Candidate Experience: The Key to Hiring Top Developers

Candidate Experience: How to Hire Skilled Engineers

What is candidate experience?

The phrase candidate experience gets thrown around a lot in the recruiting and talent acquisition world. But what does it actually mean? Basically, candidate experience describes the entirety of a candidate’s interactions with your company. Candidate experience captures how candidates feel about your company before, during, and after the recruiting and hiring process. This concept includes every interaction they have with a company, starting with their first message from a recruiter to the offer package (if everything goes well) or how the rejection is handled (if it doesn’t).

These are usually either good or bad experiences. Candidates rarely feel neutral about a company at the conclusion of their interaction with your recruiting process. A candidate’s experience can make or break your ability to hire top talent. Unfortunately, too many companies treat candidate experience as a secondary consideration. According to WorkPlace Trends, almost 60% of applicants have had a negative candidate experience with a company.

Bad candidate experience is a big problem

The recruiting process is a two-way street. Make no mistake: Candidates are evaluating your company during the recruitment process just as much as you’re evaluating them. You might feel great about a candidate and want to extend an offer. But if their outlook on the experience isn’t as rosy, your offer will fall flat. Job seekers consider the candidate experience you provide to be a strong indicator of how you treat employees.

By extension, this directly influences whether they want to work for your company or not. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, 83% of candidates said that a negative experience was enough to change their minds about a role or company that they had been interested in. On the other hand, in that same study 87% of candidates said that a good experience would give them a more positive outlook on a role or company that they had doubts about.

Candidates expect to be treated like the valuable resources that they are. And when their experience with a company is less than stellar, they’re obviously going to think twice about moving forward with that company now or in the future. In effect, your company’s potential candidate pool has just gotten smaller. And candidate experience matters even for candidates who you don’t end up extending an offer to!  

A bad experience doesn’t just sour an individual candidate’s opinion of your company. The likelihood that a candidate will keep that poor experience to themselves is pretty slim! A Workplace Trends survey indicates that around 72% of applicants have shared their interview experience with a candidate on a review site like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Vault. The story will spread and other candidates will start to be wary of your company. As we all know, pissed off people are more likely to write reviews in general. The dudgeon of a job seeker who’s had a bad candidate experience is not to be ignored!

Six easy steps for a better candidate experience

So what can you do to ensure that your candidates have the best possible experience with your company? We’ve got six things that you can do to increase the odds that you’re providing people with a great candidate experience.

Let them evaluate you:

While you and the hiring team are evaluating a candidate, the candidate is evaluating your company. They’re making decisions about your company and the role throughout the entire process. So you need to make sure that they have the data they need and the access they want. Make sure they know who their primary point of contact is on the recruiting side and on the engineering side. They’re likely to have questions for both.

Engage your team:

Everybody in your company that the candidate is in contact with, from the recruiter to the interviewers to the people they eat lunch with, are critical pieces of the candidate’s overall impression of your company. Make sure they’re good impressions!

Don’t drag your feet:

A competitive candidate market means that the talent you want to hire is in high demand. Sought-after candidates expect the entire recruiting process, from initial reachout to interview to offer, to be quick and painless. And 47% of candidates who decline a job offer do so because they’ve already accepted a different offer, according to MRINetwork. To have a better chance with a top candidate, you want to get there first! Don’t rush decisions, of course, but don’t hesitate with your top choices either.

Close the loop with candidates:

If you’re not moving forward with a candidate, letting them know what’s going in a timely manner on shows them that you respect their time. If you ghost them, or keep them on the hook for a long time, that’s a bad candidate experience. And who knows who they’ll tell about their poor experience? The story will spread. Not only will you have lost any future opportunities with that candidate, you’ll probably lose other potential candidates as well.

Offer constructive feedback:

According to LinkedIn, 94% of applicants appreciate feedback if you don’t move forward with them. Letting them know why is instructive and enhances their experience, and giving feedback shows that you value them. Again, even if they’re not the right fit for you now, they might be in the future. And no matter what, you can assume they’re going to share their experiences with other job seekers.

Ask for the candidate’s thoughts:

No matter what the outcome of the process with a candidate is, and no matter which stage of the funnel they reached, it’s enormously instructive to ask for feedback. And don’t just file their feedback away once you’ve gotten it! Your company should iterate its process continually based on candidate feedback and outcomes.

The future of candidate experience

At CodeSignal, we’re working towards a future in which we can dispense with time-consuming activities like phone screens and tech challenges. Instead, companies will be able to rely on a trusted assessment process that measures and quantifies candidate skills. This will save your engineering team a ton of time, of course.

But it will also create a better candidate experience! The top talent that you’re trying to recruit is often already busy with a full-time job and/or are juggling multiple application processes. So if you can offer them a faster, more efficient process candidates will respond positively. Once we’ve reached a stage where companies trust an assessment process and platform like CodeSignal Recruiter, significant points of friction will disappear from the candidate experience. Relying on automated skill assessments will allow you to move candidates through your recruiting process much more smoothly.

