Remote Hiring: How to Screen Developers Remotely

As a human resources professional, I’m confident that you’re aware of what screening is. Here’s a quick overview anyway, just to make sure that we’re on the same page.

In recruitment, screening comes before the interview phase and aims to efficiently evaluate the suitability of a candidate for a specific job.

In tech recruiting, you assess the technical skills, abilities, and knowledge of software developers to narrow down the most suitable candidates for an available technical position. You then add suitable candidates to your shortlist to progress to the interview stage.

Typically, screening can involve in-person meetings, like informal interviews or screening tests.

However, screening remotely means assessing candidates without ever meeting them. Sounds risky, right? So, you need to exercise due diligence to ensure that your candidates are who they say they are and have the technical skills that they claim to have.

Let’s take a look at how you can screen tech candidates remotely, and what tools are available for you to use.

Everybody needs applicant tracking 

You need a way to store applicant information, including their resume, technical skill assessment results, background check results, and progression in the application process.

Paper filing systems are inconvenient in the best of circumstances, and impossible when working from a distance. So, forget about trying to use them at home.

You need an applicant tracking system (or ATS). 99% of Fortune 500 companies use them. They are essential for any company receiving a significant number of job applications.

Applicant tracking systems organise candidate data and make searching through applicant profiles far easier. They also allow you to share candidate details with the rest of the hiring team.

Some ATS use AI to compare candidate applications to job descriptions and then rank the applicants by suitability – pretty cool, huh?

More than half of talent acquisition workers say that the hardest part of their job is selecting candidates from a large pool of profiles. Automating this part of the process will make it far more enjoyable.

Some of the best applicant tracking systems are:

·   Greenhouse – Integrates with other HR systems for no extra cost

·   SmartRecruiters – Facilitates easy profile sharing and collaboration within the hiring team

·   iCIMS – Can perform intelligent searches of Google and social media

·   Workable – Has excellent confidentiality management

>> Read our article on “How To Source Developers Remotely” and find out more about remote sourcing <<

Applicant tracking systems can seem expensive at first glance. But consider the costs that they can save your company! They save you time, filtering down the number of applicants that you have to assess, and increase revenue generation, finding suitable candidates for vacant roles faster.

Workable is a well-reputed ATS

If you’re a smaller company that just can’t justify the cost of an expensive ATS, try managing applicants using a free or cheap project management tool, like Trello or Monday.

Assessing technical skills 

Once you’ve filtered through resumes using your applicant tracking system, you need to figure out which candidates have the right technical skills and level of expertise.

Tech applicants can seem like a good fit on paper, but could always be lying about the extent of their abilities and experience.

Previously, you could validate a candidate’s skills by inviting them to the office and having them take part in a written test or whiteboard session with a technical team member.

Now that you’re working remotely, turn to online technical assessments to separate the skilled software developers from the skilled illusionists. A practical test can demonstrate a developer’s abilities better than any resume could.

You can give candidates an excellent online assessment experience by using one of CodinGame’s 1,500 prebuilt 100% online coding tests. You can set one up in five clicks or less and with no programming knowledge of your own.

CodinGame’s online assessments cover all types of tech roles and levels of expertise. You can even create custom questions to make them even more relevant to the technical problems experienced by your tech teams.

Have you done your background research?

When recruiting remotely, you won’t be meeting candidates in person at any point before hiring them. So, you need to carry out some additional checks to ensure that their claims are legitimate.

Start by just Googling their name and checking out their social media pages. See what their public interests are, how they express themselves, and what others have to say about them.

Software developers often have personal portfolio websites and blogs, which can be a good indicator of their experience and knowledge.

As well as some heavy online stalking, you’ll also want to do some serious background checks. You can do some of these checks yourself, and/or you can decide to outsource.

Indeed, you can do all of the reference checks, employment and qualification checks, and ID verifications yourself. Or you can outsource them to a service like Xref.

A reason to use Xref, for reference checking specifically, is that they can call for verbal references outside of work hours (when most people will be available for a call). You won’t have to work late just to call someone for a reference, to have them not even answer!

If need be, you can outsource international police and criminal history checks using CVChecker.

Checkr, on the other hand, can perform workplace alcohol, drug, and general health checks.

Many of these services offer automatically recurring checks. You can set them on autopilot and trust that you will be notified if any of your hires go off the rails while working for your company.

Screening on the phone

So, your candidate has had the “all clear”. You’ve tested their coding skills and they have shown strong potential for the job you’re advertising. 

The last step before progressing a candidate to formal interviews is an informal screening call.

Video calls are best because they give candidates a face and personality to associate with your company. Software developers typically apply for multiple jobs at once, so being memorable gives you an advantage and keeps you top-of-mind.

INTERVIEWING DEVELOPERS REMOTELY?
GET THE ULTIMATE CHECKLIST

What to prepare, remember, do or say when interviewing a developer remotely.

*
Required fields

You can also take the opportunity, on the call, to explain the rest of the hiring process so that they know what to expect.

As well as benefiting the candidate, a screening call allows you to get to know a candidate’s personality better – especially when due diligence checks don’t yield much information.

Always schedule screening calls well in advance so that candidates can prepare themselves, mentally and physically.

Giving candidates bad news

Statistically speaking, you’ll have to turn down a lot of applicants as part of your screening process.

At the very least, use automated email responses to inform candidates that they were unsuccessful. There’s nothing worse than applying for a job and never hearing back about it. Despite not getting any useful feedback, candidates might delay pursuing other opportunities while waiting to hear from you.

If feasible, give personal feedback to all applicants, so that they can either improve their next application or move on.

If an applicant was ineligible for the job that they applied for but could fit an upcoming opening, ask them if you can hold onto their details to contact them later.

It’s a good idea to call candidates who got as far as a screening call. Give them the bad news verbally. They may have got their hopes up and could be somewhat disappointed by the news. Tell them quickly and give them specifics about why they weren’t suitable.

Continually improving your remote screening process

Ask every applicant for feedback on your hiring process, whether they were successful or not.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Usually, just asking politely for feedback can be enough to push someone to share genuine feedback which you can use to improve your next round of hiring.

What’s next?

You’re in charge of screening, your company is trusting you to qualify who they hire. You must make sure that new hires aren’t going to cause offence in the workplace, that they truly possess their claimed skills, and that they aren’t criminals.

Once you’ve finalized a shortlist of candidates, it’s time to move onto the next step of your remote hiring process: remote interviewing!

Wondering what other changes you need to make to your tech hiring process in order to “go remote”? We’ve got your back! Read about how to switch to remote tech hiring here

STRUGGLING TO HIRE SKILLED DEVELOPERS?

There’s a better way to test coding skills.

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Jon Holstead

Jon Holstead

Jon is a content writer for CodinGame. He has previously worked as a software developer and CTO for both SAAS startups and larger organisations. He now runs a multitude of entrepreneurial ventures and writes content on the side to keep his copywriting skills sharp. Outside of work, Jon enjoys eating "pain au chocolat" and is a sucker for golden retrievers.