How does the recruitment process work?
Grzegorz Papaj, 15 October 2019
The recruitment of developers can be a pain in the neck for the HR department. Opinions about the candidates available on the labor market oscillate between "spoiled specialists" and "incompetent juniors with no experience". So how is it with developers? Is there any chance to find the right developers on the labor market? This text opens a series of articles about the recruitment process. Let’s start with how the developer's recruitment process generally works.
Let’s put ourselves in the place of a typical recruiter or HR employee who was assigned to find a developer. And not just a regular developer but a specialist in a given subject. Usually, in the first place, a series of questions must be asked to help find a candidate. This is necessary to know what to write in the job description which will be posted on the company website or job boards. It is also useful as a list of points to tick off when looking for candidates in a database or on a social network. At this stage, the IT manager or other technical person usually specifies what the ideal candidate should know. This is often a long list of programming languages, frameworks, technologies, methodologies, and supporting tools. Recruiters may not have heard of some of them before. They know others, but only by name. But we can't blame them – that's not what their job is all about. And HR employees hire not only developers. They can't know everything.
When the company recruits for a specialist or managerial job position, it becomes important that the candidate not only “knows” the given technology but is also good at it. This is always a key aspect. After all, probably everyone has hired someone who did not meet the expectations. Unfortunately, skills cannot be checked at the CV collection stage. In practice, it means approximating them by evaluating the candidate’s experience – checking how many years and in what projects they worked with a given technology.
Hence, eventually, the checklist in the job advertisement includes characteristic requirements in the form of "at least X years of experience in technology ABC ". If it goes well, CVs start flowing in after the ad is posted.
The job offer should be the first step. Based on the job description, the potential candidate should do a self-assessment, and if it goes right, apply. However, it doesn’t always work like that. Many candidates apply for a job but don’t meet the minimal criteria. What’s more, there are also often situations when it turns out later that the candidates vamped their CVs up.
The recruiter’s job is to go through all applications and check them in terms of minimal formal requirements. In practice, this means ensuring that candidates listed all known technologies and have long enough experience. Of course, other aspects such as experience in our company industry or interesting projects are also taken into account. But the intuition and experience of the recruiter is also valuable. In the end, a list of candidates is prepared for further verification by interviewing.
Before first meeting (optional step)
When the recruitment process is carried out in an IT company with a constant demand for experts, sometimes there is an opportunity to verify the skills of a candidate even before the interview. Many companies use dedicated online tools to verify programming skills (for example Condility). Unfortunately, such platforms just examine specific technologies and only a limited part of the skills required from developers. But despite this, such online tools are useful things because they help to reject people who vamped up their CVs.
Sometimes the verification takes place also at the first meeting, where various types of competence tests appear, both in electronic and paper versions. These tests have one purpose: to reduce the number of people who are going to talk to the project manager or CIO in person (who should focus on software development or maintenance, not recruitment).
Interviews with potential candidates usually end the recruitment process. Of course, there are deviations from this rule. Sometimes there are two interviews (with HR and with a future superior) and sometimes the first part of the interview is all about skills tests (in electronic or paper version). Nevertheless, a conversation with a future superior is always held.
This is a stage when the IT department is involved in the recruitment process. Usually, the HR department provides at least a few candidates and from among which the manager will choose one to work with. The conversation during the interview is all about the candidate’s experience, sometimes going into the technical details of key technologies. There are also some questions about accomplished projects or opinions and personal preferences. If everything goes according to plan, this stage ends with the employment of the right candidate.
What can go wrong?
Unfortunately, the above-described model doesn’t always work that way. There can be problems at every stage. We will discuss them in the next article, “The most common problems with recruitment of developers".