Your Remote Coding Test is Killing Your Recruitment Campaign


Stewart Smith

Your Remote Coding Test is Killing Your Recruitment Campaign

The remote coding exercise has become an intrinsic part of software engineering recruitment over the last few years and in theory it is a great way of gauging a candidate’s technical skills, to work out if you need bother interview them or not. In my position as a Director of a company who have supported hundreds of software professionals change jobs over the last 19 years I have seen all sorts of hiring trends come and go, I can tell you that in reality the remote coding exercise is hampering the recruitment efforts of many employers to the point where the losses outweigh the gains.

You see, EVERYONE has a remote coding exercise these days – a skilled candidate coming to the job market can easily find themselves facing four or five tests/tasks/assessments/exercises within 24 hours of their job hunt starting. Sometimes these tests kick in after a telephone interview, so at least the applicant might be a little bit engaged with your company and opportunity, but ever frequently they are now coming up even before any interview at all.

So then what? - the applicant is faced with not only spending most of their day in a job they’ve decided they no longer want to then come home and face 2 – 4 hours homework each evening! Seriously, think about it, it’s even worse than school.

So what happens? - well invariably they tackle the first one or two or (if they’re super diligent and don’t have a great deal else to do) maybe three tests before the onsite interview requests start coming in and so the other tests get forgotten/ignored. It doesn’t matter to them that “the test was sent late because the hiring manager has been away” – or any other completely valid excuse, they have application fatigue and are now heading down the path of least resistance.

Now, of course you do need some way of measuring the candidate’s technical ability – you can’t hire a Scala Developer just because they say they are really really good, so what do you do? It’s a blindingly simple answer really; get them onsite ASAP and test them at your offices. But this could get really time consuming I hear you cry, well not if you design your test appropriately and set the right applicant expectations (if you don’t pass the test first there’s no point wasting your time with an interview).

How does this improve the success of your recruitment campaign?

  • You’ll get the opportunity to meet ALL the job seekers who are suited to your role, not just those who aren’t too busy with real lives to do yours and some other company’s tests
  • You’ll almost certainly be amongst the first companies to interview the applicant, so
  • You’ll be able to get them bought into your brand and role more quickly, and
  • They won’t dodge doing your test, because they’re sat there in your offices, and
  • You’ll get a better sense for how they actually problem-solve in the workplace!
  • By fast tracking them to an onsite interview you’ll be giving them a much better recruitment experience than most of your competition, and
  • They’ll like you even more for not taking up their valuable spare time with homework.

….and crucially you’ll be one of, if not THE first company to put a job offer to the candidate. Now, assuming the rest of your recruitment message is on point then why would they bother wading through a further multitude of remote technical exercises when they are already holding a brilliant job offer? Remember the path of least resistance? Despite all advice still a surprising number of applicants simply accept the first job offer they receive, so why not let it be yours?

This advice may sound counter-intuitive in our age of being constantly online and able to do so much from the comfort of our homes but in reality, a bit of old school hiring practice could really turbo-charge your hiring efforts and ensure YOU get to see and hire ALL the best candidates, not just the company who happens to send them their test first!

Stewart Smith – Self-professed recruitment expert and Bristol’s least hated IT recruiter.

- If you’d like some help redesigning your recruitment process or just getting to the bottom of where all the talented employees you need to hire are, email me stewart@novate-it.co.uk

I’ve just done a LinkedIn training course and have been advised to create some useful content to share with my network, subsequently this is the first in a series of posts about how employers and candidates can improve their recruitment activities, securing the best employees and jobs. All feedback gratefully received, if you think I’m talking rot then please tell me!