Diamonds not Dirt

Diamonds not Dirt

Your product team just informed you that they need to hire five Full Stack developers – all by month’s end.

As the request sinks in, you begin to think through the monumental effort that will be required to pull this off. Hiring a single Full Stack developer is hard enough. But five all at once? Seriously?

Most recruiters in your shoes would commence the arduous process of posting ads and combing countless Linkedin developer groups and profiles. Part of you is tempted to do exactly that, but past experience tells you that there’s got to be a more efficient way to recruit talent.

So, what should you do?

Let’s weigh your options.

Does Quantity Ensure Quality? Probably Not.

You’ve probably heard it said at least a dozen times: “Recruiting is a numbers game.” And, if you’re relying on the traditional recruiting model, there’s probably some truth to that statement. After all, if you reach out to 100 developers on, you might receive a reply from two or three. Out of those who reply, only a handful will be interested in a career move. In other words, to build a viable pool of candidates, you’ll need to engage with hundreds of people.

This approach to developer recruitment presents a number of issues. Specifically:

Upfront Bottlenecks: Recruiting developers isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. For starters, there are literally hundreds of programming languages, each of which has its own nuances and complexities. Before your recruiting team can effectively promote any job opportunity, you must become somewhat conversant with the subject matter. This may involve several conversations with in-house experts and existing development staff, who can be notoriously difficult to track down. All of this must happen before any job postings or outreach campaigns can go live.

Cost of Outreach: Once the details have been ironed out internally, your focus typically shifts to an aggressive outreach program. If there’s a budget for it, this may include the use of LinkedIn Jobs ads. With budgets as tight as they are, your team is usually forced to rely on manual tactics. However, filtering candidates, copying, pasting, and sending outreach messages, and updating an ATS (or spreadsheet) comes with a tangible cost. There’s also an opportunity cost worth considering. In a perfect world, your team would be engaging candidates – not spamming them.

Friction with Qualified Engineers: Speaking of spam, let’s be honest: Quality candidates are tired of being spammed by recruiters. As a result, your well-crafted message is probably never even being read, much less responded to. Hence the low response rates.

Few Diamonds, Lots of Dirt: Perhaps the biggest flaw of a “quantity over quality” approach is that it presupposes more dirt than diamonds. Going into it, you know that you’ll need to reach out to hundreds of developers just to get a few responses. Instead of yielding a bucket of dirt to sift through later, wouldn’t a better process deliver a shovelful of 1-carat gemstones? Yes, yes it would.

Focusing on Quality, Not Quantity

It’s clear that quantity does not guarantee quality recruits. But, what other option do you realistically have?

Due to the inefficiencies and challenges of manual, resume-based recruitment, an increasing number of technical recruiters are turning to skills-based recruiting. What is skills-based recruiting? In short, skills-based recruiting prioritizes the engineer’s skills over his/her resume, or LinkedIn profile. As you know all too well, resume-based recruiting is driven by “quantity over quality” because you can’t measure the skills on a resume. So, as a recruiter, you need to have a high number of candidates at the top of the recruiting funnel just to get a few interviews. By contrast, skills-based recruiting moves testing and assessment to the top of the recruiting funnel, providing an accurate measurement of the candidate’s skill level before you even reach out. It’s certainly an outside-the-box style of recruiting, but it’s one that is gaining popularity because of the results that it delivers.


Our CodeSignal Recruiter platform is the perfect example of skills-based recruiting in action. We start with more than a million pre-screened software developers. Many of them are actively looking for new positions, and we use our matching algorithm (along with a human touch) to match these engineers to open roles. This means you’re able to source higher caliber talent in a shorter time.

Not surprisingly, companies that have moved to a skills-based recruitment model are experiencing better response rates. Thanks to our proven matching technology, the response rate from candidates is 5 times greater than traditional recruiting channels used to target passive candidates. When the initial response rate is from candidates is higher, all your funnel metrics improve.

Replace Quality for Quantity

Many companies still fall into the trap of making recruitment into a numbers game — just because that’s the recruiting model they’ve used for years — but it doesn’t have to be that way. As you prepare to hire your programmers, give skills-based recruiting a try.

If you’re still feeling skeptical, here’s some additional good news: You don’t have to replace your traditional resume-based recruiting efforts on day one. Try augmenting your traditional process with skills-based recruiting and compare the results.  Check out CodeSignal Recruiter.

Why Experience Diversity Matters in Tech

Why Experience Diversity Matters in Tech

Diversity, as a concept in technical recruiting and hiring, covers a lot of ground. It can include race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and religion. Diversity can also include different thinking, working, and communication styles. But there’s one specific form of diversity doesn’t get a lot of press, but is extremely important for companies that want to build innovative engineering teams: experience diversity.

