• Testing Candidates Coding Skills

    Top Online Tools for Testing Candidates’ Coding Skills

    Coding and development skills are perpetually in high demand.  To help determine that candidates possess the sufficient coding abilities you’re looking for, no doubt as part of your interview process you have a series of coding related interview questions and some form of coding test. Below we’ve listed 5 online candidate assessment tools that can help facilitate your interview process by testing your potential employees coding / programming abilities.

    1) Interview Zen

    This tool is used by a number of large companies and allows you to save yourself valuable time by eliminating those who are unsuitable for the available job and the skills it requires by testing their coding abilities. Using this tool, you are able to set your own programming challenges and watch as the candidates solve the problems online, in real time.

    This gives you the added advantage of observing their problem-solving abilities, thought-processes and approaches first-hand. This, at times, can be even more useful than general coding knowledge, as the ability to approach tasks with a clear mind and persevere through trial and error will demonstrate the candidates’ ability to learn quickly.

    One major benefit of using Interview Zen is that tasks can be conducted remotely; you don’t need to be present with the candidate, you save yourself money in expenses and it means that only the top candidates will be invited to a follow-up interview.

    2) Codility

    Since its conception in 2005, “more than 1200 companies in over 120 countries” have used the Codility tool, with over 130,000 tests having been assessed. Codility is an automated tool, which assesses programming skills and is aimed toward software development companies and companies which have a high IT demand.

    This automated tool allows recruiters who might not have specialised IT knowledge to assess the skills of large amounts of candidates and determine how well they are likely to perform in the job. Candidates have to work through programming tasks or write a code function, set by the companies and developed by a software suite which checks whether or not the solution provided by the candidate ‘passes’ according to the specified task requirements.

    Employers can choose from 15 programming languages to conduct the tests. As the tool assesses the solutions, employers are saved hours of time. The tool has won a number of awards, including Seedcamp 2009, Smarta 100 and the TC European Startup Award 2010.

    3) CoderPad

    This tool has been used by countless companies, including Airbnb, Yelp, Quora, CrowdFlower, Scribd, Hired and Lyft. It supports a wide range of programming languages, including C#, C, C++, Ruby, Python, JavaScript, MySQL, PHP, Scala and more.

    The tool allows the employer to watch the code being typed in real-time and also provides live code execution via REPL. It is an intricate collaborative text editor which is one of the best tools available that can replicate how people really work and allows you to filter out candidates who would be very unlikely to pass a second-stage interview.

    It has been praised for its aesthetics, its playback feature and its reasonable prices. Jason Fennell, Director of Engineering at Yelp, claims that “CoderPad has been a great addition to our interviewing toolkit. With it, you can watch a candidate iteratively develop their code and then use the compiler for debugging. This adds a whole new dimension to the process and brings it one step closer to the holy grail of natural coding in an interview.”

    4) CodeInterview

    This is another remote, real-time interview tool which prides itself on being developer-friendly and effective. One benefit of this tool is that the core service and the IDE plugins are free of charge, while you have the choice to pay for premium features.

    The core features include two URLs, one for the employer and one for the candidate. When the candidate makes changes, they are reflected on the employer’s screen. The plugins mean that if a candidate so chooses, they can use Visual Studio or Eclipse to complete the tasks. Premium allow you to manage your interviews, share links with candidates, lock and unlock the interview and revisit past interviews and replay the candidates’ changes.

    5) HackerRank For Work

    This platform is a cost-effective means of interviewing candidates, and allows you to select from the ‘question library’ of programming challenges, subjective and multiple choice questions. The level of difficulty can be adjusted and if you would prefer a custom challenge, there are a team of developers available to assist in compiling the ideal tasks.

    Currently, the tool supports 16 programming languages including SQL and UML. Once the challenges are carried out, the results are automatically evaluated and you are presented with in-depth performance reports. This means you are able to compare one candidates’ performance to another based on their scores and performance.

    More than 1,000 customers have made use of this tool, including Forbes, VMware, TechCrunch, Mashable and Evernote. Athias Connot, Senior Staffing Manager at VMware, has stated that “HackerRank has allowed us to find diamonds in the rough that our old process didn’t give us the time to look for.”

  • Contractor Signup

    The Business Case for a Direct Contractor Recruitment Strategy – Part 4

    In Chapter 3 we discussed the pro’s and con’s of the Traditional Contractor Recruitment Model.  Below, in Chapter 4, we take a look at what an efficient direct contractor recruitment model looks like, and the challenges faced with its implementation.

    The Direct Contractor Recruitment Model          

    To recruit employees directly in an efficient manner a recruiting/hiring manager needs to have a number of processes and technologies in place.  You need the skills and knowledge to source or market your jobs to the right people which may involve the use of referrals, career sites, CV databases, social networks, search marketing or job boards.

