Interview with Aymeric Augustin, Technical Director at Polyconseil

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"Rely on the potential and motivation of the candidates rather than on their education and work experience"

Hi Aymeric, can you introduce yourself and Polyconseil?

Polyconseil is a consulting company specializing in strategy, innovation and project management. Within Polyconseil, I created a software development activity which has been growing for the past 5 years. This allows us to support our clients up until the implementation of their projects. We rely on demanding recruitment, on modern software engineering practices and cutting-edge technology to create innovative services under tight deadlines.

What are the reasons that led you to choose CodinGame challenges for your recruitment?

Recruitment is obviously the key to growing my team. Publishing job openings and waiting for applications has a very limited impact. It's often difficult to assess candidates presented by recruitment agencies. I prefer referral recruitment. Still, this method has its limitations. It tends to increase monoculture in particular. CodinGame was an opportunity to diversify our hiring by opening us to a wider audience without prejudice.

How many applications did you receive from this challenge? Did the profiles meet your expectations?

25 candidates indicated their willingness to join Polyconseil, participated in the contest seriously and submitted decent solutions. Quite frankly, it's difficult to discard a candidate on the sole basis of two coding exercises, without having context on his knowledge of the language he used. Therefore, I started with a telephone interview for each candidate who knew Python – about fifteen of them. Then I selected those with whom I wanted to continue discussing. I am firmly committed to equality and diversity in the field of technology. From this point of view, I was disappointed that I only received male applications. Maybe communication for upcoming events could seek a wider audience?

From a company's point of view, how does the recruitment process work at a CodinGame?
Getting the first idea about the potential of a person by studying their code is an unusual exercise. I found it quite informative. It pushed me to meet some candidates whom I would have probably discarded had I just read their resumes. Sometimes, I even found it frustrating to wait for a great candidate to reply to my request for an interview. The CodinGame process asks the employer to start by studying the code, without any other informative elements on candidates. I suppose it's a healthy constraint.

Did you hire any developers in the end? What criteria were decisive in the choice of candidates who were selected?
We hired a developer and will take on an intern. As one expects from a contest of this type, most of the participants are self-taught. We relied on the potential and motivation of the candidates rather than on their education and work experience. In addition, we met with a number of persons who weren't on an immediate job-search, but with whom we might still work in the future.

You're an employer, but you also participated as a candidate (1st in May's challenge): what are your views on CodinGame from this dual point of view?
The challenges' format allows participants to demonstrate their theoretical knowledge, their practical skills, their efficiency and their perfectionism. It reminds me of oral exams in engineering schools. For our projects, it is precisely these engineering qualities we look for. In retrospect, I find that the solutions submitted quite well predicted the applications outcomes.

What future do you see for these innovative methods of recruitment?
Recruitment is difficult in the software sector, and that's how it will stay. On one side, the demand is bigger than the supply, because there's too little good quality training. On the other hand, most developers are reluctant in their approach with employers, regardless of the method used. Hence I'm convinced that there's an innovative potential to link developers and companies who share the same philosophy. It is especially true given that recruitment is clearly not an exact science!

If you could describe CodinGame's challenges from a recruiter's point of view in one sentence, what would it be?
To recruit using CodinGame, you have to leave prejudices behind; that opens up a lot of different perspectives!

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