When recruiter Wellington Wu is interviewing a software engineer, he says it only takes five minutes for him to tell if the candidate has potential or not.
Wu, a recruiter for Leadnomics, 50 On Red and RightAction, which all share a Cira Centre office space, said it has to do a lot with his gut feeling. He’s listening to hear if the candidate is passionate, if she knows what she’s talking about or if she’s just tossing around a bunch of buzz words.
That said, there are a few qualities that he’s always on the look out for.
Wu, 29, has been working in recruiting for about five years. He spent a year helping to grow local data analytics firm Monetate‘s team from 60 to 120, and later spent six months as a recruiter at another Conshohocken tech firm, Empathy Lab. Wu joined the Leadnomics/50 On Red/RightAction team about a month ago. He’s one of two staffers focused on recruitment.
Local CEOs, including Stephen Gill of Leadnomics, have said that it’s hard to find talent. In Leadnomics’ case, despite its rising profile, the company gets barely any engineers reaching out to apply for a job, Wu said. He’s trying to fix that by getting the Leadnomics name more exposure.
In Wu’s experience, startups are looking for software engineers who:
- Work on side projects. Whether you’re building a robot, growing a project at a hackathon or contributing an extension to an open source coding language like Node.js, a side project shows passion, Wu said.
- Aren’t afraid to reinvent themselves. Wu said his companies are looking for “true technologists,” or developers who are comfortable learning new coding languages. Some of the companies’ best developers didn’t have any experience using Python when they came on, Wu said, but they were game to learn it.
- Aren’t “heads-down coders.” At a startup, “personality is huge,” Wu said, adding that you have to be able to speak out. “If you can’t voice your opinion in this kind of [fast-paced] environment, you’ll drown.”
- Have failed. Wu said he always asks job candidates to tell him about a time they failed. He’s looking for someone who’s not afraid to fail and someone who can “see a problem before it happens.”