Hiring and onboarding

How we screen software engineers

Zack Braksa
Head of Developer Relations

Eight years ago, the first version of our screening process saw the light of day. And it was very different to what we have today, not in a good way. Luckily, we’ve been able to improve it over time through continuous iterations and data-driven decision making.

The result is a more reliable and unbiased version that we use to screen software engineers today. Every step of the process was designed to achieve two things:

  • Identify and inform candidates who definitely aren’t a fit.
  • Collect signals on the candidates who are a potential fit.

When designing each step, we had to strike a balance between candidate experience and assessment reliability. After eight years of learning and iterations, here are the different steps of our screening process today:

1. Applying

For developers, applying to Gemography feels more like creating a GitHub profile and less like applying to another job opening.

We keep it as short, make use of multi-choice options, and no cover letters. Heck we don’t even ask for a resume. We found it to be subjective and susceptible to bias so we figured out a more predictable way to screen without resumes.

As soon as the candidate submits the information form, they receive an immediate and automated feedback.  If they look like a potential good fit, we’ll tell them, if not, we also tell them. Ghosting candidates is not only bad for an employer brand, but it's also disrespectful.

2. Technical quiz

Qualified candidates are invited to take at least one quiz to showcase their technical skills.

We designed these quizzes to be tech-agnostic while also covering each area of engineering: Backend, Frontend, Data engineering, iOS and Android.

The quiz step is automated, each quiz has on average 10 to 20 questions. All of them multi-choice.

3. Communication test

This step of the screening process involves having the candidate record a 5-min video (or audio) to answer a specific question about the their background. We get to know them more, and they get to demonstrate some of their communication skills. It’s also an initial opportunity to see how well they can structure their ideas and how clearly they communicate about things they’ve worked on.

4. Technical Interview

If a candidate is successful in the earlier step, they'll be invited to schedule an online one-hour interview with an engineer on our team to discuss their background and experiences. In this interview, we use behavioral, situational and deep dive questions. The goal is to screen their problem solving abilities and mastery of their preferred languages and frameworks.

Candidates can pick the day and time that works for them using Calendly. We also offer them the possibility to be interviewed in the language of their choice (either in English or in French).

5. Remote-ability interview

If they're successful in the previous step, candidates will be moving forward to the fourth and last step of our screening process.

The soft-skills interview is also conducted online, and it’s when we take a deeper dive into their communication skills, where they stand on ownership and autonomy, how passionate and humble they are... and other neighboring topics.

Last but not least, we try to screen for their experience with remote work best practices and their willingness to learn.

Decision time

Based on the candidate’s performance at each step of the screening process, we’re able to do two things:

  • Make a data-driven decision on whether a candidate gets approved to join our talent network.
  • Use signals collected during the screening process to match the right talent with the right company.