Until we reach that point, make sure you’re implementing the six steps outlined above. Even if you can’t eliminate phone screens or take-home challenges quite yet, you’ll be creating a much better experience for all of your candidates!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal can do for your company’s recruiting process? Sign up here for a free demo!

Test the Right Skills With Your Coding Assessments

Creating coding tests to assess developers

The initial coding assessment is a crucial component of any technical recruiting process. It allows you to weed out unqualified candidates at the top of the funnel. In turn, this gives you and your team more bandwidth to concentrate on the qualified ones. It also lets your candidates learn a little more about the role and your company. This leads to a better candidate experience, which is a key component of keeping top talent engaged in your process.

But it can be surprisingly tricky to put together an initial assessment that actually tests the skills necessary for the role at hand – without creating an undue time burden for your engineering team. There are four major factors to consider when you’re creating a coding assessment: format, content, length, and ease of management.

Here’s how to use these four considerations to create a coding assessment that tests for the skills that actually matter for the role.

Formatting the assessment

When it comes to the format of the initial assessment, there are a few common options:

  • Phone screens: Many companies do a technical phone screen as their initial coding assessment. This works, but it takes a lot of time and energy away from the engineering team in 30 to 60 minute increments! And since this is very close to the top of the recruiting funnel, the possibility that these candidates won’t meet the necessary technical bar is very high. Another issue is that it’s difficult to standardize the phone screen process. Most engineers have a preferred way of asking questions, and many have their own off-book questions that they like to ask as well.
  • Take-home projects: Some companies head straight to sending candidates a take-home project. Though take-home projects require less direct candidate interaction, they take as much time and energy from your engineering team as phone screens – if not more! Consider the time involved in managing and scoring these candidate projects. Take-home tests are great, but it makes much more sense to send them later in the process, when the candidate pool is much smaller.
  • Coding tests: For sheer ability to weed out unqualified applicants with minimal hands-on management, the ideal initial technical assessment is a take-home coding test. An engineer can set up the test initially, then recruiters can send them out to applicants at scale. This saves both recruiter and engineer time, while still testing for the skills necessary to succeed on the job. For most roles, this should take the form of solving a coding task, debugging some existing code, or both.

Creating the assessment

When you’re screening candidates, it can be tempting to test whether they can reverse a linked list and leave it at that. But is someone in the job you’re hiring for ever going to need to reverse a linked list? For many roles (think front-end, database, DevOps, and more), the skills that the role requires might be miles away from the ones you’re currently screening for. This means you could be missing out on some amazing candidates.

In order to create a meaningful coding assessment, the obvious (but often overlooked) first step is to figure out what you should be testing candidates on! Align with the rest of the hiring team on what the role actually entails. What skills does a candidate need to have in order to be successful in this role? Be careful not to get bogged down in nice-to-haves – focus on the fundamental need-to-haves instead.

Once you’ve got a solid list of these skills, think about how to test for them. If you’re sending out a coding test, which is our recommended initial assessment step, then you should identify 2-4 coding tasks that directly correlate with the necessary skills. Your aim here is to establish a baseline level of skills that a candidate must exceed in order to move to the next step. So your assessment doesn’t have to test for every single skill that you listed earlier – just the core ones. You’re creating a threshold that will weed out the unqualified candidates while allowing the qualified ones through.

Assessment length

There’s a common idea in the tech world that long or involved assessments will automatically weed out applicants who aren’t serious about the role or your company. But the reality is that these people are busy! They’re probably working full time at a job, or are already working on multiple assessments for other companies. Or both! By creating assessments that take forever to complete, all you’re really doing is driving potentially great candidates to other companies that have less onerous screening processes. Keep it short and sweet. For the initial screening, create a test that will only take the applicant about 30-60 minutes to complete.

Ease of management

Think about how you’ll send, receive, and score these assessments. Ideally, you won’t have to spend a lot of time managing them. Some companies ask their candidates to email them code snippets or to upload them to GitHub, but this typically requires a lot of oversight and management. Then, of course, there’s the time that someone on the engineering team will spend looking the tests over!

For maximum ease of use, send out tests that get automatically scored when the candidate completes them. Ideally, the testing system would also show solution replays and flag instances of potential plagiarism. (Oh, wait, there’s an application that does all these things already – CodeSignal Recruiter Test!)

Next steps

Sending a coding test as the initial assessment is an amazing time-saver for both your company’s recruiting and engineering teams. Since you’ll have already weeded out people who don’t exceed the technical bar for the role, you won’t have to worry about passing unqualified candidates along to your engineering team. Different companies will handle the subsequent steps differently, but in general the next step should be to either get the candidate on a phone screen with an engineer or send them a take-home project. Both of these methods have pros and cons, with the cons chiefly being the time necessary to manage them.