    >>Download the Full Whitepaper for Free<<

    You need to be able to deal with a higher volume of direct applications which may involve technology to support the wider recruitment process such as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).  Interviewing, brand perception, candidate experience, these all take on extra importance when implementing a direct hiring strategy for permanent employees.  When it comes to hiring contractors directly, these challenges become further complicated by the additional steps in the recruitment process.

    For an efficient direct contractor recruitment model, you need to be able to take care of all aspects of the recruitment process, and encompass the operational needs of payroll, procurement, invoicing and timesheet management.

    Direct Contractor Recruitment Model

    Earlier in this paper we mentioned that some companies do employ a direct recruitment strategy for contingent hires.  Using a combination of sourcing, referrals and advertising they attract contractors directly and use a dedicated payroll company to process their pay.

    However the challenging nature of developing a successful direct contractor recruitment model has resulted in a level of resistance amongst companies aligning their contractor and permanent strategies.

    Below are some of the key obstacles employers will face when choosing to adopt a direct contractor recruitment model:

    Challenges to a Direct Model:

    • Sourcing & Attraction – Recruiting skilled contractors often requires access to niche networks.
    • Increased Applications – Dealing with the inevitable increase in applications means additional recruitment technology such as an ATS may be required.
    • Compliance – Employers cannot directly hire a contractor without potentially being liable for additional costs such as taxes, therefore to improve or increase compliance with HMRC, employers may prefer an agency to be an intermediary.
    • Payment – Companies who attract contractors directly typically need to have payroll service provider or preferred agency in place to process contractors.
    • Recruitment is Not Centralised – Line managers may be free to choose their own recruitment suppliers which can make implementing a holistic direct strategy difficult.

    In the next chapter we will look at how employers can use technology to overcome the above obstacles and really maximise the benefits of a direct contractor recruitment model.

    >>Download the Full Whitepaper for Free<<

  • Hiring a Wordpress Developer

    Hiring a WordPress Developer – Quick Tips

    If you need a new website, or you’re having one built from scratch, then WordPress is a great platform from which to bring your design to life. The benefits of using WordPress to build your website are well documented and include:

    >   It’s inexpensive and has an intuitive interface that makes editing your website really simple.

    >   You don’t need to know HTML to create a new page, blog post, upload images, video files etc.  It’s so straightforward  your Grandma could do it!

    >   From an SEO perspective search engines find it easy to index wordpress content.  It’s very simple to review and customise the meta data on each individual webpage.

    >   Your blog is built in.

    >   You can log anytime to make webpage/content changes yourself, so don’t need to rely on a web developer.

    >   You can extend the functionality of your site with plugins.

    Recruiting a Freelance WordPress Developer:

    If you decide WordPress is the way to go (you probably should) for your website, you will most likely need to hire a freelance wordpress developer for a short period of time to whip up your new creation.

    BUT…..before hiring your wordpress developer there are a number of considerations from where to find them, what to include in your job spec, how to evaluate and compare their work to other developers etc.  So with all this in mind, what exactly should you be looking for in a great wordpress developer? Our resident WordPress Designer has decided to share his own tips:

    1)     Make sure they have their own custom WordPress site with a portfolio of their works.  Validate they actually did the work themselves by asking a few questions around those projects.

    2)     Have a look at custom, unique and complex builds that they have done in the past. What was the challenge? What was their solution?

    3)     Ensure they write responsive themes (everyone should by now!) so that your site displays correctly across mobile devices.

    4)     Ensure they write W3C compliant code and perform cross browser testing.

    5)     Check the basics, communication skills, timezone and availability. If you are using an offshore resource, do they provide a Skype and what’s their response time like.

    WordPress is the number one CMS globally with more websites built on it than any other. These include TechCrunch, Sony Music, CNN, The Rolling Stones and JayZ so you will be in good company. As a result the talent pool to hire from is vast. Make sure you hire some great talent by following our tips and really get the most out of what is a fantastic open source platform.

    About Elevate Direct 

    Elevate Direct is a contractor sourcing tool that helps employers hire their contractors directly. Take advantage of our automated sourcing software that will automatically short-list suitable freelance wordpress developers for you.

    >> Click here to post your WordPress Developer jobs for free <<

  • Interviewing tips 101

    Interviewing Candidates 101 – Useful Tips & Advice

    You have gone through the tough process getting some great profiles/cv’s in front of your hiring managers.  They are interested in some of them; in fact they like one so much, (from a direct competitor more than likely), that they are already talking about an offer before even talking to the person.  It can be really tempting to push things through the system and get the person onboard as soon as possible.  It means another one off the list, right? So, why is it essential that the interviewing process is carried out thoroughly and concisely?