Experience diversity basically refers to having a variety of different life experiences and backgrounds. These experiences will naturally lead to different viewpoints and problem-solving styles. From the perspective of an engineering team, two important factors in experience diversity are a candidate’s schooling and their work history. When hiring engineers, a candidate who comes from an educational background that’s not the expected path for an engineer (a computer science degree, preferably from a “good” school) is bringing experience diversity to the table. And someone who comes from a different industry, or perhaps even from different starting career, also has experience diversity to offer to an engineering team.

Of course, people have other life experiences that impact how they work and interact with a team. These can include their cultural backgrounds and their geographic backgrounds. (Since different regions have different work expectations and norms, a developer who’s only worked in Silicon Valley will work differently than a developer who’s only worked in Dallas’s Silicon Prairie.) Essentially, when you are considering experience diversity, think about the ways a person’s lived experiences, both personal and professional, will inform their unique perspectives, strengths, and problem-solving tactics.

What happens without experience diversity?

Have you ever used a product and thought to yourself, Why didn’t they think about this very obvious issue? Often it’s because the people working on it didn’t even consider that use case! Homogenous teams tend to have fairly limited perspectives. People don’t know what they don’t know. And engineering teams can’t solve for problems they don’t know exist. So if a team is composed primarily of people who have similar experiences and backgrounds, there are problems and use cases that they simply won’t think of.

People with similar backgrounds are often like-minded because they have similar experiences to draw from. Consider the echo-chamber effect, where voices amplify voices that are similar to their own. Affirmation from like-minded colleagues creates a feedback loop that can squelch innovative, outside-the-box thinking.

Why experience diversity matters

Diversity is an asset to companies, and the whole engineering team benefits when it’s composed of diverse members. Psychological research indicates that members of diverse teams are more likely to question their own biases and look at problems from different viewpoints. Diverse teams are better able to think about issues from different perspectives, and work accordingly. Teams comprised of people from a broad range of life experiences are more innovative and adaptable. Since they pull from a variety of viewpoints, the teams can more rapidly assess and adapt to new challenges. Additionally, studies show that diverse companies are both more successful and more profitable than competitor companies that lack diversity.

Say your engineering team is composed solely of people who graduated with computer science degrees from large schools. They will necessarily think about problems and create solutions from that perspective. But if you hire engineers who came from different industries before becoming engineers, you’ve automatically injected new points of view into your process. Different experiences breed new perspectives! People who aren’t industry insiders bring fresh solutions to problems.

Get a broad range of perspectives beyond your company’s tech stack, your vertical, and beyond even the tech industry itself. Your company will give itself a serious competitive edge! In an industry that’s constantly changing and growing, experience diversity is extremely important.

Actionable steps

So how do you increase experience diversity in your own company?

Remove arbitrary barriers

Remove language in job descriptions (if you’re using them) that set up arbitrary barriers for interested applicants. Stating that the role requires a computer science degree or a certain number of years of industry experience are usually meant to indicate that a role requires a certain skill level. But a degree and years of experience are imperfect proxies for skills. And they often cause qualified candidates to self-select themselves out of the process! Remove limiting language like this. Instead, focus on the skills necessary to do the job successfully.

Use skills-based recruiting techniques

Skills-based recruiting, also known as skills-based hiring, uses machine learning to take inefficiency and human error out of the tech recruiting process. It helps you ensure a candidate meets or exceeds all the technical specifications for a specific position before you even talk to them. A tool like CodeSignal Recruiter Test helps you assess skills using an unbiased, automatic platform that circumvents people’s natural unconscious biases. When you hire based on skills, not on background and credentials, your experience diversity – and your overall diversity – will increase.

Widen your net

Recruit and hire people who come from outside of the tech industry. And be open to hiring people who might be in tech already, but come from different verticals or specialties. If the skills and the interest are there, they’ll learn about the particulars of your stack and vertical market, and they’ll bring exciting new perspectives. So instead of automatically rejecting a candidate because they don’t have a computer science degree or any relevant industry work, consider how their unique work experiences might enhance your team. Then send them a coding assessment and see how they do!

Be intentional

Having an engineering team full of people from diverse backgrounds doesn’t just happen by accident. When it comes to candidates, focus on skills first and foremost. Just because a candidate doesn’t fit your idea of what an engineer looks like, or doesn’t have the “right” background, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a great fit. That’s why it’s so important to have objective skill data to inform your recruiting and hiring processes.