The future of technical assessments

Luckily, we’re extremely close to a future in which any of these intermediate steps will be unnecessary. Once skill verification scores like the ones provided by CodeSignal become more familiar to recruiters and hiring teams, companies will feel comfortable sending candidates who pass their coding assessment straight to onsite interviews. Since they’ll know that the candidates have the skills they need, at the level they need, they won’t need to bother with any intermediate skill verification steps like technical phone screens or take-home projects. This will save everyone in the company time and will make candidate experience much faster and simpler.

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

CodeSignal Recruiter gives your hiring team the tools you need to create, send, and manage coding assessments quickly and easily. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal Recruiter can do for your company? Sign up here for a free demo!

Introducing the CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant

We’re very excited to announce the launch of our new CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant!

This new sourcing tool predicts whether a prospect on LinkedIn will be a good match for your open engineering roles. The Sourcing Assistant is powered by machine learning to make recruiting faster, easier, and more effective.

How the Sourcing Assistant works

The CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant is a Chrome extension that’s available only for CodeSignal Recruiter customers. In the background, the Assistant analyzes the necessary skills for a company’s open role. Then when a recruiter sources potential candidates on LinkedIn, the AI-driven Sourcing Assistant automatically scans their profile pages. It instantly identifies the skills that match those needed for the open developer roles! Then it uses this information to generate a matching score for each candidate.

Since recruiters and sourcers don’t need to manually read or scan each profile, they’re able to find more qualified engineering candidates, faster. The tool frees up huge amounts of time for the recruiting team!

CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant matching score

Use the data you’re already collecting

The CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant also goes beyond matching skills listed in job descriptions with skills listed in LinkedIn profiles. It’s actually using data from the technical assessments a company has already done in CodeSignal Recruiter to go deeper! If the engineering team says it’s looking for certain skills, but the skills they’re testing for in their assessments are different, the assistant accounts for this. This means that the engineers a recruiter sources from LinkedIn using the assistant are more likely to be liked (and hired!) by the engineering team.

The Sourcing Assistant lets companies use CodeSignal Recruiter data to streamline the sourcing process by extending the use of this data to LinkedIn. By identifying promising candidates, and flagging those that aren’t a good fit, CodeSignal empowers companies to calibrate their hiring process between the recruiting and engineering teams.

Reduce bias

The Sourcing Assistant also helps recruiters and hiring managers reduce bias and increase diversity in their engineering teams. The reality is that unconscious biases creep into all decision-making processes. A recruiter might prioritize people who went to a certain school. Or a hiring manager may only want to interview people who worked at a certain company. In contrast, the Sourcing Assistant only looks at a prospect’s skills. This surfaces “hidden gem” candidates that a hiring team might not otherwise look at because they don’t fit the usual profile.

Bridge the gap between recruiting and engineering

The CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant has a great side benefit: improving the relationship between a company’s recruiting and engineering teams!

CodeSignal CEO Tigran Sloyan says, “There’s a huge gap between the recruiting and the engineering teams in most companies, and it can seem like they are speaking different languages. The Sourcing Assistant bridges that gap. Since the assistant is using data to generate its match scores, recruiters can rest easy knowing that they are prioritizing the things that matter most to the engineering team for each role.” 

Learn more!

The CodeSignal Sourcing Assistant is available for CodeSignal Recruiter customers, since it relies on data from the CodeSignal Recruiter platform. Click here to get a free demonstration of CodeSignal Recruiter!

Stop Focusing on Degrees – Recruit for Skills Instead

Recruit for skills, not for credentials or pedigree

The tech industry’s talent shortage is no secret, but let’s go over the numbers again just for the heck of it.

According to data collected by, there are over 500,000 unfilled technology-related jobs right now. But only about 49,000 people graduated into the workforce from computer science programs in 2017. The numbers are clear: There just aren’t enough computer science students graduating each year to fill all the available roles.

And it doesn’t look like things will change anytime soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that in 2020, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs, but only 400,000 people will graduate from computer science programs.

So how can companies find enough qualified people to fill their open engineering roles if there aren’t enough students graduating from computer science programs to go around?

By looking at candidates who don’t have a traditional computer science background.

It can be nerve-wracking for recruiters to reach out to candidates who don’t have a computer science degree from a 4 year program. But it’s absolutely worth it! The past 10 years have seen a revolution in the way that people learn technical skills. Whether they’re learning computer science fundamentals or mastering in-depth topics, there are a plethora of new ways for people to get the skills they need. And this new educational model is democratizing computer science.

The new educational landscape

In the last decade, online educational resources have grown exponentially, both in quantity and quality. Platforms like Udacity, Coursera, and edX offer free online courses from big-name schools like MIT. These services also offer students the option to get a professional certification when they finish one of these online courses. Khan Academy, FreeCodeCamp, and Treehouse abandon the online classroom format in favor of more interactive learning experiences. And YouTube has a massive amount of free content. (Including educational videos from CodeSignal!) For the self-motivated learner, ways to learn online for free or for fairly nominal fees abound. And online and onsite coding bootcamps offer a more hands-on approach, for a fraction of the cost of a four-year computer science degree.

