Amanda is CEO of CoderPad, the leading software platform for evaluating technical talent. With nearly 2,000 customers, Amanda has led the team to consistently expand features, add new customers and improve customer retention. She is a chief executive with extensive experience in product management and strategy having helped to scale multiple technology startups to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.Follow Follow
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 210. Today we have Amanda from CoderPad and we’ll be talking about the use case or business case for why her customers use CoderPad.
Outside of work, Amanda has been a featured speaker at Women In Product, SXSW, Mind the Product and more.
CoderPad is a technical interview platform to help candidates easily share their skills.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Show length: 22 minutes
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Music: Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better. As we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech, that’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. Today, we have Amanda on from CoderPad, and we’ll be talking about the Use Case to the business case, that her prospects for the purchase of CoderPad. Without any further ado. Amanda, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and CoderPad.
Amanda Richardson: Sure thing. Thank you William for having me. I’m Amanda Richardson, I’m the CEO of CoderPad and we’re the leading platform for assessing and interviewing technical talent. So if you are hiring developers within your company, and that doesn’t mean you’re a software company, as all companies are really hiring developers at this point, it seems. We’re the platform to help you find, to understand who the best talent is that you’re interviewing.
William Tincup: So assisting and testing. For folks that are non technical, there’s a breadth in-depth to all kinds of technical skills. So, if someone says they’re a Java Developer, that could mean in a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so how does the one, either the recruiter or the hiring manager, how do they calibrate what exactly they need?
Amanda Richardson: Yeah. This is what our tool is set out to do. We have worked to build a question bank library on our assessment platform of over 3000 questions to help you as either the hiring manager or the recruiter, understand who in this pool of candidates has the proficiency you need or has the particular area of expertise that you need.
To your point William, I’m a Java Developer, I have five years of experience, that doesn’t really actually say much. It’s like if you’re interviewing a salesperson, “I did sales for five years.” “Well, were you any good?” How do I know. That’s what our assessment platform sets out to do. That products is called CodinGame. And then once you assess your pool and say, these are the 10 people, 20 people, 50 people, whatever it is that you want to pass through to the interview process, you then use the CoderPad product for doing that live interview where you actually have the candidate pair with the hiring manager or the technical person on the interview panel to really understand, not just can they code, but how do they think through problems? How do they collaborate? How do they do what they do every day? And so this is about, working on a problem together, it’s pair programming.
The best way I can explain it is like Google Docs for engineers, where they can work together, run codes, debug, really in their most natural environment understand how would you solve a problem? How would you add onto this code? How do you think about reviewing this code?. Which are all things that are expected to be done in the day to day role of a developer, but are really hard to assess on a phone call. Like, “How do you debug code?” It’s much easier to actually just give them code, pair together and watch the person debug. That’s what we do.
William Tincup: How do we get technical people that have been in scarcity forever and will be in scarcity for at least our natural lives though, how do we get them to take test?
The assessment part, I can kind of see some of the software stuff, it being relatively easy for them, but I’ve also seen and heard it’s harder to get some of the more senior technical people more sought after, for them to stop down and take a test.
Amanda Richardson: Yeah. I think [crosstalk 00:03:57].
William Tincup: First of all, Have you seen the same stuff or am I imagining this?
Amanda Richardson: No, there’s a little bit of that. I would say that, like all candidates and particularly, to your point, there is a shortage of developers out there and the demand for developers is growing faster than the universities and boot camps and self-taught programs are producing them.
So we definitely know that this will continue to be a problem. But I think, part of the reason that you hear developers don’t want to take tests is because so many of the tests out there are so bad or so irrelevant. It’s true, it’s so irrelevant, right? It’s like…
William Tincup: No, I’m laughing because I agree.
Amanda Richardson: We’re a team of developers who have spent a lot of time thinking about how we can quickly and easily assess them, assess someone’s skills, for the asynchronous assessment, we gamify it to make it a little more interesting for the engineer. And, maybe that’s just a little moment of delight. And when you really do have to prove your skills, we try to keep them as short and as brief as possible, aiming for 45 minutes per assessment.
And then I think for some of the candidates who really don’t want to do the asynchronous assessment, which tends to be a more senior experienced engineer, and maybe that’s appropriate for your process, you dump them right into the live interview. But I would say that overwhelmingly candidates tell us, that if they want to be assessed on their skills, they want to see what it’s like to work with the employer, right? Like what are the problems I’m going to work on? What’s it like to work there?
One of our VP’s of engineering has this horror story about how he went through a technical interview and three quarters of the way through, I guess he had gotten it wrong. The engineer said, “That’s enough,” stood up, walked out of the room, three minutes later the recruiter came in and escorted him out.