People with diverse experiences will challenge assumptions and beliefs. These engineers will shake things up at your company, in the best way possible. So start hiring for experience diversity, and watch as your engineering team becomes even more innovative!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting platform for modern hiring teams. The platform gives companies the tools they need to source, test, and measure engineers. CodeSignal Recruiter will help you start focusing on skills and increasing experience diversity on your engineering team. Sign up today for a free demo!

Recruiters, Resumes are Steering You Wrong

Resumes are Misleading

Self-reported skills are misleading. As a technical recruiter, this isn’t news to you! You’re probably all too familiar with the pain of finding a prospect who looks like a great match on LinkedIn, only to realize that they’re nowhere near as knowledgeable as they made themselves out to be in their profile. Or the pain of having a seemingly great candidate knocked out of the running at the phone screen because they’re not as skilled as their resume implied they were.

Of course, every recruiter knows that some people pad their LinkedIn profiles. And resumes are just as bad! Candidates, if they’re smart, spend a lot of time meticulously polishing their work history, education, skills, and projects into a profile or resume that’s designed to get your attention. The result is a document that looks like it came from the perfect candidate. But the reality is rarely that rosy. Relying on resumes and LinkedIn to find candidates means that you’re relying on self-reported skills – which are notoriously unreliable.

And while there’s certainly some misdirection (or even outright lies) on a lot of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, there’s an even bigger reason that these self-reported skills are unreliable.

People are really bad at judging their own skill levels.

Most people aren’t purposefully trying to mislead recruiters or potential employers. But in all likelihood, they aren’t accurately gauging their own technical proficiency, either! This primarily stems from three problems:

It’s almost impossible to judge your own skills

The issue is that almost nobody has the sort of perspective necessary to objectively assess their own skills. (One study went so far as to state that “In general, people’s self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance.”) This means that most people are constantly overestimating (or underestimating) their proficiency at most things, including their professional skills.

People don’t know what they don’t know

People who are new to the industry are especially prone to this. Someone who’s right out of school or just completed a bootcamp will have very fresh skills, but they lack industry experience. They typically have a good breadth of knowledge, but lack depth. If they lean towards overestimating their own skills, they put every technology they’ve ever touched In their LinkedIn profile’s skills section. But they don’t know enough yet to realize that they still have a lot to learn! Or if they tend to underestimate themselves, they may not give themselves enough credit for a skill that they actually do have.

People compare themselves to others, but not objectively

Engineers compare themselves to other engineers constantly – it’s just human nature. But that comparison is rarely objective. Someone might think they’re a better programmer than a coworker because they solve certain problems more quickly. But they may be ignoring the fact that this coworker is better than they are at different skills. The fact that people are very bad at judging their own skills (see the first point) means that they’re also not good at comparing their skills to other people’s.  

Stop relying on self-reported skill data

When it’s left up to an individual person to tell you what their skills are, you’re unlikely to get a good idea of their actual skills or skill levels. Sometimes this is deliberate. But a lot of the time, it’s simply because people just aren’t good at evaluating their own skills.

Bottom line? It’s hard to really evaluate candidates on paper! Their self-reported skills rarely ever line up with their actual skills and skill levels.

If you can’t rely on self-reported skills, how can you weed out unqualified candidates at the top of your recruiting funnel? If they get any further – to the technical phone screen, or worse yet, the onsite – this ends up wasting a lot of time for the engineering team. Not to mention the fact that it wastes your time! You’ve got better things to do, like concentrate on great candidates with the right qualifications.

1. Use a sourcing service.

The best way to never even see unqualified candidates is to use a developer-specific sourcing service. However, it must be a sourcing service that actually pre-qualifies the candidates that they send you! Many sourcing services and recruiting firms also rely solely on self-reported skill data, which leaves you at square one. A service like CodeSignal Recruiter Source, which objectively assigns every candidate a score based on their code-writing skills and knowledge of programming topics, ensures that you only see candidates who definitely have the skills you need. Since skill verification is taken care of already, this saves you and your engineering team a lot of time and energy later.

2. Streamline your outbound sourcing.

You may still need to use LinkedIn for outbound sourcing. If so, you can speed it up and take a lot of the guesswork out of the process with the CodeSignal Recruiter Sourcing Assistant. This Chrome extension, available only to CodeSignal Recruiter customers, analyzes the skills necessary for your open roles, as well as the data that’s already being collected on CodeSignal Recruiter. The assistant then uses your data to identify high-potential prospects on LinkedIn and assign them a matching score. If they seem like a good match, you can immediately send them a coding assessment. Their results will determine whether they move forward in the process.

