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Our Secrets to Hiring Indonesia's Top Technical Talents

Keith Tan
August 22, 2017

In the course of starting Wonderlabs, I spoke with many tech pros who told me that the source of their biggest headaches around implementing technology is almost always traced not to the technology itself, but to the people who have been hired to build or implement it.
As it turns out, hiring the right people is absolutely vital, but also extremely hard to do. As you might know, we at Wonderlabs scour Indonesia for its top technical talents. It's our job, but also our passion. Here are some of our secrets!

The general theory is - always optimize your hiring practices so that you’re better equipped to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong people. 4 rules apply:

1. Experiential Interviews
Usually, interviews ask candidates talk about their work. However, it has been proven to be a highly inaccurate way to assess a candidate. Note: Candidates lie, fudge, obfuscate, hide and avoid to tell you what you want to hear. We have replaced traditional interviews with experiential, or "hands-on," interviews. In short, the candidate does sample work for us - a test project, a technical test, a technical puzzle. We then assess the work by asking the candidate to explain his or her rationale for making certain decisions. It tells us about their thinking process, and their aptitude for learning. Our research has shown that a whopping 95% of candidates that were hired through this method eventually pass the 3-month work probation period.

2. We have a diverse team
We don't necessarily hire people who "studied" for their role. For instance, project and product managers with a business management background tend to do well, because they understand the operational needs of a business. Secondly, we hire all sorts of top technical talents conversant in multiple code stacks. By not specialising in just one stack, we have the internal expertise to screen incoming talent in all sorts of different stacks. Thirdly, self-taught coders also tend to be the strongest in terms of picking up new code bases, and have a strong aptitude for self-learning and development. All of this flows back to the first point - that experiential interviewing is the basis to determine fit, not what it states on the CV.

3. We reduce our blindspots
The best interviewers can routinely overlook crucial details during the interview process and get swept up in the moment. This leads to hiring employees who don't perform as expected and cripple the company over time. There are four distinct hiring styles - a Tackler, a Teller, a Tailor or a Tester. All of the people who participate in our Talent Acquisition process fit different styles, and as such, cancel out each others' blindspots. Together, they will be able to notice any red flags while interviewing job candidates, and work together to choose the best person for the job.

4. We Make the most of referrals.
Word of mouth is a great way to hire top technical talents in Indonesia and fill open positions for our clients. We ask for referrals among all your networks, especially former Wondernauts in good standing, present Wondernauts. We provide Wondernauts a referral bonus for good referrals. Our satisfaction rate with referrals is really over 90% at this point. It's an unparalleled method of hiring. One interesting fact - birds of a feather do flock together. Every single one of the candidates in our Indonesia's Top 5000 Software Developers list is no more than 2 degrees separation from at least 6 other people within the list. Intriguing!

PS: This is an opinion piece by Keith Tan, Group CEO of Wonderlabs. Wonderlabs is the leading service provider helping companies build and manage software development teams in Indonesia and Vietnam. Across our various shared and dedicated centers, we have over 350+ active software developers. Since our founding in 2015, we have grown rapidly through innovation and our relentless mission focus - Connecting you to success and productivity. Alumni of Wonderlabs have gone on to work at some of the biggest companies in Southeast Asia.

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"I started Wonderlabs because I experienced the problems of building and managing a distributed software development team in Indonesia from 2011 to 2015. I wanted to make it seamless and frictionless for companies to build and manage teams. On the other hand, I found that there are so many amazing software engineers in Indonesia and Vietnam and wanted to connect them to employers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta" - Ivan Chang, Executive Chairman, Wonderlabs Group

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