No matter what platform they choose, these learners have a wealth of information at their fingertips. But what they don’t have are the traditional learning credentials. These degrees or school names are what recruiters often look for when they’re sourcing prospects or looking at applicant resumes.

The case for non-traditional candidates

Programmers with non-traditional backgrounds don’t have the educational qualifications that recruiters usually look for. Their resumes and their LinkedIn profiles will reflect this, often placing much more emphasis on personal or open-source projects than on educational or work experiences. But these candidates can be just as skilled as ones who have the “right” markers! This means they can be the solution to the tech talent shortage facing the industry today.

If companies only consider candidates with traditional pedigree markers to fill their open roles, then their pool of available prospects will be fairly small. And the competition for these pedigreed candidates is fierce. Of course, none of this is to say that people who do have these credentials aren’t great candidates! But when companies limit themselves to just these people, they miss out on amazing “hidden gem” candidates.

Recruiters need to be able to reframe how they think about finding prospects and what to look for when when they’re considering candidates. The best way to do this? Focus on skills, not on credentials.

People can (and do) list any old skill on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, so you can’t rely on them to tell you the full story. It’s crucial to be able to verify these skills before moving forward with a prospect. Phone screens, take-home projects, or interview tasks can all help verify skills. But the best, and most efficient, way of verifying skills is at the very top of the funnel, even before a phone screening. A coding test that is emailed to prospects and delivers automatic results back to the company, like those sent from CodeSignal Recruiter Test, can streamline the recruiting process because recruiters are able to verify skills right away.

Education has changed, and recruiting has to change as well. It’s time to stop prioritizing educational credentials. Start measuring people by what they can do in a data-driven, skills-based way. You’ll uncover a treasure trove of amazing candidates!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

If you’re ready to discover how candidates with non-traditional educational backgrounds can contribute to your company, CodeSignal Recruiter can help. Sign up for a free demo and find out how!

It’s Time to Kill The Resume

It's time to kill the resume: how skills-based recruiting will change how you assess candidates

We’re going to make a sweeping statement here that may shock you:

Resumes are a waste of time.

Or maybe it doesn’t shock you. Most recruiters dislike having to wade through stacks of resumes, so we’re probably preaching to the choir here. So much time gets spent on resumes! Job seekers spend hours crafting the perfect bullet points. Recruiters spend hours looking these resumes over, trying to find the perfect leads to pursue. When we say that resumes are a waste of time, we’re talking about a lot of wasted time – for both applicants and recruiters.

Resumes are a waste of time because they don’t tell you the whole story about a candidate. In fact, they actually don’t tell you very much at all! Read on for the top 5 reasons that it’s time to kill the resume:

  1. They’re a time sink. Realistically, no recruiter has very much time to spend poring over an individual applicant’s resume. So you scan instead, trying to spend as little time as possible on one resume while seeking a handful of keywords. But even just scanning for the usual name + titles + companies + start/end dates + education takes time, and that time starts adding up the more resumes you have to look through.
  2. They rely on self-reported data. In other words, you’re trusting the applicant to tell you the entire, accurate truth about the skills and experiences they have. We’re not saying that prospects are outright lying on their resumes, though that certainly happens. But there is a lot of exaggeration, padding, and carefully phrased misdirection. When you add in the fact that people are notoriously bad at judging their own skill levels, you get a document that tells you next to nothing about a candidate’s actual skills.
  3. They’re not targeted to your roles. Savvy job-seekers will take a little extra time to tailor their resume to the role they’re applying for. But the fact that resumes, by their very nature, cover a person’s entire work-related history means that they contain TOO. MUCH. INFORMATION. And it’s hard to pick out any details that are relevant to your open reqs without spending more time than you really have. So again, you’re stuck scanning, hoping to find meaningful information in a page full of mostly unrelated text.
  4. They are full of fluff. If you had a dollar for every resume you read that described its writer as “dynamic”, “innovative”, or a “team player”, you’d be a rich ex-recruiter lounging on the beach in the Bahamas. None of these phrases mean much of anything, and they definitely don’t tell you whether a candidate is right for a role. It’s just more filler text for you to scan past.
  5. They’re making you miss good prospects. Since you have a limited amount of time to spend per resume, you prioritize certain things that can indicate a quality lead. Which school they went to and where they’ve worked might be a good indicator of whether they’d be a good fit for the role. But if you’re only looking for these, you might automatically dismiss someone who doesn’t have these credentials. And that means you’re missing out on “hidden gem” candidates who have the skills you need – but don’t have the right keywords on their resume.

[bctt tweet=”Resumes are: a) A time sink; b) Unreliable; c) Not targeted to your roles; d) Full of fluff; e) Limiting; or f) All of the above? (Hint: @CodeSignal thinks the answer is f!) ” username=”CodeSignal”]

Okay, you’re convinced. Resumes suck! But they’re a necessary evil for recruiters trying to fill open reqs – right?