3. Assess prospects immediately.

Pre-screen prospects right away, at the top of your recruiting funnel. This is a great way to weed out candidates who’ve overstated their skills, before they even get to the technical phone screen. The key here is to create coding assessments that test for the right skills – not just for skills in general. Just because  a candidate can reverse a linked list doesn’t mean they have the skills you need for your open role. Ideally, this coding assessment should require minimal work from your engineering team. A product like CodeSignal Recruiter Test allows you send and manage coding assessments at scale, then get back results with objective skill scores. With these, you know exactly which candidates you should move on with. All without having to waste any of your engineering team’s time!

The benefits to you? Since you will be weeding out unqualified candidates right away, this takes the guesswork out of your sourcing and recruiting. You’ll have quantitative data about candidate skills, so you’ll be able to benchmark individuals against your company’s skill thresholds. This also means that you can compare candidates more objectively, instead of relying on gut feelings or poorly remembered interactions.

Once you take self-reported skill data away from your decision-making processes, your recruiting process will speed up. You’ll save time and energy, both for yourself and for the hiring team. Stop relying on what prospects tell you about their skills. Start measuring and quantifying their skills instead!  

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. CodeSignal Recruiter gives you the tools you need to stop relying on self-reported skills. Learn more about how CodeSignal Recruiter helps you use objective data to make hiring decisions.

CodeSignal Customer Stories:

“The engineers that we have hired from CodeSignal are incredibly strong.  Try it. There’s really nothing that you have to lose and you only have a bunch of incredible candidates to gain.”
— Megan Stern, Technical Recruiter,

Traditional resume-based recruiting delivering unqualified candidates develops big data analytic solutions and has an extremely high technical bar for their engineering team.  Megan started at Ascend when the company was just five people and was hired to build out a strong engineering team.  Megan found that with traditional resume-based recruiting, candidates were passing the initial tests but were failing the onsite interviews.   She was investing a tremendous amount of time on a process that wasn’t working.


Skills-based recruiting delivers qualified candidates
Megan was looking for a recruiting solution that could give her more information on a candidate’s skills.pivoted her recruiting process to focus on skills-based recruiting because it could give her team greater insight into a candidate’s technical skills.  When Megan is interested in hiring a candidate from CodeSignal she looks at the candidate’s score on CodeSignal to give her an ideas of the candidate’s technical skills.  In addition, the CodeSignal integration with Lever helped create a smooth implementation process.  To date, has hired 7 engineers from the CodeSignal Community, and recently hired a candidate in just two weeks.  

Hiring Quality Technical Talent
With over 10+ years of full stack engineering experience, Oliver Hu is a seasoned engineer.  He was looking for new position and came across Codefights.  He signed up for CodeSignal because he thought it was a good resource to help him prepare for his upcoming technical interviews.  He found the CodeSignal experience to be “easy and fun”. While working on CodeSignal, he indicated that he was open to a new role and was contacted by a CodeSignal Talent Success Manager.  Through CodeSignal, Oliver was presented to multiple companies and chose to work with Ascend because “I was so impressed with the company”.


Ready to see how CodeSignal can help you grow your engineering team? Sign up for a free demo. Our team will walk you through the ways that the CodeSignal Recruiter skills-based model can help you hire quality, talented engineers faster, with less effort.


Evaluating Engineers: A Guide for Recruiters

Evaluating Engineers: A Guide for Technical Recruiters

When you’re not an engineer yourself, evaluating technical talent can seem like a daunting task. For technical recruiters, the specter of this scenario constantly looms:

The candidate’s resume looked good. Your initial phone call went fine and didn’t raise any red flags. Maybe the person even did fine on the take-home coding challenge. But once they got to the technical phone screen – or worse, the onsite – you knew that something was wrong.

Or maybe the candidate didn’t get that far. The interviewer caught on to the fact that they weren’t qualified for the role during the technical phone screen, or maybe they bombed the take-home. But even if you caught them before they made it to on-site, the fact is that you had to spend time reading their resume, looking at their profiles, talking to them on the phone… Heck, you had to spend time just thinking about them. That’s time that you could have spent working on a candidate who was actually qualified and who would have been a good fit for the role!

Recruiters worry about accidentally moving candidates who aren’t qualified along to the next round, resulting in wasted time for the engineering team. But if you’re not technical yourself, sometimes it’s hard to separate the good candidates out from the unqualified ones. Why is this? It’s because candidates, especially the savvy ones, are very good at selling themselves, even if they don’t actually have the skills you’re looking for. The chief offenders:

  • Resumes & LinkedIn: Because they’re filled with self-reported data, carefully curated to be as alluring to you as possible, you’re only seeing what an applicant person wants you to see. None of that gives you any information about a prospect’s actual skills. Recruiters knows that job seekers sometimes pad their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Sometimes they even add outright fabrications! So while they might give you an idea of whether a candidate has the skills you’re looking for, you can’t rely on them.
  • Good soft skills: If someone is friendly, personable, and says the right things, it’s extremely easy to mistake this for competence. But just because someone talks the talk well doesn’t mean that they actually have the skills that you need.