He’s never going to buy that product. So it’s really about creating a good candidate experience and explaining to the engineers, giving them an interview that’s relevant to what they would work on. Like, “Why do you want to work on this list?” Or, maybe this is a particular sorting problem, that’s different for Waymo than it is for Instacart. Waymo needs to find routing, but Instacart trying to organize a page of fruits or whatever it is.
And so just giving them a real sense of what the problems are that they’re going to work on and what their day to day life is like, is the best you could do. And that way it’s a bidirectional interview. So when you hear the engineers say, “I don’t want to do a task.” “I won’t do an assessment.” I think part of it is because they think the questions are irrelevant or there’s nothing in it for them.
And if, as interviewers and as hiring managers and as HR teams, we do the extra work to say, “Hey, this is bidirectional. What is the candidate going to get out of this 45 minute interview?” We’ll go a long way in making sure it’s more meaningful. And then it won’t be this like, “I don’t want to do it”, reaction. There’s actually a benefit for the candidate.
William Tincup: Yeah. First of all, I think you’ve nailed it. If they see a benefit for them, then they’ll want to do it. They’ll see it as not just about the job, they’ll see it about, “Let me see where I rank. Let me see what I score.”
Amanda Richardson: Yeah. Well, and just [crosstalk 00:07:07]…
William Tincup: Have fun.
Amanda Richardson: …not even just ranking, like where can I improve? Where can I do better?
William Tincup: Yeah.
Amanda Richardson: We all hate the interview process, where at the end, they’re like, “Sorry, it’s not a good fit.” And you say, “Well, is there any feedback that you can share?” And the company always says…
William Tincup: “Nope.”
Amanda Richardson: … “Nope. We’re afraid you’re going to sue us. So we don’t tell you anything,” which is terrible, but true. And so it builds into the upfront assessment product. We send the results to the candidate too, not as on behalf of the company, we do that as the platform because we think that’s a better candidate experience. And then for the live interviews, we really encourage and work with our customers and partners. And we work with 3,800 different companies to really craft those questions, to be about meaningful work that someone would do on the job.
And maybe they do great in the interview, but they’re like, ” You know what? I just really am not excited about this language, this technology, this problem we’re solving.” I don’t know. “I don’t care about self-driving cars. I don’t really want to get excited about it,” or whatever it is. I think it’s an opportunity for the candidate to also feel what it’s like. And only by personalizing it and making it really relevant to the job at hand, will both sides know if it’s a match.
William Tincup: So the job description itself, you and I were joking before the call about hiring managers and recruiters. This is a Venus and Mars, would be an easy way to explain that. But syncing up around the job description around what the recruiter is supposed to bring back to the hiring manager, a slate of candidates, hopefully a diverse inclusive slate of candidates, et cetera. How do they know which assessments and tests within CoderPad, how do they know which ones they should be using? So when someone says a senior, I’m picking on job out just for fun, but at this point, but if they say a senior Java Developer. How do they calibrate what assessments and what tests that they should actually use?
Amanda Richardson: Yeah. This is where our products really shine because the CodinGame product specifically has, as a recruiter you go in, you start a campaign and it says, you would say Java engineer specifically, and it would say, “New,” “Junior” or “Senior,” and we will pre-package this for you.
William Tincup: Oh, cool.
Amanda Richardson: And then our best advice to every recruiter sourcer is, “Give this to as many candidates as you can.” I continue to be amazed at the number of candidates who just on paper don’t look right, but just crush it. And they just have deep knowledge and deep experience that maybe isn’t seen, maybe their company had crazy job titles, like IC-4, whatever, all these FAANG companies have different names that mean nothing to the rest of us, around what they actually did.
I’ve had candidates, hiring specifically engineers for CoderPad, where we got a resume and we just sent them the assessment and said, “Show us what she got.” And she crushed it. She absolutely knocked it out of the park in a way that if you looked at her resume, it never would’ve been a fit, but she proved her skills.
And I think to your point, not only did that help us find more candidates, which is the biggest problem everybody probably listening to this will tell you about. But also that second problem brought in a more diverse group, right? She didn’t have the logos, she didn’t have the engineering degree from whatever the masters in computer science, that some hiring manager somewhere told you was the must have experience.
The tool we can provide to recruiters is to say, “Give this to everybody,” for every resume you get so long as they meet some minimum standard, whatever that is. It’s just usually like some geography or, something like that. Give everybody of the assessment and you’ll be surprised how many people are in your pool. You probably would have looked past, because of either bias in the process, that doesn’t necessarily have to be like a gender or cultural bias. It may just be like, “I’m only hiring engineers who worked at Google or Facebook.” Or, “I only want people with CS degrees.”
