With the increase of globalisation, automation, and digitalisation in workplaces worldwide comes a demand for increased technical ability from a workforce. Developers, programmers, and other technologists are in high demand and the market show no signs of slowing. Digital tools and coding assessment platforms have existed and been utilised for many years in the effort of making more informed hiring. When hiring for specific technical positions, especially when doing so from across the globe, tools that can help streamline the process and authenticate skills and abilities are increasingly important. There are several advantages and disadvantages of using digital hiring tools in commodities technology, finance and across the digital market, which we’ll be outlining in this article.
- Flexibility / Streamlining
- Allowing candidates to conduct interview-related tasks on their own time offers a huge degree of flexibility. They can complete it around their life commitments and choose an optimal time/environment to achieve the best results. It also allows for the option to complete practice tests before the real one.
- Hiring teams can streamline the hiring process by having multiple candidates use the platform at one time, decreasing the burden on them to go through CV’s and spend huge amounts of time interviewing candidates face-to-face. Leading platforms offer a suite of visualised data for each candidate’s completion allowing hiring teams to compile a clear understanding of the candidate’s ability.
- The main assessment platforms come with a collection of preset technical tests and the ability to select a language, framework, and format. These platforms also allow the option for more granular customisation in which the hiring manager can preset questions or scale up difficulty and technicality. Adding in the option of the platform hosting live screen share sessions with a shared editor increases the functionality to suit all hiring needs. Each platform has a unique offering; it’s a competitive sector and as such hiring managers and companies have a plethora of optionality.
- Leading assessment platforms also have robust cheating detection systems. Platforms such as Codility use a Photo ID verification, IP detection to ensure tests aren’t being taken in the same place as others as well as a plagiarism detection system and a solution leak detection system, however, technologists have found advanced ways to bypass these anti cheating systems.
- A key benefit of using digital hiring tools is their ability to reduce or even eliminate bias from the hiring process. Theoretically at least, a virtual exam can evaluate a candidate’s skillset purely based on their performance, placing them on a shortlist without a human interviewer being aware of any defining characteristics of the person.
- Assessment platforms such as HackerRank – when utilised as a tool in a toolbox instead of as the whole toolbox itself – can provide more than a percentage on a page. They can highlight strengths and root out weaknesses, it can allow the candidate to prove more skill than they can in a technical interview and gives the hiring team physical proof of this. Goldman Sachs, for example, allow their candidates to choose from a programming test or a programming and mathematical test. This can also help the hiring manager stay informed about what team, project and career trajectory the candidate is best suited to.
- One of the biggest arguments against assessment platforms is the amount of time spent on them. Within commodities technology, the senior level roles often involve an in-depth test to ensure the individual has the specific skill required, for example algorithm-based questioning. Many of these require multiple hours of work on the candidate’s behalf. When many are likely juggling a full-time job and plenty of other responsibilities (family, exercise, etc.) asking for several hours’ unpaid work is controversial.
- When developing complex quantitative, algorithmic, or automated systems within commodities technology and finance technology, developers are constantly problem solving. The context of the problem advises how the solution is formed. When complex questions are presented in assessments platforms without context, it can often be frustrating, dull to solve and due to the lack of context, answers can vary. If the answer to the question needs a very specific solution, variation in how the solution is formed can result in a rejection or low score.
- Often, senior technologists have strong fundamentals and only specific areas of capability need assessing. Senior technologist can sometimes feel that taking a coding test is a waste of time due to their experience. Of course, other criteria need to be considered such as previous employment, length of employment, references, etc., but some senior individuals argue that this is best assessed in a conversation format and not a formal, sit-down technical test.
- Some companies opt for a screen share session in which a hiring team or manager will assess someone’s coding ability from a live coding session performed by the candidate. It is widely accepted that being in this situation is stressful, a hiring manager watching your every key stroke as you solve a problem, when in reality, this does not represent a normal coding environment. In these stressful situations, it is not uncommon for engineers and developers to have a subpar result.
Coding platforms are not new to the technical hiring process with some of the largest and most successful commodities and financial firms implementing their use. Streamlining processes, especially time intensive ones like hiring seems like an obvious step to take, when you add in the risks and repercussions of hiring a bad developer, these assessment tools can present a tantalising offering.
The coding platform industry is competitive; they are utilised worldwide and sector wide from everyone from Shell to Booking.com, Morgan Stanley to Salesforce. As a technologist job seeker, you should expect to ask to complete a technical test as part of the interview process, key to this is understanding that streamlining, standardisation and eliminating bias are at the heart of the decision to implement a test.
With Junior or Graduate positions, assessment platforms are imperative to screen the sheer number of talented individuals applying for a lucrative career in Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan for example. Candidates commit considerable time to practicing for the assessment and take on additional assessments to prove their skill and knowledge.
Coding platforms, screen shares, whiteboard sessions are all suitable ways of assessing someone’s ability, rarely in other industries is a pre-show of skill a requirement for a role. Tech industries have made incredible strides to improve technical hiring but has enough thought been given to the individuals that are being hired? Clearly, innovation in technical hiring still needs to be a priority with a focus on decreasing the time burden on the candidate and providing them a suitable environment for creation.
Does hiring with digital tools provide the best user experience (or will it)? What is your experience with them? Are they simply the latest innovation to be integrated to the digital world or should we revert back to our old-fashioned methods of face-to-face interviewing? Feel free to get in touch with Charles to discuss this topic further.
by Tom Meeview my profile