid by the company. And those living in relative proximity to offices (in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod) can stop by the last Friday of the month to eat pizza, drink something tasty, play PS or just hang out about technology.
    • Speaking of holivars: we are against authoritarianism. If you speak for the cause, you can at least use obscene language to convey your thoughts to the technical director. To hell with formality - first, the business and the right decisions!

    Hiring: Stage 0 - Selection

    As I managed to say at the very beginning, the secret of finding employees is seen in the painstaking and systematic work of selecting resumes that are publicly available. For example, in the same Telegram there are already about 50 recruiting chats where you can search for candidates (the most useful for us are Devops_jobs , Telegram Job and Work in IT ). In addition, the well-known hh also proved to be very good for everyone ... with one peculiarity: we do not wait for the candidate to respond to the vacancy we have placed , but select a resume from the database, thus capturing even those who are not actively looking for work, but ready to consider interesting suggestions.

    As an example, here are some interesting statistics on how recently in a month and a half the company grew by 7 DevOps engineers:

    • We selected about 150 resumes suitable for us by profile, and conducted 78 initial interviews (I will tell you in detail what each of the stages of hiring includes).
    • Based on the results of the interview, 32 candidates were invited to the second stage - the terms of reference. Successfully coping with it awaited the final test - communication with the Timlids.
    • At this stage, we talked with 11 candidates and made a positive decision on 7 of them.

    Hiring: Stage 1 - Interview-Acquaintance

    When we contacted a potential employee and found out that he did not mind getting to know each other, our HR conducts the first stage of the interview.

    HR’s task is to correlate the candidate’s background with the technology stack with which our teams are currently working. I would like to understand what the candidate knows well and what areas remain for him a zone of development and training. If already at this stage our interests do not coincide, we will not be able to offer the future employee the soil for implementation, and he probably will not want to move to where the soul does not lie.

    Much more than what you want to see yourself in five years, we want to understand what projects the engineer considers the coolest in his experience, what drives him, how he prefers to organize his workspace. The last question is especially relevant: for a significant part of newcomers, working with us is the first experience of remote work.

    The interview takes about 30-40 minutes, and we understand whether we are looking in the same direction with the candidate and what to look for in future communication.

    Hiring: Stage 2 - Terms of Reference

    At the second stage, the newcomer gets acquainted with a sort of quest for the engineer on ingenuity and technical knowledge. You can use Google, so it's more savvy.

    In fact, an engineer is given a virtual Linux machine with cunning and not very malicious programs, broken software and a bunch of tasks, most of which must be solved directly on the virtual machine. The engineer will defeat the dragons, demonstrating his mastery of the head, console and Google. We do not set an obligatory task to defeat them all and do it perfectly, but we want to understand how a person in principle approaches solving problems in practice, and not in words.

    You can use the Internet not only for the reason that the test is closer to real conditions than to the school exam. First of all, we test the basic technical skills and general horizons (in the field of Linux), and not the knowledge of any specific software and its configuration directives. It is important for us to see that a person is able to approach problems systematically and has enough experience to understand in which direction to dig. One of the typical challenges of any Flant engineer is to face the unknown, to constantly learn, so the flexibility of the mind is not the last thing.

    Typical situation in the test virtual for candidates who successfully boot the system

    No less important than the technical component of this test is its “hidden” side - the psychological one. Candidates who are going through our rather long task are asked to describe their steps and intermediate results in Slack. In the same place, as a rule, you can clarify some information by receiving feedback ... By analyzing the general behavior of the candidate, his reaction to pop-up problems, information content and the general tone of the comments, the compliance of the actions with the requirements of the assignment and many other similar factors, we make really significant conclusions:

    • Is this person motivated to work with us?
    • Is this a team player and is he prone to frequent communication?
    • Is it able to solve problems independently?
    • Should specific instructions be followed?
    • Is it inventive in the search for technical solutions?
    • ...

    Even if not all characteristics become obvious, we at least get a generalized psychological portrait, which we must take into account when making the final decision (first revealing the issues that concern us at the next stage).

    Our task is really long - on average they spend about 9 hours on it (including all kinds of lunches and other breaks if the candidate makes them at will). Despite this, more than 80% of those tested have a positive opinion about this test and thank for it of their own free will (i.e., even before we request feedback). However, we understand that this is too much - therefore (and due to several other reasons) we are currently preparing a significantly updated version of the task, which will be not only shorter, but also no less exciting and, hopefully, effective.

    Hiring: Stage 3 - Final Interview

    When the test task is completed, it is time to communicate with the team leaders. Interview directly those people who can become leaders of an engineer. We separately teach our team leaders to prepare and conduct interviews so that communication does not “get stuck” in some narrow topics, is interesting to both parties, and does not cause great stress. Loose nerves are a poor helper in answering questions.

    Timlid should be able to ask technical questions, understand what kind of project management paradigm the candidate lived in, be able to talk about work in the company and explain what he will live in as a team. After all, if the candidate passes, the team leader needs to understand how to “integrate” a person into his team, what should be paid attention to first of all. On average, such an interview takes about an hour.

    After (and we will be honest, sometimes even during - through a brief exchange of thoughts in Slack) the team leaders decide which of them wants to take the engineer to their Padawans and which team will be more useful with such talents (and the team will be more useful his). The final step is to send the job offer to the candidate.


    On the candidate’s decision to accept the job offer, the first part of our collaboration ends. If we get agreement, then a new and very exciting stage begins - getting to work and subsequent adaptation. I will talk about this in the next article.

    UPDATED (03.08 09:21) : the second part of the article is published and is called " How" Flant "helps beginners ."

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