What do candidates want?

IT specialists’ views about salary trading, selection stages, test tasks and feedback.

We continue reviewing the results of Candidate Experience Research*. Recently we talked about the behavior of recruiters and in the following article we are going discuss the preferences of candidates.

Salary trading

Discussion of material compensation during hunting is a painful topic for both recruiters and candidates. We asked IT-specialists two questions about this.

First, how often do recruiters discuss the possible salary, when offering a vacancy:

What do candidates want?

Secondly, how critical is it for IT professionals to receive this information:

What do candidates want?

We see the diametrical divergence of expectations and reality.

Apparently, it will be difficult to change the situation. Salary trades affect a key business interest – cost minimization. And since the one who called the price first loses in negotiations, – a recruiter has no right to discuss a salary by default.

The situation is absurd, and the market has to find a compromise. Because it’s really strange to recruit and then go and hide one of the key incentives to change your job – a material reward.

The number of interview stages

This question is dedicated to those, who love stretching the hiring process up to 5-6 stages 🙂

What do candidates want?

The vast majority of specialists consider no more than 3 selection stages as reasonable. The number of stages doesn’t matter for only 8%, in case they are interested in a vacancy. So, we encourage moderation – a quick recruiting process increases your hiring chances.

About test tasks

The issue of test tasks remains topical – a large number of articles and discussions are devoted to it. Most of them are unanimous in their conclusions – there’s no need to do the test tasks. Complexity of the topic is that, as soon as the developer-candidate begins conducting interviews himself (and evaluating other engineers), his negative attitude towards test tasks changes.

Therefore, it was interesting for us to look at the raw facts: how opinions on test tasks are quantitatively divided.

What do candidates want?

It turned out, that only 22% are opponents of the test tasks. Perhaps the situation was calmed by the alternatives we proposed: it drives them crazy, when after persuasion to consider a vacancy, a recruiter then sends a test task (which is to be completed in 2 days) to a candidate working on a full-time project.

Results of the research show that tasks, duration of 1 to 4 hours are acceptable for 59% of candidates.

We also asked IT-specialists, when they consider it is appropriate to receive a test task:

What do candidates want?

It seems to be logical to give a test task after a technical interview. Because motivation for its implementation is higher after a meeting with tech specialists, and a task can be adapted for a particular candidate, based on the interview results. Though engineers have a different logic: if a test is inevitable, 53% would like to receive it before a technical interview, and only 32% after it.

Comments of IT-specialists about the test tasks and other issues of this article can be found here.


And of course, candidates are waiting for feedback. Virtually everyone is expected to see feedback provided in different levels of detail.

If the candidate has successfully completed the interview, he is guaranteed to receive a feedback. But if the outcome is negative – it comes down to luck:

What do candidates want?

We decided to find out, whether Ukrainian IT-recruiters provide meaningful feedback. . Not just answer with “you didn’t pass”, but qualitative feedback with comments on their assessed knowledge and skills:

What do candidates want?

Also, how often do IT-specialists receive recommendations for their development and filling of any knowledge gaps at this stage:

What do candidates want?

As we can see, candidates perceive detailed feedback as an exotic occurrence rather than standard routine. Of course, it isn’t a trivial task for a recruiter to establish such a feedback process in the company.

Though the “Gold Standard of Feedback” is quite simple: to inform about the decision + to explain the reason for refusal in one or two sentences. With this kind of feedback, the IT recruiter will not only fulfill the sacred duty of “feedback-giving”, but also satisfy feedback expectations of 74% of candidates.

NB: if it’s feedback after a technical interview**, then reasons for being rejected should also be “technical”.

In conclusion, we would like to thank once again those IT specialists, who gave us feedback during the Candidate Experience Research. Your opinion is the basis for improving processes and behavior patterns in IT recruiting.

We hope that recruiters will build a desire to listen to their candidates and conduct detailed research, so best practices will become a good tradition.


Julia Venger
Founder & Managing Partner at GUID


* More survey details and socio-demographic data of the respondents – here and there.

** ПSee more information about interviews in our next article «Interviews in IT Companies».