Tech candidate screening taking too long? Here’s how to speed it up ⏱️

If you’re a tech recruiter, you might feel that it takes longer to fill jobs in tech than other fields.

And you’re right!

In fact, in our 2022 survey of recruiters, tech recruiters said their time-to-hire is 16.5% longer than non-tech roles (43 days vs 37 days.)

One factor they mentioned that takes longer: screening calls.

An average tech recruiter spends about 20 hours on screening calls per hire, which again is longer than non-tech recruitment (by 5.7 hours).

Analysis on the time recruiters spend on screening calls

Based on the average number of screening calls per hire (40) times minutes spent per call (30.1 for tech recruiters, 21.4 for non-tech recruiters.)

Source: Why tech recruitment has the longest time-to-hire (and what to do about it)

This means that tech recruiters spend 5.8 hours per week on screening calls alone.

The busier the tech recruiter, the more time spent on screening calls

The time tech recruiters spend on screening calls per week

The amount of time a tech recruiter spends on screening calls per week depends on how busy they are (no surprises here!). 

Facebook’s hiring freeze means they have 109 tech recruiters for the 1,000 tech roles filled in the last 12 months – meaning recruiters spend about 3.7 hours a week screening tech candidates.

Canva, on the other hand, hired 310 technical roles in the last year with a team of just 7 – meaning each tech recruiter spends about 17.7 hours a week on screening calls.


Why the tech screening process takes so long — and what to do about it

  1. Tech candidate demands are increasing — so filter out the ones you can’t afford

    While other types of workers may be flexible on compensation and perks, tech candidates expect them — and will be vocal about their demands. This takes time to address and negotiate in the call.

    So save that time upfront, and include a compensation range in the initial outreach when hiring developers for your startup. This will prevent screening calls that go nowhere because the candidate’s salary expectations are above what you can offer.

  2. Tech workers care most about impact — so get clear on it

    Even more important is for tech recruiters to clearly communicate the impact (the opportunity for the candidate to grow the company and make their mark) in the initial email – and be ready to talk concisely about that on the call.

    Tech recruiters in our 2022 recruiter survey reported impact being 2.2x more essential to tech workers than other candidates. Having a clear and unique vision for what the candidate’s work will accomplish in the market and the world will make screening calls more efficient and effective.

    Analysis of what do job candidates care about in the tech and non-tech industries

  3. Make use of online challenges

    Technological advancement in software, such as applicant tracking systems, helps in filtering out the best candidates.

    Still, resumes are notoriously hard to evaluate candidate qualification, and part of the complexity in tech recruitment is assessing technical ability.

    Nothing is more frustrating than passing an eager candidate on to a hiring manager (say, a senior React developer) only to get the feedback that they’re under-skilled.


    Solution? Get a senior developer involved in the creation of the online challenge! 

    If it’s a third-party test, have the senior developer do it themselves to evaluate its relevance to the business challenge you’re hiring to solve.

    If they wrote the challenge, ask them to include objective criteria to evaluate whether the candidate works tech problems the way they want. 

    For example, whether they use object-oriented programming, unit tests, or API endpoints to solve coding challenges. These should be binary, yes-or-no type questions that any third party observer could evaluate.

    Challenges like these also help eliminate unconscious biases in the hiring process, giving your company a more diverse team that can solve the most difficult problems.

  4. Make take home challenges longer and more difficult

    Some tech recruiters prefer to talk to a lot of candidates, because being busy feels good. So there’s often a temptation to keep the bar for having an initial screening call very low. 

    This ends up letting a lot of under qualified candidates through, which unfortunately wastes time for everyone involved.

    Tech challenges should take from 30 minutes to 4 hours to complete. (ContactOut’s own coding challenges take about 4 hours.) 

    It’s often the candidate who truly wants the job and sees a close fit between the job and their own personal goals who’ll complete such a challenge. This validates their level of motivation nice and early in the hiring process. 

    We also specify during early communication with the candidate that they should only complete the challenge if they find it to be a personally rewarding learning experience, so when the hiring funnel dries up at the challenge phase, we know we haven’t done a good enough job selling the position and impact of the role.

    And back to refining it is!

    Level up your tech recruitment

    The 2022 recruitment survey I’ve mentioned in this guide has been getting rave reviews from tech recruiters. It includes a ton more insights that will help tech recruiters perform better in 2022 — accelerate your tech hiring and your career. Get it now:

    1. Download the full report for free here
    2. Tag a tech recruiter in the comments to pay it forward

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