So how can you evaluate an engineering candidate’s skills if you’re not an engineer yourself? How do you know what to look for without relying on bias-reinforcing markers like educational pedigree or previous workplaces?

Sync up immediately

When you get a new requisition, sit down with the hiring manager right away. Instead of letting them give you a wish list of qualifications, make them drill down to the basics. What skills and qualities does a candidate absolutely need to have in order to succeed in the role? The list you come up with will be your guide when you’re recruiting for the role.

If there’s anything in the list that you’re not familiar with, now’s the time to brush up. You don’t have to be an expert on all of the technologies and skills. But you should have a base-level understanding of them! This will allow you to cull out candidates who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about during your initial phone screening.

Use a pre-screening service

If you know that a prospect has the right skills before you reach out to them, this removes the guesswork from your sourcing process. The best way to do this? Work with a sourcing service. But it must be a service that recommends developers who have been verified to have the skills necessary for an open role.

The CodeSignal Recruiter platform’s Source application surfaces pre-qualified members of the CodeSignal community who have the right skills, at the experience level you need. Since all of the candidates that you get through CodeSignal Recruiter Source have been prescreened by the CodeSignal system, you don’t have to worry about them not being technically competent. You save the time that you would have had to spend sourcing and screening people. Instead, you can focus on the talented engineers who might be a good fit for the engineering team and for your company.

Assess immediately

If you don’t use a sourcing service to get pre-screened candidates, you’ll want to technically assess candidates before they reach your engineering team. Of course, this begs the fundamental question: How do you evaluate technical talent if you’re not technical yourself? This depends on being able to send out coding assessments that you don’t have to evaluate.

The CodeSignal Recruiter Test application lets companies implement a standardized pre-screening process with minimal hands-on time for the engineering team. Engineers set up the test initially, which only takes about 5 minutes. Then the recruiters send out the company-branded coding tests to prospects. Once a person completes the assessment, the system instantly sends their results back to the recruiter. It also sends a coding replay and a plagiarism probability score. This helps you weed out unqualified candidates quickly and at scale, without taking any significant time away from the engineering team.


Focus only on the need-to-have skills for a role. Use a sourcing service that provides pre-screened candidates. And assess candidates upfront with an automated testing system. Using these three tactics, you’ll feel confident that the candidates you send to the engineering team are great engineers. And you’ll know for certain that they have the skills necessary to do the job.

The benefits to your company? You’ll get a faster hiring cycle, since your engineering team won’t have to waste time evaluating unqualified candidates. You’ll see much better screen-to-onsite ratios and onsite-to-offer rates. And since you’ll be focusing on skills instead of using non-essentials like past work history and educational credentials to find prospects, you’ll surface diverse, interesting candidates that you might not have seen otherwise.

And the benefits to you and your recruiting team? You’ll have objective information about a candidate’s actual technical skills, so you’ll be able to have a better discussion with engineers and hiring managers about these prospects. As a recruiter, you will be able to promote candidates to the hiring in a much more meaningful way. You’ll have a better relationship with your hiring managers and your engineering team. And you’ll have more time to spend working with the talented candidates your company wants to hire!

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, CodeSignal is on a mission to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal Recruiter can do for you? Sign up for a free demo!

CodeSignal Customer Stories: Wizeline

Customer Wizeline uses CodeFights to source, assess, and interview engineers

“You would be wrong to assume that CodeSignal is just like any other other tool to automate technical recruiting on the markets. CodeSignal should be your weapon when it comes to attracting technical talent.” – Vidal Gonzalez, Wizeline CTO

Wizeline builds scalable software solutions (like AI-driven chatbots) for its customers. Since they create software for other companies, they need to make sure that their engineering team is full of innovative, talented engineers who can deliver amazing products quickly.

Wizeline is a truly international company, with offices all over the world. When they started growing their Guadalajara office, the talent acquisition team needed a way to scale up their engineering team quickly. But they didn’t want to hire just anybody – they wanted to hire strong, innovative engineers. This meant that they needed a strong recruitment system.  They researched recruiting tools that could help them reach their hiring goals. Ceci Salazar, the Talent Acquisition Manager at Wizeline, heard about CodeSignal Recruiter from a coworker.

