January 28, 2022

How to find and not lose the perfect IT applicant during the hiring process

Attracting, hiring, and retaining professional talent in the IT industry is more difficult now than ever. The demand for highly qualified specialists dramatically exceeds the supply. To stay competitive in the IT hiring market, you have to identify those best few candidates and hire them sooner rather than later. Today's blog is dedicated to the best practices of doing this the right way.

How to understand what skills your ideal candidate should possess

First, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What should the ideal employee for your vacant position be able to do?
  2. Why should they do that?
  3. How will they get it done?

Each answer gives you a higher level of understanding of the hard skills, motivation, and soft skills needed to fill your vacant position. Then just follow this checklist:

  • Conduct an interview with the hiring manager. This is the fastest way to pinpoint the skills that a perfect candidate has to have.
  • Talk to the team for which the vacancy is open. Find out what personal qualities a candidate should have and in what type of a team they will work.
  • Compile the portrait of the ideal candidate you have in mind with the hiring manager.
  • Conduct mock interviews. Select 3-5 candidates matching your portrait and call them for a short interview. You and the hiring manager will be able to immediately understand where the search parameters need to be adjusted.
  • Start recruiting! 

Don't try to find someone who is successful in each skill group. Instead, focus on the most essential skills for this particular position.

Develop a clear plan for how you will evaluate candidates

In recent years, and even taking into account the pandemic, there have been no significant changes in assessing prospective employees. Begin with an interview and end by collecting feedback on the candidate from their previous job. However, there are always a couple of tricks to learn.

#1. Identify soft skills that best fit the vacant position

We start with soft skills as you can most likely determine hard skills without outside help (for example, in IT you can just request the interview/assessment Tech Lead or Senior Software Engineer to evaluate coding skills). Most hiring managers have a pretty good idea of what kind of professional they are looking for. 

Evaluating soft skills just as meticulously, especially during a candidate shortage, may seem superfluous. Nevertheless, soft skills are of the highest priority during this time of remote work.

We have created a candidate skill list featuring the most in demand skills for most IT companies in 2020-2022. This list is created based on our clients’ experience when hiring the best IT professionals for their teams:

  1. complex problem solving
  2. emotional intelligence
  3. critical thinking
  4. people management
  5. creativity
  6. coordination skills, interaction
  7. judgment and decision making
  8. service orientation
  9. negotiation skills
  10. cognitive flexibility 

If you analyze the top five, you will see that the market is giving more and more preference to developers who can independently solve complex problems without losing emotional contact with others. The latter is especially important in times of remote work, when newcomers may never meet their team in person.

With 2021 in mind, we see that more employers prefer to hire developers who have stronger soft skills rather than more experience on the job. This is explained as: learning to code isn’t so hard, but what’s more difficult is developing your soft skills as you grow in your career.

#2 Conduct a proper assessment of the candidate's competencies

Today many recruiters believe, that general interview step of the assessment process is low in reliability. The emotional factor plays a significant role. Often, people who do not fit the position, but know how to present themselves during an interview, pass successfully (social desirable answers on interview). If another recruiter conducts a second interview, often the interviewers can have two different opinions about the candidate.

Interviewing is necessary but you don’t need to overestimate first impressions or give second chances to an applicant that may have given you pause. 

So what would help identify the perfect candidate?

Professional skills testing

With an accuracy of 30-45%, skills testing helps identify talented applicants and without passing over potentially promising candidates. It is a targeted method for identifying professional skills for a particular job. To assess technical personnel in IT companies, they usually assess the skills of programmers in real time, offering to write code or solve a number of technical problems.

Remember, that job seekers no longer want to spend so much time on test assignments. This makes sense, because for known reasons, hiring and workflows have tangibly converted to a remote format in 2020-2021. In addition, for experienced IT professionals, there are now enough offers from other recruiters that they will not delay as much during the recruiting and decision-making stages.

If you want to beat the competition, speed is a critical factor.

Skill interview

Assessment according to different kinds of professional and technical skills. This method helps identify qualified professionals in 40-60% of cases. The result depends on many factors:

  • Type of company
  • The role you are hiring for
  • Working conditions

The best part is that during the interview you get a lot of details and information on the actual skills of a candidate. There can be no insincerity or deception here. The candidate either surprises you with their quality of responses or not.

Cognitive tests

Here you usually assess how a candidate evaluates problems, how they make decisions, how they act, and how they see the world and themselves in it. These tests are most often offered to managers or people in leadership positions.

However, suppose you are hiring an expensive senior Product or Project manager for an IT product. In that case, people who will be dealing with demanding tasks — doing a cognitive test can provide useful insights.

KPI matching

KPIs allow you to determine the progress of an employee’s performance and can help to motivate them. Tracking the KPIs of an entire company's staff allows HR and management to influence them in time, which increases the efficiency of the company at large. 

But why are we talking about it regarding employees who don't even work with us?

At some point during your hiring interviews, you will have to check the KPI expectations with the candidate. They might be a highly qualified specialist but may not want to work according to your metrics, and then this alone makes them unsuitable for work.

You can also ask them to speak about their KPIs for their previous job and how they dealt with these KPIs

For example, our colleagues from friendly agencies asked candidates for a recruiter's role: "What number of quarterly-filled vacancies do you consider normal?" Their answer will help you understand if your working rhythms and expectations are on the same page.

Check feedback from the previous team and managers

This research never exceeds 20-30% accuracy. However, when recruiting, it can help to assemble a general opinion of the applicant. Use this as an addition to the main steps of candidate assessment.  

Just don't rely on one colleague's feedback from your job seeker's past team. Always ask for 2-3 references. In the case of one point of contact, you can always draw the wrong conclusion after hearing a preconceived opinion, be it good or bad.

But don't forget that identifying the perfect candidate is only half the battle. 

Just as important is winning their interest, finding their motivation, and accompanying them through the recruiting process so that they are happy to continue not only talking to you, but going along with your company for years to come.

This is a separate topic that we touch on in these articles:

Entrust the task of hiring IT staff to professionals, if possible

Given the catastrophic shortage of skilled IT staff, it's not enough to just be a talented recruiter today to get the best out there. You need to have a large contact base, be able to enter new geographies (where the deficit is not so high), as well as keep your thumb on the pulse of the latest trends among developers.

And, as you've learned from this article, you need to be well versed in techniques for evaluating ideal candidates and identifying "hidden gems".

At Make it in Ukraine, we have it all. We help businesses and startups around the world find the best developers in Ukraine, one of the most technically educated corners of the world. If you want to quickly access ready-made development teams or fill a few critical vacancies, let us help you.
Shad Paterson
About author
Shad's been a digital nomad since he was 16, living and working remotely. After working in marketing and selling crap to people constantly, he decided to change his life and do something good. Now he helps other people transform their lives, by landing them high-paying jobs across the world.
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