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Don't Delegate Hiring, Delegate Screening

June 19, 2016

Every growing company needs quality coders, ASAP.

But, even with this urgent demand, many recruiting processes are time-consuming and protracted. It can take businesses weeks (or even months) to gain recruiting momentum and move great candidates forward.

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When you’re leading an engineering function, it’s natural to focus your time on building products. Sourcing and screening candidates is time consuming and, often, unproductive. The first idea many managers have to reduce recruiting time is to delegate candidate interviews to others, and reduce their own roles in the recruiting process. But delegating interviews can end up with negative consequences. Without the right person conducting interviews, subpar candidates getting through, or great candidates might be passed over. Delegating interviewing can actually end up reducing your team’s productivity, and negatively impacting product quality if the best people aren’t hired.

Engineering leaders need to be at the core of the hiring process. You need to make the final call on which candidates make the cut, add value and improve the quality of the team.

I am not suggesting that you need to have ownership over this whole process, since there are people who specialise in recruitment, but you should not delegate hiring. It’s your team, and you will be motivating these people and will depend on them.  The final decisions are too important to delegate, as are the core final interviews.

So what can you delegate? Screening.

Screening can help ensure that you avoid the potentially wasted time of interviewing inappropriate candidates. If it can be determined early that for some reason a particular candidate won’t get “yes” from you, why bother the whole organization, and the candidate in the first place, with futile interviews and hopes? It is common for hiring managers to screen resumes and make some coarse selection at this level. I think that you can do better than that.

Hiring is a multi-criterion decision and candidates are always evaluated on many fronts. The outcome is a nontrivial combination of many smaller evaluations: communication, experience, programming skills, cultural fit... you name it. If one of these evaluations falls clearly out of your acceptance zone, assessing other criteria won’t change anything. By screening out outliers early, you increase “density” of your short list, i.e. increase chances that interviewing a shortlisted candidate will end up in your enthusiastic “yes!”.

Another consideration is how much time you will actually invest in screening. Screening needs to be relatively quick, otherwise the time you gain by reducing the number of interviews will have to be expended on screening.

Typically screening is implemented by a short glance over a resume. If I am looking for a senior programmer and a candidate admits to having written no code, there is little use in pushing this recruitment further. Unfortunately, identifying qualifications is rarely this black and white.  Gaining an in-depth evaluation of programming skills requires much more than just a glimpse over a resume. So, those candidates with at least a passable level of experience are moved forward to interviews. If many of these candidates are, after screening interviews, determined to be poor fits, the processes can be expensive.

Codility builds on the following reasoning: if you’ve determined the minimum acceptable level for some skill (programming), and if you have a cost-effective way to evaluate that skill (online assessments), you can dramatically increase the quality of candidates you actually move forward to interviews. Our automated test of programming skills replaces the gut-feeling-resume-glimpse evaluation. This is more reliable for you, but also more considerate for candidates, who have a solid way to demonstrate their skills. It also disassociates evaluation of the core programming skills from how well the candidate can present the skills on their resume.

For the process to work, you need to evaluate the chosen skill (for programming this can be done with Codility) and discontinue recruitment of candidates who were evaluated below your minimum acceptable level. And with an automated evaluation tool like Codility, you can empower your non-technical recruiter to arrange the evaluation for you. This means that a person with no background in technology is empowered to make a coarse assessment of candidate’s hard skills before costly engineering time is committed to the interviews.

All in all, you will still want to interview the candidates before saying the final “yes”, as you will depend on them and work with them every day, so the stakes are high. Still, if you set up and delegate your screening properly, the number of your futile interviews will go down, and the time necessary to hire the your dream employees will shrink dramatically.

Looking for a trustworthy platform to delegate screening on programming skills? Start a free trial now and see how fast recruitment can become!