Interview with Aurélien Pelletier, Technical Director at Sfeir

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The following interview was conducted by Naima Divies, e-RH and Employer brand expert, writer and contributor for various online media, including the blog

Hi Aurélien, can you introduce Sfeir?

Sfeir is a technology consulting firm. It has shown dynamism in terms of recruitment for several years now. In a context of software engineers shortage, the development of the employer brand has become a strategic priority. Our continued growth is based on the quality of our human resources, our technological innovation and the development of our services to customers.

Our tech teams work primarily with three languages​​: Java, C ++ and JavaScript. They love coding and learning. Part of the staff may be detached to work at our customers’ offices, the rest work on in-house projects using agile development methods.

Our customer portfolio includes key accounts (banking, insurance), but also small and medium-sized companies. It's also interesting to point out that we increasingly work with start-ups, especially on projects related to mobile environments.

What is the recruitment process at Sfeir?

95% of our recruitments are profile-based. The recruitment process involves several steps:
  1. Selection of resumes
  2. HR interview
  3. Play off: programming tests oriented towards algorithms, languages ​​and platforms.This allows us to obtain a first technical validation, which is carried out in several stages: 0.5 day of testing, 3 technical interviews lasting one hour each. The tests assess language knowledge and the understanding of platforms (use of Frameworks). The technical level required is high, and is aimed at determining whether the applicant will be operational or not.

We recruit through Monster (first source), APEC Thursdays, social networks through direct contact (Linkedin and Viadeo). Internally, we have also developed referral recruitment (our 2nd source of hiring). Social media as well as referrals usually generate quality applications.

As it is the case for the whole IT industry, we are facing a shortage of experienced software engineers. We do few operations with schools. It is not our main target. We are looking for passionate developers with 2 to 3 years of working experience in cutting-edge technologies.

Can you tell us how you met CodinGame?

For a while, we had been thinking about how to better source our candidates, but we were also looking to improve the quality of the applications generated through the different channels.

On the HR communication side, about two years ago, we launched a web series on Youtube called 42nd floor. It showed, in the form of short dialogues, the flaws of IT services companies. It made a really positive buzz around the Sfeir brand. We had innovated, setting aside the conventional paths of corporate communication.

The e-challenge services offered by CodiGame perfectly fit with this new way of communicating. Our key word is: innovation. We wanted to rely on an innovative platform to get more visible to a community of programming enthusiasts, and to potential new talent.

When CodinGame contacted us, our thought process was mature and we were ready for the experience. We decided, with the support of the Director General, to launch a test operation in May 2013.

How did the e-challenges go?

Before starting the project, I tried the platform myself as a participant, and I was satisfied. Choosing CodinGame was interesting from several points of view:
  1. Passion for coding: Participants had the profile that we looked for, that is, developers who are coding enthusiasts
  2. Motivation of participants: making themselves available in the evening to develop: evidence of commitment to training, to challenge with its peers
  3. Pre-qualification of candidates
  4. Relevant content: the exercises offered by the platform are very oriented towards algorithm. This is a filter that completes our selection process already in place.
The profiles of participants who apply with Sfeir through the challenges match well with our needs.

What are the results so far?

The operation was a success on each of Sfeir's 3 participations to the Codingame challenges. We will not take into account that of November 23rd, which happened short before the interview.

On the basis of an average of 1000 participants, who manage to get through the challenges, we received between 111 to 144 applications each time.

Depending on who the other sponsors are on the event, the number of candidates interested in Sfeir may vary. Competition can be tough when you are facing top brands like Nintendo, Ubisoft, Dailymotion, etc.

Each of the three challenges we participated in allowed us to recruit.

We carried out communication efforts before, during and after the operation on Linkedin, on our website, as well as on Twitter. The challenges allowed us to present Sfeir on the CodinGame platform in an appealing way (short presentation text, video illustrations, images and link to our website). We have not yet measured the impact in terms of employer brand, as this needs to be done on the medium and long terms.

To date, all three operations are positive. We are satisfied about the quality of the applications we received.

The CodinGame channel is complementary to other hiring channels. The different e-challenges reinforce our image as an innovative brand, including in the recruitment sector. Sfeir is a company which is open to the outside and to its ecosystem. Many technical events and conferences are organized by Sfeir towards its community (employees, customers, suppliers and partners).

Interestingly, during the first e-challenge, several Sfeir employees participated. They were very happy with their experience and took pleasure in challenging themselves with other developers.

What project(s) do you have in the future?

We are conducting a discussion on the renewal of the CodinGame operation, but more in the form of a customized internal e-challenge so that we can engage our teams.

Innovation is an integral part of Sfeir's DNA. We are a learning organization, open to new ideas. Our employees have dedicated time to keep an eye on the latest technologies necessary to our business. Going through e-challenges reinforces our image as an innovative company.

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About the author:

Naima Diviès, Training coordinator

With 16 years of work experience in the fields of professional training and ongoing education fields, coordinator of training projects in the pharmaceutical industry and the oil industry, Naima is currently preparing an MBA in e-business (Univ. L. de Vinci). In this context, she is working on a thesis entitled "Development of employer brand and Web 2.0." Her #: RH 2.0, employer brand, recruitment and innovation, new learning tools.

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