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Earlier in the year we passed the milestone of over 10 million candidates evaluated using Codility. A few months on we paused to reflect on what we’ve learned about hiring great engineers. 

What makes a great engineer?

At Codility, we’re lucky to facilitate a discussion around what makes a great engineer, daily. Whether it’s a soon-to-be grad who’ll be joining your latest intern intake, or a Senior DevOps Engineer who’ll take your platform to the next level, Engineering Leaders rely upon the insights Codility gives them to make the right decisions for their team.

The way the world hires engineers didn’t change much in the past ten years. But now, the market has changed dramatically. 

Almost overnight, digitalization has become the main driving force behind a company’s success as the rapid shift to remote work swept through almost every industry. Companies now more than ever are  relying on technology to help them adjust to the new reality, and the engineers that develop it are even more crucial. How good your engineering team is, and therefore technology, is often the difference between success and failure.

All these conditions have compounded the importance of getting engineering teams right. 

1. Every Hire Matters

We all know the cost of a bad hire — and it’s higher than you think. Whether looking at the financial cost of hours spent on remote onboarding, offboarding and eventually having to go through the remote hiring process again, or thinking about the trust withdrawal associated with every “parting ways” email and reorganization.

Hiring the wrong person is expensive and painful.

Companies using Codility significantly reduce the risk of mis-hiring, while optimizing their remote hiring processes for making merit-based recruitment decisions, and at the same time, delivering an excellent candidate experience. We’ve learned that no matter the size of the team or stage of the company, for engineering teams, every remote hire is high-stakes. The more you can simulate what it would really be like to work with your candidate, the better insights you can gather. This goes a long way in helping both the candidate and the hiring manager make better decisions.

2. Engineers are not Hackers

When we ask our customers what sort of advancements they’re trying to make, and therefore, the type of technical teams they need to build, we get into a detailed conversation about the modern engineer.

“The engineers our customers are hiring are multidimensional,” said Roy Solomon, CRO at Codility. “They’re masters of adopting new technology while systematically thinking through long-term needs.”

Engineers are able to write sophisticated code that speeds things up, and is maintainable and secure. They’re technically experienced, but also have the people skills to effectively work within a team. All of these elements are far from the outdated image of a hacker sitting alone in a dark room, and are key components of a great hire at every level of experience.

3. Hiring Should Never be Designed to Trick the Candidate

Candidate experience (CX) is taken seriously by all hiring teams. Rightly so, since the best engineers will see your hiring process as an indicator for what it would be like to join your team. While you’re judging them as a candidate, they are judging you back as an employer. According to a 2018 Human Capital Institute study, 60% of job seekers reported having a negative hiring experience, and 72% of them then shared those negative experiences online.

“Our customers are interested in seeing their candidates in action in real scenarios that would happen at work,” says Lukasz Krogulec, Senior Community Manager at Codility. “Relevant problems provide useful insight into their skillset, and a more positive experience for the candidate.”

We’ve worked closely with our customers to build and implement their candidate experience, from making sure our tests in CodeCheck are easy to understand and unbiased in their scoring, to developing more options in CodeLive for facilitating compelling remote technical interviews like Canvas.

4. Merit-based Hiring Needs to be Blind

The status quo for hiring engineers still relies on resume screening which, other than being a very time-intensive process, allows subconscious biases to enter decision-making from step one. The modern way to recruit is to qualify first, based on proven technical skill, before you even look at a resume.

But even with the desire to run a fully merit-based hiring process, there are still a lot of ways biases can enter. We spend a lot of time continuously evaluating our approach to skill evaluation to see how candidates across diverse genders, ethnicities, experience levels, and locations react and perform to a skills-based hiring process.

“We’re impressed with how many different solutions can be created for one task” says Jacek Tomasiewicz, Engineering Lead at Codility. “This shows that there are many different ways to look at a problem, and that each candidate has a different perspective, based on their own experience and strengths.”

We’re really interested in how we can help our customers run more anonymized merit-based recruitment that’s accessible and inclusive for all candidates.

5. The Strongest Candidates Think About the Details

After seeing 10 million candidates, there are some basic patterns we see in Codility which correlate with successful candidates:

  • They don’t make the mistake of writing long code, instead they optimize their solution to be as short as possible
  • They test their solutions many times before they submit it, testing not just for correctness, but also performance
  • They pay attention to the style of their code

“Short and clean code usually contains less bugs,” says Jacek Tomasiewicz. “This is really important since engineers are typically working with existing code and need to understand it, and how to add functionality or improve it.”

Engineers play a critical role in the current shift to a more digital and remote world. Having evaluated 10M+ engineers through our platform, we have a lot of insights on how to hire great engineers and believe that hiring and building a strong engineering team will be what defines a company’s success now and in the future.

Natalia Panowicz is CEO at Codility, where she has held key roles since joining as one of the company’s earliest employees. She has expanded Codility from Europe into the US, securing $22M in venture capital along the way. Codility has 150 employees over 3 offices, enables over 1,500+ companies to build stronger engineering teams, and is doubling its enterprise customer base year-over-year.

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