Data-driven Technical Recruiting
Tracking Hiring Conversion Rate
The first step is to track ‘conversions’ throughout the hiring funnel overall and per role: The percentage of candidates who progressed from 'applications' to 'CV Screening' to 'Hiring Manager Interview' - all the way to 'Offer Extended' and 'Offer Accepted. This not only allows the detection of bottlenecks but also helps to identify the right course of action to address them. Let's look at two examples:
- Low ‘Application -> CV Screening’ conversion rate. This suggests the quality candidates sourced for this role is low and you should modify the job description to be more detailed/specific or change your sourcing method for this role.
- Low ‘Offer Extended ->Offer Accepted' conversion rate. This means candidates don't find the offer attractive. It can be the company's mission, culture or the compensation offered isn't competitive enough. Collecting feedback from the candidates will help pinpoint the reason for the offer declination which you can use to help you optimize your future offers.
Having this data in front of you allows you to make good decisions, steer in real-time and react fast in a very dynamic and super competitive market, which is essential to hire the talent you need.
For candidates, quick feedback keeps them engaged with the hiring process and makes it more likely for them to convert. Hiring is a time-consuming activity for the hiring team. While it’s the sole focus of the Talent Acquisition team, it is often seen as a side job for the engineers and engineering managers which comes at the expense of writing code that delivers immediate value to customers. It is, therefore, recommended to track operational data and optimize for 'Time In Stage' and overall 'Time to Hire' which will help you find operational bottlenecks. For example, optimizing for the interviewer’s time may require preallocating slots for interviews or increasing the number of interviewers available. Another common issue is not having a dedicated person to schedule interviews. Often the recruiters are too busy defining job descriptions and processes, sourcing candidates, pitching, and providing feedback to candidates that they have less time to schedule interviews, and thus the 'Time in Stage' increases. Hiring a dedicated scheduler or using scheduling tools will help respond quicker and reduce ‘Time in Stage'.
Recruitment KPIs are used to measure recruiting performance and process. They can reveal areas for improvement and show the value and return on investment for specific recruitment efforts. At a minimum, the following KPIs will help you keep your hiring process effective in terms of quality, operations and processes:
- Time to Hire - Days elapsed since the date the job was posted or candidate was contacted for recruitment to the day an offer is accepted
- Funnel Conversion Rate of ‘Application->Hired’ - initial applications / candidates hired
- Offer Acceptance Rate - Offers Extended / Offers Accepted
- Hiring Quality - the % of new recruits who pass the probation phase
- Cost per Hire - Total recruiting cost / number of hires
The Typical Hiring Process in Technical Recruiting
If you want to make smart hiring decisions, you should have a structured hiring process in place before you even start looking. This means each interviewer knows from the onset what they are hiring for and that they can split the different domains and topics among themselves accordingly. This will allow you to make sure that you get the maximum data points in the shortest time, without overlap.
Analysing your conversion rate by source allows you to understand what is the right source for your needs at any point in time.
Best Sources for Engineering Talent
- Headhunting - Great for senior roles where you want quality over quantity. Can be done internally or using agencies.
- LinkedIn - great if you want volume. I find it to be a top platform as it allows you to be proactive in hiring (reaching out to people) and reactive (people reach out to you).
- Job boards (e.g. Indeed, Turing) - use if you optimize quantity over quality. It is useful as they not only do a great job at filtering, they also provide coaching and guidelines to candidates on what to emphasise on their resumes and/or during interviews
- Engineering communities (e.g. StackOverflow) - I have not found these to be a consistent, high fidelity source of high converting leads
Candidates are usually screened first by the recruiter/talent acquisition specialist and then by the hiring manager. You can optimise pipeline efficiency by looking at how many candidates are moving between the screening phases (and later interviews states). It is also important for hiring managers to be aware that as much as they are interviewing candidates, the candidates are interviewing the company at the same time. It is important that you make the candidate feel safe, respected and that you genuinely are interested in them and what they have to offer. At this stage, you might want to tweak the types of questions you are asking and perhaps even the interviewers. It is also important to look at the number of interviews each interviewer is doing each week to make sure your hiring pipeline is logistically and operationally in tune.
