What does a technical recruiter do?

Six steps a technical recruiter can take to improve the hiring process, technical assessment, and candidate experience.

A technical recruiter is the quarterback of the tech talent acquisition process. The best technical recruiters have a close relationship with their engineering partners, but many face inconsistent processes that make their jobs more difficult.

The responsibilities of a technical recruiter might differ greatly depending on many factors. These include the size of an organization, the specialization of the open roles, and the resources available for managing the process and technically assessing the candidate.

Technical recruiter best practices

Six steps for a technical recruiter to improve the hiring process

  1. Recruiting: Connect with software engineers and encourage them to apply for a relevant role
  2. Assessment: Invite the candidate to a live technical assessment
  3. Recommendation: Use an objective recommendation to advance or reject the candidate
  4. Onsite: Coordinate the final interview loop
  5. Decision: Confirm the hiring team’s decision
  6. Offer: Make an offer to the candidate or provide feedback

In this blog, we’ll look at opportunities to improve the technical recruiting process for recruiters, software engineering candidates, and hiring teams.

Stages of the technical recruiting and hiring process

Step 1: recruiting. technical recruiters connect with software engineers and encourage them to apply for a relevant role

The approach technical recruiters use to connect with software engineering candidates differs by the size of company and resourcing available.

  • Enterprise technical recruiting teams often work with sourcing agencies to find candidates for technical recruiters to screen. They may also benefit from a large number of direct applicants and referrals.
  • Small to mid-sized startups tend to source candidates more proactively using their internal teams and networks. Technical recruiters will connect with candidates via LinkedIn or other social networks.

Sourcing is the first opportunity your team will have to fill the talent pipeline with underrepresented and non-male software engineering candidates. Many companies are taking the intentional approach of proactively sourcing diverse candidates from organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Grace Hopper, and Rewriting the Code.

Step 2: assessment. The technical recruiter invites a candidate to a live technical assessment 

After sourcing candidates, the next step is to invite them to a technical assessment. Unfortunately, up to 50% of candidates abandon the hiring process at this point.

This occurs because:

  • The technical assessment is too long
  • The technical assessment can only be done during business hours
  • The technical assessment is a code test that may feel impersonal or at risk of producing an inaccurate assessment of their skills

Technical recruiters can speed up the process, keep up to 90% of candidates in the hiring process, and level the playing field by:

  • Limiting the duration of the technical assessment to 60 minutes
  • Providing a live technical assessment with a developer who is an experienced interviewer
  • Offering live technical assessments 24/7

After the technical assessment is complete, a recommendation will be provided to the hiring team.

Step 3: recommendation. The technical recruiter makes an objective recommendation to advance or decline the candidate

The outcome of a technical assessment is all too often a “pass” or “fail” recommendation. A simple binary outcome may seem simple and straightforward, but often has some opportunities for failure that can make life more difficult for a technical recruiter, including:

  • The technical assessment is calibrated to the wrong role or the wrong skill level
  • The technical assessment is inconsistent and open to bias
  • The technical assessment did not allow the candidate to receive guidance

Issues like the above can inadvertently filter out up to one-third of developer candidates. The impact is especially severe for non-male and underrepresented candidates. To alleviate these issues, technical recruiters should consider these approaches:

  • Use a structured interview rubric to identify the relevant competencies to the role and what success looks like in the technical assessment
  • Select interviewers who want to conduct live technical assessments and develop a training process to establish interviewing best practices
  • Use three or four categories of recommendations driven by the scoring rubric. This will show you where candidates are close to meeting your hiring bar and could likely come up to speed

Bonus tip: Record the technical assessments for review by the hiring team and validation that consistent questions and approaches were used by the interviewer.


Step 4: onsite. Technical recruiters coordinate the final interview loop

Technical recruiters will take the lead in coordinating the final interview loop with the software engineering team and the hiring manager. Typically the team will conduct a series of technical and behavioral interviews to ensure the candidate will meet the hiring bar and be a positive addition to the team dynamic. Of course, not everything goes to plan. Watch out for these signs:

  • Interviewers aren’t interested in interviewing candidates
  • Interviewers aren’t sure what their role in the process is
  • Interviewers aren’t equipped with relevant interview questions or the tools to conduct the interview

A technical recruiter can address these challenges in three ways

  • Identifying software engineers who are interested in interviewing in advance
  • Clarifying everyone’s role in the process and which competencies they are looking for
  • Building behavioral and technical interview questions in advance

Step 5: decision. The technical recruiter confirms the hiring team’s decision

Technical recruiters may be leading the candidate through the process, but ultimately the hiring decision falls to the software engineering team. These two teams are working on the same critical task, but often lack a shared language, key performance indicators, and an understanding of how a decision will be made. When these components are missing:

  • Technical recruiters are unable to identify the “right” candidates early on
  • Tech talent acquisition leaders are unable to monitor hiring process performance (and see if underrepresented candidates are slipping through the cracks)
  • Hiring teams disagree and are unable to come to a clear hiring decision

Consider these three tools and approaches to align these two teams and hire the right software engineering candidates more quickly.

  • Develop an interview rubric. Yes, here it is again. A structured scoring rubric is key to establishing a shared language and understanding of skills the right candidate must demonstrate in the technical assessment and final loop
  • Establish key performance indicators including technical assessment pass-through rate, onsite-to-offer ratio, and offer to hire ratio. Benchmark and then optimize
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities in the hiring team. A strong technical recruiter will ensure all team members know what they are looking for in the candidate and come to the final feedback loop able to state how the candidate demonstrated that competency (or did not)

At this point, the technical recruiter will also check references.

Step 6: offer. The technical recruiter makes an offer to the candidate or provides feedback

Technical recruiters get the lucky (or not so lucky) job of letting candidates know the final hiring decision. When technical recruiters extend an offer to a candidate on behalf of a hiring team, they won’t always get a “yes” from the candidate. Offer-to-hire rates in major tech hubs like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York hover around 50%.

When a technical recruiter has the difficult job of informing a candidate that they’ve been rejected from the process, candidates often want to understand why. Yet, it is rare for developers to get feedback in the hiring process. If a team does choose to provide feedback to the candidate, be sure that it is clear, unbiased, and constructive. This will help set the candidate up for success in the future — the best possible outcome when the hiring process doesn’t end in an offer.




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