If you expect an employer to only use phone screens and interviews to evaluate your qualifications, you may be in for a surprise. Recruiters are increasingly using outside-the-box strategies, tools and stealth techniques to vet potential employees, even those who haven’t applied for a position. The idea is to predict how a tech pro will perform once they join the team and are no longer on their “best behavior.” Don’t let your guard down. Here are six examples of innovative screening techniques that employers may use to evaluate your technical skills, temperament and cultural fit.
It's Not All Fun and Games
Coding challenges and hackathons aren’t just for attracting passionate tech pros. Employers may assess your potential by combining simulations and game play with behavioral science and data analytics to evaluate your personality, behaviors and technical skills. In other words, they evaluate not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
When is a lobby receptionist not a lobby receptionist? When he or she is actually a behavioral psychologist who evaluates candidates waiting for interviews, said Doug Beabout, owner and president of The Douglas Howard Group, a personnel and training-services company. “At one major company, the receptionist evaluates a candidate’s actions, body language and which magazines they read while they wait,” Beabout explained. “She submits a report to the hiring manager before the candidate finishes their interview.” He offered this advice: “If you’re waiting for an interview, don’t pick up the magazines.”
To save sourcing and screening time, recruiters are using Big Data tools and analytics to determine whether a potential candidate is qualified for a position. For instance, social aggregators scrape information from the web and create a consolidated profile outlining a tech pro’s technical expertise, projects, interests, work history, hobbies, and so on. Some of these tools use an algorithm to score and rank your abilities behind the scenes. For instance, employers may use a platform such as HackerRank to evaluate your code samples, according to Shally Steckerl, president of The Sourcing Institute. Alternatively, recruiters may judge your ability to garner interest and interact with colleagues by reviewing your open-source projects, including your participation on forums. “When others join in [on a project], it’s viewed as a show of confidence from your colleagues,” Steckerl noted.
Recruiters like to evaluate potential candidates before they decide to make contact. They may consult your contacts on professional networking sites, including former bosses and clients, to assess your fit and verify the information in your online profile.
Does your cover letter express your profound interest in working for a Fortune 500 manufacturing firm? Then why are you following tech startups on Twitter? And why do you have a profile posted on AngelList? Recruiters may search for your presence on job boards, as well as your social-media patterns, to determine whether your information aligns with the information you’ve given them.
Some hiring managers use social settings and surprise encounters to catch candidates off-guard. For example, a hiring manager may call you after hours or begin phone screens late to weed out candidates who are inflexible or easily annoyed. Or someone may burst into the room in the middle of your coding test or panel interview to see how you react. “A hiring manager in North Carolina takes out-of-town prospects to lunch at a backwoods BBQ joint, just to read the prospect’s comfort level with the local culture,” Beabout said.