Ceci and her team tried CodeSignal Recruiter’s sourcing service. The Wizeline engineering team tried out the Test and Interview tools. Together, they agreed that CodeSignal Recruiter would be a great way to streamline their technical recruiting process. Vidal Gonzalez, Wizeline’s CTO, says that CodeSignal’ tools are a great fit for Wizeline’s engineering-driven company culture.

Talented engineering candidates

Wizeline uses CodeSignal Recruiter Source to get access to pre-qualified engineers from the CodeSignal community. Candidates they get from CodeSignal, like Ziad Mohamed, tend to have higher conversion rates. The Wizeline talent acquisition team loves knowing that the candidates they get through CodeSignal are driven and challenge-oriented, and that they love to keep learning. The team’s recruitment process has been streamlined and simplified with CodeSignal Recruiter.

Skills-based recruiting

It’s simple for their recruiting team to send out coding tests since so much of the process is automated. This means the recruiting team can immediately assess inbound applicants and prospects who have been sourced from online job boards. Since they are testing candidate skills at the very top of the recruitment funnel, this eliminates unqualified people right away. Ultimately, this saves the engineering team a lot of time, since they don’t need to spend time screening or interviewing candidates who don’t have the necessary skills.

Data-driven decisions

Vidal loves how much data CodeSignal Recruiter gives to his hiring team. While the candidate information is useful, he also appreciates the level of insight that data from the hiring team gives him into their interviewing process. So if the statistics from an individual interviewer looks abnormal, he and his team can dig into the interview data to see what’s going on. The standardization and consistency that they get using the Test and Interview tools means that he feels confident in the decisions that his team makes about candidates.

Uncovering diverse talent

CodeSignal Recruiter lets Wizeline to focus on skills instead of educational or work credentials. So it’s gone a long way towards eliminating hidden biases in the recruiting process! As a result, their engineering team is extremely diverse, which supports one of Wizeline’s core hiring goals. (Interested in working for Wizeline? Take a look at their Careers page!)

A partner in recruiting

Wizeline considers CodeSignal to be an valuable partner in their recruitment process. They appreciate the close relationship they have with their CodeSignal Account Executive, who’s always available to answer questions and help out. Ceci says, “The relationship we have built with CodeSignal is really valuable. We feel like they really know our business, so they have become partners for our growth.”

Since they started using CodeSignal Recruiter, Wizeline has sent out 348 coding assessments with the Test tool. They’ve also conducted 152 technical interviews using the Interview tool. Their recruiting and engineering teams have saved time and energy. CodeSignal Recruiter has helped them streamline their entire technical recruiting process!

Ready to see how CodeSignal can help you grow your engineering team too? Sign up for a free demo. Our team will walk you through the ways that CodeSignal Recruiter can streamline your recruiting process too. CodeSignal Recruiter makes it easy to hire the talented engineers you need to grow your company.

The Culture Fit Trap

Don't Hire Engineers for Culture Fit - Hire for Skills

Companies – especially companies in Silicon Valley – have long prized the idea of culture fit. Culture fit is, as a concept, a little bit nebulous, but in general it refers to the idea that a candidate “fits in” with the existing company and team dynamics. On the surface, this seems like a great idea. After all, why wouldn’t you want to hire someone who seems like a good match for your engineering team? The thinking is that they’ll integrate into the team more easily and have easier interactions with their fellow team members.

So what’s the problem?

The issue is that recruiting and hiring based on culture fit has an unintended consequence: it leads to homogenous engineering teams. This can negatively impact your engineering team, your company culture as a whole, and your bottom line.

Hiring for culture fit is based on the idea that people who have similar viewpoints and ways of working will form a cohesive team. But this premise, if left unchecked, leads to teams full of people who have similar backgrounds, viewpoints, and working styles – and a glaring lack of diversity. (And it’s not just the kinds of diversity that usually get talked about, like gender and race, that suffer. It also homogenizes things like experience, age, working style, problem-solving methods, and more.) If interviewers prioritize finding people they think they’d get along well (and easily) with, then they’re deprioritizing other, more important factors like technical skills. Remember, they’re trying to hire engineers, not friends!

Prioritizing culture fit creates engineering teams full of people who are very similar to each other, in an industry that already suffers from a noticeable lack of diversity. Culture fit often simply codifies a hiring team’s unconscious biases. After all, people tend to want to hire people like themselves! As Tigran Sloyan, the CEO of CodeSignal, put it:

The biggest problem with diversity in tech is that humans are too involved in the skill evaluation process. We tend to like people who have a similar background to ours, which creates a self-reinforcing cycle.