Not necessarily.

Skills-based recruiting to the rescue!

Skills-based recruiting offers a solution to the resume trap. Verify an applicant’s skills right away, before you even peek at their resume. So instead of relying on self-reported skills listed in documents full of fluff, you’re seeing a candidate’s actual skills! This saves time for both recruiters and engineering teams and makes it easy to make decisions based on data.

At CodeSignal, we recently opened up a new engineering role… and received 631 applications in response. Instead of having our talent team sort through them one by one to find likely candidates, we sent out an online coding test to every applicant using the CodeSignal Recruiter Test application. Completing a coding test requires effort, so people who only applied because it was a job, any job!, weeded themselves out at the outset by not taking the test. We got immediate result reports for each person who did complete the test. That meant we were able to instantly identify the people who were worth pursuing – based on verified skills alone.

If we estimate a conservative 1 minute per resume, our talent team saved around 10.5 hours by not having to read through resumes from each of those 631 applicants. The team used the skill assessment results to narrow down that original pool of applicants. We ended up with 20 qualified candidates at the phone screen stage. That means our engineers saved time too. They didn’t have to waste any time interviewing people who didn’t have the skills we needed!  

So we’re firm believers in ditching the resume. The key is adding a skill-verification step at the very top of the recruiting funnel. (Read more about how adding early skill verification makes it easier to find engineers that your hiring team will love.) To really save time and energy, we recommend using an automated assessment application like CodeSignal Recruiter Test. Test makes it easy to send out coding tests at scale, either from the CodeSignal Recruiter platform or from an integrated applicant tracking system. Then you receive comprehensive candidate results that help you cull out unqualified applicants immediately. Get on board – it’s time to kill the resume.

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

Want to break free from the resume time sink? Sign up for a free demo of CodeSignal Recruiter today and see how much time you can save!

CodeSignal Talent Story: Marcus Currie + Evernote

What does it take to go from being an industry outsider to becoming a software engineer at one of the best-known companies in Silicon Valley?

Marcus Currie started using CodeSignal because he wanted a platform that would help him prepare for technical interviews. He ended up with much more than that! With CodeSignal, Marcus leveled up his programming skills, connected with several high profile companies, and ended up with his dream job.

Catching the software development bug

Marcus Currie majored in electrical engineering in school. Afterwards, he worked for the Department of Defense as a physical design engineer. He started to learn web development after college. (He wanted to create an online Dominion game that he and his friends could play!) As he learned more and built his app, Marcus realized that he wanted to pursue software development as a career.

He taught himself HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python, among other skills, but he knew there were gaps in his knowledge – especially when it came to computer science basics. He was applying to jobs, but was finding it hard to get traction since he didn’t have a “traditional” background. Without a computer science degree and without any industry experience, most recruiters were just bypassing his resume.  

Breaking into Silicon Valley

Marcus needed a way to level the playing field. He started searching for a platform that could help him prepare for software engineering interviews by filling in those gaps. (Think algorithms and data structures that get taught in computer science programs, but aren’t commonly used outside of school.) He found an ad for CodeSignal on Facebook and signed up. It ended up being exactly the boost he needed!

He used Interview Practice to learn and practice essential computer science topics that he knew would come up in technical interviews. Once he felt prepared, he signed up for CodeSignal Jobs. The CodeSignal team connected him with recruiters from multiple Silicon Valley companies, and he ended up going onsite for interviews with three of them. It wasn’t long before he got an offer to come work for Evernote as a software engineer. Evernote met all of his requirements for a dream job – interesting work, products he already used, and a great company culture. He accepted Evernote’s offer and moved to the Bay Area. Now he and his new co-workers enjoy playing Dominion together at lunch!

CodeSignal was integral in getting Marcus prepared for technical interviews, connecting him with recruiters at awesome companies, and transitioning him into the next exciting phase of his career.

Join the skills-based revolution!

At CodeSignal, we believe that a person’s skills matter way more than their educational credentials or their work history. That’s why we created CodeSignal Jobs to help talented software developers find their dream jobs. And we created CodeSignal Recruiter to help connect companies with hidden gem engineers who have the skills they need. Join us as we remake the future of tech hiring!


Find Engineers Your Hiring Team Will Love

Skill Verification Will Revolutionize Your Tech Recruiting

Technical recruiters, does this scenario sound familiar?

You work hard sourcing candidates, looking through resumes, and reaching out to high-potential prospects in order to find engineers to fill your company’s crucial open roles. But sometimes you feel like your efforts are for nothing: The engineering team rejects most of the likely candidates you find for them. Maybe they reject them right away, just based on their LinkedIn profile or resume. Or maybe it’s later on, after a phone screen or interview reveals the candidate doesn’t have a key skill. You start feeling under-appreciated and underutilized. The hiring manager and engineering team start feeling frustrated. The relationship between your teams starts becoming a little… strained.

