Hiring Hack: Use a Software Engineer Test for Screening

When it comes to hiring software engineers, using a software engineer test to screen can save engineering time, widen the top of funnel, and ensure a fair and consistent process. A good software engineer test for screening helps you quickly weed out unqualified candidates, while a poor one can lead to wasted time and resources.

Good Software Engineer Test, Bad Software Engineer Test

So, what makes for a good screening test? First and foremost, it should be relevant to the job you’re trying to fill. The software engineering test questions should target the skills and knowledge that are essential for the role. Next, the test should be reasonably difficult – but not impossible. It should also be fair and unbiased.

There are many different types of screening tests that you can use, such as aptitude tests, cognitive ability tests, or skill-based tests. Which one you choose will depend on the specific role and the skills that you’re looking for.

Let’s explore some options for your next cohort. With the right tools, you can make the interview process easier and more efficient – and ultimately find the best developers for your team.

Aptitude test for computer science fundamentals

First up is the computer aptitude test. This kind of assessment measures a candidate’s ability to think logically and learn new things quickly. Aptitude tests are used for roles that require critical thinking skills and are designed to be solved in a few minutes. The goal is to see how well a candidate can think on their feet and solve problems under pressure.

Some examples of aptitude test questions and answers for software developers:

  • You are given a list of numbers. Write a program that prints out the median value.
  • Design an algorithm to sort a list of numbers.
  • Write a function that takes two input parameters and calculates the sum of their squares.
  • Create a program that prints out all the prime numbers between 1 and 100.
  • Reverse a string.

It’s important to note that while aptitude tests can be beneficial for entry-level candidates, experienced engineers have already developed these skills. So, if you need to fill a more senior role, an aptitude test may not be the best screening option.

Tip: Looking for a software developer aptitude test sample? Check out the Kent Aptitude Test.

Cognitive ability test

Next is the cognitive ability test. Cognitive tests evaluate a candidate’s ability to learn, process information, and think abstractly. They’re typically used for roles that require complex problem-solving skills and can be administered in a variety of ways, such as written tests, oral exams, or interactive simulations.

Some examples of cognitive ability test questions:

  • You are given a list of company names and addresses. Write a program that prints out the intersection points between the list of addresses and a set of coordinates.
  • Design an algorithm to find the largest number in a list.
  • A customer places an order for three items, each with a different unit price. Write a program that calculates the total cost of the order, including tax.
  • Create a menu system that allows users to select their food items and view the total cost of their order.
  • Determine the factors of a number.

Like aptitude tests, cognitive ability tests are best suited for candidates with less experience. They can be a good way to measure a candidate’s potential, but they may not be relevant for more senior roles. (Be warned: Some experienced engineers say they’re a waste of time.)

Skill-based test: Specific technologies

Finally, we have the software engineer coding test.

A software engineer assessment test measures how well a candidate can actually perform the job duties required for the role and often include multiple choice questions, true or false questions, or coding challenges.

Some examples of skills assessment test questions:

  • Given a list of numbers, write a program that prints out the second largest number in the list.
  • Design an algorithm to find the Fibonacci sequence up to a certain number.
  • Implement a sorting algorithm using insertion sort.
  • Write code to reverse a string.
  • Create a function that takes an input string and calculates the length of the longest word in the string.

Unlike aptitude and cognitive ability tests, a skill assessment test online can work for experienced engineers. However, instead of the typical software engineer coding test, your technical interview questions should focus on more complex concepts like systems thinking, debugging, and architecture.

The best thing about a technical assessment test online is that it be tailored to measure specific skills required for the role. So if you have a particular task or project that you want your new hire to complete, you can use a skill-based test to  measure their ability to do just that.

Technical Assessment Tools

See: Top 5 Technical Assessment Tools for developer hiring in 2024 – 14+ tested

Skills assessment test examples

There are several different types of skills assessment tests for software engineers. Some companies opt for the stress-inducing whiteboard interview; others administer brain-scrambling code quizzes. Unfortunately, neither of these tests will help you accurately evaluate a person’s skills — and you might scare them off in the process.

To find top-quality technical talent for your open roles, try Woven. Our assessment platform goes beyond code and uses real-world simulations to assess senior engineering candidates with a wide range of abilities. Plus, Woven’s asynchronous take less than two hours to complete. It’s no wonder 95% of senior engineering candidates agree to them!

Final thoughts

A screening test is an important first step in the software engineer interview process.

As the engineering manager, you have to triage applications. Host rounds of interviews. Determine culture fit. And ultimately, select the ideal candidate for your open role. So getting the first step right can be a game-changer.

We invite you to start a free trial with Woven today. See how our technical assessment platform can save you time and money and increase qualified hires!