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Blind skills challenges help vet true tech talent

Sharon Florentine | June 1, 2017
Skills-testing platforms place your hiring focus on verified talent -- where it should be

And using blind coding challenges on platforms like HackerRank and CodeFights can give your organization access to global talent pools, rather than just your usual geographic area or recruiting from the “same old” schools, says Ravisankar, adding that challenges have also been tailored to fill roles particular companies need.

“Using platforms like this opens up opportunities for talent worldwide to participate and possibly work at your organization. Not to mention the fact that you can find great technical talent at schools that are outside the ‘usual suspects’ of, like, Stanford, MIT, Harvard -- the entire playing field is leveled, and you’re basing your hiring only on the demonstrable skills, as it should be,” he says.

Coding challenges can also help your organization fill roles more quickly, since you can see almost instantly if a candidate’s skill level is appropriate for your needs. Sure, you can put together your own tests for potential hires, but today’s favored interviewing process -- in which candidates are grilled with puzzles and brain teasers -- can cause you to overlook true talent, especially among those just entering the workforce.

The interview process can be stressful and nerve-wracking for anyone, but for new grads especially, as there’s incredible pressure, in addition to the time constraints -- most applicants need to land a job before they graduate, says Tigran Sloyan, co-founder and CEO of CodeFights.

“Being able to demonstrate [a candidate’s] skills from the comfort of their own home instead of in a meeting room on a whiteboard in front of the interviewers can help ease the strain. And havinga skills-driven recruiting process where skill evaluation starts at the very beginning, saves time both for talent and companies since it's easier to match the right company to the right candidate if it's known up front what skill level is necessary for the specific job,” he says.

 

Busting bias

Another way that skills challenges can help you surface hidden talent is by busting biases inherent to the hiring process.

Traditional technical interviews can be fraught with unconscious biases, says Sloyan. Removing the human element from the skills evaluation process helps ensure applicants are judged on their skill levels, not on factors like their race, gender, sexual orientation, or age, Sloyan says, no matter how subconscious those biases may be.

“Humans inevitably add bias. It's a known fact that most interviewers walk into the interview room having looked at your résumé having already made a split-second judgment about you, whether they know it or not, and they spend most of the interview trying to verify that judgment instead of focusing on your skills,” he says.

That’s especially problematic for new college grads, who don’t tend to have the same level of on-the-job experience as more seasoned applicants to possibly outweigh implicit bias. Blind skills challenges can level the playing field and make sure potential employers know exactly what you can do, says Ravisankar, without being obfuscated by other distinguishing factors.

 

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