    The interview process is essential for both parties.  For the company to learn more about the candidate and their abilities, and for the candidate to fully understand the role and its responsibilities.  The employer can’t garner all of the details on a candidate from just looking at a CV and in turn a candidate cannot discover all of the roles and responsibilities from a job description.

    Below are my tips on what’s important to cover in an interview, and what information needs to be acquired to make an informed hiring decision.

    1)  Start by Defining The Process

    Setting out an interviewing process is the first point of call.  Which key stakeholders need to be involved?  How many interviews?  Do any tests need to be carried out?  The process really shouldn’t take too long, it’s important to be thorough, but processes with ten stages don’t help anyone involved! These kinds of processes often come down to managers wanting to “pass the buck” and spread the responsibility as much as possible!

    2)  First steps

    My usual suggestion, after my initial telephone screening, is for a telephone screening with the hiring manager. Further calls may then be needed with other members of the team, or stakeholders that will be working closely with the role.  After this one or two face to face meetings is normally enough, even if this requires back to back meetings.  The candidate is usually more relaxed on the second interview, especially if it is held over a coffee or breakfast for example.  There is no real set limit to the number of interviews, but keep it realistic.  Candidates aren’t just waiting on one opportunity, so be thorough but don’t lose them!  Set the process with the hiring manager at the start and stick to it.

    3)  Technical & Competency Testing

    Testing should also be considered, but only competency and technical tests have any value in my opinion. Competency based interviews are designed to define aspects of a candidates eligibility and suitability.  It’s personal preference, but I don’t see how a “voight-kompff” style personality test garners any useful information; we’re not trying to weed out replicants.  It’s a recruiter’s job to assess personality, not a robot or an algorithm. The best teams are often made up of a diverse group of personalities that can bring different opinions and solutions to the table. For software developers for example, technical test are essential in my opinion.  Not online where the candidate can cheat, but in the office, either at a computer or with a pen and pad.  These are really invaluable for assessing basic technical competence.

    4)  Assessing cultural fit

    It is important to assess the candidates “cultural fit”.  The skills and experience are obviously very key, but if the candidate won’t even fit into the existing team, then these are completely irrelevant.  Think about the environment where this person will work.  Is it remote, will this person need to interact with employees, is it quite vibrant and creative?  It’s tough to assess these skills, and admittedly, a lot has to go down to gut instinct.  A great way to help with this process is to involve other members of the team, or organisation that work in a similar environment.  Walk the candidate around the office; give them a feel for the company.  If the company has a culture of people working late and working out of hours then really press this issue.  “Would you be happy working late some days and sometimes during your weekends?”

    5)  Assessing Capability

    It’s obviously important to check for the candidates ability to carry out the job.  A great way to assess this is to have an existing employee working in the same or similar role to ask questions about the day to day tasks.  This is much easier to carry out with a technical role, through questioning and testing.  The manager can present a problem to the candidate and have them solve it.  Roles that rely heavily on “soft” skills, such as sales and marketing are a bit harder to assess.  A great way to do this is to ask the candidate to present to you.  Get them to convince you they are the right person and get them to sell your own products and services back to you. Are you convinced, do you warm to them?  If not, then it is likely your prospective clients will feel the same way.

    6)  Interview Training for Line Managers

    In most cases it will be the hiring manager that is driving the decisions.  This is definitely how the process should run, though it is essential that recruitment or HR support the managers and get them to ask the right questions and conduct themselves appropriately.  So many interviews I have sat on where the interviewing will do a hard sale for the whole interview and actually forget to ask the candidate any questions!

    It can be very daunting for interviewers, especially if it’s a hiring managers first time, so it’s always good to have a meeting before to assess the questions that will be covered.  The recruiter can then start the interview off, and I find after that the hiring manager is far more comfortable to drive the interview from there.  It can be beneficial to hold training days with managers and to set an interview question list, but often managers aren’t keen to take part in these and are not very compliant.  It can be seen as yet another task to add to the list, so you’ll need to really sell them on the benefits of this.  Buy-in from a senior exec will really help your case.

    7)  Interviewing Contractors, Scheduling & Logistics – Get on with it!

    In the fast moving world of contractor and freelancer hiring you will need interviewers to make themselves available and reserve time in their diary. Finding a great candidate and then saying that the interviewer isn’t available for two weeks is just going to go down badly with the candidate who will have other opportunities on radar.

    If you can back to back interviews you will stand a better chance of completing your process and hiring the candidates you want before they disappear on another fantastic opportunity elsewhere. If there are geographical or logistical constraints then get them on skype or facetime to start the process and make them feel wanted. As long as you engage with candidates and keep communication open then you will stand a chance of making the hire.

    Delay scheduling interviews too long or resort to radio silence and they will be gone by the time you get back to them. If you think that is the candidate’s loss and shows a lack of commitment then Im afraid you need a little reality check when it comes to the talent you are hiring. They want to work, have bills to pay and won’t wait around I’m afraid.

