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!

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 Code.org, 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!

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!

Do you need to prepare for technical interviews?

prepare for technical interviews

If you’re already working as a software engineer, you might think that you don’t need to do any preparation for your next technical interview. Maybe you write C++ that’s pure poetry, or perhaps your SQL queries are so efficient that they make grown men weep. So when you’re looking for a new job, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that you’re ready for interviews right away – no prep needed. But are you?

Sidebar: If you’re not working as a software engineer yet, don’t stop reading! A lot of this applies to you too. And we’re going to be posting another article about preparing for coding interviews specifically for you very soon. Stay tuned! 

Think back to your last interview experience.

What kind of questions did you get asked? Some of the questions might have been pretty straightforward, aimed at evaluating how well you could do the task at hand. And if that task was something you were already pretty comfortable doing, you probably didn’t have too much trouble getting it done.

But chances are good that you also got some pretty esoteric or challenging questions. Questions that were more about testing whether you remembered how to implement certain algorithms or data structures… potentially ones that you hadn’t touched since you were in school.

Let’s face it: You’re good at your job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at interviewing. Interviews are a completely different beast.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for a new job, you might not be as prepared as you think you are.

Tigran Sloyan, the founder of CodeSignal, puts it this way:

“The reality is that the interview questions you’ll face at most companies are miles away from what you do at your day job, so make sure to do some research and practice using real questions that the company uses in its interviews.”

You might think that traditional technical interviews don’t effectively measure how well you would actually perform on the job, and you’re not alone in that. But the fact is that for now, most companies rely on them to weed out people who can’t cut it. They also use them to gauge the aptitude, interest, and intelligence of those who can.

Technical interviews make me cry.

What should you practice?

A mainstay of the technical interview process is asking questions that help the interviewer determine how well a candidate understands computer science fundamentals like data structures and algorithms, whether they can implement them appropriately, and whether they take time and space complexity into account.

A great way for you to revisit these concepts and get those rusty skills back up to snuff is solving Interview Practice challenges on CodeSignal. All 100+ of these questions are pulled directly from actual interviews at top tech companies. You can filter by company and by question topic, which gives you a personalized experience that lets you focus on the topics you need to practice the most.

The list of topics you need to study will be largely informed by research that you’ve done on the companies you are interviewing at (or would like to interview at). If you know that a company is likely to ask you questions about tree traversal, you can start working on tree traversal interview questions to prepare! It’s really important to be honest with yourself about the current state of your skills and knowledge. For example, you might have been a dynamic programming expert in college. But if you’ve been a front-end developer working strictly in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the past few years, you probably need a refresher.

Finding time

One common issue that we hear from professionals who are starting to look for new programming jobs is that they don’t have time to practice technical interview questions. It’s true that adding yet another commitment on top of your job and your real life can be daunting. Once you’ve determined what it is that you need to study, you’ll need to carve time out to make that happen.

Create your timeline

This is going to look different for everyone. Do you actually have an interview in three weeks? Then that’s your timeline. If you’re just at the contemplation stage and don’t have any interviews lined up yet, then your timeline might be more in the month to two months range. In general, though, it’s best to keep your timeline fairly short. Having a longer timeline means that you risk losing focus and drive.

Create your routine

Now that you know your timeline and what you need to study, it’s time to set your routine. A routine benefits most people because it becomes a built-in framework to adhere to, which in turn creates accountability. There are countless different schools of thought about what constitutes an effective routine, but they all have one thing in common: consistency. You have to practice consistently in order to see the benefits from it. For most people, at least an hour a day is ideal. If your timeline is short, try to spend more time daily. You may have to scale back on some other commitments while you’re in interview preparation mode!

Stick to it!

Once you’ve got a routine that works for you, stick to it. This is the hard part, because it usually involves scaling back on other, more fun parts of your life. But stick to your guns and protect the time you’ve set aside for practice. Remember, this isn’t a forever commitment! Once you’ve gotten to your goal, you can lay off on the interview preparation and get back to whatever it was that you had to scale back on to find the time, whether it’s watching Friends reruns or running marathons.

Practice pays off

We know you’re a good engineer. You know you’re a good engineer! But technical interviews require different skills – and like any other skill, you have to work to get better. Actually writing code that solves the actual technical interview questions makes you more comfortable with the process. We can’t emphasize this enough: The absolute best way to ensure that you’re good at interviewing is to practice solving coding interview problems!

