How Many Candidates Should You Interview before Hiring a Software Engineer?

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Filling their talent pipelines is a priority for recruiters. Talent acquisition operations managers are crunching the numbers to reach their recruiting goals to see how many technical prospects they can find.

Using data from San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle, Karat determined how many engineering applicants are needed to fill an available position.

Which software developers must be interviewed in order to make a single hire?

We used four factors to determine the number of engineering candidates required in each tech hub:

  • How many software engineers are qualified enough to go through a standard technical interview in this market?
  • How many applicants are brought onsite for each job offer?
  • What percentage of software engineers accept an offer from a potential employer?
  • Candidate dropout – at what point in the process are software engineers most likely to withdraw their applications?

Please note that this study focuses on software developers at the professional level (i.e., no interns or new grads).

Quality of a candidate

There was a lot of interest in distant recruiting hotspots last year, but the concentration of high-quality software engineering applicants in the top three areas remains quite comparable.

While New York and Seattle are both ahead of the national average regarding the proportion of engineers passing a typical tech screening, the San Francisco Bay Area is just modestly better.

It takes less time to get to the onsite interview stage (or “final” interview stage for entirely remote organizations) for applicants at the top of the recruitment funnel.

Ratios of people onsite to the number of offers

This ratio varies more from business to business than from location to location. Based on the typical market bar, we estimated offer ratios. An onsite to offer a ratio of 3:1 is assumed. The close rate is the percentage of applicants that accept an offer after receiving it.

Candidates in Seattle face the toughest competition for jobs. In reality, barely 40% of job seekers in Emerald City accept their offers. Just a little lower than the San Francisco Bay Area average of 44 percent and a long way below the national average of 56 percent.

Candidate revocation

All major tech centers have about a 12-13% dropout rate for engineers throughout the application process. Because of the fierce rivalry for developers in those three areas, this is much higher than the 8 percent dropout rate in non-tech hubs (and another reason to consider remote hiring).

How many applicants are required to fill a software engineering position?

We may calculate the candidate-to-hire ratio by summing together these different factors.

Seattle is now the most difficult market for companies looking to hire software developers, even if the hiring threshold is considered as many as Seattle’s engineering executives per recruit must screen six more software engineers than in New York.

Due to high dropout and poor closure rates, this is the case. In contrast, hiring managers in New York have an easier time finding qualified candidates since the close rate is greater and the quality of the candidates is equivalent.

How can recruiters and engineers use this information to their advantage?

New York City may be the best place to find and employ top-tier software developers. Fully remote business models may be able to take advantage of the high closure rates in secondary markets, particularly those with above-average quality.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a smooth recruiting process relies heavily on the quality and regularity of the interviews. According to a recent survey, the percentage of organizations undertaking in-house IT screenings is significantly greater than the percentages above. Surveyed more than 300 engineering executives, the national average for software engineering hires was roughly 21 applicants. Every false positive or false negative results in another applicant being added to the pipeline during your technical interview process.


We’ve found that successful IT companies can keep their cost per employee low even in the most competitive locations.

Other than that, what do you believe makes it difficult to get work in these cities? Is it possible to have an office if you’re just starting as an entrepreneur?