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Published June 1, 2023 Updated June 1, 2023
Speed Hiring

I’ve written about interviewing in the past but, this time, want to focus on a lesser utilized aspect of this process: speed hiring. Like speed dating, speed hiring is the process of finding a match quickly but in a manner that is efficient and transparent for both parties without wasting time.

Table of Contents


To borrow from Developer Hegemony guild terminology, consider the following (simply speaking):

  • Apprentice: A grasshopper taking the first steps which requires mentorship.

  • Journeyer: A person with some experience but not enough to go solo.

  • Crafter: A self-sufficient engineer who can tackle any challenge and teach others along the way.

By the time you become a master of your craft — minimum: 10 years (much like Tai chi) — of learning, writing, teaching, and delivering, you don’t want to jump through hoops in order to join a team you’re eager to work with. And why should you? You’ve proven yourself time and time again as well as continue to improve. Instead, what you want, is to hit the ground running while minimizing the time to apply your unique blend of firepower.

This leads us to the problem which especially affects crafters, journeyers to a lesser extent, and partially apprentices depending on how assertive they are.


Let’s take a cold call scenario where you and the company no nothing about each other. Granted, not every job opportunity works this way. When the talent supply is small, the hiring process can take a week or less. However, when the talent supply is large, some companies can take a very long time. Like 11 weeks and, afterwards, you can still be ghosted. 💢

For now, I want to focus on somewhat average experience for illustration purposes:

  • ~1 week: Search the job boards for promising clients/companies to work with and ping opportunities accordingly. Ideally, you’ve been journaling details on various clients/companies and/or have a list of people to reach out to in order to speed up the process.

  • ~2 weeks or more: Here’s where things get dicey because you could be stuck in this phase for a long time for a couple reasons:

    • The company is overwhelmed with an overflowing queue which they can’t respond to in a timely manner. Definitely a red flag.

    • They appear to have open positions that makes it look like they are growing but is purely cosmetic. Instead, what you are applying to is a black hole. Lucky you, you’ve lost time but, as a small consolation, can add this client/company to your permanent exclude list.

  • ~2 weeks: Congratulations, you’ve finally made contact and the client/company wants to move forward because some recruiter talked to you for 30 minutes to ensure you have a heartbeat. Worse, is when the client/company says "we do this because we want to apply the same process to every candidate". At this point, there had better be a strong reason to continue forward to land this opportunity because this is another red flag and a strong indicator that the client/company has too much bureaucracy.

  • ~1 week: Once you are popped off the queue and the team you care to join is fully focused on interviewing you, you still have to perform whatever song and dance they have in place for talking with various team members, project managers, executives, etc. Generally, this moves quickly. Like in a matter of days, not weeks, but getting to this point definitely consumes a lot of time while still not giving you much insight or hard data from which to evaluate if this is a good fit or not.

If you add up the weeks involved at this point, we are talking about a month and half to start a new job. That’s a ridiculous amount of time. This doesn’t account for the multiple threads you might have open when talking to multiple clients/companies at the same time. Even worse, is when companies want you to work on some esoteric code example, for free, that might take anywhere from two to five hours of your time. This free labor, statistically speaking, has a low return on investment because you can get rejected for any unexplained reason.


The solution is simple but often not what team leads, project managers, and/or executives like to hear. First, you have to conduct the interview within the perspective of wanting the process to be equitable for both parties involved. This is crucial because, like speed dating, you are looking for a match with the potential to raise your skill level both as the candidate and the client/employer. Ideally, you want the match to turn into a marriage that has long lasting impact and outcomes (this long tail of thinking is rare in the industry, though).

With the above in mind, here’s how to reduce a month and a half’s time down to a week:


As the client/employeer looking to add talent to your team, here’s what you should be looking for:

  • Prefer writers because writers are clear thinkers and clear thinkers are good communicators, teachers, and implicit boosters to your entire team. They are highly treasured. A fast and effective way to determine this, quickly, is to study their Git commits because this gives you quick and hard data on communication, organization, problem solving, and so much more.

  • Ask if the candidate has a portfolio of work. This can be a personal web site, a collection of open source repositories, private work that is legally sharable, screencast tutorials, micro-posts on social media where the candidate shares and teaches the art of the craft, etc.

  • Ask if the candidate can join the team for a week, like a contract to hire, where you pay them. Ideally, you want them to start on a Monday and end on a Friday. The time doesn’t need to be contiguous and is best when asynchronous because you want to know how they ask questions, get unstuck, and communicate as an empowered individual.


As a candidate seeking out new employment, here’s what you should be looking for:

  • Ask if you can view the portfolios of all team members because you need to understand who you are working with and if they’ll level you up. Watch out for Expert Beginners and toxic individuals/cultures in general. What you’re looking for is a team with a strong Drive and Extreme Ownership. This is rare, I know, but finding it is worth it.

  • Ask if you can join group chat so you can assess if the team is articulate, asks well written questions, answers empathetically and educationally, and is a welcoming place to learn, grow, and collaborate.

  • Ask if you can get access to the source code so you check if a Git Rebase workflow is used. Having a clean commit history is a joy to read, learn from, and speaks volumes to the caliber of talent on the team and the professionalism in which they apply to the craft.

  • Ask if you can assess the code quality of the repository (or repositories you’ll be working with) and if they can communicate effectively through constructive code reviews.

That’s it! One week. Simple, fast, and as close to simulating being a full time member with minimal hassle.

Notice that I don’t focus on the technical merits as much since these can be gleaned from their portfolio of work. Plus, this’ll fall out naturally while collaborating together through written and/or oral communication. It’s the soft skills (i.e. communication, humility, thoroughness, professionalism) that are trickier to suss out versus the technical skills which can be seen immediately by studying source code or hard data in general. This is why you need a week, at a minimum. If the client/company/candidate can spend more time building up a relationship before being fully hired — again, a contract-to-hire is an excellent way to do this — then even better.


With speed hiring, you can discover and acquire talent faster while simultaneously showing respect and professionalism. Hiring doesn’t needs to be a lengthy process and, instead, can be a collaborative process for which both parties can quickly determine if they are a match or not. Enjoy and may you find fruitful and long lasting collaborations!