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Startup Central — How CodeSignal is removing bias from the hiring process

Find out how CodeSignal is disrupting the hiring process by creating a system where candidates can be matched with job openings based on skills instead of experience or education.

By Sammi Chen, Startup Marketing Associate

Published September 15, 2020
Last updated January 20, 2021

When hiring, many companies seek candidates from top universities and high-profile employers. But what about the candidates who have all the same skills, but lack the formal credentials?

CodeSignal, a technical skills assessment platform, aims to level the playing field by evolving the traditional hiring process with their skills-based assessment and matching platform.

Skills-based assessment could alleviate the inherent bias in hiring. We sat down with CodeSignal Co-Founder Sophia Baik to hear more about the company's mission and vision.

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Matching candidates based more on skills, less on experience

One of the biggest challenges faced by candidates breaking into the workforce is the lack of prior experience. No prior experience makes it difficult for first time workers to get the experience they need to land their first job. It’s a classic catch-22 scenario that many young programmers face and one that CodeSignal wanted to crack.

Baik experienced this firsthand after college when trying to start a career in the financial industry.

“[Recruiters] wanted to see previous experience on my resume, and I was just trying to get my first internship. I was being asked for the experience that I didn’t have yet."

Sophia Baik, Co-Founder, CodeSignal

Flash forward, and she eventually shifted to the technology sector, where she and her co-founder began working to solve this exact problem.

When CodeSignal first launched, it was a space where programmers came to practice their programming skills and learn with community peers. This meant that it had access to participants’ skill levels, so they began offering a matching service based on skills data summarized as “Coding Score” (think Credit Score but for programming skills).

They then scaled the service by giving recruiters and hiring managers the tools to invite candidates from their own pipeline to get coding scores. Screening candidates based on measurable hard skills proved to be more efficient for recruiters than combing through resumes.

“If you can measure skills at a larger scale in an objective way, then you can have a better alternative to those resume requirements,” says Baik.

Many employers have tried (and mostly failed) to assess skills by administering tests manually. The process can be tedious and comes with its own set of compliance issues.

“In the past companies tried to have a skill assessment step [of the interview process] but it was done manually. You create a test on your own and send it to the candidate,” explains Baik.

Candidates complete the tests which then land on the tech team’s desks to review. This can lead to more bias if the reviewers are not closely calibrated. Also, any delay in the assessment review leads to a negative candidate experience.

Apart from being a highly efficient recruiting tool, the CodeSignal program is a champion for diversity. The assessment process is automated so it gives recruiters the ability to find candidates that they wouldn’t have considered beforehand.

“We tend to gravitate first towards people who have already had the right opportunities in life. If we can give everyone the same opportunities in an equitable way then that’s a start,” says Baik about promoting diversity and helping to fight the systematic racism and sexism in traditional hiring process systems.

The future of digital recruiting

When it comes to hiring, a cultural and digital shift is taking place. A world where recruitment doesn’t have to close its doors on candidates because of their location.

“Now you don’t have to limit yourself to candidates who are available in certain geographic locations. You can really open up your candidate pool to anywhere in the world. You can focus on hiring the most talented and qualified candidate from anywhere. It also brings the competition up even more,” says Baik.

The pandemic made it clear that thanks to tech, a lot of the workforce can work remotely. This opens up opportunities for people who otherwise wouldn’t get the necessary experience because they couldn’t afford to live in expensive cities.

It’s a win-win. Companies now have a larger talent pool to choose from and candidates from anywhere in the world can be considered.

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