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Let’s Talk About Hiring Assessments

tech hiring assessments

Frustration and confusion in hiring talent are rampant, with many employers left scratching their heads. You may be paying a competitive rate, but candidates keep rejecting offers, having accepted them elsewhere. Why does this keep happening?! It could be your hiring assessments.

Hiring Conditions Are Changing Quickly

Companies that want to remain competitive and hire the best talent must re-evaluate hiring practices, particularly pre-employment hiring assessments. If your team is agitated by the low number of candidates applying, part of that is the economy and a ghastly 62% labor participation rate, but also quite likely the number and types of hoops people have to jump through during your hiring process.

Over recent decades, employers have been in the driver’s seat, knowing that no matter how many hoops job seekers are forced to endure, they’ll do it. And the internet made everyone feel like a modern process was implemented, but because time was saved by applicant tracking systems, new hoops were added.

Pre-employment hiring assessments became popular, from personality tests to non-compensated test projects (spec work) that take hours or days to complete. The idea was that job seekers could be embellishing their resumes and experience, so a way to demonstrate their hard skills is understandably appealing.

With Stack Overflow’s recent survey indicating that 73% of professional developers coding outside of work as a hobby, it’s no wonder many in tech, for example, take offense to an unnecessary series of hiring assessments that answer questions easily detected in their portfolios. 

That’s not to say hard skills tests are unnecessary, but in conjunction with sample work, redundant rounds of interviews, psychological tests, and general disorganization, candidates are exhausted. 

They’re getting picky with where they spend their time interviewing, and they’re accepting offers from companies that have streamlined and expedited their entire hiring processes.

Job Seekers’ Biggest Frustrations

Several tech job seekers expressed to us that they are increasingly frustrated, asserting that complex hiring practices, including unnecessary hiring assessments, now turn them away. They noted their rising intolerance for timeless complaints like hiring managers with no technical knowledge, but numerous said that despite current conditions, many firms are “suddenly more nit-picky,” causing candidates to end the interview process prematurely.

For example, a candidate said that they made a mistake during a coding interview, but immediately realized it and explained the mistake and how they were course correcting. They were told the mistake would mean further scrutiny of their application. In the past, correcting mistakes during a technical interview would be normal, and helpful for an employer to witness so that a person’s thought process could be evaluated. 

Senior Full Stack Engineer Isaac Cohen tells us that his biggest frustrations are not just these classic complaints, but ongoing challenges like “technical screens where a person asks an open-ended question and you give a valid answer that isn’t the one they know, and then tell you that it’s wrong even though it works.”

Further, Cohen observes a “weird fixation on having the exactly correct tool [or] framework instead of realizing that if you have the language and relevant experience in a similar enough tool [or] framework, you will figure it out, which leads to my resume just being a giant list of largely synonymous buzzwords.” 

Suddenly, the Hiring Space Is Extremely Nuanced

Because employers are responding to inflationary conditions and dramatically reduced labor participation rates, hiring practices are having to quickly evolve to keep up with the marketplace. Job seekers are interested in salary transparency and improved hiring processes (which may include nixing futile hiring assessments), with many refusing to apply at all if either of those fall short.

In other words, we’re entering a more nuanced hiring space.

This will scare some employers, who will fall behind and surely blame the economy instead of a shift in culture. But quality employers will use this time as an opportunity to scrutinize every touch point with candidates and implement a more thoughtful approach.

What works for hiring an IT director won’t necessarily work for hiring a technical support manager or an IT project manager, even if they’re all related. Dare we say, having a blanket approach to hiring for all roles is officially over. 

Paul McGaughan, The HT Group Technical Recruiting Practice Director, astutely notes, “A senior developer with 20 years of experience does not need a baseline tech assessment. And hiring for lower-level talent moves too fast for customized hiring assessments at every turn. One of the biggest unnecessary bottlenecks is with contractors. Put up too many barriers, and you’ll steer them away.” 

So how can employers move forward with more nuance? 

McGaughan says, “Employers need to ask themselves how they can streamline their hiring to benefit both sides. Many midsize companies now view Amazon certifications for developers at the 3- to 4-year level. It’s the hallmark of the profession right now and so having the certification boosts credibility. Looking for these benchmarks instead of running your own hiring assessments can mean you can get an offer out the door in 24 hours, which is important right now.” 

Instead of just slapping a list of assessments on candidates, McGaughan advises that an alternative is simply tapping into instincts. “Good hiring managers and recruiters know how to spot talent that fits what’s needed. They know what to look for in someone’s background that will tell them if they should be given that first interview. You can identify skills and competencies without creating an assessment bottleneck.” 

An IT solutions provider that The HT Group recruits for recently revamped their hiring process for this very reason. Instead of conducting custom assessments from the outset, they now look for industry certifications (or indications of readiness for those certifications) that their cross-trained engineers will need to do the job. As a result, the interview process is moving much faster, which candidates now expect.

What’s Next? 

We expect this new pressure on employers will ultimately separate the wheat from the chaff, as the old saying goes. Many employers will not be keeping up with the changing culture and candidate demands and will be using a pre-COVID playbook. They’ll often be who you see tweeting that no one wants to work.

Simultaneously, successful companies are adjusting the hiring process to avoid the “hiring assessment bottleneck” McGaughan refers to and understand that expediency is tantamount. 

Meanwhile, this is what you can expect candidates to be sharing across social networks as they push back and mock the employers whose processes are suddenly wildly outdated:  

If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to eliminating unnecessary hiring assessments, drop McGaughan and our tech recruiters a line.