The founder of the CodinGame product was a self-taught engineer. He grew up on weekends gaming and building his own computers. And that’s where he learned to code and did it all himself, came out of high school had a mediocre high school run. Like many of us did, went to get a job. No one would hire him because they said, “look, you don’t have the resume”.
So he forces way into university, went to university for a couple years. At the end of that realized, he hadn’t learned anything. But because of that experience, they all suddenly were going to hire him. And he’s like, “This is so stupid. We need a better product and a better way for recruiters to understand who talent is. I wasted four years at university, not learning anything, running up debt when I really could have done this job four years ago. And you could have hired me much cheaper by the way”. And so we really are working to level that playing field to find a talent that’s out there, then not have to worry (silence) about finding the person who has the perfect resume that actually is not even the right resume.
William Tincup: Yeah. And of course you nailed it. It scratches off a bunch of the hidden biases and preferences that we have that most of them are mythological. And they just…
Amanda Richardson: Absolutely.
William Tincup: … happen through time, and like, “These are the 10 business schools,” or “The 10 engineering schools that we recruit from.” It’s like, why is that? And so I love the idea of just giving people a chance. They take the test, they take the assessment, they either know it or they don’t. And I’m sure there’s all kinds of fail safes around cheating and, all that other stuff. So you either know it or you don’t.
Amanda Richardson: [crosstalk 00:12:43] Yeah. And what we see so often it’s not like you have a number of people who are all at 50th percentile or whatever it is. Overwhelmingly, you’ll see people will cluster as know it or don’t. To your point. So let’s just move forward with those who know it. Right? You may end up doubling or tripling, your candidate pipeline, because you’ve created a skills based step as opposed to a resume based step.
William Tincup: Right.
Amanda Richardson: And you’re saving yourself the time. Right. You don’t have to do all the calls with everybody. Certainly for the hot candidates, you’re going to have to…
William Tincup: Oh yeah.
Amanda Richardson: You want to give them a good candidate experience and all of that. But I’m saying you can end up putting a lot more people through your pipeline because you’re not throttling yourself at the top with artificial constraints.
William Tincup: So three things left and they’re all going to be fun things. So we’ll go through them fast. One is favorite buying questions. Questions that you love from hiring managers, recruiter sourcers, anybody in HR, when you hear the questions, you’re like, “Oh, yes.”
Amanda Richardson: Well, we were laughing about this a little bit beforehand. I think the number one question that recruiters will ask us is like, “What is it you guys do? Everyone in engineering tells me I have to buy you, but I don’t really understand what it is.” So that’s my favorite question. But I think the other questions that are often great for us are when people say, “Hey look, I don’t really know how to get my candidates through the pipeline,” they’re having a time to hire or, a response rate problem, overwhelming our CodinGame assessment product has a completion rate, that is second to none. We have 95% completion rates start to finish, relative to our competitors who have 60 to 80%. That alone is expanding your funnel.
And then the other problems are around, time to assess or, “I can’t bring people into the office because now with COVID,” or, “It just takes so long to get things set up.” The beauty is, CoderPad is just one link, you click, you’re in, you’re coding immediately you don’t have to figure out the product.
Those are the problems that, when I talk to a recruiter and they’re like, “Oh man, we just can’t get enough people through the pipeline.” “Or it takes too long.” Or, “Our cost hire is too high.” I’m like, “Oh, we’ve got that. These are all the things.” And then the other thing I love to hear is when people ask us, what is our advice or, what is it that we’re doing? We work with all the FAANG companies.
We’re the platform of choice. And so, what is it that others are doing in this space? And what is our advice?, Because I think so often. Look, it’s really easy to look at all software vendors is the same, but at the end of the day, we’re humans, we are humans who hire developers. We are developers who care about these problems who think about this.
So when you want to engage with us, we have so many channels to be available, to help you customize your questions, think about your interview process. Really want to talk about best practices. This is what we get excited to do. We want to be easy that we work with. We want to be easy to a try. You can jump in on the website, do a trial, whatever. You don’t even talk to a salesperson to buy, try to be easy, but we really love it when you want to know how to do this best, because that’s what we care about. That’s what we think about all day long.
William Tincup: I love it. Your favorite part of the demo when you get to show on the occasion that you, I know it’s like, asking your favorite child, but when you get to show, CoderPad to people for the first time, whoever it is, what’s your favorite part?
Amanda Richardson: They’re all my favorite children.
William Tincup: I love all of them equally.
Amanda Richardson: I love all of them equally, but probably the one that I love right now. So, We have a feature, we call Focus Time. So on our CoderPad live interview product. The developer and the candidate and the interviewer come in and they have this blank screen often times. And so the interviewer will put up a question, maybe it’s a snippet of code. Maybe it’s a directions on what to do.
And then we have this button you can push called Focus Time, which gives the candidates five minutes. Where you as the interviewer can necessarily see what they type and you can’t see their face. And it gives the candidate five minutes to gather their thoughts and just get started.
