This startup wants to help programmers get hired based on their coding skills rather than their résumés

Thursday, October 26th, 2017 - Resume

The CodeFights
team, CEO Tigran Sloyan is in the upper left hand corner.


  • CodeFights is offering a new system called CodeFightsR
    that’s designed to help companies improve their recruiting and
    hiring processes. 
  • Companies can use CodeFightsR to evaluate candidates
    based on their skills rather than their résumés


You don’t need an Ivy League education, a degree from one of the
top college engineering programs, or work experience at one of
the big tech companies to be a great coder. 

But hiring managers still frequently use such markers to
identify and evaluate job candidates. 

CodeFights is hoping to change that. The startup, whose website
helps programmers to improve their skills by offering
them coding challenges, has developed a new system designed
to help recruiters evaluate job candidates based
on the candidates’ skills rather than on what they’ve listed on
their résumés.

“What the recruiting industry is still doing is using pedigree as
a proxy for skill,” said Tigran Sloyan, CodeFights’ CEO. But, he
continued, “Engineers are no longer coming from top schools and
top companies.”

Fighting bias

For the past two years, CodeFights, which was founded by former
Google and Oracle engineers, has been helping companies recruit
new employees by screening programmers who came to its site
to practice their coding. After seeing how well CodeFights’ site
worked for finding talented engineers, the company’s
partners, which include Uber, Asana, and Evernote,
urged CodeFights to create tools they could use internally
to screen job candidates.

The result is CodeFightsR. The system helps companies
evaluate job applicants based on their programming skills.
Companies can use CodeFights R to send applicants a programming
test. The system assesses candidates’ skill levels based on
how they do on the test. Hiring managers can then look
at applicants’ scores to figure out which ones to bring
in for an interview. 

The system is designed to evaluate candidates objectively, rather
than having assessments clouded by conscious or unconscious
biases. CodeFightsR can point hiring managers to candidates
who actually have the skills they’re looking for, regardless of
their gender or race or the school they graduated from.

“Biases mainly kick in because of people’s lack of real data,
said Sloyan. “They go off of proxies to decide if someone can do
what they want or not.”

Codefights testing report
An example of a
CodeFightsR report on a coding test.


Finding Candidates in Unusual Places  

But companies can also use CodeFightsR to find additional job
candidates, not just screen existing ones. 

Companies can use the CodeFightsR system to design programming
bots and list them on CodeFights’ public website. Programmers who
visit CodeFights’ site can play against the bots as a way of
testing their skills. If they do well against a particular
company’s bot, they’ll get a prompt asking if they are
interested in job opportunities at that company. So, the system
helps companies find qualified candidates who might
not otherwise have gone through a formal application

“Companies see the shift,” said Sloyan. “When you realize that
instead of looking at someone’s resume and looking for keywords
you can actually know this person is a great Java engineer or
Android engineer without even having ever talked to them, it’s a
transformation in (the company’s) eyes.”

Testing skills and offering feedback

CodeFights has designed CodeFightsR to help companies out even as
they get closer to hiring particular candidates. 

In later stages of the hiring process, companies typically
ask programmer candidates to complete a coding test with a
recruiter, usually in Google Docs. But because Google Docs
is formatted for plain text, not software code, it’s not ideal
for demonstrating coding skills, Sloyan said.

Tigran Sloyan
Sloyan is hoping
CodeFightsR will help companies improve their hiring


CodeFightsR includes a feature that
allows candidates to do a coding test in something
closer to a programming environment. The feature allows
candidates to choose from any one of 38 programming
languages and actually run the code they write. 

Companies can also use CodeFightsR to figure out how to improve
their hiring process. The system offers automated feedback on
companies’ hiring processes. For example, it can alert a company
if two of its interviewers gave a candidate wildly different
evaluations. Or it can notify companies if the questions they’re
asking candidates don’t seem particular relevant to the jobs for
which they’re applying. 

In the CodeFights office, visitors can see what the company calls
its “wall of fame.” It’s comprised of the stories of coders who
were hired after being discovered on CodeFights’ website.

The wall is supposed “remind ourselves that what we do matters,”
said Sloyan.

CodeFights hopes the new set of recruiting tools will help
it add many more stories to the wall.

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