Guest Post: AI Will Dominate Recruiting – So Prepare For Major Changes In These Areas

AI Will Dominate Recruiting – So Prepare For Major Changes In These Areas

Most recruiters are busy with their day-to-day work. So, some fail to realize that many recruiting processes and tools currently in use will soon improve significantly by the continual learning provided by Artificial Intelligence (AI). In addition, not only will AI and its advanced cousin Machine Learning (ML) make recruiting processes faster and cheaper, soon and in many cases are already adding significant new capabilities that were simply not possible with legacy systems. However, relax, this isn’t a job security issue, it’s an opportunity to improve performance with little effort on the recruiter’s part.

It’s quite common these days for the CEO’s from Amazon, Google, MS, Facebook and Apple to expound on how artificial intelligence and machine learning will dominate their businesses over the next few years. Even Vladimir Putin stated, “The country that leads in artificial intelligence will lead the world.” It’s also important to realize that in addition to contributing to the most visible product areas, like digital assistants and driverless cars, “Machine learning and AI are a horizontal enabling layer” says, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, meaning that AI will impact and improve every major function and its processes and decisions. Recruiting leaders shouldn’t be surprised that I predict that “machine learning will soon begin to dominate every major aspect of recruiting.” Just as previous technologies like ATS’s and CRM’s have already transformed recruiting. It’s important for recruiters to be aware that there is an upcoming wave of mostly vendor developed recruiting applications that assist in producing extraordinary hiring results because they include machine learning capabilities.

The goal of this article is to highlight the upcoming AI/ML and technology changes that are likely to occur in each of the major areas of recruiting.

 

The Top 15 Recruiting Areas That Will Be Most Impacted By AI And Machine Learning

The areas of skills-based recruiting and job/candidate matching that will be impacted are below. Note that they are listed so that the initial items in the recruiting process appear first.

Recruiting areas related to finding and attracting prospects

  • Advertising placement and content – Machine learning will continually improve your placement process for branding materials and job postings rather than relying on costly trial and error approach to advertising. This is critical because accurate placement is essential if you expect to get the right kind and number of applicants. Systems will continually learn by analyzing visitor cookies and response rates so that you place your highly targeted materials in front of the right people at the right time. Also, machine learning technology can help you continually refine your content so that it gets the highest response from your recruiting targets.
  • Your own website and social media – continually improve by firms using machine learning on their web and social media pages to better attract and continually engage your target audience. Software bolstered with machine learning will also be able to monitor and make you aware of both positive and negative comments that others make about your firm and jobs on the Internet and social media.
  • Finding individual prospects – during sourcing will become much more automated and accurate when augmented with machine learning capabilities. Automated sourcing programs will be able to find many more and better matches, based on the continually updated target profile that you develop as a result of feedback. There are already vendor packages that allow you to identify currently employed individuals (e., passives) that are likely to quit soon and prospects that are likely to be diverse.
  • Enhancing prospect profiles – can make the existing candidate profiles found on sites (like LinkedIn) more complete by supplementing them with additional information that a machine learning program will find on the Internet. Machine learning driven programs can sort through a prospects search histories, cookies and social media sharing. The additional information on a prospects interest, capabilities and behaviors might indicate that a candidate can do things that they haven’t done in the past. Once they apply, chatbots can contact an applicant directly to clarify unclear elements in their resume or profile.
  • Improving job descriptions and postings Recent research data has revealed that job descriptions and job postings can be dramatically improved so that the content better attracts your target audience. So, rewriting them can reduce terms that create a bias. Software can now help you reduce those biases and add content that draws initial attention and that attracts more qualified applicants.
  • Responding to questions – from potential or actual applicants is immensely time-consuming for recruiters. So many firms are already utilizing chatbot’s to answer questions quickly 24/7. The U.S. Army, for example, has been using its Sgt. Star chatbot for over ten years to answer its extremely high volume of questions. Chatbots can also periodically update a candidate status, once again saving recruiters time.
  • Personalize selling – Machine learning uses big data to identify the attraction factors and the elements of the firm’s employee value proposition that best engage certain personas (e., types of individuals). Rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach, this allows you to make your attraction, marketing messages and personal communications more effective because they are highly personalized to the individual.