In an effort to find candidates who “fit in” well with your company’s engineering team, odds are you’ll end up recruiting people who come from very similar backgrounds. Maybe this means that they went to the same few schools, or worked at the same handful of companies. And relying on employee referrals, a common practice in many companies, can exacerbate this problem. Employees often refer friends or people from their social circles – another form of culture fit.

Culture fit moves from being fairly innocuous (“Is this person’s working style similar to mine?”) to being problematic (“Does this person come from a background like mine?”) easily, and often unnoticed.

Who gets left out?

Think about who gets omitted when you recruit based on culture fit: People who went to the wrong school – or no school at all. Developers who’ve spent their career in a different industry. Candidates who just don’t “look like an engineer” or “act like a software developer.” People who have different working styles or needs. The list goes on and on. Hiring for culture fit tends to reduce your candidate pool down to a small, homogenous group. And it does little towards increasing diversity at your company.

The benefits of diversity

We often think about diversity in terms of race and gender. But the term also covers age, background, experience, points of view, working and communication styles, and talents. A truly diverse team won’t be homogenous on any of these points, and everyone will bring unique perspectives and ideas to the table.

This means that a team composed of people who have different backgrounds and experiences will generate more – and more interesting ideas – simply because of the fact that they have different points of view. Innovation will blossom. And once your company truly commits to supporting diversity, a new form of self-reinforcing cycle will start. But it will be a good one this time! A team that is already diverse is seen as more welcoming of diversity. So the kind of diverse talent that you want to attract will be more interested in joining your company.

The benefits of diversity can be fiscal as well. According to several studies, diverse companies are often both more successful and more profitable than non-diverse companies.

5 steps to avoid the culture fit trap

So how can your company avoid falling in to the culture fit trap in your recruiting and hiring processes?

1. Focus on skills

The number one thing to do to avoid the culture fit trap? Prioritize skills instead. This is the primary goal of skills-based recruiting, of course. By putting skill assessment right at the top of the recruiting funnel, you ensure that only qualified candidates make it to the interview stage. Coding assessments that use machine learning to quantify technical skills, like the ones the CodeSignal Recruiter Test application supports, are great for this. No one can argue with numbers!

2. Make sure they’re the right skills

However, make sure that your company’s coding assessments don’t reinforce existing biases. You don’t want a situation where the engineers who set up the coding assessments bring their own beliefs into the mix! If their unconscious biases skew towards believing that only computer science graduates from top schools can do a job well, their assessment will reflect that. But if a company is honest and objectively thinks about the skills the job actually requires, they can create a coding assessment that will filter for people with the right on-the-job skills, regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, or background. (Learn more about how to craft a coding assessment that will test for the right skills.)

3. Be specific with feedback

Don’t let hiring teams rely on culture fit when they’re deciding whether to move on to the next stage with a candidate. When they’re reviewing a candidate, they need to provide specific feedback that relies on objective data from the screening or interview. This keeps the focus on the candidate’s skills, instead of allowing imprecise “gut feelings” to determine whether they get hired or not.

4. Don’t mistake soft skills for technical skills

Don’t go overboard on letting a candidate’s soft skills influence your decisions. One reason that the culture fit trap is so insidious is that we’re hardwired to want to hire someone who’s likeable. But just because someone communicates well and gets along with the team doesn’t mean they have the necessary technical skills. That’s why it’s important to assess skills objectively!

5. Think about value add

Of course, intangibles and soft skills are important too when you’re recruiting engineers. If a candidate is a good programmer but was rude during an interview, you probably wouldn’t want to hire them. But how can you avoid relying on culture fit when you’re considering a candidate’s soft skills? By thinking in terms of value add instead. What will this person add to your team? If you look at recruiting and hiring this way, it’s easy to see how bringing in people with diverse backgrounds and experiences will be beneficial to your engineering team.

Remember: Focus on a candidate’s skills, but make sure you’re measuring the right skills. Make your hiring team give specific feedback that relies on data. Don’t be swayed by a candidate’s soft skills. But do consider what their value add to the team will be! By following these five steps, you can avoid the culture fit trap in your company’s recruiting and hiring processes. This will create an environment in which engineers from diverse backgrounds will be excited to join your team!

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

CodeSignal Recruiter gives your hiring team the tools you need to stop hiring for culture fit, and start hiring based on skills. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal Recruiter can do for you? Sign up today for a free demo!

Meet the CodeSignal Community

Meet the CodeFights Jobs applicants

CodeSignal Recruiter customers have access to a very special group of engineering candidates: the CodeSignal community. These people are developers who sign up for CodeSignal as a way to prepare for technical interviews, level up their programming skills, and tackle fun coding challenges.

And when they’re ready to find new jobs, they sign up for CodeSignal Jobs. The CodeSignal Jobs program helps us connect CodeSignal users with the right opportunities at our CodeSignal Recruiter partner companies!

