When an Online Coding Test for Jobs Works—Or Doesn’t
Ah, the code testing interview.
Companies hiring computer engineers use online coding tests to assess a candidate’s technical capabilities. Candidates may be screened before interviews or while interviewing, and coding questions can determine whether they’re qualified for further consideration based on their performance.
“Soft skills” such as knowledge, experience, and motivation can’t necessarily tell you if someone has what it takes to solve real-world problems with code. So this skill is tested through practice instead.
Here are a few positives of the coding quiz, typically administered by HR staff or via coding challenge websites:
- Screen out candidates before the time-consuming, expensive in-person interviews involving company engineers and executives
- Lessen time constraints both on candidates and interviewers of in-person interviews
- Objectively compare results without the risk of recruiter bias
When it comes to online coding tests for jobs, there are dozens of assessments in 30 or more coding languages. Each tests fundamental skill sets (ex: debugging) for different positions (ex: software developer) at different levels of seniority. Coding tests for interview address:
- Thinking and reasoning abilities in solving algorithmic or analytical coding problems
- Command of a programming language, including syntax and framework, in specific problems or workplace tasks
- Potential workplace performance or real-world problem-solving ability, for example, in improving an existing code or fixing errors
But there is still debate over whether coding tests are effective.
Our position is straightforward: Coding assessment is an objective way to test the core skill of a candidate. So, if they are designed well, with answers competently evaluated, this type of test can be used when hiring entry-level candidates or candidates at the early stages of their career.
For senior engineers, the standard coding quiz is often a wasteful, unnecessary step in the hiring process. More on that later.
Best coding challenge websites
Let’s look at three of the best coding challenge websites, which are all different in their offerings and approach.
Topcoder’s operating structure is crowdsourcing, so you can use their coding challenges to temporarily fill roles with freelance talent that’s been selected, vetted, and matched to your needs. This isn’t the place to go for permanent placement; however, you can put together a project, lay out the terms, and execute right on their platform.
Coderbyte is another coding challenge platform that appeals to software developers who want to advance in their field and master their interviewing abilities. Their huge “challenges library” is a source of questions and problems for companies that want to create their own coding challenges, and they have a code assessment platform for screening, interviews, and take-home projects. There are more than 400 different coding challenges that can be customized to screen for any role.
Codility targets a company’s hiring managers, not candidates, and offers resources to design role-specific remote skills assessments for screening before the interview stage. You can host remote technical interviews on your site, then use their shared coding editor and its range of templates and whiteboards. Codility also offers online coding competitions for employees.
Coding interview platforms
With 70 percent of companies worldwide seeking Java coding developers—a single category of software engineer—it’s clear that a majority either administer or rely on the results of coding tests.
Some companies create their own quizzes, often selecting software engineer technical interview questions from thousands now available on coding challenge websites. Other companies choose an instrument and customize it to their recruiting goals.
Increasingly, however, the market for code testing has been met by coding challenge websites that become involved in the actual interviewing. These online companies offer different products, different systems, and different levels of service.
Coding interview platforms, with their ready-made tests, are best suited to companies filling entry-level positions where the chief skill is writing in a specific coding language. Straightforward coding tasks or questions can identify the basic skills needed to learn and grow at a company. Then, the candidate can be interviewed for soft skills.
But asking a mid-level or senior engineer to take a coding quiz is like asking a professional golfer to play putt putt. It’s silly because it’s an assumed part of the skill set.
Most coding interview platforms assess standard knowledge and skills; the senior engineer, however, is being hired to solve problems, develop new software, and engage in technical communication with other team members.
Even if a candidate agrees to the quiz and passes the screening, the real testing still lies ahead. And when you need to hire fast, you can’t afford to waste any time.
Online coding assessment
To assess the talent of experienced engineering candidates, Woven’s technical assessment platform goes beyond the code quiz. Our real-world challenges test the use of coding skills in all core areas of computer engineering, from debugging to frontend development to systems thinking and technical communication.
We also address another critical issue that limits online coding test interviews: the evaluation of the results.
If the assessment questions call upon some degree of advanced skill, then scoring cannot be automatic. How a candidate problem-solves isn’t always “right” or “wrong.” The engineers in our network score results in the context of your company’s needs and offer recommendations, giving you a solid foundation for moving candidates along in the interview process.
Senior engineers have a 95% completion rate; they’re also more likely to accept your offer because Woven’s candidate experience replaces longer vetting alternatives.
When you’re hiring an experienced developer, you want the skills and talent that will make your software development team a force to be reckoned with in today’s highly competitive market. That requires a top-notch hiring and interview process.
Take your first step by starting a free trial with Woven, the only assessment testing that goes beyond code and designed to be worthy of experienced engineers.