August 10, 2020 / Hiring

Tech Assessments, a Competitive Advantage?


We sat down with Dan Shavick, Softwire’s Co-Founder and HR Director, to find out how online tech assessments have been used as a key strategic and competitive advantage by one of the UK's leading graduate employers in the software space.

Softwire, describes itself as a technical innovator and passionate problem solver both in software engineering and digital design.

It has a turnover of around £18 million, and 150 staff across its headquarters in London and offices in Manchester, Cambridge, and Bucharest.

We sat down with Dan Shavick, Softwire’s Co-Founder and HR Director, to find out how in the past 12 months they’ve been working with us, we’ve helped them save over £100k, and 1k engineering hours.

So Dan, tell us about your tech recruitment challenges?

Every year, we need to hire dozens of talented software engineers in four separate locations. Because these software engineers are often working directly with our clients, it’s crucial that they’re strategically-minded as well as technically skilled.

Finding the very best graduates and summer interns as efficiently as possible is particularly important to us. For example, in the 2018/2019 season we have received over 3,000 applications for 28 graduate and 30 summer intern positions. With these volumes you need a way of quickly and reliably identifying the very best of candidates. Our previous recruitment process was straining at the seams. Before we started working with ShowTech, following a thorough CV sift, we used 45-minute telephone interviews with our engineers to validate candidates’ skills before bringing them in for a face-to-face interview.

As we have grown, so have the number of applications, and the burden on our software engineers diverts them from their priority: client projects. This also puts a strain on the recruitment process since urgent client demands sometimes result in engineers being unable to participate in interviewing. And, as we charge out our software engineers at approximately £100 an hour, this makes it a costly task for our business and a process which doesn‘t scale easily.

All in all, we needed a way to screen candidates efficiently so we can recruit at scale, and minimise valuable engineering hours spent with unsuitable candidates.

How did ShowTech help solve it?

We’ve replaced the telephone interview with ShowTech's code challenge assessments and, as a consequence, have also improved the speed of the CV sift, moving to a lighter touch approach, as we can efficiently assess more candidates.

We’ve worked together to create a range of skills tests tailored to each candidate’s experience level using our own code challenges as well as ShowTech’s own questions. We then use the results to assess candidates based on their scores and test timing compared with others with that same level of experience.

This year, we estimate that this has saved us around 1k engineering hours, as the telephone interview was taking up an hour including the follow-up notes. With engineers charging out at an average of around £100 an hour, that means ShowTech has saved us approximately £100k this year.

Have you seen any other benefits of using online tech assessments?

More diverse workforce

One of the biggest benefits of using ShowTech is that it’s allowed us to assess candidates on their skills rather than having to rely solely on their CV during the screening process. This has helped diversify our workforce, as candidates with atypical technical backgrounds aren’t ruled out early on.

Since we began using ShowTech, our intake of female graduate software engineers has increased from an average of around 25% to over 40%, so we’re now doing pretty well.

Time to see more candidates

As ShowTech has streamlined our recruitment process as we now automate assessing skills, it’s allowed us not only to thoroughly screen a larger number of candidates but also invite more to face-to-face interviews. We’ve been able to achieve all this in less time than our previous recruitment process, and at a lower cost.

Why did you choose ShowTech?

We identified that the main problem with our recruitment process was the technical assessments as we did these as phone interviews, which are time consuming and meant there was a reliance on our software engineers. So we started looking at other ways to do these, the preference being code challenges.

We chose ShowTech because it allows us to upload our own code challenges and work together to create technical skills assessments that reflected how and what we wanted to test our candidates on.

Lastly, we really benefited from the fact that ShowTech integrates seamlessly with our ATS, which is crucial for us to be able to see the assessment results inline in each application and get a quick overall view of each candidate.

The team at ShowTech have been great to work with and they’ve been accommodating and responsive to our needs.

Alex Adams
Marketing Executive

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