In this stage, a technical assessment is sent home in a move that allows the hiring company to filter out very large volumes at the top of the funnel.
Benefits of a Technical Assessment Platform
A technical assessment platform like Codility allows you to
- Set a minimum score for each test. This means that only candidates that meet certain metric criteria will be interviewed - keeping hiring objective and saving time.
- Utilise templates. Templates mean you get automatic scoring of candidates for a particular role in a particular industry in a specific language - without you needing to manually set questions and ‘mark’ them.
- Ensures you collect all the right signals. Using a coding test from an external source means that someone else has researched it to make sure all the right signals and data points are collected - you don’t want to have to repeat an assignment - do you?
- Gain insight into the hiring market at other companies. Some technical assessment companies like Codility provide their corporate users with the typical distribution of scores for that particular question they can use as a benchmark. This data is all anonymised and is coming from candidate tests of similar-sized companies and industries based on similar questions asked for similar roles. This allows you to assess the difficulty of the question and the distribution of typical responses.
Technical System Design (mid-level - senior-level jobs)
For mid-level to senior roles, you might want to test how well the candidate can contribute to the ‘big picture; Codility uses a tool called codeLive which is an integrated IDE with a video conferencing tool - which allows the interviewer and candidate to discuss the code as its being coded.
Cultural Fit Interview
Recruiting is a 2-way street. While you are assessing how the candidate will contribute to your team, the candidate is assessing how the role will contribute to their career and work-life balance. It's important to expose candidates to the culture and the people they might work with,
Meet the Team
A core element of the Codility hiring process is ‘Meet the Team’. It is important to both parties that the candidate and the people that they will be collaborating with get to meet and gauge how well they would work together. This can work in both directions - the team may decide that that candidate is not a good cultural fit for the team or the candidate can decide that the level of the people is higher or lower than what they expected.
How to Attract Tech Talent through Company Culture
It's a candidate's market these days and they are looking to not just be part of a company, but also part of a certain culture.
- Build the Right Culture. Every company is different but you can’t go wrong with implementing DEI policies and making your work environment a place where people feel safe and recognised. It might help to speak to current members of the team individually to understand if there is anything in the work atmosphere that can be fixed to make work a more welcoming place.. You can probably also find a lot of dirt online….
- Involve the Team. Engineers should understand the importance of culture in recruiting these days and be active proponents of creating the right one for your company. They will thus also be on board to create a welcoming environment for potential candidates when they ‘meet the team’. This means engaging the candidate in conversation and perhaps even being present in an interview. It is important to build a rapport with the candidate.
- Publicise your Culture. Your company culture should be a well-known fact. Candidates are scouring the web searching for data on your company culture and you want to make sure you have a good reputation.
Management and Leadership Interviews (for leadership positions)
When you are assessing a candidate for a senior position - recruiting is a different ball game. A C-Suite candidate needs to show their capabilities as a visionary and strategist. When I was interviewed for the CTO role at Codilitiy, I was given a big assignment which I had to present to the Executive Team and Board of Directors. Included in my assignment was a 3-year outlook in terms of the organisation, technology, and processes. To achieve this, I was given access to company material and used my relationship with the Executive Team and the Board of Directors (which I had nurtured as part of the hiring process) to get familiar with the challenges and strengths of the company I was considering joining. This made the actual onboarding much faster and efficient!
Meeting the Hiring Committee
The final step. The hiring committee mustn't include just people from the direct hiring team, but also some ‘outsiders’ who can reduce bias and retain objectivity.
AI and the Future of Technical Recruiting
I believe in the future we will have AI (e.g. bots) not just interviewing candidates, but also giving feedback to interviewers and candidates on how to improve either the way they ask questions or respond. Using AI in the hiring process will make things much more efficient. We are already seeing companies open to outsourcing interviews (e.g. having Google or Facebook interviewers interview the candidates) yet this is not scalable. Using AI interviewers is scalable and will free up a lot of time.
Conclusion: In this article, we discussed how companies can optimise their hiring funnel to attract top candidates in today’s competitive tech market. We analysed how available data can be used to source the right candidates, measure their performance and tweak their interviewing experience.