Recruiting areas after candidates apply

  • Resume sorting – with machine learning software uses the resumes of successful hires at your firm to find patterns and then it can use these past success patterns as a basis for predicting which resumes and candidates are most likely also to be successful when hired. If programmed correctly, resume sorting software can also help to eliminate a great deal of unconscious bias in resume screening and candidate slate selection. Machine learning assisted search programs can also help you find hidden or lost talent within your ATS database.
  • Matching people and jobs – Using matching programs supplemented by machine learning can help a firm determine if there are any, less obvious, jobs that an applicant would also qualify. Matching people with jobs will also be improved by looking not just at an applicant’s past job titles and degrees, but also at their skills and capabilities.
  • Interview scheduling – is time-consuming and dramatically reduces your speed of hiring. Fortunately, there is existing software that allows a candidate to self-schedule their own interviews depending on their availability.
  • Interviews – can be time-consuming, so it makes sense to automate the initial ones with a chatbot that provides personalized questions based on your job profile. Also, there already exists technology that allows the use of neuroscience tools like voice and facial recognition to assess aspects of video recorded interviews that no humans could detect. There are even voice modulation programs that can help you obscure the voice of telephone interviewees so that it’s harder to identify their gender and national origin.
  • Supplemental candidate assessment – in addition to traditional interviews. Natural language processing can check language skills and online technical tests and challenges can help to assess the skills of applicants. There are automated programs that can more consistently determine cultural fit. Eventually, virtual reality simulations will be able to supplement interviews by giving candidates actual problems from the job to solve.
  • Offer acceptance – based on the candidate’s persona and profile. Recruiters can put together offers that are more likely to be accepted while at the same time treating all genders equally when it comes to compensation.
  • Learning from hiring failures – By definition, machine learning processes continually identify mistakes and errors. Recruiting will have an ongoing failure analysis process that continually and automatically finds hiring and bias errors and their root causes, allowing recruiting processes to improve at a much faster rate.
  • Other technologies – in addition to AI/ML technologies. Block Chain may eventually make checking educational and employment credentials easier and more accurate. Skype and video technologies already make it much easier to interview remote candidates without requiring them to travel. Machine learning will make predictive analytics in the area of projecting the future trajectory of finalists (in the areas of performance, retention and promotions) much more accurate.

Final Thoughts

Although most firms don’t track it, the average failure rate of new-hires at all job levels hovers around 50%. For example, Leadership IQ found that when “they tracked 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months”. Former Harvard Professor and author Michael Watkins reveals that “58% of the highest-priority hires, new executives hired from the outside, failing in their new position within 18 months”. Part of this broad failure results from overworked recruiters, normal human errors and unconscious biases throughout the recruiting process. Fortunately, the machine learning technologies highlighted above will soon minimize those problems through automation and continuous improvement. The results will be hiring faster, lower cost and more importantly hires that perform better on the job (i.e., quality of hire), that are more diverse and with fewer hiring failures. Recruiters should also take note that as more recruiting transactions are automated, it will allow current recruiters to “raise the bar” and to move into the more strategic Talent Advisor role.

Finally, recruiters should also be aware that they will soon be recruiting many more individuals into machine learning roles. The share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5 times since 2013 (Source: Stanford).

Want to see how machine learning can help you find better technical matches for your open roles?  Check out CodeSignal Recruiter or attend an upcoming webinar.

About the Author:

Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley. Specializing in strategic Talent Management solution. He is a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. Fast Company called him the “Michael Jordan of Hiring”, Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management. Dr. Sullivan is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State

If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with an accurate picture of the future of technology in recruiting, please take a minute to follow or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn.

© Dr. John Sullivan 5/2/18 for Codefights

Why Experience Diversity Matters in Tech

Why Experience Diversity Matters in Tech

Diversity, as a concept in technical recruiting and hiring, covers a lot of ground. It can include race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and religion. Diversity can also include different thinking, working, and communication styles. But there’s one specific form of diversity doesn’t get a lot of press, but is extremely important for companies that want to build innovative engineering teams: experience diversity.

