Great Hiring Practices

During the Covid pandemic, in Engineering at Compare the Market, we were doing very little hiring. We had very few leavers and any proposed expansions were put on pause while we waited for the pandemic to play out. Recently though, with everything starting to open back up, we’ve started hiring again and this time at pace.

We needed to ensure that our hiring practices were still fit for purpose, especially within this accelerated hiring market. It was the perfect opportunity to review our practices, shake out the cobwebs and give them a good clean up and refresh.

There were three areas that we wanted to focus on and we worked to ensure that all our practices were honed with these goals in mind.

What we wanted from our hiring

We wanted to get the best candidates — of course, this seems obvious but what’s ‘best’ for one company may not be for another. Every company has their own culture and their own view on what great looks like. We wanted to make sure that we were as transparent as possible on what this means for Compare the Market. We also needed to ensure that we had a slick process that kept candidates engaged and didn’t waste their time.

We wanted to ensure that our processes and people worked in as unbiased a way as possible. The advantages of having a diverse and inclusive workplace are well documented and known, but for us it’s more than this, it’s part of who we are. We know that amazing talent comes from all parts of our community, and ensuring that we proactively pursue diversity across all levels in our hiring makes us a stronger and better company.

Finally, we wanted to ensure that all our candidates had as good an experience with us as possible. Job hunting and interviewing are rarely fun but we wanted to make sure that all our candidates have a positive experience with us, whatever the outcome.

In order to achieve these goals, we looked at what we needed to do to improve our practices.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The improvements we made

Our amazing HR department along with our leaders in technology, painstakingly reviewed and updated all of our technology role descriptions. This was to ensure that we were clear on the expectations of each role, that they were fair and that they were aligned.

With guidance from our talent acquisition team, we changed our approach to the practical section of our interviews, that is the technical or challenge based presentation. We moved from a take-home pre-interview test to an in-interview pairing or whiteboard session. The reasons for this were:

Although we were using a third party to anonymously grade the technical tests to remove bias, we discovered that having any take-home challenge to complete negatively impacts those who have less free time, usually women, older people or those with families.

It’s a more accurate reflection of how we work in Compare the Market. We pair by default, so giving the candidate a feel for what that’s like as well as giving an opportunity to demonstrate those skills to the interviewer was very helpful.

It reduces the time needed between our first and second round interviews, which is great for all involved.

Finally, we consolidated and aligned our interview process. We documented and shared the exact details of every step of our interviews to ensure that everyone receives the same high standard across the board. We also provided extensive training materials on unconscious bias in the interview process to all our interviewers.

As well as making these improvements, we were also really keen to continue with the great practices that we already had in place.

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

What we kept doing

We ensure that we keep in touch with all our applicants. There’s nothing worse than being ghosted in an interview process, so our talent and acquisition team have always prioritised keeping in close contact with all our candidates. They make sure that candidates are clear on what the process entails and what the next steps are. They also ensure that feedback from all interviews is captured and shared with the applicant.

As already mentioned, it’s really important to us that candidates have a positive experience of interviewing at Compare the Market. To that end we always treat our candidates with kindness and empathy. An interview is just as much a process for a candidate to find out about Compare the Market as it is the other way around, so we also make sure that we explain how we do things, what our values are and what makes us a great place to work.

We’re happy with our refreshed hiring practices but like most things in tech, it’s never really ‘done’ and we’ll continue to hone and improve these practices over time.


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