“It’s a lifesaver,” says the Chief People Officer of 99x, Damitha Jayasinghe describing it. The traditional hiring process for developers and software engineers includes a technical test and a face-to-face interview. Much like everything else, the use of technology is changing the hiring process. Recognising this, 99x has introduced DevGrade as a revolutionary recruitment assessment platform. It not only helps companies identify promising tech talent but also revamps the entire process to fix several issues in the traditional approach to hiring.
An introduction to how DevGrade works
To fully understand, you need to go through the entire hiring process. Let’s assume you’re applying for a software engineer position. Speaking to Arteculate, Founding Member of DevGrade, Rumesh Hapuarachchi walked us through the process with DevGrade.
The first step would be the technical assessment.
Traditionally, this was done by candidates answering a series of multiple-choice questions. But with DevGrade, these assessments take the form of real engineering projects to be completed in an allotted time. Based on real-world scenarios, the projects are designed to emulate the daily work of a software engineer.
Upon completion, the system analyses candidates on multiple attributes such as code quality, productivity, accuracy, code comprehension, defect-fixing, etc. By following this unique approach where candidates complete a simulated project, DevGrade is able to offer an objective analysis of a candidate’s technical aptitude.
Rumesh goes on to explain the idea behind it was, “When recruiting, tech companies will find candidates that know different technologies well. However, some of them still struggle with applying them to real-world scenarios or adopting the work-flows of an organisation. With DevGrade, we aim to address this issue and help connect them with strong talent that meets their needs.”
Following this, candidates would participate in an interview.
Owing to the pandemic, this stage now happens virtually over video. At this stage, DevGrade possesses a database of questions that are ‘quite tricky’ as per Rumesh. But that’s not all. Traditionally, these interviews would happen with both the candidate and interviewer meeting at the same time.
But Damitha points out interviewers are often senior technical staff already working on projects for clients. “There are no robots or personas that can carry out this task. It has to be done by humans,” he states. Hence, getting them to screen potential candidates can be challenging depending on their schedules. DevGrade, however, eliminates this problem entirely.
Instead of conducting it in real-time, DevGrade allows the candidates to answer the questions in the form of a video recording. This video is then provided to the technical interviewers to review at a later time of their convenience. Known as Asynchronous Video Interviewing (AVI), the feature provides great flexibility for recruiters.
“With its combination of comprehensive assessment tools and the asynchronous video interviews, DevGrade is a powerful tool for recruiters,” states Damitha and continued to explain, “It automates much of the process, making it significantly less labour-intensive. For candidates, the platform makes the interview process much more convenient. Likewise, recruiters can then go through every video and it’ll take an hour or two. But if we were to do it manually, then it’ll take days!”
Learning from candidates to create a better experience for all
With its powerful combination of features, DevGrade helps improve the recruitment process for everyone. Starting off with the most important people in the equation – the candidates applying. For them, DevGrade offers an improved experience throughout the entire process.
For example, given the assessments are based on real projects, it gives applicants a clear understanding of what their role would entail. Secondly, the platform offers them a chance to present their true technical capabilities since it allows them to use their own set of tools. Rumesh shared, “Typically, candidates are asked to use the tools selected by an organisation for technical assessments. But DevGrade encourages them to use their tools of choice. So they’re more comfortable and we can see their true technical capabilities.”
This move of letting candidates use their tools is one that leads towards organisations learning from them to create a better interview process for all. It’s a paradigm shift taking place across the industry. As candidates now have a greater choice of jobs and in turn greater power, organisations are being forced to adapt. End of the day, no matter the perks offered, long-term employees are those that believe a company values their contributions and offers a sense of purpose. Meaning that the first impression during the interview where their suggestions are valued goes a long way.
Granted, technology isn’t going to fix everything on its own. But tools like DevGrade offer greater visibility into the entire process. Thereby, offering valuable insights towards taking the steps necessary to revamp and redefine the entire recruitment experience for all involved.
Helping HR take high-quality decisions to select the right talent
Speaking to Arteculate, Damitha shared that in simple terms, HR professionals in the tech industry typically look at three things when evaluating candidates. The first is their technical aptitude and the second is how well they can apply these skills to solve real-world scenarios. The third aspect is emotional intelligence, which itself can be broken down into a number of smaller factors.
By and large, the existing traditional approach is largely subjective when gauging the above factors. “The issue here is that an inaccurate subjective view in one aspect can affect others as well,” explained Damitha. Whereas by using DevGrade, it’s possible to get an objective view of a candidate’s technical capabilities. In turn, allows HR professionals to more accurately evaluate their emotional intelligence.
At the same time, DevGrade also helps improve efficiency and productivity across the entire recruitment process. “The best talent is only available in the market for a short period of time. So it’s important for the entire recruitment process to be as efficient as possible. With DevGrade, there are massive efficiency gains that result in exponentially speed up the entire process.” In turn, there’s increased productivity across all other HR activities.
For HR professionals, this is what makes the platform so powerful or as Damitha puts it, “DevGrade is a lifesaver. By having an objective view on one of the most crucial aspects of evaluating a candidate, we’re now in a stronger position to ensure a high-quality decision is made and the right one is selected that meets the needs of the organisation towards achieving its business goals.”
How is DevGrade advancing Recruitment with the Use of Technology?
“Globally, the average time taken for recruitment for an engineering position is 36 days. However, the best candidates only tend to be available for 10 days. Therefore, recruitment is much like a farmers’ market, it is vital to be as early as possible to obtain the best produce,” explained Damitha. He further elaborated that the traditional interview process takes up approximately 7 days for adequate technical screening.
These trends mean the recruitment process can get quite labour-intensive, leading to a high cost of attrition. With the use of DevGrade, these issues are addressed directly through a holistic recruitment approach that can be completed within a few hours. Furthermore, an unexpected added benefit of the platform Damitha has witnessed is that recruiters are able to learn new and innovative ways of approaching problems, courtesy of allowing candidates to use their resources during the technical assessment.
Speaking from experience, Damitha also conveyed that, “Talent acquisition revolves around three key components – efficiency, productivity, and quality. As a result of the work going into the development of the backend of DevGrade, we see a very high correlation between these variables”. The platform was developed through the understanding and quantifying of HR requirements.
It has been internally tested for 1.5 years before its first launch and is still being tested with beta customers for further improvements. Therefore, he believes that it has become a powerful tool available for recruiters that will not only shortlist the best candidates but also save time and money in the hiring process.
Making its Mark in Sri Lankan Recruitment
DevGrade has already disrupted the recruitment space in Sri Lanka in less than a year of its launch. The platform by 99x received two prestigious awards at the SLASSCOM Ingenuity Awards 2021 in the Regional – Western Province and the National Award Categories. “This is an important indicator of industrial acceptance of the platform and implies a bright road ahead,” expressed Rumesh.
With their main aim of growing the company in the upcoming months, the team at 99x hopes to implement DevGrade for recruitment at all organizations on the island. Along the way, Rumesh also stated that 99x plans to take the platform overseas to the South Asian region for its implementation at an international level; thus implying the end of face-to-face interviews as we know it.