Experience diversity basically refers to having a variety of different life experiences and backgrounds. These experiences will naturally lead to different viewpoints and problem-solving styles. From the perspective of an engineering team, two important factors in experience diversity are a candidate’s schooling and their work history. When hiring engineers, a candidate who comes from an educational background that’s not the expected path for an engineer (a computer science degree, preferably from a “good” school) is bringing experience diversity to the table. And someone who comes from a different industry, or perhaps even from different starting career, also has experience diversity to offer to an engineering team.

Of course, people have other life experiences that impact how they work and interact with a team. These can include their cultural backgrounds and their geographic backgrounds. (Since different regions have different work expectations and norms, a developer who’s only worked in Silicon Valley will work differently than a developer who’s only worked in Dallas’s Silicon Prairie.) Essentially, when you are considering experience diversity, think about the ways a person’s lived experiences, both personal and professional, will inform their unique perspectives, strengths, and problem-solving tactics.

What happens without experience diversity?

Have you ever used a product and thought to yourself, Why didn’t they think about this very obvious issue? Often it’s because the people working on it didn’t even consider that use case! Homogenous teams tend to have fairly limited perspectives. People don’t know what they don’t know. And engineering teams can’t solve for problems they don’t know exist. So if a team is composed primarily of people who have similar experiences and backgrounds, there are problems and use cases that they simply won’t think of.

People with similar backgrounds are often like-minded because they have similar experiences to draw from. Consider the echo-chamber effect, where voices amplify voices that are similar to their own. Affirmation from like-minded colleagues creates a feedback loop that can squelch innovative, outside-the-box thinking.

Why experience diversity matters

Diversity is an asset to companies, and the whole engineering team benefits when it’s composed of diverse members. Psychological research indicates that members of diverse teams are more likely to question their own biases and look at problems from different viewpoints. Diverse teams are better able to think about issues from different perspectives, and work accordingly. Teams comprised of people from a broad range of life experiences are more innovative and adaptable. Since they pull from a variety of viewpoints, the teams can more rapidly assess and adapt to new challenges. Additionally, studies show that diverse companies are both more successful and more profitable than competitor companies that lack diversity.

Say your engineering team is composed solely of people who graduated with computer science degrees from large schools. They will necessarily think about problems and create solutions from that perspective. But if you hire engineers who came from different industries before becoming engineers, you’ve automatically injected new points of view into your process. Different experiences breed new perspectives! People who aren’t industry insiders bring fresh solutions to problems.

Get a broad range of perspectives beyond your company’s tech stack, your vertical, and beyond even the tech industry itself. Your company will give itself a serious competitive edge! In an industry that’s constantly changing and growing, experience diversity is extremely important.

Actionable steps

So how do you increase experience diversity in your own company?

Remove arbitrary barriers

Remove language in job descriptions (if you’re using them) that set up arbitrary barriers for interested applicants. Stating that the role requires a computer science degree or a certain number of years of industry experience are usually meant to indicate that a role requires a certain skill level. But a degree and years of experience are imperfect proxies for skills. And they often cause qualified candidates to self-select themselves out of the process! Remove limiting language like this. Instead, focus on the skills necessary to do the job successfully.

Use skills-based recruiting techniques

Skills-based recruiting, also known as skills-based hiring, uses machine learning to take inefficiency and human error out of the tech recruiting process. It helps you ensure a candidate meets or exceeds all the technical specifications for a specific position before you even talk to them. A tool like CodeSignal Recruiter Test helps you assess skills using an unbiased, automatic platform that circumvents people’s natural unconscious biases. When you hire based on skills, not on background and credentials, your experience diversity – and your overall diversity – will increase.

Widen your net

Recruit and hire people who come from outside of the tech industry. And be open to hiring people who might be in tech already, but come from different verticals or specialties. If the skills and the interest are there, they’ll learn about the particulars of your stack and vertical market, and they’ll bring exciting new perspectives. So instead of automatically rejecting a candidate because they don’t have a computer science degree or any relevant industry work, consider how their unique work experiences might enhance your team. Then send them a coding assessment and see how they do!

