Technical Recruitment Best Practices
Hiring for the software development industry has always been more interesting (read: difficult) than hiring for other positions. Whereas in many other roles, recruiting means hiring managers having a pleasant conversation to discuss the applicant’s skills and experience, technical recruitment more often resembles an audition. The applicant is invited to show what they know by solving a coding problem for the recruiter, and their application is directly tied to the demonstration of their skills.
Adding a skills assessment to the technical recruiting process is just one of the ways in which tech recruitment can differ from normal hiring, but even this single addition can add many wrinkles. For example:
- How do you design a skills assessment that’s fair to the applicant?
- Should you proctor skills assessments in real time, even if the applicant is in another time zone?
- What’s the best way to overcome a potential language barrier?
Creating a fair but challenging skills assessment is difficult—but once again it’s just one responsibility within the realm of technical recruitment. Tech recruiting isn’t just about finding the most skilled candidate, after all—it’s about finding one that’s a cultural and logistical fit with your software development team. Using these technical recruitment best practices, you’ll be able to attract top-tier talent that will help your organization grow and thrive.
Technical Recruiter Duties and Responsibilities
In short, the responsibility of the technical recruiter and hiring manager is not just to find talent, but to find the best possible talent—not just the most skilled coder or developer in the industry, but one that fits in with the company’s culture, processes, and workflows. As such, the technical recruiter has to keep more than a few plates in the air. Their responsibilities will include:
- Creating a Technical Recruitment Strategy
There are basically two ways to recruit top tech talent—you either find the best students right out of computer science programs and coding academies, or you poach experienced candidates from competitors and big tech companies. This means you’ll need at least a dual-track strategy. On the one hand, you’ll need to be visible to people submitting job applications. On the other hand, you’ll need to recruit people who are used to being preemptively headhunted.
- Build a Tech Recruitment Pipeline
One you’ve identified your ideal candidates, your next responsibility is to funnel them towards your company. There are a few ways to do this—you can connect with them through job fairs and networking events, place targeted ads and conduct outreach over social media, work directly with computer science programs and code academies, or develop contacts within big tech companies—Apple, Google, Amazon, Tesla, etc. Finally, you can install a process to offer large-scale technical assessments via a public link on your Careers page. This allows you to widen your applicant pool while quickly seeing who their best applicants are – including those they may have skipped based on resume alone.
- Entice Top-Tier Talent
If you want to poach employees from big tech companies or recruit talented coders straight out of college, you’ll need to make your company attractive. This usually means working with the human resources department and business leaders to put together an accurate company mission and job description while assembling a menu of perks and benefits that will make your company interesting and exciting to work for.
- Conduct Interviews and Assessments
This is the last and most important part of the technical recruiting process. Even if a candidate comes from a great background and has lots of experience, there’s still a chance that their skills or personality aren’t a great fit for your company’s needs. Conducting interviews and technical assessments doesn’t just ensure that your talent is the right fit—it also validates the technical recruitment process as a whole, ensuring you’ve built a pipeline that attracts the right people.
How to Find Top Technical Talent
Finding top technical talent during the technical recruiting process isn’t as straightforward as it might sound. You might assume that a developer with a degree from a top computer science program and several years of experience at a prestigious company would be a better programmer than someone who graduated from a twelve-week code academy—but these assumptions are often incorrect.
People come to programming in a variety of ways. Some take college courses, some take online classes, and some teach themselves or learn on the job. In this way, finding the best coder is like finding the best musician, in that the biggest rock stars may not have any kind of formal training.
As such, tech recruitment relies on a multi-pronged approach. Because background isn’t the best predictor of talent, your initial screening process may additionally involve a heavy emphasis on references and portfolio projects. By talking to college professors and co-workers, you’ll get a good sense of whether your candidate is both a talented performer and a team player. If your candidate has a website with demos of their projects, you can understand whether their references match their abilities.
At the end of the day, however, only an interview and a skills assessment can truly determine a candidate’s worth to your organization.
