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7 Ways to Stand Out and Improve Your Remote Technical Hiring

1. Have a Consistent, Effective Remote Process

Step 1 – Source Widely

In addition to recruiter-sourced candidates, utilize public take home projects to create a more open process and help cast a wide net. This will allow you to assess candidates based on their actual skills rather than their resume alone.

Step 2 – Recruiter Phone Screen

Schedule a phone interview (not video, more on that reasoning below) to discuss team and culture fit, salary expectations and understand what they are looking for in a new role. Start with getting to know each other – not jumping into an intense technical conversation.

Step 3 – Technical Phone Screen

Plan a technical phone screening to start understanding the depth of their knowledge. The best way to get an accurate picture of a candidate’s abilities and understand the way they think is to hold a collaborative coding session in a technical interview platform.

Step 4 – Remote “On Site”

Use this time to understand the breadth of their knowledge. Introduce a few real world problems or projects and discuss in detail with technical leaders from your team. You can best understand a candidate’s abilities and the way they think in a collaborative session with a technical interview platform (like CoderPad). Afterwards, you can replay the session and further assess their skill set as you come to a decision.

2. Modernize Your Tools

The market for developer talent will be competitive for the foreseeable future and that requires the ability to:

  • Source excellent talent
  • Efficiently and accurately assess these candidates remotely
  • Provide them with a positive experience

As part of that process, here’s what won’t cut it (for you or them): legacy methods like whiteboarding, Google docs or sharing an IDE over Zoom. These outdated, old-school approaches don’t emulate real-world scenarios and allow collaboration — which makes it difficult to understand how candidates really approach and solve problems. Plus, you usually need to use more than one of these legacy methods in an interview process to complete an assessment.

Convoluted technical interviews – ones that use different tools – waste time and money. They prevent your team from scaling – and they don’t leave a good impression on your candidates.

The answer to these issues is to streamline your process with a technical interview platform. Offering candidates a platform that emulates a real-world IDE, like CoderPad, and allows you to collaboratively write and run code together will help you get a more accurate picture of their abilities – and they’ll like you better for it, too.

Give them opportunities to show you the skills that get things done, how they approach problem-solving, their ability to ask questions and collaborate, and their capacity for growth. Because it’s what a candidate can DO that matters most – not what their resume says. Bonus points for using a feature like Focus Time, which gives candidates a proven way to code authentically, in an anxiety-free zone to help calm their nerves and reduce bias.

CoderPad's Focus Time feature lets candidates take a break to collect their thoughts for a better interviewing experience

3. Ask the Right Questions

Many teams struggle with designing technical assessments, including developing the right questions, problems and challenges to put in front of their interviewees. There are certain developer teams that revel in asking esoteric CS 101 questions – like memorization of the Fibonacci sequence – that have little or nothing to do with the actual job requirements.

These “trick questions” are not only not useful, they also stress the candidate for no good reason, possibly affecting their ability to showcase their true abilities. Others ask generic questions that fail to highlight the unique, exciting challenges of the specific role, making it harder for the candidate to connect the assessment to the job. Neither of these is the right approach.

List of CoderPad's 30+ supported programming languages

Ultimately, it’s important to build out a library of coding questions and challenges that are specific to your company, your team and the skill sets you need for success. Though you may all use products similarly to other companies, you’re all different. Generic, canned, CS 101 questions won’t help you find or entice the talent you need to come work for you.

Use a platform that can be easily personalized to help you create an effective process and hire the best candidates for your team. Here are some ideas to get started on thinking about how to structure SQL and Javascript interviews while keeping true to your unique company and mission.

4. Cast a Wide Net

In this bullish and competitive hiring market, it is crucial to reach and assess as much talent as possible. Smart companies worry less about the right universities, connections, and references and instead focus more on the right skills and abilities. Put a best-in-class process in place to do large scale technical assessments – and make your candidate’s skills the new resume.

