While Covid-19 is busy wrapping the world in terror, one of the lasting consequences of the pandemic may very well be that Covid-19 is the catalyst that greatly accelerates the remote work trend for many tech companies. While we’ll all be desperately in need of a return to the office water cooler whenever quarantining ends, it seems likely that many companies will forever be at least more remote friendly than they were previously.
At Qualified, our team has always been 100% remote. That means we’ve hired our entire engineering team remotely and have always considered the remote experience when building our developer assessment platform. As we've watched the Coronavirus force many companies to embrace remote work, in-person hiring processes need to be redesigned in order to source and hire developers completely remotely. This post provides straightforward guidance on how you can take your old on-site hiring process and adapt it for the remote first world.
The good news? Making this transition can actually improve the efficiency and output of your hiring process altogether.
Promote your open roles as remote friendly
Most of your top of the funnel hiring process will remain unchanged, but consider posting your open roles to remote friendly job boards. WeWorkRemotely is a great option, or consider posting your jobs to sites like AngelList but setting the location for your open roles to “Remote.”
This change will likely turn out to be a blessing in disguise! By accepting applications from remote workers you’re dramatically opening up the talent pool that you can hire from.
Talent acquisition handles pre-screens per usual
Once your job postings are up and open to remote candidates, applications should roll into your applicant tracking system per usual. And your recruiting or talent acquisition team can handle the initial screening of applicants as they normally would.
However, consider using Zoom or other video call services instead of conducting phone screens. One of the benefits of on-site interviews is you get to see the applicant’s body language, social queues, and mannerisms—video calls provide an opportunity to similarly pick up on these signals, so they actually represent an upgrade on your usual phone screening process.
Additionally, considering using a very short (less than 30 minutes) coding assessment when you’re accepting applications to pre-screen candidates for technical skills. If you have decent applicant flow, this can be a great way to ensure that you spend your time with applicants who have already demonstrated some basic proficiency in writing code.
Use coding assessments to capture relevant work samples
As your talent acquisition team finds good candidates—ones they would typically invite to an on-site interview—instead focus on capturing a work sample from them highly relevant to the actual work they’d be tasked with if hired. This should be some sort of coding project or assessment that’s a bit more involved (we recommend 2-3 hours at the most), but it should be designed specifically to assess the languages, frameworks, and other technical skills that the role requires. This is appropriate at this stage because your talent acquisition team has already had the opportunity to sell the candidate on the role.
Work samples have proven to be the single hiring activity that’s most predictive of a candidate’s ability to be successful on the job—a platform like Qualified allows you to build your own custom coding projects or choose from a library of pre-built assessments. Candidates can work on these coding activities in their own time, giving them every opportunity to showcase their best work.
Ask engineers to watch code playback for finalist candidates
By now you should be in the middle of your hiring process, with candidates who represent a solid culture-add to your company and that have provided a reasonably scoped and highly relevant work sample. This is the first stage in your hiring process where you should involve your engineering term.
You can use auto-scoring technology to score the incoming code submissions, which is useful in validating which candidates can do the work you’ve tasked them with without pulling your engineers away from their day-to-day work. But at this stage you want your engineering leaders to go a bit deeper—it’s time to assess the quality of each candidate’s code.
This is where code playback can be really useful—ask your engineers to watch 5 minutes of each candidate’s coding submission, focusing on a particularly important or challenging part of your coding activity. Code playback can be sped up, making it easy to watch a solution that took 30 minutes to code in just a few minutes. This will give engineers a sense of the candidate’s thought process and coding ability—they can take notes on what they see and bring their feedback and comments directly to the candidate at the next stage of the hiring process.
Replace on-sites with pair programming sessions
Now that your engineers have had a chance to review the code each candidate has submitted, it’s time to replace your on-site interviews with pair-programming sessions. Qualified makes it easy to turn any coding assessment or project into a pair-programming session, so have at least two members of your engineering team pair with the candidate. Having multiple team members interview the candidate at the same time has been proven to increase objectivity, so it’s a good practice whenever possible.
As you’ve already watched a bit of code playback, this is a great time to ask the candidate specific questions about the code that they submitted. Better yet, ask the candidate what they might do next or how they’d alter their approach if new requirements were added. This sort of specific follow-up is a great way to see how candidates receive and respond to feedback and also gives you an opportunity to assess their problem solving ability.
Perhaps more importantly, this is also a much better experience for the candidate rather than asking them to write code as you look on. You’ll get a deeper level of insight, the candidate will have less anxiety, and they’ll be impressed by your preparation as you speak knowledgeably about the coding activity they’ve already completed.
Not only does this approach open up the talent pool that your company can hire from, but it’s also significantly more efficient than the normal process associated with on-site interviews for developers. Automated scoring and code playback tools will greatly reduce the amount of time your engineers need to spend reviewing coding projects—that’s a remote first improvement I think we all can get behind!
We hope you stay safe, healthy, and hire well!