9 Proven Ways To Develop Diverse, High-Performing Talent Pipelines

More than 80 percent of LaunchCoders convert to full-time employment after a 3-6 month apprenticeship. Additionally, more than 95 percent of LaunchCoders are still working in tech 3 years after starting their careers. Despite not having college degrees, 77 percent of LaunchCoders have been promoted at least once. To put those numbers in perspective, it’s estimated that on average, 50 percent of new hires fail within a year. So LaunchCode has a higher than average success rate with a population that largely lacks college degrees. How do we do it? A huge part of our success is our evaluation process. Here are 9 tips we recommend to improve your hiring.

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1. Prioritize passion, drive, and aptitude — If you are familiar with LaunchCode, you might know “passion, drive, and aptitude” is our calling card. What you might not know is that these values are supported by science. General aptitude is often shown to be the number one predictor of future performance in academic research. Every LaunchCoder takes an aptitude test before starting the program. That said, intelligence without work ethic will only take you so far. LaunchCoders need grit to succeed. We evaluate a candidate’s drive through our education program. Our courses are long and challenging — for the 60 percent that make it through, we know they have the ability to overcome obstacles. Finally, successful candidates need a positive, can-do attitude and a love for working in tech. At the end of each course, students present and explain their completed capstone project. We use this final project to assess a student’s passion.

"General aptitude is often shown to be the number one predictor of future performance in academic research."

2. Develop skills-based assessments tailored to particular jobs — At LaunchCode, we use different assessments for mainframe engineers, product managers, scrum masters, and developers. This is important because each of these jobs require different skills and personalities to succeed. For example, a product manager needs to be open to ambiguity and able to turn unformed customer problems into user stories for their development team. Therefore, our assessment for product managers provides an ambiguous business case and asks candidates to write user stories. If they can perform the task during an interview, they are more likely to be able to do it on the job. 

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3. Use structured interviews — There is a lot of evidence that unstructured interviews don’t yield great results. When managers use unstructured interviews, they tend to hire employees like them, rather than the best candidate for the job. Structured interviews, where every candidate receives the same questions, make it easier to compare candidate responses objectively. Another advantage of structured interviews is the ability to identify correlation between answers of a particular question and job performance. This data is gold for iterating your interview questions.

4. Develop your structured interview rubric and weighted scoring system before assessing candidates — To get the most out of structured interviews, you have to decide how you will score answers to questions before you interview. Constantly changing rubrics can introduce bias into your process. The best time to tweak your algorithm is after the interview process is over.

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5. Rework job descriptions — Finding good candidates starts long before you interview. The language you use on your job descriptions impacts who applies. Terms like competitive, ninja, or dominant may make women or people of color feel like they don’t belong. Your skills assessment will screen out candidates, so it’s not necessary for your language to deter groups from applying. We recommend workshopping job descriptions with diverse team members to get feedback before you start recruiting.
6. Measure who comes from what channels — There is no one-size-fits-all recruitment channel. That’s why it’s important to measure what demographic groups come from which channel, how well candidates from each channel perform on the job, and how much each channel costs. Measuring channel efficacy makes it easier to reallocate resources and also provides valuable feedback to improve future performance. My project (2)-1

 

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7. Blind more of the process — With any data-driven process, it is as important to remove bad information as add good information. Names on resumes, which include gender and racial information, can bias interviews. Likewise, women and people of color often score worse in interviews despite similar performance. Famously, the Boston Symphony Orchestra implemented interviews behind a screen in the 1970s, when only 6 percent of orchestra members were women. Today, women make up a third of the BSO. 
8. Be transparent — Your relationship with employees starts at the job description. We recommend organizations be upfront about salary ranges and job duties in the first impression. Withholding information can signal that deception is the way to succeed in your organization, which might turn off disadvantaged groups and excellent candidates.   My project-1

 

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9. Iterate — There is no such thing as a perfect interview process. You can always get better at attracting a broader audience, identifying predictors of future performance, and tailoring skills assessment to the most critical on the job demand skills. We encourage HR, product, and technology teams to build feedback loops and reflection into the process so you are always improving. 


At LaunchCode, we are proud of the success we have had building entry-level talent pipelines. If your organization wants to increase diversity while recruiting high-performers, LaunchCode is happy to help. To learn more about how LaunchCode recruits high-performing, diverse talent, email LaunchCode’s SVP of Company Relations, Lori Eaton, at leaton@launchcode.org