And so we built this after consulting with a gentleman, who does research in technical recruiting at NC State. So he is doing his PhD and all of his research on technical recruiting. And what he found was, just by having candidates be watched doing an interview, the pass rate of women went from six out of eight to zero out of eight.
William Tincup: Yep.
Amanda Richardson: And the only variable was just being watched, so Focus Time to me is the way for candidates to just jump in, get started, feel comfortable making mistakes, right?. You don’t even want to watch me type an email, let alone write some code. It’s just very nerve wracking. And so giving the candidates that space improves candidate performance, frankly, it also gives the interviewer a couple of minutes to get their act together and figure out what they’re going to talk through and like get a little organized and show up well. And so that is my favorite product or my favorite features to show off Focus Time.
William Tincup: Well, I love that. The story about women is probably true of a lot of people that they’re thinking about a lot of other things and it’s like I said, no one wants to see you. Write an email, a text message for me. How many times do I use Grammarly? I’ll misspell stuff on purpose, just so Grammarly will pick it up so that I don’t even have to think about how to spell it. So that’s how lazy is that? I don’t want anybody to see that.
Amanda Richardson: I am the generation who can’t write anything without the red squiggly line, I literally have no idea how to spell anything. So I am grateful for things like this, but then again, that’s also what we’re trying to do is give people the space and [crosstalk 00:18:21] the native tools between auto completion and everything to just make it feel like their doing their best work as opposed to being quizzed on spelling or auto complete or whatever the language packages are.
William Tincup: Well, and it’s also gets you away as a recruiter. It gets you away from thinking about things that aren’t important. The fact that they misspelled a word and in coding, they had to start over three times. Well, you know what, so what?
Amanda Richardson: That’s what we all do, right? You want someone [crosstalk 00:18:51]-
William Tincup: That’s right.
Amanda Richardson: Who have learned iteratively like that is the coding process. You start, you write a little bit, you run, you debug, you run, you debug, you build on the language, right? No one, no developer sits down and writes 22,000 lines of code and it hits run and it works like.
William Tincup: That’s right.
Amanda Richardson: That is not our world. So finding the way to like recreate and give them a way to be comfortable. And, but not also be stared at, right? There’s nothing worse than someone staring at your work. It’s awful. [crosstalk 00:19:11]
William Tincup: Why’d you do that? Why are you doing that?
Amanda Richardson: Yeah. You’re like, “I didn’t even mean to do that. It’s a typo, I’m sorry. I’ll hit run and we’ll find it.”
William Tincup: Yeah.
Amanda Richardson: Just everybody chill out, giving everybody a little bit of space, a little bit of natural environment to do their best work.
William Tincup: I love that. Well, I love that on a lot of levels, but last thing is, again, your favorite children, your favorite customer innovation story. And again, no names, don’t need names, but just there somewhere, where a customer is used CoderPad and you’re like, “Wow, that’s cool.”
Amanda Richardson: Yeah. So no names, but a large company in the Bay area here, very large tech company, uses us not just for interviewing. We are the platform of choice for their interviewing, but they also use us for collaborative work. So it’s a big company, it’s a big campus. So the buildings are everywhere. And the person do who knows this particular piece of code may not be in the building or even in the room.
And so what they will do when they get stuck is, they will message the person and then you spin up a CoderPad and you drop the code in and you pair together to solve the problem or teach new code pieces or really learn, how something works to move the project forward. Again it’s CoderPad is just Paired Experience, but rather than assessing talent, they use it for, educating, debugging, really bringing someone new into a project. And so it’s much more of a collaboration tool, which I just love because we want to build a product that feels, again natural and it’s valuable. And so if there are use cases beyond just interviewing, it just makes my heart warm.
William Tincup: Oh, that’s fantastic. And I think now that people know that you have that, as a use case or case study, then other people will see the benefits as well. If it works on the front end in talent acquisition, you can see it working in internal mobility. You can see it working in collaboration and other places. They just need to be able to trust it and use it. You got to get started somewhere. So they use it in recruiting, which is great. But after they use it in recruiting, then don’t stop there. So…
Amanda Richardson: Absolutely. Yeah.
William Tincup: Wonderful. I thank you so much, Amanda. I absolutely love what you’ve built. That’s wonderful.
Amanda Richardson: Well, thank you and we’re really proud of it. We work really hard. We obsess over technical recruiting and trying to make it a more diverse and inclusive community overall. And so we think recruiting is a place to start and so, I am excited to work more on it and think about it. And if anybody wants to talk more about it, reach out anytime. I’d love to hear from you.
William Tincup: A hundred percent. Thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case podcast until next time.
The Use Case Podcast
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
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