Hiring developers? These interview mistakes could be costing you top tech talent

A survey of 1,108 software engineers by Terminal found that 'broken' interview processes are a key factor in candidates turning down jobs.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor

The interview process is broken -- and it could be costing employers much-needed technology talent.

A survey of more than 1,100 software engineers in the US, Canada and Latin America found that developers were more likely to turn down a job opportunity if subjected to a frustrating interview process.

Terminal's State of Engineering 2021 report found that more than half (56%) would be put off a role if the interview process was disorganized, whereas 49% said they'd be more likely to pass on a job after being interviewed by someone who didn't understand the role or the technology.

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A similar proportion (48%) said long delays would make them question their decision to take up a job opportunity, whereas 46% identified too many rounds of interviews as a red flag.

Terminal's research also found that developers were more likely to turn down a job due to recruitment frustrations in comparison to last year.

In total, 97% of software engineers surveyed by Terminal reported at least one issue with the interview process, including too many interviews (59% reported), generic interviews (49%), or long delays (43%).

At a time when employees face a growing tech skills shortage made even worse by the global pandemic, Terminal, a hiring platform for developers, said "companies need to fix these processes or risk losing elite candidates". Its research found that 64% of developers reported a shortage of software engineers in their company.

"Despite some companies downsizing this year due to the pandemic, our data shows that demand for engineering talent still far exceeds supply," said Terminal in its report.

"Recruiting and interviewing processes remain far from ideal, with global engineers continuing to report many frustrations with these parts of the hiring process," the report added.

As for what attracted them to a job, engineers reported that pay was the most important factor, followed by exciting work, culture, and having a clear career growth path.

Terminal's research also explored software developers' attitudes towards remote working, which has experienced a boom over the past 18 months following mass office closures during 2020 and a subsequent spike in hiring in 2021.

According to Terminal, just 20% of developers were working remotely prior to COVID-19, compared to 86% that are now fully remote.

Its research found that software engineers were in favour of continuing to work remotely at least part of the time: eight in 10 respondents said they wanted the option to work both at home and in an office in future, whereas 29% said they wanted to work remotely 100% of the time.

However, developers aren't in favour of location-based salaries, which some companies -- including Google -- are now looking at introducing for employees who choose to work remotely full-time.

A quarter of respondents to Terminal's survey said they would only accept a location-based salary cut if the cost of living dropped at least 20%; meanwhile, 24% said they would leave their company if location-based salaries were enacted.

The research also found that, while companies are increasingly greenlighting remote and 'hybrid' working options for staff, many have still not adjusted their benefits package to support an increasingly remote workforce.

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For example, Terminal found that less than half of employers were offering benefits such as remote learning and development, technology and productivity tools, mental health services or utilities and home office stipends to support remote workers.

Almost half (48%) of respondents ranked flexible-working hours as one of their top three remote-benefit asks, while 26% of engineers ranked mental health benefits as one of their top three wants. Remote learning and development opportunities and childcare support were also viewed as important to remote workers.

Such benefits could be crucial to attracting and retaining skilled technology workers as demand for digital skills grows. "Global engineers are advocating for flexible work options and benefits that better fit their needs  --  and it will require employers to make major shifts to compete for talent and retain their existing employees," said Terminal.

"The time is now: employers who do not embrace remote-first thinking will fall behind. But those who do meet the unique needs of today's workforce will be leading the way this year and into the future."

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