Technical hires shouldn't be the most difficult hires

Technical hires shouldn't be the most difficult hires

Summary: Identifying job seekers with great technical talent shouldn't be a needle in a haystack problem. Yet, many HR tools treat technical positions the same as other jobs. HireVue has a new process that uses mobile devices, the cloud, video interviewing technology and more. Can it deliver better candidates cheaper?


In human resources, recruiting can be divided into two very distinct parts.  One part involves shepherding candidates between interviews, collecting the combined opinions of the interviewers, and sometimes, create a possible job offer for the lucky jobseeker. The other part, the really hard part, is sourcing great candidates. Few HR organizations do the second part well and, frankly, few, if any, HR technologies do this well either. The vendors are trying though and radical new approaches are being developed now.

If you’d like to see where this is especially challenging, ask an HR recruiter how easy is it to find qualified, technical people. You know – folks who are not just proficient but amazing in three of today’s hottest programming languages or are brilliant research scientists, electrical engineers, etc. It’s hard to recruit for open positions in Accounts Payable one minute, a shipping clerk the next, a training coordinator after that and then have to find some seriously deep, specialist in a field that almost no recruiter understands. Let’s face it – if a recruiter has to ask what JAVA, SOA and other acronyms stand for, the search candidates they produce could be problematic. (If a recruiter thinks someone with Java skills is someone who once worked at Starbucks, your firm has a real problem.)

Which brings us to today’s announcement from HireVue.   While known initially as an HR video interviewing firm, the company continues to push the envelope as to what recruiting really should look like in a cloud-mobile-social-video world. Their latest re-engineering effort has been to re-imagine what technical recruiting should look like.

In a nutshell, HireVue has determined that technical positions are the most difficult for recruiting personnel to fill and maybe the most frustrating for the line of business executives doing the interviews. What they’ve found is that recruiters may not be able to make the needed judgment calls to weed out candidates that don’t possess the needed technical skills or are trying to fake their way through the recruiting process. Either way, unqualified candidates clog up the recruiting pipeline and waste a lot of executive time. And, as a result, executives that feel their time was wasted by these unqualified candidates will have a negative opinion of HR recruiting.

HireVue briefed me on their new CodeVue solution the other day. Like the video interviewing solution they already offer, recruiters and/or business unit executives can ask a number of pre-defined questions that the candidates must respond to via their personal computing device. Answers may be typed in some cases (e.g., choose an option from a list of possible answers) or provided via video interview response. CodeVue also permits recruiters to embed any number of code challenge questions where interviewees are asked to read the sample code on the screen and then type the remaining code needed to achieve a specific outcome. CodeVue has a code grader/compiler that assesses the quality of the code entered (within the three minute time window permitted for the response). Employers can schedule a video question behind the code challenge where the candidate must immediately describe “How” they solved the code problem.

CodeVue 1
HireVue's CodeVue ---- Copyright 2013 - TechVentive, Inc. - All Rights Reserved


Right now, HireVue has more than 60 code challenges in its library with many more under development. These challenges cross some 13 programming languages.

Business unit/IT leaders will like the solution as only the candidates that can actually write the code get moved along in the interviews. Employers can also populate the interviews with knockout questions that further reduce the number of applicants to get to the most qualified persons as fast as possible. Business unit/IT leaders only need to spend time reviewing the interview results of the best candidates and do so in the most expedient way possible. The internal HR/Recruiting organization need only refer the very best candidates for in-person interviews. Total interview time is minimized with better overall results. HR wins, the business unit wins, etc.

There are several traps in place to prevent cheating as applicant fraud is something that is very costly and frustrating to employers.  The short amount of time that candidates have to respond to the problems/questions makes it harder to do. There are other techniques used but I will keep this confidential.

If you still believe that recruiting is best handled via want-ads, reviews of paper based resumes, etc., then your recruiting processes may be significantly out of date. Worse, you may be drowning in needless work when it comes to assessing personnel for technical positions.

If you hire technical people, even if you don’t use video interviewing, you might want to get your HR representative, your recruiter and your managers together to at least try a trial of something like this. It might change your view of how you view the recruiting process, how you source recruits, how you vet them, how best to use your scarce time, etc. A different perspective can sometimes be an illuminating asset to an organization. 

Topics: CXO, Enterprise Software, IT Priorities, IT Employment


Brian is currently CEO of TechVentive, a strategy consultancy serving technology providers and other firms. He is also a research analyst with Vital Analysis.

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  • It's awful . . .

    "The other part, the really hard part, is sourcing great candidates. Few HR organizations do the second part well and, frankly, few, if any, HR technologies do this well either."

    It's awful. It really is. I'm not in HR, but I'm on the job hunt. I'm surprised they hire anybody with the requirements they throw out sometimes.

    Not to mention that even when you go to the SAME website with the SAME top level domain - just the fact that you applying to a different company requires that you create a new login every time, and it forgets who you are completely. It's a miserable experience for the job seeker.

    "The short amount of time that candidates have to respond to the problems/questions makes it harder to do. "

    Although I should note that this may punish some applicants who don't work well under unexpected time pressure. And I am a bit rusty in my skills in some languages, and may need a reference. I imagine that could be detected as "fraud" somehow?

    Hopefully it can tell the difference between "oops, I just had a brain fart" and real fraud . . .
  • These are technical positions.

    Invite them in to a big room, and pass out a test. Trust me, you'll weed through the blusterers in no time at all.
    • Agreed

      We tend to recruit computer professionals in much the same way we do managers or accountants, when we should be recruiting them in the same way we do musicians or artists. The resume is over-rated and auditions and code samples are severely under-rated.
      John L. Ries
  • Technical hires shouldn't be the most difficult hires

    HR and the recruiters don't know what to look for and so they make the process a lot harder than need be. They match up a few key words then start making the calls. I've told some of these recruiters not to contact me because the job description didn't match my resume. Many times I ignore there calls.