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Josefine Schfr for Studio M - Song

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How can we make tech recruiting more diverse?

Recently, I have been thinking quite a lot about how we can make our work, including the recruiting process more inclusive; more welcoming to a beautifully diverse bunch of folks. At our organisation, the deeper you dive into the tech discipline and the higher you go up the ranks, the more male and predominantly white it becomes - and we need to change that.

Of course, it is crucial to make sure all the brilliant staff that’s already employed are happy with their work environment. Period. That’s a whole different issue that definitely needs to be tackled just as urgently. But as we have to start somewhere, let’s talk about the way we recruit people.

I’m not a recruiter, I’m just one of these mildly annoying people who compensate insecurities with action - so I interviewed at about 30 places to make sure I got my first job (which of course was absolute overkill). That’s as far as my experience goes. Many of these encounters were friendly, some felt outright odd. In most, I was interviewed by men. All of the conversations left an aftertaste - that we can do better.

So I am just wondering: How can we make the interview & recruitment process more diverse and inclusive?

Job interview meme, showing the interview process as two dinosaurs fighting versus the actual job as two plushies

I am not a massive fan of take home challenges, for example - in my opinion it’s just not fair game. Not everybody has the privilege to have enough time to complete a take home assignment, especially if it’s unpaid. A live coding challenge can be extremely stressful for introverted folks, regardless of experience. What if the applicant doesn’t have a bunch of side projects their work can be evaluated on?

Should we let applicants choose how they would like to be evaluated? Do you assess qualifications differently depending on the position to be filled? How do you approach the application process to decrease unconscious biases?

These are just some of my thoughts - which of course barely scrape the surface - on what is an utterly complex topic. But we need to start somewhere. And we would love to explore, discuss, and learn how we can do better.

What are your experiences when interviewing for technical positions? Feel free to share your thoughts below. Let’s approach this together 💪

Top comments (4)

annika_h profile image

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

I'm not a developer but in general I think that regarding your questions about technical interviews, coding challenges etc. there's probably no "one size fits all". It's totally valid if someone does not want to spend hours or even days on an unpaid task and on the other hand for some it might be the best option to show their talent. I guess that every employer has their own methods and processes that also already offer a glimpse into what their culture and work looks like. In my opinion, what's more important than the actual method is to be flexible, open and attentive to everyone's individual needs. Recruiting isn't about companies being in power and being able to choose talents anymore but rather doing their best to be a good place for people.
I think we're on a good path to transform recruiting and make it more diverse but there still is SO much to do!

josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr

That's a great point, thanks for sharing. Afterall, it should be a mutual process where all sides see if it's a good fit :)

annaspies profile image

I prefer a take-home challenge than having to code on the spot, but that's a personal preference and should be up to the candidate.

Regardless of format, the biggest problem with technical interviews is not just that they're more difficult than the real job as the meme suggests, but that they're completely irrelevant to the job being interviewed for, as this tweet sums up nicely:

Image from Twitter,

Unless you're interviewing as a coding challenge designer (and good luck with that), the interview process should assess the actual skills needed for a role. So for example, a frontend position can require the candidate to take an API (ideally the same one for each candidate) and build out a web app using it that meets certain requirements. A backend position on a cloud team should test if the candidate can put together an architecture diagram for a given service, and explain their choice of resources. Also, if you're interviewing for a position on a current team that uses React, FFS do not ask candidates to code in Vanilla JS.

You would think these points would be common sense, but it's sad how many companies (especially Big Corps) default to coding challenges because it's easier than re-thinking their entire recruitment process.

josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr

Thanks for sharing this, Anna - you are absolutely right, the process should reflect the challenges of the position in question, not skills completely unrelated to the job in real life.