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Hiring Developers Remotely: 10 Best Practices

Hiring Developers

Remote hiring is the new normal. In tech, and across the work world.

Indeed, the strong majority of recruiters (70%) say that their tech hiring process is completely remote-friendly (State of Tech Hiring in 2023).

However, remote hiring isn’t without its challenges—both for recruiters and candidates.

Recruiters say that evaluating so-called “soft skills” or emotional intelligence is the most challenging aspect of remote hiring. It’s considered even more difficult in 2023 (47%) than in 2022 (37%). Developers agree, stating that conveying their personality and communication skills is the trickiest part of a remote hiring process.

Like any hiring process, a remote hiring process needs constant attention and optimization. You need to (repeatedly) iron out the kinks. Not sure how? This list is a great place to start. 

Sourcing and attracting candidates: rethinking how you engage with developers remotely

The tech talent market is as tight as ever and talented developers rarely turn up on your (virtual) doorstep brandishing a CV. You need to think proactively in the way you look for and attract tech candidates.

1. Employer branding

In a remote working world, posting about a fun office environment and cool afterwork events isn’t the best way to attract candidates! If remote work is part of your employer DNA, then it needs to shine through in your employer brand. You could:

  • Animate your social media with images of your colleagues’ work from home (#WFH) setup or your online morning coffee break
  • Publish easy-to-understand legal and logistical information on remote work on your website
  • Interview successful remote workers for your company blog
  • Build connections through online recruitment events
  • Etc.

2. Recruitment events

From your traditional hackathon to custom, game-based coding challenges, recruitment events are an engaging and inventive way to attract and hire developers.

If you’re looking to recruit remotely, then in-person events are off limits: no opening up your offices, no fun decor, no face-to-face networking, no team strategy brainstorming, no welcoming hardware setup, no refreshments and no prize giving!

It sounds tough, but it’s easier than you think to organize an online recruitment event. With CodinGame, you can hold a private Clash of Code tournament, or an online coding escape game. Communicate the event to your networks, get in touch with your tech talent pipeline and invite any potential candidates to take part in your online event.

3. Employee referrals

If employee referrals in the past meant informal mixers or coding get-togethers, that has now changed. You need to get creative and come up with new ways to engage with referrals. How about inviting them to take part in your next online event, mentioned above?

On the plus side, remote hiring means that you can engage with international referrals too—potentially increasing the amount of referrals you receive.

Screening developers: turning to online assessment tests

Assessing whether developers have the right skills and aptitudes to be shortlisted is an essential, yet time-consuming, part of the tech hiring process.

4. Applicant tracking

As part of your screening process, you’re going to go through a ton of candidate profiles. Tracking applicants’ progress with Excel spreadsheets and homemade filing systems is far from ideal at the office and unthinkable in a remote work environment!

Make sure you go for a tool that will allow you to easily sort, shortlist, and share candidate profiles. You need to level the playing field and facilitate team work. Choose your recruitment tool or ATS accordingly.

5. Technical skills assessment

Screening is more than simply sifting through CVs. It’s working out if candidates have what it takes to be successful in a role.

As part of your remote tech recruiting process, you need to be able to assess developers’ technical skills. In the past, you could invite developers to your office to take a written technical test or to take part in a whiteboard interview with a member of the technical team. Now, you’ve got to think online assessments and live coding interviews (thank goodness!).

Assessment tools that are perfectly suited to remote hiring will make your life so much easier. In these unpredictable times, it may seem daunting to invest in new technology, but it’s essential if you want to keep pace.

CoderPad Screen, for example, is an online technical assessment platform that’s ideal for remote tech hiring:

  • 100% online
  • Provides for positive candidate experience
  • Easy to use as a team (company and user organization)
  • Allows for collaborative recruiting (the tech team can easily create their own custom questions if need be)

🔖 Related read: Why a Collaborative Hiring Process Is the Way Forward

Remote interview: conducting efficient, unbiased remote interviews

6. Interviews

We understand if the idea of an interview process where you can’t meet candidates face to face makes you shudder. Nevertheless, hiring has changed (forever!) and you have no choice but to roll with the punches.