Be intentional

Having an engineering team full of people from diverse backgrounds doesn’t just happen by accident. When it comes to candidates, focus on skills first and foremost. Just because a candidate doesn’t fit your idea of what an engineer looks like, or doesn’t have the “right” background, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a great fit. That’s why it’s so important to have objective skill data to inform your recruiting and hiring processes.


People with diverse experiences will challenge assumptions and beliefs. These engineers will shake things up at your company, in the best way possible. So start hiring for experience diversity, and watch as your engineering team becomes even more innovative!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting platform for modern hiring teams. The platform gives companies the tools they need to source, test, and measure engineers. CodeSignal Recruiter will help you start focusing on skills and increasing experience diversity on your engineering team. Sign up today for a free demo!

Recruiters, Resumes are Steering You Wrong

Resumes are Misleading

Self-reported skills are misleading. As a technical recruiter, this isn’t news to you! You’re probably all too familiar with the pain of finding a prospect who looks like a great match on LinkedIn, only to realize that they’re nowhere near as knowledgeable as they made themselves out to be in their profile. Or the pain of having a seemingly great candidate knocked out of the running at the phone screen because they’re not as skilled as their resume implied they were.

Of course, every recruiter knows that some people pad their LinkedIn profiles. And resumes are just as bad! Candidates, if they’re smart, spend a lot of time meticulously polishing their work history, education, skills, and projects into a profile or resume that’s designed to get your attention. The result is a document that looks like it came from the perfect candidate. But the reality is rarely that rosy. Relying on resumes and LinkedIn to find candidates means that you’re relying on self-reported skills – which are notoriously unreliable.

And while there’s certainly some misdirection (or even outright lies) on a lot of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, there’s an even bigger reason that these self-reported skills are unreliable.

People are really bad at judging their own skill levels.

Most people aren’t purposefully trying to mislead recruiters or potential employers. But in all likelihood, they aren’t accurately gauging their own technical proficiency, either! This primarily stems from three problems:

It’s almost impossible to judge your own skills

The issue is that almost nobody has the sort of perspective necessary to objectively assess their own skills. (One study went so far as to state that “In general, people’s self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance.”) This means that most people are constantly overestimating (or underestimating) their proficiency at most things, including their professional skills.

People don’t know what they don’t know

People who are new to the industry are especially prone to this. Someone who’s right out of school or just completed a bootcamp will have very fresh skills, but they lack industry experience. They typically have a good breadth of knowledge, but lack depth. If they lean towards overestimating their own skills, they put every technology they’ve ever touched In their LinkedIn profile’s skills section. But they don’t know enough yet to realize that they still have a lot to learn! Or if they tend to underestimate themselves, they may not give themselves enough credit for a skill that they actually do have.

People compare themselves to others, but not objectively

Engineers compare themselves to other engineers constantly – it’s just human nature. But that comparison is rarely objective. Someone might think they’re a better programmer than a coworker because they solve certain problems more quickly. But they may be ignoring the fact that this coworker is better than they are at different skills. The fact that people are very bad at judging their own skills (see the first point) means that they’re also not good at comparing their skills to other people’s.  

Stop relying on self-reported skill data

When it’s left up to an individual person to tell you what their skills are, you’re unlikely to get a good idea of their actual skills or skill levels. Sometimes this is deliberate. But a lot of the time, it’s simply because people just aren’t good at evaluating their own skills.

Bottom line? It’s hard to really evaluate candidates on paper! Their self-reported skills rarely ever line up with their actual skills and skill levels.

If you can’t rely on self-reported skills, how can you weed out unqualified candidates at the top of your recruiting funnel? If they get any further – to the technical phone screen, or worse yet, the onsite – this ends up wasting a lot of time for the engineering team. Not to mention the fact that it wastes your time! You’ve got better things to do, like concentrate on great candidates with the right qualifications.

1. Use a sourcing service.

The best way to never even see unqualified candidates is to use a developer-specific sourcing service. However, it must be a sourcing service that actually pre-qualifies the candidates that they send you! Many sourcing services and recruiting firms also rely solely on self-reported skill data, which leaves you at square one. A service like CodeSignal Recruiter Source, which objectively assigns every candidate a score based on their code-writing skills and knowledge of programming topics, ensures that you only see candidates who definitely have the skills you need. Since skill verification is taken care of already, this saves you and your engineering team a lot of time and energy later.

