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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2021

An expert helping fast-growing companies #GoBeyondResumes in technical recruiting by structuring, automating, and scaling interviews with its technical assessment platform: CodeSignal

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In today’s noisy and competitive job market, companies are seeking new ways to identify and land top talent. This is especially true for technical hiring. Skilled developers are in high demand, but sometimes their non-traditional education or resumes do a poor job of communicating their abilities—which hurts both employers and candidates. Employers miss out on a larger talent pool, and candidates feel like they haven’t been given a platform to demonstrate their skills.

This is where technical assessments come into play. They allow employers to objectively evaluate candidates’ coding skills, and to do so at scale. And for candidates, assessments that provide a realistic simulation of the actual job make for a better candidate experience. It turns out that the more job-relevant and realistic the assessment is, the better the candidate rates the experience—which is incredibly important in the current recruiting environment. In fact, a recent study by IBM found that candidates who’ve had a positive experience throughout the application process are 38% more likely to accept the job offer.

Founded in 2015, CodeSignal is the industry-leading technical assessment solution whose framework-based automated assessments have been widely adopted as a standard for technical recruiters and employers. CodeSignal’s Machine Learning algorithm has analyzed terabytes of skill assessment data to develop the Coding Score™, which is a predictor of a developer’s coding and problem-solving abilities.

In conversation with Tigran Sloyan, Co-Founder and CEO of CodeSignal

Q. What inspired you to establish an objective skills-based assessment platform?

When you look at my background, it’s hard to tell why I care about “going beyond resumes” because I have all the pedigree that you might wish for on your resume. But one of my co-founders, Aram Shatakhtsyan, had a completely different experience. I was a national math champion, and Aram was a national programming champion and one of the best coders I’ve ever met. We both showed huge potential but our paths split when it was time to choose universities. Due to different circumstances, he went to a local school in Armenia while I went to MIT. And that single difference had an enormous impact on our career trajectories. Just because I went to a top school, I ended up being chased by every recruiter in the country by the time I was graduating.

From the perspective of many recruiters, it seems like someone with a CS degree from a top-ranked school is a shoe-in—and candidates without such a prestigious education are a gamble. So Aram, who didn’t attend a highly-ranked school, had a significantly tougher time getting his foot in the door—even though he was always by far the best software engineer that I’ve ever seen. And that’s even after I went to MIT and worked at Google. What this means is that resumes are an incredibly poor proxy of people’s actual skills. We founded CodeSignal to provide companies a reliable and fair way to identify top technical talent using objective skill assessments, rather than relying on the pedigree of education or past employers shown on a resume.

Explain your services in brief.

CodeSignal is a technical assessment platform that provides the most realistic simulation of how developers actually work that’s available on the market. We offer three products within our platform:

  • Certify: Standardized and validated coding assessments for screening a high volume of candidates at the top of the recruiting funnel.
  • Test: Custom coding tests for assessing specialized and senior-level programming skills.
  • Interview: Live technical interviews with built-in video calling and real-time collaboration. Interview is like a driving test; the evaluator is observing the test-taker in real-time and observing how they perform the relevant skills.

Q. When people are having fun, they work together better and they produce better work. How do you interpret this saying?

It’s tricky, actually. The concept of “follow your passion” is a double-edged sword. I think some people read that as, “You know what, if I’m not always having fun with something, I shouldn’t be doing it.” And that’s simply not true. Professional athletes understand this well. To develop mastery in an area, you have to work for it—and it won’t always be fun. But once you start getting really good at something and dedicate a lot of time to it, you’ll deepen your passion for it. You’ve never seen a professional sports player who says, “I’m just dreading this, but I do it. I’m the best in the world, but I hate it.” That doesn’t happen. They love it. It becomes their passion and identity. So for me, people work together better and produce better results when they are each working in an area they are incredibly skilled in and passionate about. A team made up of people who are each doing what they love is highly motivating to be around. Such a team fosters an environment for creating great work and fueling professional growth. This goes much deeper than having fun.

Q. Growing the company based on employees’ passions must be the priority. Do you ask your employees what they are interested in doing and how they would like to see their career unfold?

Absolutely. One advantage of being a young and relatively small company is that we can be highly responsive to the strengths and interests of everyone on our team. And—I know this is almost a cliché these days—but it’s really a two-way street between the employer and employee. Managers need to be transparent with their employees about the needs of the business and of their team, and employees need to be honest with managers about the direction they want for their career and aware of their professional strengths. If these are mismatched, it will be a difficult situation for everyone.

Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?

We have been consistently pushing the envelope to create a true flight simulation for software developers and data scientists. I am super excited to share that we’ve just launched new advanced assessment capabilities that unlock a new set of highly-relevant assessment experiences. With this update, you can use CodeSignal to deliver real-world assessments for the most complex development and data roles.

Since this familiar environment echoes their own workspace and the tasks emulate the real work they will do, the candidate is truly being assessed on relevant skills and knowledge. This means that the assessment is a stronger signal for how the candidate will perform once on the job. And, because the interview process feels relevant to the job and the platform is comfortable, you will provide a better candidate experience regardless of the final decision.

With this release we can confidently say that right now CodeSignal is by far the most advanced browser-based IDE built for automated assessments and interviews.

Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

For the immediate future we are focused on becoming more deeply embedded in the tech community and established as the leader in technical skills assessment. The majority of companies across the globe still rely on resumes as a proxy for candidates’ skills—even for technical roles. There is still plenty of work to be done to build momentum for going beyond resumes through objective skills assessment in hiring.

Meet the leader behind the success of CodeSignal

Tigran Sloyan is the Co-Founder and CEO at CodeSignal, the first company to develop a fair, automated skills-based assessment platform used as a standard for technical recruiters and employers. Tigran is also the founder of the #GoBeyondResumes non-profit movement. As an active member of the Forbes Technology Council, Tigran contributes regularly as a thought leader in the technical hiring industry, commenting on trends in software development, diversity, and innovation.

“We’re on a mission to make talent accessible through skills assessment”