The interview is a decisive part of the recruitment process. With remote interviewing, you’re pushed to overcome extra hurdles (technical difficulties, non-verbal communication barriers, distance, etc.). You need to continually optimize your process so as to continue to nail this essential part of hiring.

It’s important to pick the right remote interview tool. During the Covid-19 crisis and as a result of social distancing, a whole bunch of video conference applications gained sudden popularity. Zoom, for example, saw their daily downloads go from 56,000 in January 2020 to 2.13 million in March 2020.

Regardless of popularity, it’s important to choose a tool that truly fits your needs. CoderPad’s remote interview tool not only has the basic video, audio and chat options, but also provides you with a live shared coding editor, syntax highlighting and more.

Making an offer: keeping in touch and securing a remote “Yes!”

7. The job offer

So you’ve shortlisted a developer based on their technical skills, you’ve “met” them in a first and second interview, you’ve “introduced” them to a couple of the people they’d be working with and now you want to take that leap of faith and make an official offer. Hoorah!

You want to include the usual in your job offer:

  • Job description
  • Job title
  • Reporting structure
  • Starting date of employment
  • Salary
  • Benefits information and eligibility
  • Acknowledgment of offer and confirmation of acceptance

– with some small revisions.

For example, make sure you include any expectations linked to remote work (regular visits to headquarters, for example). Make sure you also adapt your salary offer, taking living expenses (your potential hire may not be based in the same town as you) into account. Also, include any benefits you offer to remote workers (a new laptop or an allowance towards office furniture, for example).

Note: It’s also extremely important (even more so when remote hiring) to stay in touch with candidates throughout the entire recruitment process. Having never met you in person, developers will have no scruples turning down your offer or accepting another if you don’t keep the fire burning. To avoid being dropped, send regular, personal and friendly updates to candidates in the running.

🔖 Related read: You Can Do Better. 5 Changes to Make Now to Improve the Candidate Experience

Hiring “the one”

You did it! You hired a developer remotely!

8. The hire

The fundamentals of hiring (employment contract, collecting contact and banking details, setting up health plans, etc.) remain pretty much unchanged. Although, you do need to make sure you’re adapting any paperwork to remote working and including any obligations or policies (in regards to working hours, equipment, etc.)

We’d also suggest that you take this time to do a little introspective thinking. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I have noticed this developer’s application if remote hiring hadn’t pushed me to make unbiased online technical assessments an integrated part of my screening process?
  • How much do I usually rely on the impression candidates make on paper or in a face-to-face interview?
  • How much time did I save by updating my hiring process with HR technology?

Remote onboarding process: renovating and restructuring your onboarding for developers

Quite obviously, if you’ve gone remote, you’ll no longer be welcoming anybody into a buzzing office space. However, you’ll still need to support and guide your new hire.

🔖 Related read: How to Onboard Developers Remotely

9. Training and project onboarding

In this year’s “The State of Tech Hiring” survey, we asked 14,000 developers to name their biggest challenge at work. “Unclear direction” made second place, behind “Rework, changes and unplanned work”.

It’s extremely important to make sure that new developers are properly included in ongoing projects. Unfortunately, in a remote working context, this can end up being a rushed or slapdash affair.

Extra effort must be made to ensure new recruits understand what’s going on and how to play their part. Otherwise, developers will quickly feel isolated, confused and frustrated. Tech managers must pay particular attention to new team members in the first months: planning their first week of work, checking in with them regularly, giving training on how to use project management tools and walking them through processes, explaining goals and objectives, describing the company’s end game…

10. Meeting and greeting

Work relationships can make or break an onboarding and developers pay particular attention to team dynamics.

You can’t force developers to get on. However, you can play your part in bringing your coders closer together – and this is especially important when teams are working remotely.

Where you might usually organize an informal team lunch or a board game evening at the office, you’ll have to think outside of the box to make newcomers feel part of the gang. Why not take the opportunity to organize an online coding event for your team? There’s nothing like a spot of competitive and addictive programming to excite and unite developers. And don’t forget to set up a live chat for banter!