How can you repair this relationship and find engineering candidates that the team actually likes (and hopefully wants to hire)?

To find a solution, it helps to dig into the two main underlying problems:

Problem 1: You’re spending a lot of time sourcing candidates, but to your engineering team, they don’t look “right” – wrong school, no school at all, or an unconventional background. There might be some unconscious biases at play here, or even some very conscious ones. (How often have you heard a hiring manager say that they only want to interview candidates who graduated from a top 20 engineering program, for example?)

Problem 2: You’ve put a lot of time and energy into getting candidates to the phone screen or interview stage, only to have them choke because they don’t pass the technical assessment. Of course, they should be bounced out of the process if they don’t meet the technical bar. The problem is that too many of your candidates aren’t making it, and the engineering team is getting frustrated because they’re wasting valuable time interviewing unqualified candidates.

If one or both of these are happening to you, your recruiting process slows down to a crawl – possibly jeopardizing your recruiting stats and preventing you from meeting your goals. So what’s the solution?

Add skill verification to your recruiting toolbox.

Skills speak for themselves. If the hiring manager has data right away that a candidate has the experiences and skills they need, then they’ll stop worrying about surface-level things like credentials and stop rejecting your candidates at the top of the funnel. And with skills-based hiring, you won’t have to worry that your candidates aren’t meeting the engineering team’s technical bar because you’ll know for sure that they do, even before the phone screen or interview.

[bctt tweet=”With skills-based hiring, you don’t have to worry that your candidates aren’t meeting the engineering team’s technical bar – because you know for sure that they do.” username=”CodeSignal”]

Sourcing candidates

Ideally, you have skill verification at the very top of your recruiting funnel, at the sourcing stage. This solves a lot of problems immediately by removing questions about skill. This is especially important to hiring managers when they’re considering candidates with non-traditional backgrounds. To do this effectively, you’ll probably need to subscribe to a service that gives you access to pre-screened candidates.

Pre-screened is the key idea here. Many sourcing products on the market give you candidate access. But there’s not a skill verification process to ensure that the candidates they send you actually have the skills they say they have. And the same problem crops up with recruiting agencies. Their candidate recommendations are based on the same techniques you’re trying to get away from (sourcing candidates based strictly on self-reported and unverified declarations of skill).

The Source application on the CodeSignal Recruiter platform solves this by having a huge pool of diverse, skilled users to pull from, then building an additional verification step on top of that. If you use a tool like this, you can be confident that the candidates you submit to the hiring manager have already proven their technical skills, allaying any worries they might have about them.

Assessing candidates

But maybe you’re not using a service like CodeSignal Recruiter Source that provides you with pre-vetted candidates. If not, it’s important to confirm their skills before engineers ever have to interact with a candidate. As a recruiter, you might not be technical yourself. So you need a tool that will both let you send assessments and interpret the results. This way, you can weed out unqualified candidates early, saving your engineering team’s time and energy.

Again, there are some services on the market that can help recruiters send out technical assessments. But the ability to select coding tasks from a huge pool of professionally-written questions, interpret candidate results, automatically screen for plagiarism, and send coding replays to your colleagues aren’t as common. CodeSignal Recruiter gives you access to all of these features with the Test application. CodeSignal Recruiter Test integrates with online applicant tracking systems like Greenhouse and Lever. This allows you to send and manage technical assessments right from the platform you’re already using.

Skill verification changes everything

When you can get to the point where you know that your candidates will meet your engineering team’s technical bar, you can feel more comfortable in knowing that your team will like them. The results will speak for themselves. Your phone screen to onsite rate will go up, as will your onsite to offer rate. (On average, CodeSignal Recruiter customers see a screen to onsite rate of 71% and an onsite to offer rate of 25%. Some customers have onsite to offer rates of over 40%!)

The hiring manager and engineering team will start trusting your recommendations. You’ll save time. The engineering team will save time and energy. Your company will make more quality hires. Everyone will be happier!

CodeSignal Recruiter helps you hire more qualified engineers with much less effort. It’s a win-win for both recruiters and hiring managers!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

By supporting skills-based recruiting best practices, CodeSignal Recruiter gives your hiring team the tools you need to find the right developers for your company’s open roles. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal Recruiter can do for your recruiting process? Sign up here for a free demo!

Top 10 Recruiting Tips from the CodeSignal Talent Team

Top 10 Recruiting Tips from the CodeFights Talent Team

At CodeSignal, our engineering team is growing quickly! When we need to make a hire, we don’t have a ton of time to spend sourcing prospects, screening the high-potential ones, or interviewing candidates. And we know our clients don’t either. But with an industry-wide time to fill average of 59 days (according to data from Workable), how do we beat the odds and make great engineering hires fast?

We got the CodeSignal talent team to share their top 10 tips for hiring engineers using skills-based technical recruiting best practices.