Now go get ’em, tiger. You’re going to knock that interviewer’s socks off!

On the job hunt? Read these articles too:

Resumes. Not fun, right? But in a lot of cases, they’re a necessary part of the job search process. Read Make Your Engineering Resume Stand Out to find out how to write a resume that really highlights your programming skills and experiences and makes you stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Once you’re on a company’s radar, there’s still a few steps before you make it to the in-person technical interview! First, you have to get past the recruiter phone screen. Read Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 1  to learn how to create a personal elevator pitch that resonates with recruiters. Then check out Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 2 for tips on how to wow the recruiter during the phone screen itself.

Tell us…

What’s your take on preparing for interviews? If you do prepare (and we hope you do), what does your process look like? Let us know over on the CodeSignal forum!

Make Your LinkedIn Profile Work For You

If you were a small business owner and someone offered you a free billboard on the freeway, you’d take it in a heartbeat, right? Free advertising in a high traffic area! That’s a no-brainer – of course you’d want that.

And that, friends, is pretty much exactly what LinkedIn is: a free billboard for YOU.

Recruiters from tech companies are on LinkedIn all the time, plugging in keywords, looking for leads. The search interface makes sourcing on LinkedIn easy for them, so of course they use it. They’re looking for you! They want to give you a job!

So it just makes sense that you, whether you’re an active or passive job seeker, should also be on LinkedIn. Building your profile up into your own personal billboard makes it easy for all those searching recruiters to find you! It’s a hugely valuable tool that makes you visible and accessible to employers who are actively seeking candidates with the skill set that you have.

Fixing your LinkedIn profile can take a little bit of time, depending on how empty or out of date it is, but it’s totally worth it to spend some quality time putting it together. If you’re actively looking for new programming jobs or maybe just open to considering new options, LinkedIn is going to help you out.

Connie Kehn, Lead Talent Engineer at CodeSignal, sees a lot of LinkedIn profiles while she’s working with engineers who are using CodeSignal to find new jobs. And she used to be a recruiter for Tesla, so she knows what people on the other end of the equation are looking for too! She says, “Take advantage of your LinkedIn. It’s a free billboard space for you to talk about your strengths, your history, your skills, and what kind of work you’re looking for. Recruiters use that! When you’re on the hunt, build it up. You can always take it down later.”

So without further ado, here are CodeSignal’ top 10 tips for making your LinkedIn work for you!

