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How to filter your tech talent pool

We've worked with hundreds of clients on improving their selection strategy over the last 4 years. The following list of tips is a good summary of what we've learnt. Here's how to never miss a great candidate again.

Step 1: Have the right technical test

If you're hiring a software engineer, some sort of technical assessment will form a big part of your selection provess. Testing for the wrong things will result in talented people slipping through the cracks. Here are some examples of popular technical tests and why they're not optimised for good selection strategy.

Timed tech test

Are irrelevant because working to a time limit bears zero resemblance to the working day.

Logic puzzles

Test for the ability to solve logic puzzles, not for the ability to do the job.


Puts people on the spot and may not get the best out of everybody, especially introverts

SO what does qualify as a good tech test? That really depends on what the role requires. Some examples of good technical assessments that work well for our clients are as follows:

Live pair programming

This is a great way to examine the candidate's ability to communicate and collaborate on software with others.

Take-home tech test

Trusting candidates to choose for themselves how long to spend on a tech test is a good way to test for strong principles of self-management.

Step 2: Act fast

Good developers know their value and they will not wait for you.

A hackathon or craftathon (a hackathon that uses best practices like TDD) is a great way to assess the suitability of a bunch of candidates at the same time.

Not only is it a great form of technical assessment, you also get an insight into how your candidates communicate with each other and collaborate as a team.

Plus, it's an innovative way to crowdsource the answers to the trickiest of real business problems - including the ones your existing team is too busy to solve.

Watch this video to find out how Digital nebula hired 6 developers in under a week.

Step 3: Years of experience

In a market that's short on software engineering talent, selecting for a specific number of years experience limits your pool even further.

  • Stack Overflow reports that one eighth of professional software engineers have been programming professionally for under 2 years, and it’s a number that is growing fast. That means if your job description says “minimum 3 years of experience” you’re missing out on a burgeoning wave of fresh new talent.
  • When you break that down by gender, nearly twice the number of women said they had been coding for less than a year. The tech industry is making slow in-roads into inclusivity, and the answer to gender diversity lies in new developers.
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