Sign-up Rates, Signal, and Productivity: 3 Ways Live Technical Interviews Improve Hiring


The unofficial motto of 2020 may well be “adapt and innovate.” All of us have been challenged to respond nimbly to a world that didn’t exist six months ago. Sectors like gaming, streaming services, and workforce productivity are seeing unprecedented demand. To meet consumer expectations these organizations need to achieve uptime targets, ship new features, and hit long-term product development goals. They are looking to maximize the productivity of the software engineering team in place while hiring new team members. This calls for a more efficient interviewing process starting with the technical interview.

However, much to the chagrin of job candidates, the interviewing process sometimes starts with a code test. Code tests, either homegrown or purchased, tend to limit hiring yield for three key reasons:

  • Lower candidate sign up rates
  • Poor hiring signal
  • Constrained developer productivity

Teams that are getting more out of their talent pipeline and reaching hiring targets faster are addressing these constraints head-on with live technical interviews.

Live technical interviews have higher sign-up rates

Coding tests have notoriously low candidate sign up rates, sometimes as low as 30%. Candidates often feel that coding tests are a waste of their time, that they are doing work for free, or it simply won’t let them showcase their skills. This is understandable. Candidates want to interview with engineers who understand what it’s like to be a candidate themselves. This boosts confidence that they will be able to highlight their problem-solving ability, not just give right or wrong answers. Live technical interviews often see sign-up rates above 80% for this reason. Letting this sign-up rate slip simply means you’re losing candidates at the top of the funnel.

Better hiring signal

Code tests can unintentionally generate false negatives and false positives. Both have a big impact on your talent pipeline.

False negatives filter out candidates who could have done well. Poorly written questions can keep great candidates out. When developer talent is hard to find, candidates deserve every chance they can get to highlight their strengths. Dan Savage and his Tech Talks UK co-hosts recently explored this in their podcast, explaining that “apart from the ability to code, [live interviews] also give you help with understanding thought processes. So even if someone’s code isn’t what you were looking for, but thought processes are like what that team follows, then people are putting themselves in a better light.” At Karat we’ve found that guidance can make a big difference in candidate success, in fact 12% of job offers go to candidates who receive some level of guidance in the technical interview. Karat Interview Engineer Adam Dangoor explains in this short video why a candidate shouldn’t be rejected for being unable to solve one part of a larger problem.

False positives waste developer time in the onsite. Poorly written questions can let the wrong candidates through. When that happens, great developers end up spending more time conducting onsites with candidates that ultimately do not reach the hiring bar. To make matters worse, code test fraud is rampant. The right answer to the right question is simply a Google search away. A live technical interview with a professional interviewer (or Interview Engineer like Adam) can properly evaluate problem-solving ability — rather than simply having to focus on right or wrong answers.

Increased developer productivity 

Earlier this year, we partnered with Harris Insights to survey over 250 engineering leaders about interviewing and hiring. Those that were very confident that they would reach their hiring targets in 2020 simply conducted more live first-round technical interviews — 66% more on average. Organizations that successfully increase interviewing capacity do so by dedicating a team to interviewing, training those interviewers, and monitoring the performance of interviewers.

Karat: companies confident in reaching hiring targets interview more

It might seem counterintuitive that live technical interviews can increase developer productivity. However, with higher sign-up rates and a more predictive hiring signal, engineering leaders can feel more confident that the right candidates are reaching the final round interview; getting you to your hiring target faster and adding much-needed developer productivity.

Curious about how to conduct a consistent and highly predictive technical interview? Check out our guide to Engineering the Technical Interview here.

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