  1. Fill out the entire profile. If you leave sections of your LinkedIn profile blank, not only are you missing out on opportunities to tell recruiters who you are and showcase what you’ve done, but you also might be hidden in searches. The LinkedIn platform actually prioritizes complete profiles! So if you’re not filling it out, your profile might not be surfacing in recruiters’ searches.
  2. Stand out with a good headline. Since this is one of the first things someone looking at your LinkedIn profile will see, make it count! Your headline should be descriptive and highlight your interests or specializations. Think specific, not general. And while you can get a little creative if you want to, don’t go overboard. The recruiter needs to be able to quickly decide whether or not you fit the bill. So a headline like Experienced Scala Wrangler Seeking New Pastures is eye-catching but still descriptive, while one like Programming Mermaid doesn’t really give a recruiter much of a sense of what you do. 
  3. Sum yourself up. Your summary should be 40 words or more in order to rank in searches, but don’t go overboard in the other direction either! If your summary is too long, pertinent information might get lost as recruiters skim through. Write in the first person about yourself (“I’m a web developer” vs “Janet is a web developer”), and keep your language natural! Use the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell.” Instead of saying that you’re enthusiastic about Python, be specific: “I taught myself Python two years ago and have been using it whenever possible ever since.”
  4. Add keywords. Whether recruiters are doing searches or already looking at your profile, they’re looking for certain, specific things. You can think of these as your own personal search keywords, and you should make sure that you’ve got these keywords in your Summary, Skills, Experience, Projects, and Recommendations sections. Obviously you don’t want to misrepresent yourself or try to do some keyword-stuffing that looks unnatural. But you do want to make sure that you’re showing up in the right searches! So if you’re looking for a job as a Rails developer but you don’t list Ruby or Rails anywhere in your profile, you may as well not be looking for a Rails dev job at all.
  5. Show off your work. Since you’re a smart engineer you will, of course, be adding a link to your GitHub from your LinkedIn (quite possibly in the Summary section). But remember, recruiters are skimming, and you want to make it easy for them to see what you’ve been working on! Add information about projects that you’ve done in – what else? – the Projects section. Make sure to include relevant details like languages, frameworks, and whether it was a solo project or something you worked on with other people. This is an easy way for the recruiter to get a better feel for your work. Not to mention all those keywords that you’re adding to the descriptions boost your chances of showing up in the right recruiter’s search!
  6. Show off your education! Remember how we said to fill out your entire profile? Yeah, that goes double for the Education section. Maybe you didn’t go to school for computer science or a related field. Or maybe you didn’t go to school at all. Not a problem! Chances are good that you’ve got some relevant coursework, certifications, or seminars under your belt that you could add to your profile. Recruiters like to see this because it’s a little confirmation for them that you’re qualified and competent enough to do the programming jobs they’re working on filling.
  7. Hide the competition. You know that sidebar on the right side of your LinkedIn profile that says “People also viewed” and has a list of other people? You’re going to want to hide that. Go to Settings, then Privacy, and change this to “No”. Because those other people that LinkedIn users are also looking at probably look a lot like you in terms of work or educational history and/or skills, meaning they show up in the same searches… meaning they’re the competition.
  8. Get endorsements. While you’re busy adding your own personal keywords to your Skills section, ask coworkers, classmates, clients, or acquaintances who are familiar with your work to endorse you for those skills. While this actually won’t rank you any higher in searches, it does give the recruiter who’s looking at your profile some very positive cues: Not only do you say that you know Sass, Emily who you worked with at your last company says you know Sass too!
    • Optional: Get recommendations. On a related note, it looks really good when you have recommendations from supervisors, clients, or teachers, especially if they reference specific projects you’ve worked on or things you’re really good at.
  9. Order your sections. By now, you’ve probably noticed that you can move the sections of your profile around. Use this to your advantage! If you just got out of school or you’re switching careers and you don’t have much work experience yet, move your Education and Projects sections up to the top. Been in the tech industry for ages? Keep your Experience section at the top.
  10. Personalize your URL. Which URL would you rather have a recruiter send to a hiring manager: linkedin.com/in/joe-cool-20a70070 or linkedin.com/in/josephcool? While this isn’t a make-or-break situation, having a good personal URL can give your profile an extra layer of professionalism and help build your personal brand.

Bonus: Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile picture blank! Recruiters respond to photos because it helps them create a more complete picture of a candidate in their minds. You don’t have to go get professional headshots unless you want to, but you should make sure that the photo is clear, well-lit, and work-appropriate (no bar-hopping pictures, please). And while you’re at it, add a banner picture too! It makes your profile look more professional, more complete, and more you. After all, what’s a billboard without an eye-catching image?

Doable, right? And once you’ve got your LinkedIn profile fully set up, it’s just a matter of upkeep: adding new jobs, certifications, and skills as you get them. Whether you’re actively looking for new tech jobs or just interested in seeing what comes your way, your personal LinkedIn billboard is a sure-fire way to make sure that recruiters see you for the talented, savvy programmer that you are.

On the job hunt? Read these articles too:

Resumes. Not fun, right? But they’re a necessary part of the job search process a lot of the time. Read Make Your Engineering Resume Stand Out to find out how to write a resume that really highlights your programming skills and experiences and makes you stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Once you’re on a company’s radar, there’s still a few steps before you make it to the in-person technical interview! First, you’re going to have to get past the recruiter phone screen. Read Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 1  to learn how to craft a personal elevator pitch that will resonate with recruiters. Then check out Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 2 for tips on how to wow the recruiter during the phone screen itself.

Tell us…

Have you ever found a job opportunity through LinkedIn? Have any great tips for making your LinkedIn profile stand out from other engineers’ profiles? Let us know on the forum!

Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 2

Ace your phone screen by telling your story

In Part 1 of this series, you learned how to craft a Story that will resonate with recruiters. Now we’ll talk about exactly how to tell the recruiter your Story during your phone screen.

So you’ve prepared your Story and practiced it a few times. You’ve got your next phone screen scheduled. Now you just need to wow the recruiter!

