Technical Recruitment FAIL. This is CRAZY!

Episode 12 - 18 Nov 2015

A recruiter called me about a month ago. She said she had a great opportunity for me. And it did sound good:

  • A good match for my skills and background
  • A short commute
  • A good rate
  • A fairly well known organisation
  • A very interesting project

Then she told me about the first step in the recruitment process...

... and I immediately ended the call.

Find out what she said in this short video.

There's an old joke about a hiring manager and a recruiter looking at a pile of 100 applications - all for a single vacancy.

The manager says. "How are we going to get through this pile?"

The recruiter without a word, gets up, picks up half the pile, and drops it straight into the bin.

(That's how old the joke is: no shredding or recycling in those days!)

The hiring manager is horrified.

"What the hell or you doing? You might have thrown away the perfect candidate.?

The recruiter doesn't miss a beat.

"Your wouldn't have wanted an unlucky one, would you?"

As a way of reducing a pile of applicants to a more manageable size, it's not subtle.

But it's not totally dumb either: it at least has at least two benefits that I can think of

it's requires very little effort

and it's random:

half of the good applicants - and half of the bad - end up in the bin.

Of course, this is fantasy. We don't do random.

We have a systematic process to reduce the pile.

The best applicants never end up in the bin.

Or do they?

Hi, this is Gary. Welcome to Development That Pays.

A recruiter called me about a month ago.

She had a great contract opportunity for me.

And actually, to be fair, it didn't sound half bad:

Technology-wise, it was a good match for my skills.

The client has in offices in central London, which is good.

Right on the District Line. Even better.

And the day rate was... rather generous.

She had my attention.

She then told me the name of the company. I'd heard of them. Hardly a household name, but well-known in its niche.

So a plus point. Not a strong plus point, but a plus point nonetheless.

Then she told me more about the role. Turns out they're working on some really interest stuff.

She'd got me on the hook.

And then she says it:

"The first stage is a technical test."

"It shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours to complete."

A couple of hours?!

Not a chance. I thank her for getting in touch and I wish her well with her search.

What just happened there?

I've done technical tests before. And I've done one technical test since.

Why did I say no on this particular occasion?

To answer that, I want to show you a graph of my "inclination-to-do-a-technical-test" plotted against time.

The spiky-ness might make more sense if I overlay my employment history.

Let's zoom in on one of the spikes

When I'm in the middle of an assignment, my inclination to do a technical test for another assignment is... low

My inclination increases a little towards the end of the assignment...

... then takes off once it has come to an end.

The longer I'm "between assignments", the greater my inclination to do a technical test.

But the moment I'm in a new assignment, my inclination drops way down.

What I've drawn here isn't an absolute value: it flexes up and down.

Call me about a really juicy role... and it heads up.

Call me about some dead-end job... and it heads on down.

Let's take a look at this from the point of view of the hiring company

using one of my favourite things in the world: a two by two matrix.

Here are our candidates, sorted by Technical Ability and their inclination to do a technical test.

If we ask all candidates to do a technical test.... we will successfully eliminate the candidates with low technical ability.

So we can strike through these two boxes straight away.

Everyone in the remaining two boxes will have the right technical level.

So far so good.

Annoyingly, everyone in this box.... has eliminated themselves.

This includes candidates that:

  • have yet to be "sold" on your company or project

  • are happy doing what they are already doing.

  • and are confident in their own abilities - they know they can secure a role without having to do a two hour test.

These are people that should have been on the shortlist.

The baby has gone out with the bathwater.

After everything I've said so far, you will be surprised to learn that I'm actually a fan of the technical test .

But the important thing this is to use the right kind of test at the right stage in the recruitment process.

Next time, I'm going to take you step by step through the process used by BBC Worldwide.

The process uses not one but TWO technical tests.. and does so in a way that doesn't consign the bests candidates to the bin.

Talk to you next time.