How to hire a software developer in the age of AI powered talent assessments

You may have seen the prevalent definition of a software engineer – “a computer science professional, who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software.” While we do agree with this definition, we feel it is somewhat incomplete.   The contemporary – and more complete- definition encompasses not just technical computer-science know-how but also includes having knowledge of multiple programming languages, displaying strong communication & teamwork skills and the ability to multitask. Therefore, even though a candidate may ace an online coding test, he could still be found unfit for a role because he does not possess sufficient soft skills. Despite being a mismatch for this particular job, the same candidate will possibly get selected for a different job elsewhere, because the demand for high caliber software professionals has been going through the roof.

According to Evans Data Corporation, there were 23 million software developers in 2018, and this number is expected to reach 27.7 million by 2023. The same report estimates that India’s developer population is likely to overtake the US by 2023.  While these demand numbers may look very exciting for India, and there is more than enough supply in terms of software/Computer science graduates, regrettably, the ‘quality’ aspect of this equation leaves much to be desired. Not surprisingly, there are many challenges that recruiters face on an everyday basis when hiring software developers, engineers, coders etc. Here are the top few:

  • Talent Paucity: Employability trends in India, as indicated in Aspiring Mind’s National Employability Report-Engineers, show that almost 80% of engineers are not employable for any job in the knowledge economy. One can blame an ineffectual education system or deficient course content as the root of all talent problems, but the truth remains that hiring quality candidates from this gigantic talent pool becomes a little like looking for a needle in a haystack.

 

  • Lack of Basic Work Skills: In our minds, the dearth of technical talent is not really the biggest issue, rather, the lack of basic job skills is. The first challenge is basic coding ability. Shockingly, it is seriously missing in most applicants. Once you cross that hurdle, then comes the next challenge- having the ability to understand user’s needs, and then analyzing data to write a well written, fully functional, error-free program. IT skills aside, today even tech-leaning positions tacitly require the jobholder to possess strong analytical traits, client engagement skills and the ability to take constructive feedback. Unfortunately, with every additional assessment parameter, the percentage of relevant candidates keeps dropping down to alarming levels.

 

  • Candidate Evaluation: Having made the above point, the next obvious challenge for technical recruiters becomes how to effectively assess a candidate’s non-technical skills e.g. their ability to think creatively or drive innovation or their problem solving skills etc. If recruiters do not have the right infrastructure or interview solution to effectively evaluate the coders’ softer business skills, how can they hope to identify the right candidates? Despite their best attempts to keep the process for hiring developers homogenous, recruiters are unable to do so. The interview itself is an artificial environment for tech candidates to prove their skills, so if they are not asked the right questions or their performance is gauged using an incorrect assessment or interview tool, then candidates get selected on the basis of faulty information, which then brings down the collective talent quality of the firm.

 

Thankfully, hiring managers have been successful in navigating the talent labyrinth using a combination of latest technology along with an intelligent talent acquisition strategy. Following are some of the solutions they use to hire the best talent, and we absolutely recommend them:

 

  • Follow the Smart Sourcing approach: Technical recruiters develop an instinct for picking good candidates over time, but they still may not be fully effective alone. When there are too many open positions, and too little time, smart-source your talent. Team up with a hiring manager or a software engineer as a fellow interviewer to multiply the hiring efficiency and accuracy. For lateral positions, ask the candidates to show their previous work; apps, websites, programs, anything that they made themselves. As an additional hiring screen, give the candidates a program to write that is similar to what they could have been working on, had they been a company employee. Such an opportunity will show you not only their coding prowess but also give them a glimpse of how the actual job could look.

 

  • Integrate ‘Intelligent’ tech assessments: For hiring technical talent, you need solutions that are as technically adept like Aspiring Mind’s Automata, a coding assessment that adds AI firepower to your coding skills assessment process. Automata is the first ever AI/ML platform to grade programs precisely on Logical correctness and Code quality. As the world’s most powerful coding simulation, Automata has built-in simulations for over 50+ programming languages. Its question bank includes 500+ coding problems, all developed in-house and reviewed by experts. The system supports multiple languages including English, Mandarin and more, and also allows you to author your own questions or custom design modules using the Automata question bank. There are multiple anti-cheating checks and measures that analyze behavioural, response-based and image/video-based data to ensure candidates cannot cheat.

  • Adopt Online Interview Solutions: Offline coding interviews for hiring come with a lot of operational challenges. Even though they are conducted on computers, the task of tracking and collating interview feedback is not an easy one. Therefore, many companies have started working with AI-based online coding interview platforms like Aspiring Minds’ CodeMeet, to run disciplined pre-employment coding interviews. It offers a familiar, real world coding environment, captures AI-assisted insights on candidate's coding and state of mind, and evaluates and hires the best coders in half the time.

CodeMeet provides full text, audio, video live chat, and white-boarding to engage with and assist the candidates. Every aspect of the interview can be recorded and replayed including keystroke-by-keystroke code replay. As a coding test for employment, it is also used for team/group based coding challenges where multiple evaluators can assess the team’s candidates simultaneously.

  • Organizational Culture: An employee-conscious enterprise that makes a purposeful effort to create a learning environment will automatically reflect the same when it comes to interacting with the external talent market. To make sure the right candidates apply, you need to make a solid first impression.  When you reach out to an applicant, make your communication concise but personal, something that will help the candidate associate better with your organization. When you show empathy and transparency in the hiring process, he or she will have greater emotional connect to stay invested in the recruitment process. When you involve business managers (from the department you’re hiring for) who speak to them during the hiring process, they know the company is as interested in hiring for this position as they themselves are.

Irrespective of whether a candidate clears your hiring process or not, the experience itself should make the candidate very happy.  A happy ‘declined’ candidate today could well be a potential employee tomorrow, because he was left impressed with how the organization works and would consider applying again in the future. Just think about the ripple effect when many such candidates talk positively about a hiring experience with your firm!

 

Hiring IT talent can be both exhilarating and satisfying when you know you have AI-powered talent assessments working for you. Recruitment goals are not just about finding a body to fill a seat; they should also be about forming a bond with the new employee, finding synergies between their strengths and their job and making the hiring process more ‘humane’ – but with the help of technology. At Aspiring Minds, we can help you do all of that. Get in touch with us and let us design your future talent management together.

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