Be ready

When it’s time for the phone screen, be ready at the agreed-upon time. The recruiter may call a few minutes late, and you shouldn’t take this personally, but on your end you should be 100% ready. Make sure that you’re in a quiet spot and that your phone is fully charged! While this might seem obvious, every recruiter can tell you stories about candidates who took the phone call on the subway, or in a too-loud coffee shop, or… Well, you get the picture. Somewhere other than a quiet, calm place with no background interference that might make it hard for the recruiter to concentrate on what you’re saying. And give yourself a little padding at the end of the scheduled time. If the phone screen is going well and runs a little long, you don’t want to have to cut it short because you have another appointment.

You want to have enough time to finish up this conversation!

Tell your Story

Recruiters will often lead with an open ended question like “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” The purpose of this is two-fold: they want to put you at ease, and they want to get a sense of who you are and what you’re about. The recruiter likely has your resume and your LinkedIn profile in front of them while you’re talking, so don’t just start reciting bullet points. Instead, this is when you’re going to tell the recruiter your Story. At this point, keep the narrative at a high level (think generalities, not specifics). You can dive into the details later if they’re relevant and will drive your Story forward.

Let’s discuss

Your Story isn’t a monologue. Instead, it’s an invitation for the recruiter to ask questions! If you find that you get lost when the recruiter asks a question, it can be worthwhile to keep a list of the high points on hand during the phone screen so that you don’t miss entire portions of your personal narrative.

Talking tech

Even though recruiters tend not to be very technical, as the gatekeepers of the interview process they need to hear that you’re technically competent enough to get to the next round. Be prepared to talk about languages, frameworks, etc. so that they can get a sense of your proficiency level. Part of your Story should be a quantification of how well you know the tools that you have listed on your resume and LinkedIn. Be honest about this stuff! “Familiar but rusty” isn’t going to disqualify you in most cases, and it’s going to come out sooner rather than later if you’ve overstated your skills.

Context, context, context

Never forget why you’re talking to the recruiter – you are interested in a particular position! This context will help you tailor your Story to the specific role and company in question. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a role at a startup, discuss projects or anecdotes that highlight your flexibility, agility, and sense of urgency. Or, if you’re interviewing for a role at a larger company, highlight your commitment to iteration, optimization, and process. Think about why you’re excited about the role or company, and this will come through in your answers.

Stay positive

Never trash talk employers, even when it’s deserved! Keep things positive and professional at all times. Negativity is a big red flag for recruiters.

Check in

While most recruiter phone screens tend to take between 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes they can seem to last forever. Talking about yourself for that long can be hard! It’s okay to check in with the recruiter if you feel like you’ve been talking too much. Don’t be afraid to stop and ask if there’s anything else they want to know about.

Question everything

Always be prepared with some questions! Be sure to do some preliminary homework on the company. Google them to find some recent articles, and spend some time on their website. This will definitely guide a few specific questions. A few good generic ones:

  • “What will role be immediately responsible for/what would I be working on first?”
  • “Is this role new? If so, how is <company> building out the team?”
  • “Can you tell me about professional development at <company>?”
  • “What does the career path/growth for <role> look like?”
  • “What are you most excited about for <company> this year? What brought you there? What keeps you there?”

And finally, never ask about money first. If that’s what you lead with, that’s what you seem to care about most.

Finish strong

The end of your conversation with the recruiter is the perfect opportunity to seal the deal! Tie elements of your Story into specifics about the role and company: “After chatting with you, I’m really excited about x,y,z because it fits in with a,b,c that I’m bringing to the table.” Emphasize that you’re really interested. Now’s not the time to play it cool!

Do you want that job?
The recruiter should already be able to tell you want the job. Don’t make them ask.

And always ask about what the next steps are and what you can do to prepare for them. This shows that you’re proactive, and it’s always a great signal to recruiters.

Congratulations!

You made it past the recruiter gatekeeper! You’re not out of the interview labyrinth – heck, you really just got started – but you’re one step closer to getting that job offer. Put the time and effort into crafting a cohesive, compelling Story before you start off into the interview labyrinth. It’s going to pay off. Not only will you be able to use it in in phone screens, as we’ve discussed in this article, but you’ll be able to use large parts of it in the actual interview as well.

You’re reading an article about how to ace recruiter phone screens, so my spidey senses tell me you might be looking for a job! Did you know that CodeSignal can connect you with hundreds of tech companies that are actively seeking qualified engineers – all with only one application? Head to codesignal.com/jobs and start finding that dream job today!  

Tell us…

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for doing well on recruiter phone screens? Tell us over on the CodeSignal forum!

Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 1

Ace your phone screen by crafting your story

Sometimes getting through the interview process can feel like trying to find your way through a maze. Scratch that, a labyrinth. One with a bunch of traps and scary parts. (It’s not a perfect metaphor, but work with me here.) There are almost always some predictable stages in the process, though, and one of these is the recruiter phone screen. This is where the recruiter gets a sense of who you are as a candidate and whether you’re worth moving along to the next step. So you can think of the recruiter as the gatekeeper to the labyrinth. You need to get past them in order to get further into the maze, so that you can find your way through, so that you can get to the end, which is of course the amazing job offer. 

Sometimes the end of the labyrinth seems really far away.

Your Story 

To get past this recruiter gatekeeper, you need to have a Story. Not just a story, but a Story. Your Story must be a cohesive narrative that describes your professional path. Your Story will be personal to you, of course, because it’s yours, but the recruiter will be looking for certain cues in your Story that indicate to them whether you’d be a good fit for the role and for the company. If the recruiter doesn’t hear what they need to hear, chances are you won’t be making it to the next, more technical parts of the interview process. So while it’s tempting to dismiss the recruiter phone screen as a mere formality, in reality it’s hugely important. Because without it, you’re done.

The interview process is like a labyrinth
The recruiter probably doesn’t have hair like this, but you can’t tell since it’s a phone screen.

Make it cohesive

Create a narrative that helps recruiters understand your professional path. In a lot of ways, this narrative is similar to your personal elevator pitch – just with a lot more detail. Most people aren’t great with coming up with this sort of thing on the fly, which is why it’s important to prepare your Story ahead of time.

Cover your bases

Your Story should cover your education, your professional history, any personal history that might impact your professional history, and your professional skills. (What do I mean by personal history that impacts your professional history? Think things like: A cross-country move for a partner that resulted in a few months where you were looking for work.) You want the recruiter to get a really good sense of who you are professionally – where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’d like to go. It’s fine to sprinkle in a few personal details like your hobbies, but keep these brief.

Frame it

Your career path, including any pit stops and pivots, needs to make sense to the recruiter. Even if something isn’t part of a plan, you will be able to work it into the narrative. Framing is everything. For example, if you got laid off from your sales job and then decided to switch careers and become a developer, you can frame that layoff as the best thing that ever happened to you because it gave you the chance to pursue your real passion. It would also be a great chance to talk about any sales skills that make you a strong developer (great communicator, good at working in distributed teams, etc.) List out your work history. If a piece of it doesn’t flow naturally with the rest, work on framing it so that it makes sense in context.  

Explain yourself

Be prepared to explain any gaps in your employment, because the recruiter will ask about them. In general, these gaps aren’t worrisome as long as you have a good explanation for them! (A big exception to this is quitting a job without having anything else lined up. The recruiter might take this as a signal that you have trouble sticking with a company.) Taking a sabbatical is fine – just make sure you have a great reason for it. This is another case in which having your Story prepared is key.

Focus on action and impact

Part of crafting your Story is having some stock anecdotes that you can refer to in pretty much any phone screen. Be prepared with a few projects or stories that you can walk the recruiter through. Recruiters want to hear that you can break things down into manageable chunks and explain them. In these anecdotes, focus on action and impact rather than on what your job duties are/were. State of what your impact was, followed by an explanation of the problem you solved and the specific actions you took.

Practice makes perfect

You might feel silly doing it, but it’s absolutely worthwhile to get some help while you’re crafting your Story. Practice in front of friends. They’ll be able to help you clarify your Story or tighten the narrative. It’s also useful to have them pretend to be a recruiter and ask you some questions.

Sometimes it will take a few tries to get your Story right. You should prepare it beforehand, of course, but you may also find that it evolves over the course of a few phone screens into a Story that resonates with recruiters.

phone screen
You’re so ready for this.

You’re reading an article about how to ace recruiter phone screens, so my spidey senses tell me you might be looking for a job. Did you know that CodeSignal can connect you with hundreds of tech companies that are actively seeking qualified engineers – all with only one application? Head to codesignal.com/jobs and start finding that dream job today!

Stay tuned!

Now that you’ve put some serious time and effort into crafting your personal Story, it’s time to put it into action! In Part 2, we talk about how to effectively tell your Story to a recruiter.

Tell us…

How do you prepare for recruiter phone screens? Tell us over on the CodeSignal forum!