Coding tests are programming assessment tools used to objectively evaluate a candidate's programming skills across parameters such as problem-solving, coding aptitude, and de-bugging.
Coding tests are widely used by organizations as an intrinsic step in the technical recruitment process. They are an effective and standardized source of screening potential candidates, thereby reducing time to hire and increasing efficiencies.
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Effective screening coding skills of candidates is a critical step in the technical hiring process across organizations. Some of the best ways in which hiring managers and recruiters can check the coding skills background of candidates are:
Conduct effective research on the needs of the job role and identify the skills and knowledge that would be needed for a candidate to be successful in the given job
Dig deep into the developers' portfolios to check their work in advance. Almost all good coders maintain a portfolio of their work and a glimpse of that can offer valuable insights about their knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA).
Screen through GitHub and StackOverflow repositories to skim through any open-source codes your potential candidate may have contributed in the past, their reputation in these platforms and their collaboration skills.
Run online hackathons and get a single-point platform to access a large pool of developer talent in one place.
Run coding assessments digitally to assess the coding skills of candidates in advance across a wide stack of technologies and programming languages
Conduct simulated role-based assessments to evaluate how a candidate would perform on real-life coding projects on the job
Consider using virtual live interview sessions using coding interview tools that help you interview a candidate's knowledge and skills and also conduct live programming sessions using whiteboards, chat boxes, pair programming, etc.
Coding challenges are excellent ways to evaluate on-the-job performance of candidates. The best practices for conducting a successful coding challenge include:
Using a real-world problem: Instead of focusing on theoretical problems, the best way to evaluate how a candidate will perform at work is to offer a real-life coding problem for them to solve. That way you can assess how the candidate is going to approach projects once she is on board.
Don't go by the end result only: Objectively assess the problems solved by candidates instead of focusing only on the 'right answer'.
Use standardized assessments: Make sure your coding challenges are standardized in nature so that you offer the same level of challenge to every candidate and therefore, eliminate potential biases
Choose innovative problems: Make sure you are using original business problems which your company is currently looking to solve or has recently solved. Do not go by what you find on the internet
Offer feedback: Make sure you offer feedback to candidates about their performance for a superior experience and setting benchmark for your employer value proposition (EVP)
There are many ways in which coding tests can be used for interviews.
Screening tests: Candidates can be given coding problems across multiple technologies, roles and languages to assess their problem-solving skills and coding ability. They are a very effective way of filtering quality candidates.
Ready-to-use test libraries: Hiring managers can choose problems from available test libraries to evaluate candidates on specific skills and languages, while saving themselves from the time needed to curate questions
Pair programming: Pair programming is also a very effective way of evaluating candidates where the interviewer can have a candidate solve a coding problem in their presence in a virtual IDE.
Whiteboard tests: Whiteboard tests also allow interviewers to view a candidate as they solve a coding test in real-time on a whiteboard. Video interview applications with in-built whiteboards facilitate seamless execution of such interviews.
Homework assignments: These are usually time-bound assignments where the candidate is given a test to complete at home at their own pace within a given time window.
Here are a few points to consider while setting up a coding test for hiring:
Define what you want: Clearly ideate and define the role that you want to hire for, the skills you want to test the candidates for, any specific programming language that you want them to know, the type of business problems that you want them to solve, and the requisite behavioral requirements to suit your organization's culture.
Identify success metrics beforehand: Standardize the metrics that you would be evaluating candidates on and do this in advance to eliminate any potential hiring biases
Pre-decide the assessment: Have your questions ready before you launch the hiring campaign for everyone. Make sure you cover different complexity levels of questions and adhere to a finite time period for the test.
Conduct an online hackathon: You can conduct coding tests in the format of a hackathon where you can assess a large pool of developers in one go