Technical Recruitment Process
Step One: Define the Job Requirements
Candidates won’t take your technical recruiting process seriously if you can’t accurately portray the requirements of your position. Work with HR, do research on your own, and consult with any developers you’re comfortable speaking with to create an accurate and attractive job description.
Step Two: Cast a Wide Net
There are currently more open tech jobs than there are skilled coders and developers to fill them. As such, the first step in the tech recruitment process is to attract as many candidates as possible. To accomplish this, put a best-in-class process in place to do large-scale technical assessments – and make your candidate’s skills the new resume. Technical recruiters and 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
Step Three: Narrow it Down
Some candidates may not make the initial cut. Even a talented developer might not be skilled in the particular languages you’re looking for. Others may have red flags associated with their work history or social media accounts. Screen until you find a decently-sized list of candidates who match your work culture and job requirements.
Step Four: Technical Assessment
We’ll have more on this later, but at the essential level a technical assessment will show that a candidate lives up to the skills they claim to have. Since you—the technical recruiter—may not have a coding background, designing an assessment may seem daunting. Fortunately, there are tools available that can streamline this important step in the tech recruiting process.
Step Six: Technical Interview
The technical interview is another fraught step in the tech recruitment process because candidates have a lot of leverage. They know more about technology than you, and they know that there are other companies looking to hire them. Don’t worry too much about the jargon aspect of the interview. Learn enough to get through a conversation and know what answers you need to hear when asking a question. Meanwhile, focus on selling your organization with clear information on how your company is growing, the kinds of problems that need solving, and how your company rewards top performers.
Step Seven: Selection and Onboarding
If you find a team player with impeccable coding skills, don’t wait! Many candidates complain about a lengthy hiring process with little transparency. If you find a candidate you want to hire, give them a timeline alongside the good news. This will help them begin contributing to your organization as soon as they possibly can.
Skills assessment can be a difficult part of the tech recruiting process, because your objective here isn’t just to test the candidate’s skills. You also want to make sure that the question you’re asking makes sense, and that it can be answered by the kind of candidate you want to hire in a reasonable amount of time. If it’s too easy, programmers at any skill level will be able to answer it. Too difficult and even the best candidate may be stumped. What’s more, an unscrupulous candidate might copy down the question and their solution and then sell it to other applicants—which means you constantly need to rotate the questions you’re using.
Interviews nowadays can be a bit more difficult than they used to be—because now everything must be remote. Fortunately, a decent technical assessment tool can also be used to facilitate remote interviews. Look for a tool that allows the interviewer and interviewee to code together – this real-time collaboration will help assess the candidate’s skills and understand their thought processes. Some tools will have video calling built in, allowing you to engage the interviewee without switching applications. The best solutions will expand on this capability, allowing you to save notes, recordings, and snippets of code for later review. By giving expanded options for a technical interview, your assessment solution will help both applicants and technical recruiters feel more at ease.
Technical Recruiting Solutions
CoderPad is the leading technical interview platform for teams that need a simple, fast solution to help accurately assess candidates throughout the hiring stages. It works like an IDE to emulate real-world scenarios and is easily personalized to specific development team needs.
By giving candidates the opportunity to write code in the language they know, run it, test it, and debug it, interviewers get a much more detailed window into both the candidate’s skill level and the processes they use. By providing a multidimensional understanding of the candidate’s workflow, recruiters are able to conduct a more detailed assessment and obtain a better understanding of whether the applicant is a good fit.
Lastly, selecting the right technical assessment tool means improving the candidate experience—to the extent that it’s much more likely that they’ll want the job once it’s offered to them. By being able to compile, run, and test code during the assessment process, applicants can get real-time feedback on their interview performance in a way that other assessment tools can’t provide. They’ll feel as though they’re being judged on a broader extent of their merits, demonstrating the full extent of their experience. At the end of the day, assessing candidates to a fuller extent will result in happier employees at your organization.