Our Talent Team’s Top 10 Tips

1. Source for skills, not for credentials.

To us, having verified skills and raw talent mean a lot more than having the right bullet points on a resume. It’s expensive to pursue the relatively small group of people who graduated from a top school or worked at a Silicon Valley giant. Especially since every other recruiter is pursuing them too! Instead, we focus on finding “hidden gems” by looking beyond pedigree and focusing on skills. We’ve found amazingly talented people who we would have overlooked if we only thought about whether their resumes looked “right”. It’s the “verified skills” part of this equation that takes extra work, but it’s crucial. If we didn’t have that, then we’d still be relying on self-reported data and the old (and limiting) habit of recruiting based on pedigree.

2. Cultivate a strong candidate pool.

Having a robust pool of candidates means that you’ll never have to start a search from scratch, which saves a ton of time and energy. At CodeSignal, our candidate pool is CodeSignal itself! That means that we don’t have to guess whether a candidate has the skills we need – they’ve proven they do. And we don’t have to wonder about whether they’re interested in finding a new job – they’ve explicitly indicated that they are! If you’re a CodeSignal Recruiter customer using the Source application, you have access to that same candidate pool. If you don’t use CodeSignal Recruiter Source, this step takes more legwork, but it’s still very doable. Focus on continually building relationships, connecting with potential candidates even if you don’t have a role for them at the moment, and you’ll never find yourself without leads when you need them.

3. Add a personal touch.

Nobody wants to feel like they’re just another cog in the interview machine. Just because you need to contact a lot of prospects doesn’t mean your reachout emails need to feel mass-produced! We’ve found that if we take the extra time to look over a prospect’s profile and add relevant details to our initial reachout, this extra level of personalization dramatically increases the chances that the prospect will respond. To save time, we use templates in CodeSignal Recruiter that can be easily modified on the fly.   

4. Explain why you’re different.

High-potential prospects get a lot of messages from recruiters. Some engineers tell us they get more than 15 per day! That’s a lot of competition, and some of it is from big-name companies. How’s a smaller or less-known company (like, say, CodeSignal) supposed to compete? We find that we stand out if we focus on our mission. We like to lead with how we’re revolutionizing tech recruiting, which is a topic that really resonates with most candidates. By focusing on what makes your company special, you pique candidate interest and make it a lot more likely that they’ll follow up with you.

5. Verify skills right away.

It’s always a bummer to spend a lot of time on a candidate, maybe even get a little attached, only to have them fail miserably later in the funnel. That’s why we like to send out assessments to verify skills before we spend much time on a prospect. This eliminates the need for our engineering team to spend time on phone screens with candidates who end up being unqualified. We use CodeSignal Recruiter Test in order to send out company-branded tests to multiple candidates at once, then quickly evaluate their results. Since the result reports are easy to read, we’re quickly able to weed out anybody who didn’t pass our technical bar – before anybody from our engineering team ever starts talking to candidates.

6. Don’t “ghost” your candidates.

Every interaction a candidate has with us informs their opinion about our company. Even if they aren’t a good fit for us, we want them to come away with a good feeling about CodeSignal. We look at every candidate interaction as a way to build a relationship that might be useful later – and to build our brand at the same time. Don’t disappear on a candidate even if it becomes clear that it’s not going to work out. You never know who they might tell about their bad experience. And they might become a better prospect in the future!

7. Stay in touch.

We get busy, and it’s hard to try to check in with candidates regularly. But candidates don’t like feeling like they’re in the dark, and who can blame them? We’ve found that the candidates that we keep checking in on at regular intervals are far less likely to drop out of the process. Setting their expectations about how much we’ll communicate with them, and how, at each step is crucial so that they know what to expect. And then we have to follow through, of course! Checking in via email once a week is usually enough to keep a candidate interested.

8. Stop prioritizing culture fit.

There’s a lot of talk in the industry about culture fit. But what culture fit really comes down to most of the time is: “Is this person like us?” And that, friends, is a good way to get a very homogenous engineering team. Instead of making culture fit a part of our decision, we think about whether a candidate will work well with our engineering team, and whether they have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the role.

9. Don’t go in without a plan!

We’ll admit it: we used to treat recruiting a little bit casually. Everybody on the talent team followed their own patterns for reaching out to candidates, and everybody in the engineering team had very different ways of screening and interviewing. We identified lack of planning as our problem, so we sat down and agreed on a comprehensive recruitment plan. The plan covered everything from the initial sequence of touches to what kind of questions to ask at each stage of the interview process. This turned things around for us! Since we now had a system that we could evaluate and iterate on, our recruiting become a lot more efficient. Having a standardized process will make your life, your hiring manager’s life, and your candidates’ lives much, much easier.

10. Learn from your recruiting process.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” as the old saying goes. And if you’re not learning from every recruiting step you take, then you’re wasting valuable opportunities to optimize your recruiting flow. Being data-driven ensures that your talent team is spending time on the right things, your engineering team is interviewing candidates with the right questions for each role, and that everyone is aligned on best practices. CodeSignal Recruiter uses machine learning to analyze every candidate interaction, then gives us actionable advice on how to optimize the process.

