Hiring skilled developers is a critical task for any tech-focused organization. The ability to survey a candidate’s coding abilities successfully is foremost in making the proper hiring choices. Coding aptitude tests serve as an important device in this process, allowing you to assess a developer’s proficiency, problem-solving abilities, and coding style.
Evaluating a programmer’s coding skills has become an essential step in any technical hiring process. In a recent Tech Hiring Survey, we found that the number one challenge employers face when hiring developers is finding the rightly qualified candidates. Indeed, the majority of hiring mistakes in tech recruiting are due to a lack of technical skills. Coding testing is necessary:
Firstly, because developers aren’t necessarily good at selling their skills – you might miss out on the best candidates because they don’t stand out on paper.
Second, because self-assessment skills are unreliable: if you pin your hopes on a shiny resume, you may find yourself disappointed by one that doesn’t quite meet your expectations. Many different abilities make up a talented programmer, but technical skills are what you can evaluate most accurately.
What are Appropriate Coding Test Methods?
Assessing a developer’s coding skills is a crucial step in the hiring process. Choosing the appropriate coding test methods can help you evaluate candidates effectively and make informed hiring decisions. Here are several methods to consider:
Coding challenges are time-limited exercises that require candidates to solve a specific problem or implement a feature. They can be conducted on online platforms or in-person. Coding challenges help assess a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, coding proficiency, and how well they can work under pressure.
Live Coding Sessions
Live coding interviews involve real-time coding collaboration between the candidate and the interviewer. Candidates are given a problem to solve while sharing their screen, explaining their thought process, and writing code. This method assesses a candidate’s problem-solving skills, coding fluency, and communication skills. It provides insight into how a developer thinks and works through coding challenges.
Take-home assignments are more extensive coding projects that candidates complete on their own time. This method allows candidates to showcase their coding skills in a less stressful environment and can be particularly useful for assessing a candidate’s ability to work on larger, real-world tasks. Ensure the assignments are relevant to the role and set a reasonable time frame for completion.
Code review exercises involve assessing a candidate’s ability to review and provide feedback on existing code. This method evaluates their understanding of coding best practices, code quality, and their attention to detail. Provide a codebase with known issues and ask the candidate to identify and suggest improvements.
In pair programming interviews, a candidate collaborates with an interviewer to solve a problem. The interviewer and candidate take turns writing code and discussing their thought processes as a part of the coding test. This method assesses a candidate’s coding skills, teamwork, and ability to adapt and learn in real-time.
Algorithm and Data Structure Tests
These tests focus on a candidate’s knowledge of fundamental algorithms and data structures. Candidates may be asked to implement specific algorithms or solve algorithmic problems. This method assesses a developer’s core computer science knowledge, which can be critical for certain roles, such as backend or algorithm-focused positions.
System Design Interviews
For senior or architect roles, system design interviews assess a candidate’s ability to design scalable and efficient software systems. Candidates are given a high-level problem statement and asked to design a system architecture. This method evaluates their architectural thinking, scalability considerations, and knowledge of system design principles.
While not directly assessing coding skills, behavioral interviews help evaluate a candidate’s soft skills, including communication, teamwork, and problem-solving attitude. These interviews explore a candidate’s past experiences, challenges, and how they approach working in a team.
Whiteboard interviews involve solving problems on a whiteboard or a shared digital board. While less common in recent years, they assess a candidate’s ability to think on their feet and explain their thought process visually. However, some candidates find them stressful, so consider alternatives like live coding sessions.
For longer-term assessments, you can ask candidates to work on a coding project relevant to your organization’s needs. This could be a paid project or part of a freelance-style hiring process. It allows you to assess a candidate’s coding skills, project management, and commitment to delivering a complete solution.
Best Practices for testing Developers’ Coding Skills before Hiring.
Testing developers’ coding skills before hiring requires a well-structured and fair Computer based test approach. Here are best practices to ensure an effective evaluation process:
Define Clear Criteria
Clearly outline the skills, competencies, and experience required for the role to create focused assessments.
Use consistent coding tests across candidates to ensure fair comparisons.
Design coding challenges that reflect the actual tasks the candidate will perform in the role.
Set reasonable time limits for coding tests to assess problem-solving under pressure.
Variety of Methods
Use a mix of coding challenges, live coding, take-home assignments, and interviews to evaluate different aspects of a candidate’s skills.
Provide candidates with the tools and resources they would have in their day-to-day work, such as online documentation or libraries.
Offer constructive feedback to candidates, fostering a positive candidate experience and improving your employer brand.
Diversity and Inclusion
Ensure assessments are unbiased and accessible to all candidates, promoting diversity in your hiring.
Develop clear scoring guidelines to evaluate code quality, functionality, and adherence to best practices.
Involve multiple team members in the evaluation process to minimize bias and obtain diverse perspectives.
Regularly review and update your assessment methods to align with evolving job requirements and industry trends.
Be aware of legal regulations related to hiring, such as anti-discrimination laws, and design assessments accordingly.
Testing developers’ coding skills before hiring is essential to ensure you bring in the right talent for your organization. Employing a combination of coding challenges offers a comprehensive evaluation of candidates on Mercer Mettl. Standardized assessments, clear scoring rubrics, and a commitment to diversity and fairness are crucial. Continuously refining your approach and providing constructive feedback can help you make informed hiring decisions that align with your company’s needs and values, ultimately leading to a stronger and more capable development team.