How do CodeSignal Recruiter and CodeSignal Jobs work together?

As our users solve coding tasks on CodeSignal, the system uses machine learning to quantify their skills and knowledge of different programming topics, based on the code they’re writing. The CodeSignal Recruiter matchmaking algorithm uses this information to match CodeSignal Jobs participants with open roles at our partner companies. On average these candidates solved 84 coding challenges, and since these CodeFighters have already proven their technical skills, we feel very confident that we’re only recommending top talent to our CodeSignal Recruiter customers.

This system benefits both companies and engineers. For the engineers who use CodeSignal, CodeSignal Jobs simplifies the job search process and helps those with non-traditional backgrounds make connections in the industry. And for companies, the benefits are clear too:

  • Since CodeSignal is sending qualified candidates to you based on the skills required for your open roles, the time your recruiting team has to spend sourcing engineers is reduced or eliminated.
  • All CodeSignal candidates are pre-screened (and again, have solved an average of 84 coding challenges so that’s very deep data set), so you know they have the skills you need. You can rest easy knowing your engineering team won’t waste time interviewing unqualified candidates.
  • CodeSignal Recruiter surfaces non-traditional “hidden gem” candidates, meaning you get access to qualified talent you might not have discovered with conventional sourcing methods.

The engineers that we have hired from CodeSignal are incredibly strong.  Try it. There’s really nothing that you have to lose and you only have a bunch of incredible candidates to gain.
— Megan Stern, Technical Recruiter,

Who are the CodeSignal Jobs applicants?

CodeSignal has almost one million users from all over the world, of all ages and experience levels. And the users who sign up for CodeSignal Jobs are an especially talented bunch! CodeSignal Jobs applicants* are primarily located in the United States, with users in every major metro area. They have a broad range of specialties and experience levels. And they’ve all explicitly indicated that they’re interested in finding new opportunities, so you never have to worry that you’re reaching out to someone who’s not actually looking for a new job!

* Applicant data for this article is based on users who have signed up for CodeSignal Jobs in the last three months.

Domestic vs international candidates

66% of our applicants are from the United States, while the rest are international. (This doesn’t mean that we can’t work with companies outside the US, though! We work closely with several companies in different countries, and are able to provide them with the skilled candidates they need.)

United States: Top 10 states breakdown

Of the applicants in the US, there’s a wide geographical distribution in the top 10 represented states!

  1. California – 35%
  2. New York – 13%
  3. Texas – 11%
  4. Washington – 8%
  5. Illinois – 7%
  6. Florida – 6%
  7. Massachusetts – 6%
  8. New Jersey – 5%
  9. Georgia – 5%
  10. Colorado – 4%

United States: Top 10 metro market breakdown

We have developers in every major metro area in the U.S., but for simplicity’s sake we’re focusing on the 10 largest areas here:

  1. San Francisco Bay Area – 25%
  2. New York City – 18%
  3. Seattle – 10%
  4. Los Angeles – 9%
  5. Chicago – 8%
  6. Atlanta – 7%
  7. Boston – 7%
  8. Austin – 6%
  9. Houston – 5%
  10. Dallas – 4%   

CodeSignal users by US metro area

Breakdown by experience level

CodeSignal Jobs users come from a wide range of experience:

  • 1-2 years of experience – 29%
  • 3-5 years of experience – 21%
  • 6-9 years of experience – 8%
  • 10+ years of experience – 15%

Breakdown by engineering specialty (with 3+ years experience)

The members of the CodeSignal community with 3+ years experience have a broad range of specialties:

  • Full stack developers – 38%
  • Backend developers – 32%
  • Frontend/UI developers – 15%
  • Mobile developers – 10%
  • Other (embedded, DevOps, database, network, and security engineers) – 5%


Breakdown by language (with 3+ years experience)

Over 2/3 of the members of the CodeSignal community with 3+ years experience use a modern tech stack:

  • Javascript – 38%
  • Java – 20%
  • Python – 16%
  • C# – 10%
  • C++ – 6%
  • Other (PHP, Ruby, Swift) – 10%


CodeSignal Recruiter Source streamlines your recruiting process by ensuring that you only see qualified candidates for all your open roles. We talk a lot about how smart, skilled, and diverse the CodeSignal community is. And we’d love for you to meet them! You’ll save time sourcing since CodeSignal Recruiter brings great candidates right to you, and since your hiring team will only be interviewing qualified candidates, your time to hire will start shrinking.

Sign up for a free demo or attend a webinar and see how CodeSignal Recruiter can transform your technical recruiting process!

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!