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4 Mar

The 4 Biggest Challenges for Engineering Hiring Managers Today (And How to Solve Them) 

“Along with microchips, toilet paper and Covid tests, tech workers will be recalled as one of the great, pressing shortages of this pandemic,” said a recent article in the New York Times. As an engineering hiring manager, you might be struggling to fill important senior positions, while at the same time your team is overbooked on interviews and it’s affecting your project timelines. You might also worry about how to improve diversity on your team, or how to get more consistent data from your interviews. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the 4 most pressing challenges facing engineering hiring managers today—as well as some solutions you can implement right away. 

Challenge #1: Too much time spent interviewing

Many engineers feel like on top of their full-time job, they also have a part-time job: interviewing. There’s no doubt that engineers should be involved in the hiring process, speaking with qualified candidates to ultimately decide who they want to work with. But today, an estimated 86% of the burden of the hiring process falls on the engineering team, and on average, teams spend 40 developer hours per hire.

The interview burden isn’t just a threat to your ability to deliver projects on time—it’s also a recipe for burnout, which has become so common that today we’re living in the era of the “Great Resignation.”

Solution: Structured tech screens

Hiring managers at leading tech companies are increasingly adopting new, structured versions of the technical phone screen that have the potential to save hundreds of engineering hours previously spent creating, conducting, and scoring traditional phone screens.

What is a structured tech screen? While it can take various forms, CodeSignal Tech Screen asks candidates to perform a series of real-world coding tasks—administered live by a real human—in a cloud IDE that’s complete with all the bells and whistles. Since every tech screen is automatically scored, candidates can hear back in hours and move through the process faster. And the engineering team gets to focus on candidates that have passed a structured skills evaluation, rather than candidates with a sufficiently impressive resume. 

Challenge #2: Can’t fill roles fast enough

Today’s market for tech talent is one of the most competitive in recent memory. There are 1.4 million unfilled positions for software engineers in the US, and the average role takes 49 days to fill, though roles requiring specialized expertise can be open for much longer. 

In other words, if you feel like you need to be growing your team faster and hiring new engineers yesterday, you’re not alone—and that’s the problem. The unemployment rate for senior cybersecurity engineers, for instance, is a marginal 0.2%, compared with 4% in the general economy. 

Solution: Optimize your hiring process and improve candidate experience

One clear way to fill roles faster is to streamline your hiring process, reducing bottlenecks and churn:

When one large enterprise tech company made the switch to CodeSignal to help with these steps, their time-to-hire was reduced by 59%

The other way to improve your odds is to focus on the candidate experience. Luckily, optimizing your process leads naturally to happier candidates—that same company also saw a 31% increase in their onsite-to-hire ratio. With less time spent on phone screens, your engineers will have more time to make personal connections with promising leads, and to talk about the mission and culture that makes your organization unique. And candidates will appreciate not having to wait weeks for results. 

Challenge #3: Inconsistent results from interviews

When it comes to hiring, some differences of opinion between interviewers is inevitable, and healthy debate can make for better decisions. But in the rush to fill roles quickly in a competitive market, it’s common to have a nagging feeling that your team isn’t being as consistent as you could be with your interview process. (Maybe you’ve even hired someone you really shouldn’t have.)

Uneven interview results, where you don’t feel like you got a good read on the candidate, can happen for several reasons:

  • Lack of proper training, so you have some experienced interviewers while others find themselves “winging it”
  • Lack of a common rubric, so you’re always debating the meaning of vague ideas like “culture fit”
  • Lack of consistent interview questions, so some team members are much tougher interviewers than others
  • Lack of replayability, so it’s impossible to validate whether the candidate’s answers were technically correct or review what happened

Solution: Structured interviews 

We’ve written extensively about how to conduct better live coding interviews, but it’s no secret that the best way to achieve consistency is with structure. However, this doesn’t mean delivering interviews that feel like tests or have no personality and flexibility. 

Rather, structured interviews encourage interviewers to ask the same questions of every candidate, in a thoughtful, predetermined progression. Research shows that question order matters for a candidate’s performance and experience in an interview. Starting with easier questions helps put the candidate at ease and warm them up for the more challenging questions you’ll ask later. 

Creating a consistent interview process for all candidates will also reduce bias. Candidates who go through a structured interview process will feel confident they are being assessed fairly. Even better, with a platform like CodeSignal, new interviewers can be easily brought up to speed on the process, and all interviews can be replayed and reviewed by the team to help with alignment. 

Challenge #4: Lack of diversity in tech

According to a 2021 study from Hack Future Lab, 93% of leaders agree that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a top priority, but only 34% think it’s a current strength in their workplace. Most tech companies struggle with a lack of representation in engineering, with the burden falling on recruiters and hiring managers to do better. 

But hiring managers are also often at a loss as to how to improve diversity and inclusion. When you’re still using traditional approaches like resume reviews or relying on referrals, it can seem like your hands are tied—the candidates you have to choose from are all alike. 

Solution: Pre-screen coding assessments

Today, more and more hiring managers are adopting research-backed pre-screen assessments to level the playing field and reach developers who come from underrepresented backgrounds. These can be used at the top of the funnel to evaluate core programming skills shared across many roles—especially junior-level roles. Pre-built technical screens are developed, validated, and maintained by a vendor. They ensure that candidates are evaluated on the basis of their skills, not where they went to school or worked previously.

With remote work becoming the norm, it’s now possible to work with diverse candidates from anywhere. Many assessment vendors integrate with applicant tracking systems (ATS), which makes it easy to send assessment invitations to candidates in bulk. Whereas manual resume review can be a bottleneck, assessments help your team consider more engineers without needing more time and resources. 

Conclusion

While today there are no lack of challenges for engineering hiring managers, there are solutions that have the potential to make everyone happier and more successful: from leadership, to the engineers conducting interviews, to the candidates themselves. To learn more about CodeSignal and how it can help your team spend less time interviewing and more time on what matters most, sign up for a free demo here

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