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Hiring software engineers has always been an imperfect game. 

Even companies known for hiring software engineers efficiently and effectively have experienced bad hires. It’s a fact of life in the recruiting industry.

But just because it’s a fact of life doesn’t mean these errors aren’t costly. According to a CareerBuilder survey, employers estimate that the average cost of a bad hire is over $18,700. And the more senior the role, the more a hiring error will cost you.

Closing the hiring margin of error won’t just help you minimize financial costs—it will safeguard your brand reputation and ensure you’re assembling the most productive workforce possible

The only question is how?

The Legal Side of Minimizing Bad Hires

There are a number of different factors that can lead to a bad hire. From trusting a candidate who exaggerated their abilities on a resume to rushing the process and failing to communicate expectations, one misstep can lead to a costly recruiting error.

To prevent these issues, hiring teams have put increasing amounts of work into the pre-employment screening and interview processes. And in technical fields, more often than not that means using pre-employment screening tests to get an accurate view of a candidate’s skills.

However, you can’t just implement any pre-employment screening test you find online. There are guidelines in place that regulate pre-employment screening tests. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Labor enforce the Uniform Employee Selection Guidelines which your pre-employment screening tests must fit into. And a few years ago, the Department of Labor started to penalize companies more heavily for violations.

In one case, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found that a company used a discriminatory pre-employment screening test that had an adverse effect on hundreds of black applicants. Because the test wasn’t job-related and didn’t meet the Uniform Guidelines, the company was forced to pay $175,000 in back pay and interest to the affected applicants.

If you need to review the Uniform Guidelines in their entirety, this free resource can help. But from a pre-employment screening test perspective, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • The type of pre-employment screening test must be proven to relate to the job. For example, an aptitude test would make sense for a software engineering job whereas a physical exam would not.
  • Race and gender data must be collected for every applicant and the pass rate must be calculated accordingly.
  • Test results require validation and tracking to maintain and prove compliance.

All of this is to say that pre-employment screening tests should be a formal part of your interview process rather than something recruiters deploy at will.

A developer working at a desk.
Pre-employment screening tests should be a consistent part of your interview process.

Eliminating Bad Hires with Pre-Employment Screening Tests (Legally)

The best way to eliminate bad hires is to ensure you’re hiring based, first and foremost, on real-life development skills, fundamental programming skills, and technical knowledge. And even though the Uniform Guidelines may make compliance seem difficult, the goal of pre-employment screening test regulation is simple—to make the process as fair as possible to give every applicant an equal chance at a job.

This is what our customers are able to do with CodeCheck. We built CodeCheck as a way for recruiters and hiring managers to improve their technical pre-employment screenings in the ways that matter most. That means pre-employment screening based on technical skills (not unconscious biases), interviewing only candidates that are qualified, surfacing the top candidates more efficiently, and ultimately delivering a better candidate experience.

Our pre-employment screening test solution helps you screen out bad hires legally with:

  • Anti-Plagiarism: It’s difficult to control what candidates do to complete pre-employment screening tests (especially when they’re distributed remotely). That’s why plagiarism is one of the biggest issues in online technical screening. Our suite of anti-cheating methods help us protect against and detect plagiarism. We scan the internet for leaked tests and take action when necessary while also adding additional protection through task randomizers and variable tasks for high-scale hiring teams. 
  • Quality Scoring Methodology: Measurement is a major factor in the compliance of your pre-employment screening tests. That’s why everything we do focuses on building a reliable platform—from the way we develop tasks and score candidates to how we build CodeCheck itself. Our screening tasks pass rigorous tests before ever reaching clients to ensure descriptions are clear and scoring logic is fair for all candidates. 
  • Candidate-Centricity: Candidates aren’t inherently opposed to pre-employment screening tests. But if the interview process seems unfair, they’ll make that clear. That’s why we try to strike a balance between candidates feeling pressure to perform and not feeling unnecessary stress. And as a result, we’ve found that 78% of candidates see Codility as a fair way to assess their technical skills resulting in an engaging candidate experience.

Pre-employment screening for technical candidates is too important to leave to chance. Making it a consistent piece of your interview process will help you minimize bad hires, streamline recruitment costs, avoid EEOC issues with non-compliant assessments, and create a better candidate experience.

If it seems easier said than done, we have an eBook that can help. Download Tech Recruitment 101: Screening for Success to find out how you can close the hiring margin of error.

Roy Solomon is Chief Revenue Officer at Codility, and an expert in the future of work. Roy leads Codility’s customer-facing teams and advises TA and Engineering leaders from around the world build their technical hiring and retention plans.

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