Are you recruiting developers? This is the number of interviews it takes to fill a position.

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Developers involved in hiring other high-level software engineers now have to conduct 26 or even 29 first-round interviews with candidates when trying to find the right person to join the team.

This is compared to just 16 first-round interviews in 2020 – a 63% increase in interviews between the two periods and is both good and bad news for those involved in finding top engineering talent.

On the one hand, this suggests that hiring companies looking for software engineers find it easier to find talent, but on the other hand, it has created a lot of work for the engineers involved in hiring: four out of five engineers said it would be easier to hit their hiring target if they had more qualified people available to interview candidates – and if they didn’t have to deliver product features concurrently.

The significant increase in first-round interviews is one finding from research by Karat, a technology company that offers cloud-based technical interviews to clients looking for software engineers. The company commissioned The Harris Poll to survey 556 occupations responsible for hiring software engineers in technology, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and banking industries in the United States.

Karat highlights the double-edged sword of having a larger talent pool to choose from.

The increase in first-round interviews “created more tension in the balance between the time it takes for the interview process and the burden it places on employees and their other assigned tasks,” he notes.

For top engineers involved in hiring, more interviews hurt productive coding time, undermined team morale, and drove more costs to the business. Three-quarters of “engineering leaders” and “talent leaders” agreed that interviews with software candidates reduced productive coding time. Half of engineering leaders felt that the interview was a financial drain on the company, while 66% of talent leaders thought so.

Karat speculates that the uptick in first-round interviews was due to the widespread adoption of virtual interviews during the pandemic and the wider acceptance of remote working, which allowed recruiting firms to broaden their search across geographic areas, beyond head office and regional offices. And the survey was conducted between February 9 and February 23, when the Great Resignation was in full swing and tech talent was in high demand and in short supply.

Karat also found that compensation for software engineers increased by 15% compared to 2020. Engineering managers also spent 48% more time preparing for interviews.

Further evidence suggesting that the skills shortage was easing was that in February only 27% of recruiters were struggling to identify potential engineering candidates, compared to 38% in 2020.

Karat found that half of the engineers in the survey were very confident of meeting their hiring goals in the United States and other countries in 2022. But today, with macroeconomic headwinds and declining technology stock prices, the focus has shifted. Google, Facebook and others are in the midst of hiring freezes, while dozens of startups cut their workforces by 10% to 20%, leaving most tech workers employed worried about job security.

It remains to be seen how this affects the availability of top software engineering talent. Facebook, for example, stopped hiring lower-level engineers, but continues to hire machine learning engineers. Google only suspended hiring for two weeks, slightly reducing its hiring targets for 2022.

On the positive side, companies still see the value in hiring developers. “In fact, there’s near consensus that a strong software engineer is worth at least double their total compensation; and more than half of engineering leaders would estimate at least 3x their total compensation,” says The report.

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