Right after the COVID-19 lockdown started in March, WorkHere CTO Mike Seidle needed to hire a new developer due to a sudden departure. Instead of using a traditional process, Mike decided to use WorkHere’s high-speed, live chat-driven candidate experience, even though we’d never used it to hire software developers. The results were remarkable. According to Seidle, “We found great talent quickly and were able to make a hire before the competition even called our hire for an interview.”
Mike, Joe (the developer we hired) and Benji Hudson, WorkHere’s chat lead, sat down with Dominic Antonio to discuss how the process worked. Mike, who’s also a WorkHere co-founder, explains how he was able to hire Joe as a software developer in less than three weeks. Below is a summary of the conversation broken into sections for the hiring manager (Mike), the software developer (Joe) and the recruiter (Benji).
The Hiring Manager’s Experience
What was the position you needed to fill?
Mike: I was looking for a software developer. I’ve hired many of them in my career and the one thing that seems to ring true is that it takes 30-35 days to get enough candidates to make an offer.
What were the general steps in your recruiting process?
Mike: Since we needed to hire someone at WorkHere, it made sense to use the exact same process to recruit someone that we use for our clients. We posted the job on Indeed and Ziprecruiter and didn’t do any active sourcing on LinkedIn. When an application was received, our chat team immediately reached out to the candidate and engaged. Candidates were able to get questions answered, and we did a little bit of screening as well as set expectations for the rest of the hiring process.
Then came a phone interview to make sure he was a cultural fit for a startup environment like ours. The second phone interview was a coding interview. Code interviews help us better understand the thought process of the developer. We look at a sample of the developer’s code and talk through it. After that, we do a simple coding test. Joe excelled at each step, so we offered him the position.
What particular technical questions did you ask to screen candidates?
Mike: It was important to find a developer who had confidence in their work, was comfortable in a collaborative tea, and could pass a basic coding test. At the beginning of the screening, we ask a basic question on how to use Github and then later in a phone interview, I go over sample code they’ve written and have them do a coding test.
Since this whole campaign to hire a developer took about one month, was the process too fast? Did the applicant quality meet your expectations?
Mike: I’d say it exceeded expectations. Even though the whole recruiting process took about a month, we had more than 90 applicants for the job and ended with five qualified candidates who had taken the coding test. I could have offered the job to two other candidates easily if Joe hadn’t taken the offer. No one else was responding to these candidates, so I felt like I had the first choice at hiring a good developer.
Another aspect of quality is that there was very little wasted time. All the candidates scheduled on my calendar already met the minimum job requirements, thanks to Benji’s screening. This gave me the confidence to ask meaningful questions instead of having to screen resumes or ask routine questions.
What should other recruiters keep in mind when recruiting developers?
Mike: The state of recruiting developers is bad. There’s a lot of wasted time collecting and processing resumes. WorkHere’s PivotCX screens candidates quicker and earlier in the process than other hiring solutions. Many of the applicants were shocked at the fact they were talking to a real person so soon after they applied. We had meaningful conversations with these applicants within minutes of them applying instead of waiting weeks or months. The whole experience was much more human. Instead of processing developers by digging through resumes and inferring how qualified a candidate might be, we just asked them directly.
The Job Seeker’s Experience
Joe, how many jobs had you applied for and of those, how many employers responded to you?
Joe: I had just finished my first year of college and decided to take a gap year. I wasn’t sure what job I’d find, so I applied to many jobs; 10 applications just for software developer positions and many more in retail and foodservice. I received only two or three email responses and no calls. Before anyone else reached out to me, I had already accepted WorkHere’s job offer.
What was different about your application process to WorkHere?
Joe: I was amazed at how fast the process was. Within 30 minutes of applying, I had a scheduled phone interview with Mike, the hiring manager. That was the most important part for me. On my other applications, I had no clue if they were interested or how long the process would take. In comparison, going from applying to hire with WorkHere only took about three weeks.
What did you like most about the process?
Joe: My favorite part about the process was that from the moment I applied for the job to when I was offered the position, I knew exactly where I stood in the process. I could communicate easily with both Mike and Benji via SMS or phone. The one thing I didn’t expect in the process was a screener question about using Github. I expected more just yes or no answer questions, but it was a good screener question because it required me to know and explain how Github works.
How long was the process from the apply to job offer?
Joe: From when I applied to when I was offered the job took a little less than three weeks. It was insanely fast, which was very critical to me since I needed to quickly find a job if I were to take a gap year from college.
Would you recommend this process to other employers hiring software developers?
Joe: Yes, definitely. This process applies to developers since they’re in tune with new technologies. SMS chat made me feel like I was applying to a company that was new and different. It gave me the sense that I would enjoy working with WorkHere.
Were you ok receiving text messages?
Joe: Yes. I certainly didn’t expect to be texted, but it was a major upgrade from receiving an anonymous, automated email.
The Recruiter’s Experience
What is the process like for someone who applies to a job?
Benji: Right after a job seeker applies, they receive an intro message from me, the recruiter. I then follow a chat script with predetermined qualifying questions to screen candidates. For example, these could be basic questions about work experience, location and specific programming languages. If they pass this first screening, I give them a Calendly link to schedule the first phone interview with Mike, the hiring manager.
How was it different talking with software developers compared to other positions that you’ve recruited for in the past?
Benji: Developers are more likely to use an SMS-based platform because they prefer using new technology. We got great feedback from those who were impressed with our technology. We certainly received a better response rate from developer candidates than other industries. Developers also gave more breadth to their responses, going more in-depth talking about their experience and skills.
How did you keep track of everyone applying? How do job seekers react to receiving SMS messages?
Benji: WorkHere’s PivotCX system is fairly robust and lets me handle up to 10 conversations at a time even. Many job seekers might be skeptical of live chat since they suspect it’s a bot, which is why an open-ended question and answer helps them realize they are talking with a real person. Over 90% of job seekers respond positively to text messages. They’re much more casual and relaxed in the conversation, which helps a lot with the screening process.