2. Streamline your outbound sourcing.

You may still need to use LinkedIn for outbound sourcing. If so, you can speed it up and take a lot of the guesswork out of the process with the CodeSignal Recruiter Sourcing Assistant. This Chrome extension, available only to CodeSignal Recruiter customers, analyzes the skills necessary for your open roles, as well as the data that’s already being collected on CodeSignal Recruiter. The assistant then uses your data to identify high-potential prospects on LinkedIn and assign them a matching score. If they seem like a good match, you can immediately send them a coding assessment. Their results will determine whether they move forward in the process.

3. Assess prospects immediately.

Pre-screen prospects right away, at the top of your recruiting funnel. This is a great way to weed out candidates who’ve overstated their skills, before they even get to the technical phone screen. The key here is to create coding assessments that test for the right skills – not just for skills in general. Just because  a candidate can reverse a linked list doesn’t mean they have the skills you need for your open role. Ideally, this coding assessment should require minimal work from your engineering team. A product like CodeSignal Recruiter Test allows you send and manage coding assessments at scale, then get back results with objective skill scores. With these, you know exactly which candidates you should move on with. All without having to waste any of your engineering team’s time!


The benefits to you? Since you will be weeding out unqualified candidates right away, this takes the guesswork out of your sourcing and recruiting. You’ll have quantitative data about candidate skills, so you’ll be able to benchmark individuals against your company’s skill thresholds. This also means that you can compare candidates more objectively, instead of relying on gut feelings or poorly remembered interactions.

Once you take self-reported skill data away from your decision-making processes, your recruiting process will speed up. You’ll save time and energy, both for yourself and for the hiring team. Stop relying on what prospects tell you about their skills. Start measuring and quantifying their skills instead!  

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. CodeSignal Recruiter gives you the tools you need to stop relying on self-reported skills. Learn more about how CodeSignal Recruiter helps you use objective data to make hiring decisions.

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.

Remember:

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!

The Culture Fit Trap

Don't Hire Engineers for Culture Fit - Hire for Skills

Companies – especially companies in Silicon Valley – have long prized the idea of culture fit. Culture fit is, as a concept, a little bit nebulous, but in general it refers to the idea that a candidate “fits in” with the existing company and team dynamics. On the surface, this seems like a great idea. After all, why wouldn’t you want to hire someone who seems like a good match for your engineering team? The thinking is that they’ll integrate into the team more easily and have easier interactions with their fellow team members.

So what’s the problem?

The issue is that recruiting and hiring based on culture fit has an unintended consequence: it leads to homogenous engineering teams. This can negatively impact your engineering team, your company culture as a whole, and your bottom line.

Hiring for culture fit is based on the idea that people who have similar viewpoints and ways of working will form a cohesive team. But this premise, if left unchecked, leads to teams full of people who have similar backgrounds, viewpoints, and working styles – and a glaring lack of diversity. (And it’s not just the kinds of diversity that usually get talked about, like gender and race, that suffer. It also homogenizes things like experience, age, working style, problem-solving methods, and more.) If interviewers prioritize finding people they think they’d get along well (and easily) with, then they’re deprioritizing other, more important factors like technical skills. Remember, they’re trying to hire engineers, not friends!

Prioritizing culture fit creates engineering teams full of people who are very similar to each other, in an industry that already suffers from a noticeable lack of diversity. Culture fit often simply codifies a hiring team’s unconscious biases. After all, people tend to want to hire people like themselves! As Tigran Sloyan, the CEO of CodeSignal, put it:

The biggest problem with diversity in tech is that humans are too involved in the skill evaluation process. We tend to like people who have a similar background to ours, which creates a self-reinforcing cycle.

In an effort to find candidates who “fit in” well with your company’s engineering team, odds are you’ll end up recruiting people who come from very similar backgrounds. Maybe this means that they went to the same few schools, or worked at the same handful of companies. And relying on employee referrals, a common practice in many companies, can exacerbate this problem. Employees often refer friends or people from their social circles – another form of culture fit.

