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3 benefits of early assessments

This blog post is based on the twenty-second episode of the data-driven recruiting podcast hosted by CodeSignal co-founders Sophia Baik and Tigran Sloyan. You can find and listen to this specific episode here or check out the video version embedded below.

Do you use technical assessments when hiring early stage engineers?

If your hiring process doesn’t start with an assessment, you could be missing out on some of the best candidates and creating a biased experience.

Let’s dive into how exactly early assessments can transform your hiring process.

1. Find Hidden Talent 

We all know the big computer science schools – MIT, Stanford, Harvard, etc… Traditional recruiting looks at this pedigree as a proxy for skill. However, we know that education is being democratized and over 50% of software engineers say they were at least in-part self-taught. 

Why are you focused on the same subset of schools everyone else is? The skill level of students at any given university follows a bell curve, meaning there is a big spectrum of proficiency from the top to bottom. The top 3% of students from a lesser known university can have a higher level of skills than the bottom 80% of students at a well-known engineering school. So why would you only focus on candidates from a small subset of schools when candidates from various schools can be more highly skilled? 

By putting assessments at the very top of your hiring funnel, you open yourself up to finding those hidden gems that are not discovered by most recruiters at your competitors. The tech giants are paying huge signing bonuses even to new graduates – which means it is harder for smaller organizations to compete. When you’re focused on talent that everyone else is as well, it creates a hiring frenzy.  

Instead, expand your university recruiting by shifting focus away from the top universities and use, framework-based assessments to measure skills and abilities, not proxies for them!

2. Identify Truly Skilled Candidates

Large companies and government contractors hire thousands of engineers every year. They don’t use assessments. They don’t even do technical interviews! Students gain these positions simply by being in the right place at the right time. Candidates attend their prestigious school’s career fair and are automatically recruited just for being there.

Save time (and money!) by screening out unqualified candidates with an assessment as the first step in your hiring process. Usually, technical interviews and assessments, if used, are far down the hiring funnel. Flip that on its head and make it the first step! You won’t have to waste time on dozens, if not hundreds, of phone screens, only to have candidates who can’t do the job!

Google performed an experiment that showed the top students from a lesser known school are better performers and team members. We recently talked to Carrie Farrell, a former engineer recruiter at Google, to discuss their clever experiment and how it completely changed the way they hire.

3. Create a Diverse Group of Talent

Diversity is a hot topic in recruiting. 

But, it doesn’t just happen. In order to create a diverse organization, you can’t keep looking under the same rocks. Look at re-focusing your university and junior engineer recruiting to your inbound applicants and put less focus on outbound recruiting at career fairs.

Many companies tend to overlook their inbound applicant pool. An inbound applicant is much more likely to represent the overall population in the real world. A student from rural Ohio can as easily apply online to your job post as a student from Harvard. If you have a way to efficiently and objectively screen the applications who’ve applied to you, you can easily fill your hiring funnel with a diverse group of candidates. 

The statistics are out there that having diverse teams is good for business. So why wouldn’t you reduce bias by putting assessments first?

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