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The Beginner’s Guide to Screening and Evaluating Tech Candidates

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2020 was a tumultuous year for all of us – job loss, unemployment, and a pervading sense of uncertainty clouded business and commerce. Thankfully, the workforce has been quick to adapt and overcome. Interestingly, the employment powerhouse Monster commissioned a special report to examine what lies ahead for the future of work, and, according to the study, “[the future of work] is surprisingly upbeat: 82 percent of the respondents plan to hire in the new year, and 93 percent feel confident they will find the right candidates.” Recruiters’ concerns instead are trained on three all too familiar challenges:

  1. Assessing candidates during the interview
  2. Identifying quality candidates quickly
  3. Effectively screening candidates (pre-interview)

Let’s be honest. “All too familiar” is a welcome phrase in these uncharted times. It means we’re well acquainted, even comfortable, with the challenges we encounter. What’s more, in the world of recruitment and hiring there are well-established tools and techniques to address the above problems, so we’re not unprepared.

So, when you’re faced with hiring for an open tech role, what do you do? How do you overcome these recruitment obstacles, sift through a growing pile of applications, and find the right fit for your team? You do it by screening and evaluating candidates the right way.

When you post a tech employment opportunity, you’ll need help filtering through a large volume of applicants (this is normal with any open position). Unlike with other roles, tech-based positions come with an added recruitment difficulty – your own inexperience with highly-specialized, technical skill sets. Chances are you’re unfamiliar with programming languages and spotting brilliant lines of code. How, then, can you differentiate “good” from “great”?

The solution is simple: by screening and evaluating candidates to find the right fit for your position. However, unless you’re an experienced developer or IT pro, you’re likely unfamiliar with the method by which you’ll go about filtering and assessing your potential hires.

Read on to learn what your company needs to do in order to find the right fit for your open tech role.

The Basics of Screening and Evaluating Candidates

What is candidate screening?

Candidate screening is the process by which your team reviews and assesses job applications. By this stage, you’re past the talent sourcing part of the hiring process. Your job is to figure out who has the skills, experience, and qualities necessary for the position, and who doesn’t. Candidate screening is time- and resource-intensive, but most importantly, it’s critical to keeping the best talent from slipping away.

Why is candidate screening particularly important for tech positions?

By screening and evaluating candidates early on in the hiring process, you’re saving your team valuable time and money. This recruitment technique improves your efficiency and gives your company insight into your potential employees. For IT roles (including developers, architects, designers, project managers, and QA testers), there is a widening skills gap separating top talent from inexperienced individuals. Moreover, demand for tech talent far exceeds supply, so if you’re looking for a seasoned IT professional, you need to move fast.

What are the most common methods of screening and evaluating tech candidates?

There are several ways in which you can successfully assess your tech candidates. To screen for the right fit, you can require applicants to take skill tests and job-specific assessments. Additionally, you can turn to résumé screening and cover letter evaluation, use an applicant tracking system, request phone and video pre-interviews, conduct background checks (including a review of a candidate’s online presence), and carry out reference checks. Some of these take time while others save time, but they all bring you one step closer to your goal of finding the best fit for your team.

The Best Tools for Screening and Evaluating Candidates

Skill tests and assessments

Online skill tests and coding assessments are fantastic tools if you’re looking to hire a developer or IT pro. These tests allow your candidates to showcase their skills and personality, and more importantly, prove to you that they’re able to perform the tasks they’ll be expected to do. If you’re unfamiliar with Drupal but need to hire someone who’s highly skilled in the subject, you don’t need to crack open a Drupal for Dummies book – simply ask them to take a test. There are a variety of platforms that offer tests and assessments, but the best ones provide both pre-made tests, interactive coding challenges, and the option for custom assessments. Find a solution that balances automation and technical specification without compromising the human element. Take us, for example: Esteemed Screening engages over a thousand engineers and experienced technical leads who interpret each candidate’s test results and provide you with accurate feedback in easy-to-understand language.

Applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software solutions that typically leverage AI to scan résumés and find the best candidate. They’re time savers: with ATS solutions, you can sort large volumes of résumés in a fraction of the time it would take to do it manually. The downside, however, is that by relying on automation, AI, and keyword-based filters, you can miss out on top talent. Plus, just because an ATS pings certain words doesn’t mean you learn anything about an applicant’s skills or experience.

In our experience, this type of software can save you time, but often at a cost: you miss out on great candidates simply because you lose the human element of the hiring process.

CRM: Candidate Relationship Management

CRM software isn’t only for your customers. Recruiters are increasingly turning to candidate-specific CRM solutions to help them build and maintain relationships with their applicants. For companies hiring developers and other IT pros where, as we’ve mentioned, demand exceeds supply. Because of this, CRM can attract and retain top talent. Show your candidates that they’re not getting lost in the talent pool – schedule emails to follow up with applicants every step of the screening process, take notes to remember important information, and personalize the hiring process for potential employees. Remember: you’re assessing them just as they’re assessing you!

Screening-as-a-Service

With Screening-as-a-Service, you have the option to outsource your technical screening. If you’re short on time, low on expendable resources, or don’t have the technical expertise needed to thoroughly vet your candidates, you can find someone who can. Screening-as-a-Service provides you with a full screening and evaluating candidate experience. Simply submit your candidates and let a team of experts screen, assess, report, and offer thoughtful suggestions and insight.

Next Steps

As you can see, there are many solutions to the challenges you face as you search for the right tech candidate. You can leverage the many available tools and platforms to screen and evaluate your candidates yourself, or you can turn to a Screening-as-a-Service provider. It all depends upon how much time and resources you can free up to devote to the screening process. If you choose to DIY, there are hundreds of articles which compare the various tools and services out there.

If you choose to enlist the help of a Screening-as-a-Service company and team up to screen your tech candidates, we recommend Esteemed Screening. We use coding assessments, algorithm challenges, live technical interviews, and code reviews to find your perfect match. We know that no two candidates are the same, so we offer tailored screening and human-based reviews. Check it out!

Category: Screening