Culture fit moves from being fairly innocuous (“Is this person’s working style similar to mine?”) to being problematic (“Does this person come from a background like mine?”) easily, and often unnoticed.

Who gets left out?

Think about who gets omitted when you recruit based on culture fit: People who went to the wrong school – or no school at all. Developers who’ve spent their career in a different industry. Candidates who just don’t “look like an engineer” or “act like a software developer.” People who have different working styles or needs. The list goes on and on. Hiring for culture fit tends to reduce your candidate pool down to a small, homogenous group. And it does little towards increasing diversity at your company.

The benefits of diversity

We often think about diversity in terms of race and gender. But the term also covers age, background, experience, points of view, working and communication styles, and talents. A truly diverse team won’t be homogenous on any of these points, and everyone will bring unique perspectives and ideas to the table.

This means that a team composed of people who have different backgrounds and experiences will generate more – and more interesting ideas – simply because of the fact that they have different points of view. Innovation will blossom. And once your company truly commits to supporting diversity, a new form of self-reinforcing cycle will start. But it will be a good one this time! A team that is already diverse is seen as more welcoming of diversity. So the kind of diverse talent that you want to attract will be more interested in joining your company.

The benefits of diversity can be fiscal as well. According to several studies, diverse companies are often both more successful and more profitable than non-diverse companies.

5 steps to avoid the culture fit trap

So how can your company avoid falling in to the culture fit trap in your recruiting and hiring processes?

1. Focus on skills

The number one thing to do to avoid the culture fit trap? Prioritize skills instead. This is the primary goal of skills-based recruiting, of course. By putting skill assessment right at the top of the recruiting funnel, you ensure that only qualified candidates make it to the interview stage. Coding assessments that use machine learning to quantify technical skills, like the ones the CodeSignal Recruiter Test application supports, are great for this. No one can argue with numbers!

2. Make sure they’re the right skills

However, make sure that your company’s coding assessments don’t reinforce existing biases. You don’t want a situation where the engineers who set up the coding assessments bring their own beliefs into the mix! If their unconscious biases skew towards believing that only computer science graduates from top schools can do a job well, their assessment will reflect that. But if a company is honest and objectively thinks about the skills the job actually requires, they can create a coding assessment that will filter for people with the right on-the-job skills, regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, or background. (Learn more about how to craft a coding assessment that will test for the right skills.)

3. Be specific with feedback

Don’t let hiring teams rely on culture fit when they’re deciding whether to move on to the next stage with a candidate. When they’re reviewing a candidate, they need to provide specific feedback that relies on objective data from the screening or interview. This keeps the focus on the candidate’s skills, instead of allowing imprecise “gut feelings” to determine whether they get hired or not.

4. Don’t mistake soft skills for technical skills

Don’t go overboard on letting a candidate’s soft skills influence your decisions. One reason that the culture fit trap is so insidious is that we’re hardwired to want to hire someone who’s likeable. But just because someone communicates well and gets along with the team doesn’t mean they have the necessary technical skills. That’s why it’s important to assess skills objectively!

5. Think about value add

Of course, intangibles and soft skills are important too when you’re recruiting engineers. If a candidate is a good programmer but was rude during an interview, you probably wouldn’t want to hire them. But how can you avoid relying on culture fit when you’re considering a candidate’s soft skills? By thinking in terms of value add instead. What will this person add to your team? If you look at recruiting and hiring this way, it’s easy to see how bringing in people with diverse backgrounds and experiences will be beneficial to your engineering team.


Remember: Focus on a candidate’s skills, but make sure you’re measuring the right skills. Make your hiring team give specific feedback that relies on data. Don’t be swayed by a candidate’s soft skills. But do consider what their value add to the team will be! By following these five steps, you can avoid the culture fit trap in your company’s recruiting and hiring processes. This will create an environment in which engineers from diverse backgrounds will be excited to join your team!

CodeSignal Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. We’re on a mission to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of your hiring process.

CodeSignal Recruiter gives your hiring team the tools you need to stop hiring for culture fit, and start hiring based on skills. Interested in seeing what CodeSignal Recruiter can do for you? Sign up today for a free demo!

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!

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!