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!

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