Hiring in Tech & Candidate Experience: Utopia vs. Reality
On December 6, we hosted an amazing panel discussion titled “Hiring in Tech & Candidate Experience: Utopia vs. Reality”.
We are grateful to those who helped us to make it happen — the lovely Mindspace team, all those who attended, and our wonderful panelists:
- Anna Fishman — HR @ Paua Ventures
- Anastasia Kudinova-Koca — HR Manager @ SO1
- Guilherme Dantas — Software Engineer @ Zalando
- Tobias Wieschnowsky — Team Lead @ MBition / Mercedes-Benz Innovation Lab
- Andreas Wolff — CTO @ FromAtoB
- Alexey Hanin — Head of Software Engineering @ Daimler Mobility Services
Now, we would like to make a brief summary of the conversation.
Our 2018 Survey among Tech Professionals in Berlin
The purpose of the event was to discuss the results of our tech recruitment survey we did this summer and, together, try to address the existing problems in that area.
We invited both tech and HR people to talk at our panel, to share their thoughts and to, together, find ways to improve the recruitment process among Berlin’s tech companies.
How to not spam tech candidates
From the survey, we learned that a tech professional in Berlin gets 17.8 recruitment messages per month. That’s on average. For some, this number goes beyond 100. Our panel speaker Guilherme Dantas counted 97 notifications from recruiters in his inbox over the past month.
What’s more, recruiters often fail to read one’s profile properly or pitch totally irrelevant jobs. This means dozens of spammy messages are sent to developers monthly. For example, recruiting emails to Guilherme featured technologies that he doesn’t work with anymore.
Our panelists shared some thoughts on how to not spam tech candidates and get your recruitment messages noticed.
→ Hiring companies should carefully choose third-party recruiters they work with and train in-house recruitment teams. Anna Fishman emphasized that approaching candidates in the wrong way will damage the trust.
→ Instead of sending cold emails, recruiters and hiring managers should try to connect with prospective employees. For example, by getting actively involved in the community.
→ Companies should work on their brand before starting to recruit new people. The stronger the brand, the greater the chance of getting your message read by a developer.
The role of the tech team in the hiring process
Our survey respondents were frustrated with non-tech recruiters and stressed by the fact that tech employees are not involved in hiring developers and engineers. We asked our panelists to comment on the role of the tech teams and tech leaders in the recruitment process.
→ In Andreas Wolff’s opinion, all the communication with candidates should, ideally, be done by those who are looking to expand their teams. Especially in tech.
→ Involvement of a tech team makes the recruitment process much more efficient. Alexey Hanin told how the duration of the hiring process went down from 3 months to 8 days at his company after the tech employees got involved.
Assessing candidates’ skills: interviews, coding challenges, take-home tests…
Of all the ways to test one’s tech skills, our respondents found technical interviews, a day in the office, and home assignments the most useful. Surprisingly, whiteboard interviews, home assignments, and pair programming sessions were regarded as the most useless.
We asked the guests to comment on the ambivalence toward home assignments and tech tests in general.
→ Half of our audience believed that take-home coding challenges are “a lazy way to recruit”. This is especially true for companies that give out standard or outdated challenges with little practical value for the current role. This approach only wastes everyone’s time.
→ Companies should know what they are looking for in a candidate and design their tests accordingly. All in all, engineers do much more than just coding; their job is equally about reading and understanding the code, testing it, creating documentation, etc. And often, it is mainly about creativity and thinking outside of the box.
→ Test assignments should be helpful and useful for all parties of the recruitment process, as it’s an opportunity for both the company and the candidate to get to know each other.
→ Andreas confessed that, in his ideal world, he would not do any job interviews. Instead of testing and interviewing, he prefers to see how the person works. Yet another argument in favour of a day in the office.
What makes it work between the candidate and the company?
Talking about a perfect recruitment process, our panel speakers shared what, in their experience, helps establish a good relationship between the company and its candidates.
→ Managing their expectations.
Tobias Wieschnowsky said asking candidates about their expectations and managing them throughout the hiring process pays off largely when it’s time to make a job offer.
→ Not pushing them.
Anastasia told a story about a developer that SO1 wanted to hire. He was in a process with a company of his dreams and, although he knew he would be rejected there, it was important for him to get the final feedback. Anastasia convinced her team to not push him and let him do what he wanted.
→ Giving timely feedback.
Feedback on both sides is extremely important. That’s something that everyone in the company should understand. Often, the hiring team forgets about the feedback, especially when the person did not pass the selection process, and it frustrates applicants.
Why do candidates reject job offers?
We’ve learned that a good salary, colleagues to learn from, flexible working arrangements, and strong company culture are the key ingredients of an un-refusable job offer. Our speakers shared the popular reasons for rejecting an offer.
→ Companies underestimate the importance of the culture, values, and environment. No benefits or perks can beat those.
→ Alexey pointed out such a simple thing as location. In his experience, people in Berlin sometimes reject an offer just because the company’s office is too far from where they live.
→ Although relocation assistance is a small fraction of the salary package, local companies often forget about it. When you are relocating people to Berlin, you should offer them at least some help settling down.
→Partners of candidates are a frequent reason of offer rejections. This is why Anna suggests that companies who relocate their employees consider selling the city to the partner as well. For example, by inviting them to join on a job interview trip and staying over for a weekend.
On the remote work in Berlin
For 22% of our Berlin survey respondents, working from home is an issue when it comes to job offers. So, the question from the audience was whether companies in Berlin are considering to allow their employees to work from home. In Alexey’s and Tobias’ opinion, this would not be the best option.
→ First of all, remote work works only when it’s a part of the company’s culture. Normally, most of the companies value and promote collaboration between employees. Besides, remote work is not as binding as on-site work.
→ Secondly, work is where a person spends a lot of time. Thus, it’s more rewarding to spend this time among people with whom you have a possibility to build relationships.
There were lots of other things discussed, which we simply could not fit into one Medium post. Overall, it was a great follow-up to our survey that shed even more light on some findings. (Our full Berlin Survey report)
We hope that this kind of a discussion will go on and we’ll have some more of it in 2019.
Meanwhile, you are welcome to ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments!
Or write us at email@example.com.