Many major companies, like Twitch and Hulu, have implemented public take-home projects to help shift the hiring process to “show, not tell.” With a simple link on a company’s Careers page, companies can make it easy for candidates to click, do a take-home project and “show” their coding skills. Suddenly the traditional resume and recruiter screen, with its ‘all tell/no show’ vibe, feels a lot less relevant. Candidates win by showing their best skills and recruiters save time while also casting a wider net. Hiring managers get to widen their applicant pool while quickly seeing who their best applicants are – including those they may have skipped based on resume alone.

5. Over-communicate with Your Candidates

At the best of times, hiring is an anxiety-inducing process for candidates, who are typically excited to join a company and team but nervous about what to expect. But now? An uncertain economic outlook, a pandemic, and fewer jobs will create the perfect storm, ratcheting up candidates’ anxiety to new levels. Help them out by communicating thoroughly at every stage of the process – from setting the stage to telling them what’s happening when they’re not in the office to see it.

Before you even formally kick off, tell them exactly what to expect:

  • Length and number of interviews
  • Instructions, time limit, and expectations for take-home assessments
  • What technology will be used and how to practice with it
  • Who will participate in the interviews and their roles
  • What you are looking for in a candidate
  • Timeline for making decisions

Proactively address the issues that are uncomfortable for candidates to address directly. Encourage them to ask questions and collaborate with their interviewers. Tell them you’ll be taking notes, which is why you’re not looking directly at them (not that you’re playing solitaire on your other screen!). Do them a favor and schedule bathroom breaks.

6. Digitally Introduce Your Company’s Culture

Pre-COVID, bringing candidates onsite to meet their future co-workers, check out the office and get a feel for the company’s culture. With remote interviewing, candidates will still be able to meet hiring managers and potential co workers via video, but that in-person aspect is lost. However, it’s still important – especially to Millennials and Gen Z-ers – to feel connected to your company.

This is new for everyone, companies and candidates alike. For candidates, free kombucha, a fun office, and foosball are no longer selling points; they’re irrelevant (at least for now). Since they’re putting their best foot forward, this is also time for you to do the same. Showcase the value of the work your company is doing, highlight the amazing team your candidates would join, and emphasize the impact of the role itself.

It’s the meaning behind what you do that will matter most to candidates.

So get creative and bring your company’s culture to them. Send over branded company content – like culture focused blog posts, press releases, or employee profiles – to get them acquainted with your vision and mission. Set up “meet and greet” sessions with potential teammates to talk about the culture and help them get a feel for day to-day communication. Send lunch to a promising candidate’s home so you can eat “together” for a more informal get-to-know-you.

7. Pick Up the Phone and Put Down Your (Unintentional) Bias

If you’re hiring for an office job, your default mechanism for remote hiring might be Webex, Zoom, or Skype. Those are great tools, but making them part of the first step biases your process toward candidates who have a personal computer or smartphone, reliable WiFi, and a quiet (and maybe beautifully decorated) space they feel comfortable showing to a prospective interviewer. Research shows that people of color, those who live in rural areas, and older individuals have less access to home-based broadband, for example.

Do you want the most talented candidates? Yes, of course you do. So start the process with a simple call. Use this time to dig deep on the critical stuff:

  • Salary expectations
  • Ability to work remotely today
  • What they want with their next role

You can also suss out the feasibility of doing the next interview stage on video – in a way that works for the candidate. Maybe it’s reassuring them that, yes, calling from their bedroom isn’t a disqualifier. Do what you can to remove any barriers.

There you have it — you’re an expert on remote technical hiring now!

We hope these simple steps and ideas will help you and your team thoughtfully design a process that is unique to your business and needs – ultimately enabling you to hire the best possible humans for your jobs.

Although the world has changed significantly in the last year, this new era of remote work will bring about a larger pool of candidates and give them the flexibility to embrace a new way of living and working. All you need to do is create a remote technical recruiting process that will help you attract, assess, and hire the right talent for your team – setting you up for success in 2021 and beyond. And, according to 3,300+ companies around the world, like Netflix, Slack and Snowflake, CoderPad is the way to do it.