How to Adapt your Interview Process for Technical Candidates

Tech Digital is one of the most competitive candidate markets in the UK right now. Companies are struggling to attract enough candidates to meet their hiring needs, and the candidates that do apply are often in high demand. If you are lucky enough to receive an application from a great technical candidate, then the last thing you want to do is lose that person by failing to deliver on the candidate experience. To help you get yours bang on we have put together 10 suggestions for your interview process for those technical roles.

10 ways to improve the interview process for technical roles:

Consider applications outside of CV’s
Writing a CV can be pretty monotonous no matter what industry you work in, and if you are a software developer or a creative UX designer it can be totally alien to what you do in your day to day! Sure you will need to understand what experience a candidate has when you receive an application, but when it comes to tech you might want to widen the goalposts for how you will accept an application. For example if you are hiring a developer, a link to code they have created or a Stack Overflow profile might tell you a lot more than a CV, or if you are hiring a designer, you’ll want to see visual work through a portfolio or website rather than just words on a CV! When you advertise a role, make it clear how you will accept applications – the simpler the better to increase your application rate!

Telephone interview with someone technical
In a lot of organisations the interview process will commence with a short telephone call from HR / recruitment, to go through the details of the CV and qualify them for the role in question, however this might not be the best idea when it comes to technical roles! This is basically your first interaction with that candidate, that incredibly hard to find candidate with the tech stack you have been searching for. Will they be impressed with your company by having to explain their experience to someone who doesn’t specialise themselves within tech digital (or tech digital recruitment)? Consider getting your hiring managers involved at this stage, it might be 5-10 minutes out of their day to make that call but if it gives them an opportunity to talk tech and impress the candidate it could make the difference between whether they accept your job offer down the line or not!

Get the cards on the table straight away
The last thing you want to do is waste the candidates (or your) time, so it’s important to get transparency around what the candidate is looking for and what you are able to offer before inviting for a face to face in your interview process. As a minimum you’ll want to understand:

  • The candidate’s salary expectations – what they are on now, what they are looking for and why.
  • Where they live and how they will commute to work – understand costs and time to see whether it’s viable.
  • What their motivation to move is – is it just money (this can be a warning sign for a counter offer down the line), is it progression, are they attracted to your culture etc.
  • What their current benefits / perks look like – you might think you’ve matched their salary but holiday allowance / pension contributions / healthcare etc. can become a deal breaker too!
  • What their notice period is – and when they could potentially join.

While you might not want to discuss any solid details until you have interviewed the candidate, it is worthwhile giving a level of clarity on how your opportunity matches up. It can help to give the candidate confidence in you as a potential employer. Likewise if you know it’s going to be a non-mover at this time then thank the candidate and keep them in mind for the future, because stringing them along and then offering something way below what they are looking for will only cheese them off (and risk your chance of hiring them in the future!).

Move quickly and be flexible for your interview process
Great technical candidates don’t stick around on the market for very long so move quickly to get them in for interview as soon as you can. Bear in mind that great candidates will probably be working full-time, so where necessary arrange interviews before or after working hours to avoid missing out. Staying in the office for an hour longer than usual will be worth it if you can hire a hard to find candidate!

Understand your competition
Try and understand where else the candidate is out to interview, it will help you shape your face-to-face stage of the interview process and potential job offer by having that inside information. The key is to research the competition, so you know what you are up against in terms of salary, perks and benefits, location, culture, job role etc. Don’t be put off if you can’t match another company on salary, technical candidates are motivated by a whole myriad of things so as long as you can provide something that the candidate values you will be in the running!

Sell the opportunity
When it comes to the interview use the opportunity to sell the job opportunity as well as discuss the candidate’s skills and experience. You are interviewing the candidate to see if they are suitable for the role, but if a candidate is out to multiple companies then you need to use it as your opportunity to show them why your company is a great place to work! You could give them a tour of the offices, introduce them to the team and discuss a few of your stand out perks and EVP’s. Basically you want them to walk out of your offices feeling positive and enthused about potentially joining you.

Limit unnecessary stages in your interview process
As we have mentioned, great technical candidates will be in high demand, so if you can, try and limit the amount of interview stages you carry out to increase your chances of securing them. If you need to carry out more than one stage, you could consider introducing a Skype call alternative to the first stage face to face to make it easier for the candidate to accommodate.

Add a task / technical test
As much as we want to stress that you should use the interview process to excite the candidate about your opportunity, ensuring they have the right technical ability for your role is obviously a priority. Depending on the role, you might ask the candidate to complete a short technical test / design task / code review / presentation to give you a better understanding of their ability. Get relevant team members involved to make sure they are happy with the results, that way if you offer a candidate you can be confident that they are the right person for the job.

If it’s a no, let them down gently
Just because a candidate isn’t right for you today, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be suitable for another role in the future so it’s important to end the process on a high and let them down gently. If you fail to get back to a candidate quickly, give no reasons or feedback and don’t deliver the news in a professional and empathetic way then it can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the candidate. This can deter them from ever applying for a role with you in the future, and even cause them to spread negativity about your organisation to friends / family / online review sites!

If it’s a yes, then offer quickly
If you like the candidate, they pass the technical tests and you are ready to offer then go go go! Get that offer on the table and do your best to secure the candidate before somebody else does!

If you are looking to see candidates for software development, software testing, big data & analytics, IT support & infrastructure, digital marketing or design & creative roles then get in touch with a member of the Searchability team here.

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