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What Developers Love and Hate About Your Hiring Process

Hiring Developers

The technical hiring process can be a source of frustration and disappointment for both candidates and recruiters. 

We recently hosted a tech recruitment roundtable, where experienced software engineers and recruitment professionals shed light on what developers dislike about the hiring process vs. what they value and expect. 

Here are some of the key takeaways: 

What developers dislike about the hiring process 💔

1. Overemphasis on automation

While automation can streamline initial assessments, it shouldn’t come at the cost of human interaction during the hiring process.

As Gerardo Tobar, Sr. Talent Acquisition Leader at Telus, points out, “There’s a very fine line between attracting a candidate and pushing them away.” Developers appreciate personal communication with recruiters and companies rather than being subjected to an immediate barrage of automated screening.

2. Excessive assessments

Many developers get frustrated with lengthy and complex coding assessments, especially as the initial step in the hiring process. 

Developers prefer coding challenges that are relevant, reasonable in scope, and align with the actual job requirements.

3. Vague job descriptions

Vague, generic or overly extensive job descriptions can be a major turn-off for developers. 

Pablo Portillo, Google Cloud Specialist at Telus, encourages companies to be clear and specific about responsibilities and technical requirements. He points out that “all-in-one” roles with long “laundry lists” of responsibilities often reflect a lack of clear expectations and internal alignment.

“I’ve seen these “all-in-one” roles that combine skills for DBA, full-stack, network, DevOps… all in one single profile, and that for me is a red flag. It means that there is no clear expectation for the candidate and the role.”

– Pablo Portillo, Google Cloud Specialist at Telus

Louis Coulon, co-founder of CleverConnect, also warns against “fake”, generic job ads. In his experience, certain companies with regular needs for tech profiles permanently advertise generic, open roles for software developers, in an attempt to fuel their talent pool and save time. This is mis-leading for candidates and can lead to frustration.

4. Ghosting candidates

Leaving candidates in the dark about their application status is a common source of frustration.

“When I was looking for my first role, I went through a very long interview process. It took about eight interviews. It consisted of two initial, “get-to-know-you” interviews […] and then we transitioned into four different live coding interviews […] and then it ended with another two interviews where I met members of the team. I was finally told to wait for about a week to get a response and to see if I was a fit for the company. A week went by, I sent a follow-up email, got no response. A month went by… nothing.” 

Ricardo Tovar, Software Engineer and candidate

Providing timely feedback or updates, even if it’s a rejection, can greatly improve the candidate experience and improve your chances of returning candidates. 

What developers value and expect in the hiring process ❤️

1. Clear, upfront communication

The consensus among developers is that clear and open communication is crucial throughout the hiring process. This includes explaining the process upfront, setting expectations, and maintaining ongoing dialogue with candidates.

“Developers really appreciate getting an overview of the whole interview process, from the get go. I like to be aware of how many rounds there’s going to be, and a rough timeline. When is the company looking to hire by? What kind of coding challenges am I going to be doing? It’s hard to come in and be put on the spot with no context around what you’re doing and the aim of the exercise […] Just give us a little time to prepare mentally.”

– Ricardo Tovar, Software Engineer and candidate

2. Transparency

Developers appreciate transparency regarding job details such as remote work options, salary, and benefits. It’s essential to be upfront about what your company can offer to align candidate expectations with reality.

In fact, it’s counterproductive to try and entice candidates with false or misleading claims. Does your company allow full remote? Say so. Does your company expect employees to travel to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays? Also say so. 

“Be honest, answer those questions. Even if they’re hard questions. ‘Is this a remote job?’, ‘No, you’ll have to come on-site’. That’s fine. It is what it is. There’s a job for everybody, a position for everybody, you just have to find the correct person for the correct slot.”

– Gerardo Tobar, Sr. Talent Acquisition Leader at Telus

3. Feedback

Providing constructive feedback, even in rejection, can greatly benefit candidates. Ricardo highlights that candidates appreciate “personalized feedback on what they did well and what they did wrong.” It helps them improve and understand where they stand.

If you’re dealing with a high volume of candidates and have limited resources, it may not be feasible to offer feedback to every applicant. Louis offers his recommendation: 

“I think a best practice is to go for the ‘in-bewteen’. To say ‘Sorry, we’ve decided not to move forward with you. If you want us to go through the reasons behind our decision, feel free to reach out’, rather than sending over a detailed, personalized email. That way, you make sure that you spend that time with those, maybe 20% of candidates, that actually want to discuss it. And the others still get a good impression, since you offered.”

– Louis Coulon, co-founder of CleverConnect

4. Information on coding challenges

Before a coding interview, developers value information about the coding challenges they will face. What can you tell them about the question format? The technologies? The evaluation criteria? The duration? 

Any information you can share in advance will help candidates prepare and feel more at ease during the assessment. However, do make sure to communicate the same information to every candidate (with an interview prep template, for example), so as to keep a level playing field. 

If you can include a tutorial or a sandbox, even better. This allows developers to get their bearings, take a look at the IDE and get a feel for the user experience.

5. Awareness of AI tools

With the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT, and their increased presence in interviews, developers appreciate transparency regarding use in the hiring process. 

Candidates should be informed if, when and how they are expected, allowed or encouraged to utilize such tools during assessments.

🔖 Related read: How Interviewers Are Leveraging ChatGPT to Hire Developers

In tech recruitment, clarity, communication, and empathy go a long way. By embracing these values, recruiters can enhance the candidate journey and hire top tech talent. Pablo urges recruiters to keep in mind that “people are investing their lives, their time in your process, so keep communication two-way.”