By Elizabeth Scutchfield February 7, 2018

Mock Interviews: The Path to an Effective & Inclusive Hiring Process

It’s no secret. Software developers are in high demand, and the interview door swings both ways—they’re assessing your company as much as you’re deciding if they’re a good fit for the role.

Enter mock interviews. This low-risk and no-cost process gives both interviewer and interviewee valuable experience in what tends to be a high-pressure situation for both parties.

One of the many services we offer to partner companies is a chance for your team to practice interviewing candidates. This gives our grads the opportunity to rehearse their interview skills, and helps your employees learn how to interview well—an often-overlooked skill—and assess potential hires.

Concur has been one of the leading companies helping us shape mock interviews to be mutually beneficial for our graduates and our partners. In light of this successful partnership, we wanted to share some of the ways employers benefit from members of their team conducting mock interviews with new developers.

1. Train Your Employees & Improve Your Candidate Experience

According to a 2017 survey conducted by CareerArc, “64% of job seekers say that a poor candidate experience would make them less likely to purchase goods and services from that employer.” And yet, many employers are spending little to no time preparing their employees to effectively conduct interviews and consistently assess talent to create a positive candidate experience.

Howard Dierking, Director of Software Development from Concur, shared in his recent blog post on the value of hosting mock interviews, “As we were planning the the initial [mock interview] event, I discovered that half of those who had volunteered to interview had never interviewed anyone—ever! Many others had interviewed a handful of people in the past, but didn’t have a tremendous amount of experience. And the group as a whole had no experience operating as a cohesive interview panel.”

While some companies are creating a more consistent criteria for evaluating talent to reduce bias and focus on the right set of skills and competencies—even going so far as to training employees on effective interviewing tactics—there is still a missing opportunity to apply these concepts in a situation that is low risk, prior to an actual interview. Mock interviews with Code Fellows graduates have proven to be excellent training for teams to gain comfort with interviewing and talk about how to create a positive experience for candidates.

2. Grow Your Network & Your Brand

The market for software developers in Seattle remains competitive, and employers are looking for creative ways to stay ahead of the curve. The ideal candidate often comes from an employee referral as it reduces the cost per hire and tends to result in better retention. According to the most recent report from the Society of Human Resource Management, “Employee referrals continue to be employers’ top source of hires, delivering more than 30 percent of all hires overall in 2016 and 45 percent of internal hires, recently released data show.”

The problem with this recruiting tactic is that it can often lead to more of the same—relying on individual networks within a monochromatic industry will often fail to bring in diverse perspectives or backgrounds. A better strategy is to proactively expand your network with more diverse candidates, so that when there is an opportunity within your organization, you have a broader network to pull from. Mock interviews with Code Fellows graduates are an ideal way to do this, especially given that you get a sense for the technical acumen and behavioral characteristics of candidates as a result of the exercise, with no commitment to hire.

This exercise helps organizations proactively brand themselves and build a good reputation among candidates. Shelly Tang, a Code 401: Full-Stack Javascript grad, shared, “Technical interviews can be intimidating, but the mock interview gave me a better understanding of what to expect. Not only did the experience help shake off some interview nerves, but it was also a great way to learn about a company and meet other developers and hiring managers.”

Shelly walked away from the mock interviews with a better understanding of the company and a positive impression about their culture—information she will likely pass along to her network.

3. Give Back to the Community

Some employers have shared that they do not have a high demand for new developers, but would like to find opportunities to improve the industry. Mock interviews have been an excellent way to allow industry partners to “give back” as we all work together to create a robust tech talent ecosystem. As Michael Porter, one of our Full-Stack Javascript grads shared, “The mock interview with Concur was a great opportunity to practice and hone skills in a realistic environment. It was better than a practice interview with colleagues, because we didn’t know who we were meeting or what types of technical questions they would ask. We had that little bit of stress from the unfamiliar, and we got opportunity to show off our skills and express our personalities.”

Providing opportunities like this for employees to give back is a retention tactic. According to Gallup’s most recent poll, while millennials see fair compensation as important, their top driver is finding a purpose and a meaning in their work. As candidates look for their next opportunity and can afford to be selective in an industry that has a high demand for their skills, they will be attracted to roles and companies where they have an opportunity to give back.

There are many benefits employers like Concur and Avvo are finding in mock interview activities. Howard Dierking shared, “The mock interview program provides a great opportunity for our employees to help people develop the skills that they will need to enter the software development field, all the while furthering their own skill as an interviewer. It’s the best example of a win-win that I have seen in quite a while.”


If you’d like your company to get involved with mock interviews at Code Fellows, get in touch!