Pros & Cons of Automated Technical Interviews

Join CodeSignal CEO Tigran Sloyan and Co-Founder Sophia Baik in Data-Driven Recruiting Episode #38 as they discuss (remotely of course) how automated interviews can improve outcomes in the hiring process. In this episode you will learn about:

  • The pros and cons of having a purely automated vs. human-driven interview approach
  • How recruiting teams can use automation to fill their pipeline with qualified candidates 
  • Why the best results occur when systems and humans work together 

When hiring a developer, the goal of the technical interview is to assess the hard skills required for the job. The standard interview model includes three stages: the recruiter phone screen, the technical phone screen, and the on-site interview. The challenges inherent in the traditional model are many: there’s potential for interview bias when all skill assessments are done by humans; some highly skilled candidates interview poorly; your engineering team spends hours interviewing over actually coding, and more.

Automated interviews, in contrast to simple take-home tests, use a coding assessment platform such as CodeSignal to assess a candidate’s aptitude as close to the real world as possible. Like any process, there are significant advantages and drawbacks to having automated interviews as the only interview type in your overall process. The bottom line, say Baik and Sloyan, is to use a hybrid approach to leverage the best of both for identifying and hiring top talent.

Pros of Automated Interviews

Automated interviews bring precision, efficiency, and a level playing field to a classically human-centered process fraught with biases. Let’s take a deeper look at some of their key strengths.

  • Save Engineering Hours: The interview process itself, plus the switching costs between conducting the interview and coding tasks, eats up a lot of time for engineers. Ensuring engineers are productive and motivated is a real concern for high-growth or unicorn startups in particular.
  • Open up the Funnel: Related to the above point, you’re no longer capped by the number of available interviewer hours in order to conduct technical interviews.
  • Remove Interviewer Bias: A human interviewer may be coming from a difficult meeting, or be sleep-deprived, or a number of things which may impact the briefing a candidate receives on the upfront task or feedback while working on a piece of code. (Companies doing human interviews at a minimum ought to mitigate these risks by having structured written prompts delivered consistently across interviews.)
  • Remove Candidate Bias: Some candidates simply don’t interview well, and are removed from consideration prematurely when in fact their skills and culture fit are an ideal match for the company.
  • Enhanced Aspects of Candidate Experience: Automated interviews allow both the freedom of scheduling and comfort of not being watched during the interview, which can create pressure and do not simulate how they will operate on the job.

Limitations of Automation

For all their strengths, automated interviews cannot replace the nuances that make us human – even the most advanced solutions like CodeSignal that come pretty close. 

First, candidates don’t operate in a vacuum. They will ultimately collaborate with other people on the job, and the traditional model gives companies an opportunity to really sell their strengths and to make it a two-way conversation. Second, human interviewers may get a more accurate signal by adapting based on real-time context as the candidate performs the assigned tasks.

The Bottom Line: Integrate the Best of Both

Digital tools complement and augment human capabilities; there is an important role for both. Baik and Sloyan recommend replacing the initial technical phone screen phase with the automated interview and keeping the person-to-person interview for the final stage. (For more information on how to conduct on-site human interviews remotely in the wake of COVID-19 and beyond, check out Episode #37). As a result, recruiting teams can dramatically increase their leverage both in the volume and quality of candidate assessments. 

Next Steps

Want to learn more about how you can leverage automated interviewing to build a winning organization? Visit CodeSignal to go beyond resumes in technical hiring with our state-of-the-art assessment platform and advanced coding tests.

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