Aryan Dhiman image

High volume hiring using technical assessments

(without damaging your employer brand)

2023 has seen a paradigm shift in tech recruitment. 

What has been a candidate-driven market for as long as anyone can remember has shifted to a hirer-driven market. 

Until recently finding good candidates to apply to your role was hard and required dedicated outreach, whereas now, hiring teams are swamped with hundreds if not thousands of applicants from a single LinkedIn job post. 

We were chatting with a team the other day who had to pull their job ads because they already had 750 applications for a Jnr Full Stack Software Engineer based in London. 

With so many developers looking for roles, job applicants are taking a scattergun approach and applying for roles that aren’t right for them, making the job of making the hiring even harder.

The proverbial needle in a haystack scenario.

To combat this deluge of applications hiring teams need to employ some new tactics to avoid damaging their employer brand.

How to avoid damaging your employer brand.

With all the automation tools at your disposal, there is no excuse for ghosting job applicants 👻. Just because you are inundated with applications, some of which might well be unsuitable, doesn’t mean you can’t send a response.

What’s even worse is ghosting further into the hiring process, where applicants have spent time (and money) attending interviews and completing assessments only to be left hanging. Nobody likes sharing bad news, but leaving them not knowing is even worse.

Similarly, having one standard templated response to all applications saying “If you don’t hear back in 2 weeks, you can assume it’s a No” is bad practice.

Leaving candidates waiting two weeks is bad enough, but not even responding to them is killing your employer brand.

Stage 1 - High Level Filtering

Firstly, you need to assess the candidates’ suitability for the role based on their skills and experience. These details are available from a candidate’s CV or the form they fill in on your careers page / Linked In application form. 

Please don't ask for these details twice! This is the fastest way to lose good candidates from your process as it's one of the most complained about faults in a company's hiring process. 

You can use ATS automation to filter based on data parsed from CVs matched against your role or you can eyeball applications to decide which ones to reject (nicely, see above) and which ones to move to the next stage. 

Stage 2 - Short technical assessment or Intro call

Ideally, at this point, you start to engage applicants on a short video call. Lots of companies refer to this as a ‘Phone Screen’. Whilst you will be eliminating candidates at this stage in the process, this is your opportunity to start engaging the candidates and enthusing them about the company and the team they will be working with. If you leave this element to a later stage you’ll lose good candidates who just feel like you battered them with 20 screening questions without telling them anything about the role, plus it adds an additional step lengthening your whole hiring process.

If you throw candidates into technical assessments too early you risk losing candidates so giving them the option makes it their choice. However, you’ll also need to bear in mind that if these calls are taking days to schedule you might risk losing candidates through lack of engagement so offering to take some challenges keeps them engaged, particularly if they do well.

Why not offer your candidates options? 

Take our short technical skills test OR arrange a call with one of the team.

Giving flexibility in a process is key to moving fast and making the candidate feel positive about the experience. If they know they’ll need to complete these assessments at some stage in the process some will jump in and complete them straight away, others will wait until they know more about the role.

For high-volume tech roles this first stage should be automated, it should take the candidate around 30-40 minutes and should provide instant feedback. You can’t afford to send out 750 take-home assessments and dedicate human resources to evaluating them all.

Multiple Choice challenges like Geektastic’s Express Challenges are perfect for this stage in the process as they are cost-effective at scale and establish a baseline set of skills to give the hiring team a degree of comfort before engaging the candidate in more detailed and labour-intensive processes.

Once you have a positive initial call with the HR team and the initial technical assessment shows promise it’s time to start investing time with the candidate and for the candidate to invest more time in the process.  At this point you should have a good feeling about their fit from the initial call and also about their skills, both technically from the initial high-level tech assessment and their CV.

Again, flexibility is key to giving a positive experience and keeping the process moving. 

Stage 3 - Take-home assessment or Technical Interview with some of the dev team

Believe it or not, we’re not going to argue why take-home challenges are better than pair programming / technical, face-to-face interviews, mainly because we don’t think one is ‘better’ than the other. They both have a place in the hiring process and suit some candidates more than others. Ideally, you have a flexible process that allows candidates to choose which route they want to take.

Some candidates prefer the interaction with the team that a face-to-face session offers and allows them to make mistakes that they can then discuss and explain during the session. It also allows the team to take a broader view of the candidate and give the benefit of the doubt.

Other candidates prefer the privacy of their own IDE and uninterrupted thinking time to complete their take-home task.  

Offering candidates a choice here is more effort than choosing one option.

It takes a lot of time to craft a good take-home assessment and then review the submissions. It also takes a lot of human resources to manage face-to-face technical assessments. Luckily there are solutions like Geektatsic’s take-home assessments to help free up internal resources with our team of expert assessors and our library of code challenges.

One thing to factor into your process is feedback. It’s vital you provide detailed feedback to the candidate in return for their effort. This comes up time and again when talking to candidates as their pet hates from hiring processes, in particular the tech assessment stage.