Talent acquisition in India is vastly challenged by the volume and scale of talent available. Unfortunately, the quantity isn’t always commensurate with the quality. Screening and churning candidates need an effective recruitment process to ensure that the bandwidth of all stakeholders is effectively managed. Though hiring is key to any business’s success, it is essentially the means to an end.
Talent Acquisition (TA) needs to effectively partner with the business to ensure that the recruitment strategy is in alignment with business needs and see to it that the bandwidth of the TA team and, or the hiring managers; is not choked with unsuitable candidates for interview, thereby costing the company time, money, and resources. This situation is more frequently observed with vanilla skills set like .NET and Java, where the market is overflowing with this talent but the quality is seriously debatable, with each resume being liberally embellished with the right keywords or projects.
At IDC in early 2017, we had a dire situation where we lost five of our Java professionals who all resigned within a short period of time. We were therefore pushed into a situation where we needed to ramp up hiring for these skills at a short notice.
The market reality is that Java resources, though abundantly available, must be meticulously screened because quality can be widely inconsistent. Thus, the recruiters had to spend exorbitant amounts of time on the phone, screening the candidates, while the panel had to interview quite a few candidates. For one Java position, a panel had to interview 35-40 candidates before it found one candidate worth shortlisting! This was the gravity of the situation, coupled with regular challenges of the Indian market like interview no-shows, offer declines, etc. We had managers complaining and tech panels protesting that a disproportionate amount of their time and effort had been apportioned to Java interviews, which was hampering their regular deliverables.
It was during this time that Glider was introduced to us as an effective online tool for objective technical screening of candidates. Glider was demonstrated to the TA team and soon the team figured that the tool was capable of more than just assessments – it helped with brand building, pipeline building, and more apart from assessments. We decided to test case Java positions as a pilot to check its effectiveness.
As a first step, we sourced 15 to 20 candidates and had them take up the assessments which were internally customized by the technical panel. The tool is capable of proctoring so we were able to record the activities the candidates undertook during the test. Thus, if they tried to Google for answers or switch tabs, the test automatically got locked and didn’t allow them to continue with the test. We captured details regarding the amount of time a candidate took on a given question.
The coding questions give us a good idea of their coding skills, technical thought process, and more. We determined that a minimum of 60 percent score in the test will be the shortlisting criterion for a face-to-face interview. We interviewed only those candidates who qualified for the assessments on er. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that for every four to five interviews, we had a shortlist for offer. Thus, from interviewing 35 to 40 candidates, the panel moved to interview just 4 to 5 candidates for each candidate selected. We were thus able to substantially improve the quality of the candidates, through rigorous objective screening and the panel saved enormous time by having to interview much fewer candidates.
Needless to say, this was a win-win initiative for all the concerned parties. We successfully used Glider on-campus to hire interns for EFI Productivity Software and Infrastructure Solution & Technology. We had a total of 250 students taking up the test and we successfully hired 20 interns. We saved a lot of manual effort in conducting the test and evaluating the same. It also gives a professional feel to the student fraternity at large.
At the end of the day, we are an IT organization too. In view of the above positive experience, we are now trying to extend the assessment tool to other skill sets like .NET, C++, and QA. Since the screening questions take some iterations, we are still in the process of refining the questions and ensuring alignment, but the journey continues. **
The author, Vishal Sachdev, is a Talent Acquisition Specialist with over 17 years of experience. With a wide range of experience in the IT space with startups to fully established organizations, he is currently leading the TA function for the APAC region at EFI.