    8)  Ensure Decisions are Fair and Objective

    I think it’s very important to also consider the mentality behind the interviewers.  Will they have to compete with the person being hired?  Often in these situations a lot of resentment can take place, and feedback can be very negative towards every candidate.  It’s also an opportunity sometimes for employees to show their knowledge about their own role.  The more difficult they make it look to fill, the more “prestige” they can attain.  The hiring managers will know more about the requirements of the role and their feedback is vital, though do bear these considerations in mind.  A way around this situation is to get opinions from other members of the business.  Though this means the process is a bit less focused and concise, so use your intuition of when you think a more expanded process is necessary.

    In conclusion, the real key is to discuss a process and stick with it.  Be thorough but concise and don’t reduce your chances of making a hire.  Make sure all stakeholders are involved and don’t panic.  Interviewing can be an arduous process, but if run properly you will reap the rewards.   The cost of hiring a bad employee is high.  Not just in pure monetary terms, but also the time and resource involved in having to repeat the process to rehire someone.  Making a great hire, with the talent and ability to fit in with your company culture, will lead to more engaged, productive employees, and improved retention.

    This article was written by Jacob Kimber, International Recruitment Specialist at Blackboard Inc

  • Future Recruitment Strategy

    Is your Recruitment Strategy Future-proof?

    Freelancer Recruitment Strategy

    The recruitment landscape is evolving.  The way we work and the way we hire is changing at a rapid pace. The number of companies hiring freelancers in the UK has gone up 50% in the past year, and 47% between 2012 and 2013 with similar trends in the USA.

    Some predictions claim that by 2020, more than 50% of the workforce will be freelancing instead of taking part in permanent employment. Recent reports show that the demand for freelancers is rising, and 70% of UK freelancers have anticipated a significant increase in their earnings in 2014, with 63% having already seen an increase in the amount of work they had this year.

    Freelancers continue to feel optimistic about their careers in the future – in fact, a survey by the online freelancing platform Elance, revealed that a staggering 69% of freelancers are happier working freelance than they were in permanent employment. In a nutshell, freelancing is here to stay and it’s taking over the job market.

    There are specific industries with a greater share of freelancers than others; we expect to find more freelancers in industries like Digital Marketing and IT, but several statistics show that the demand for freelancers in Engineering, Sales and Admin support has increased more than 80% since 2012 as well.

    How Can Companies Adapt Their Recruitment Strategies to Integrate Freelancers?

    All evidence points to the fact that the shift towards a freelance future has already begun, so the question is not whether to accept it or not, but how can companies adjust their recruitment strategy to incorporate these changes before they start losing out on the best candidates. The best place to start is changing the attitudes and established practices in the recruitment process.

    The majority of freelance recruitment happens online – there’s increasing number of freelancing platforms like Elevate Direct that connect contractors to clients and the online staffing industry turns over $1 billion per year. At the same time, new technologies are enabling companies to manage contractors more efficiently, whether working onsite or offsite. These systems help companies cut down on permanent staff, which has a great variety of benefits, including lower staffing costs and increased productivity.

    Until now, small and medium enterprises have been leading the freelancing boom, staffing up and down to quickly adapt to economic situations, although Forbes magazine suggests that 2014 is high time for larger businesses to start playing a bigger role in freelancing as well.

    How Does Hiring More Freelancers Affect Your Company Culture?

    Even though there seems to be an increasing interest in larger companies to hire more freelancers, in-house recruitment managers often express concerns about bringing them on board. One of the most pressing ones, especially in companies with a strong brand identity, is how temporary staff affects brand values and company culture. There certainly needs to be a level of engagement involved with integrating freelancers into established organisational structures, but luckily there are great examples and suggestions online on how companies are taking steps to ensure a productive freelance culture (e.g. 6 Rules for a Productive Freelancing Culture).

    A study conducted by Tower Lane, an independent recruitment consultancy, has studied attitudes in American companies towards hiring freelancers. They discovered that even though there is an increasing interest and need for companies of all sizes to recruit freelancers, most of them are concerned about the complicated ways of paying them, the difficulties of selecting the right candidates and managing them.

    Finding, Managing & Paying Contractors Efficiently

    For companies that are changing their recruitment strategy to incorporate a more flexible workforce, the need for efficient ways of finding qualified contractors, managing and paying them is increasing alongside the growing demand for freelancers in all sectors. If your company is looking to develop a recruitment strategy that will enable you to keep up with the ongoing global shift, the tools and technology to manage freelancers are just as important as the will to change established patterns.

    Looking to Future Proof Your Recruitment Strategy?

    If you would like to discover how companies of all sizes are using our automated sourcing platform to find, recruit and pay their contractors directly, all within a single system, click here to request more information.

    Adapting to the freelance economy can be easier than you think!