We quadrupled the size of our engineering team in 2017 using these skills-based recruiting best practices. And we’ll be growing even more in 2018!

Using skills-based recruiting and our own CodeSignal Recruiter platform makes things much easier for our talent team. And it enables us to scale our engineering team quickly. If your company needs to hire engineers this year too, add some – or all! – of our talent team’s top 10 recruiting tips into your recruiting workflow. You’ll be amazed by how much more efficient and easy the process becomes!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeSignal mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. By supporting skills-based recruiting best practices, CodeSignal Recruiter will give your hiring team the tools you need to find the right developers for all your company’s open roles. Interested in seeing how CodeSignal Recruiter can help your company grow its engineering team too? Sign up for a free demo!

How CodeSignal Uses CodeSignal Recruiter to Build Its Engineering Team

How CodeFights recruits its engineering team

We feel your pain.

We’re a rapidly growing startup. So at CodeSignal, we know how time-consuming it can be to source, assess, and interview engineering candidates. Industry-wide, it can take an average of 59 days from opening an engineering job requisition to making an offer to a candidate, according to data from Workable.

We don’t have that kind of time to grow our engineering team. And we know you don’t either! That’s why we built CodeSignal Recruiter, a suite of skills-based recruiting tools that makes the entire recruiting process much more efficient.

But don’t worry, we’re not using our customers as guinea pigs. We dogfood all of our own products, testing them out on ourselves before we release them to you. Along the way, we haven’t just built a fantastic technical recruiting platform. We’ve also built a talented engineering team that we sourced, assessed, and interviewed using our own platform and tools!

The CodeSignal recruiting strategy: use CodeSignal!

Sourcing talent:

Our engineering team is still pretty small. But it’s growing fast! How does our talent team find high-potential prospects to reach out to? On CodeSignal, of course!

Seven of our engineers were recruited from the CodeSignal developer community. That’s pretty much everyone except the people who actually built CodeSignal originally! From new grad roles to senior engineers, we’ve found candidates with the skills necessary to create not one, but two, amazing platforms – CodeSignal for developers, and CodeSignal Recruiter for hiring teams.

CodeSignal Recruiter customers get this same level of access to the diverse, talented pool of CodeSignal users with our Source application. Source uses machine learning to analyze candidate skills and experiences. Then it recommends candidates who will be a great fit for your open roles. So all of the candidates in Source are talented – but our matchmaking service surfaces the ones who are right for your company! Our recruiters love how quick and easy it is to identify and reach out to top-notch tech talent, and yours will too.

Assessing candidates:

One hundred percent of our engineers were screened and interviewed using the tools that grew into CodeSignal Recruiter. (Except the ones who built the platform in the first place!) And of course the engineers who’ve been hired since our tech recruiting platform launched have been assessed using CodeSignal Recruiter applications.

CodeSignal Recruiter customers can use Test and Interview to assess their own candidates. These are the same tools that we use here at CodeSignal! Our recruiting team likes how easy it is to send out assessments and receive detailed result reports with Test. And for our engineers, conducting interviews is a cinch in Interview. Whether we have the candidate here at CodeSignal HQ or are interviewing them remotely, the collaborative coding environment is simple and easy to use. Since CodeSignal Recruiter integrates with our online applicant tracking system, it’s easy to manage the entire candidate lifecycle. This keeps our overall recruiting process running efficiently.

We practice what we preach.

At CodeSignal, we believe that a person’s skills matter much more than their credentials do. That’s why we’re committed to promoting skills-based technical recruiting. In fact, our company motto is “Discover, Develop, Promote”! We discover diverse talent from all sorts of backgrounds, help them develop their skills, and promote them to our hiring partners.

That’s why we hire the way we do – and why we want all hiring teams to have access to skills-based recruiting too. We built CodeSignal Recruiter to make data-driven technical recruiting easy for us, and easy for our customers.

And our results speak for themselves. The people on our engineering team come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from a competitive coding champ to a former physics professor. Our tech screen to offer rate is 42%, and our onsite to offer rate is a whopping 45%.

From our own experience, we understand how much time it saves to source from a pool of pre-verified engineering candidates. We know why it matters to be able to measure and compare candidate skills accurately. And we get how important it is to have a seamless applicant tracking system integration.

As our company continues to grow and evolve, we’re going to keep using our own tools to recruit the best engineers to build both CodeSignal and CodeSignal Recruiter. And we’re confident that CodeSignal Recruiter will help you grow your team as well! 

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, CodeSignal is on a mission to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. By supporting skills-based recruiting best practices, CodeSignal Recruiter will give your hiring team the tools you need to find the right developers for all your company’s open roles.

Sign up for a free demo and discover what CodeSignal Recruiter can do for your company!