The Necessity of Code Screening in the Hiring Process

Over-the-shoulder view of a programmer being screened on coding

Code screening has become a necessary step in the hiring process for many companies. It’s important to assess skill sets within candidates to make sure they are a good fit for the position. Your recruiting company can assess necessary skill sets by code screening, but to achieve this successfully, you will need to know how to create the tests and assessments. 

What is Code Screening, and Why Do You Need It?

Code screening is when recruiters assess candidates' ability to code in a specific programming language. The tech industry has mainly been code-screening candidates in the past in comparison to other industries. Recently, industries of all kinds have required information technology (IT) professionals to join their teams. Due to this, the demand for programmers and IT professionals has far surpassed the supply. Therefore, getting ahead of the competition is more important than ever when hiring these candidates. If the hiring process isn’t fast and thorough, your company may hire an underqualified candidate or lose the qualified ones to a competing company. 

Coding has become a necessary part of every industry for solving numerous problems. Therefore, code screening is vital when hiring potential employees who navigate said problems. Coding can help with:

  • Creating websites, applications, and other digital products
  • Automation techniques to get rid of unnecessary busy work
  • Solving regular everyday problems (e.g., Google answers)

The Essential Components of Code Screening

Developer working on an application that they are testing with their phone

When code screening for a new employee, you must ensure that the recruitment team wrote the assessments for the specific position. After all, it’s less likely that an Information Technology Support Specialist will be working with Python. 

Here are a few positions and the best languages to code screen with:

Web Developer/Designer JavaScript, HTML, CSS, PHP
System Administrator Pearl, Bash, Python
Network Engineer SQL, Python, Ruby
Back-End Developer C++, Java, PHP

Your team can split the assessments for code screening up between multiple sections to evaluate unique skill sets. When creating the assessment, there are a few things to remember:

  • What skill gaps are currently present in the already employed team?
  • What kinds of questions will encourage candidates to express their strengths?
  • What kinds of questions will showcase a candidate's weaknesses?
  • What is my ‘ideal’ hire?

Take-Home Test

The first part of code screening will be a take-home test. This step occurs after you assess the skill sets of each candidate on their resume. You can easily do this using artificial intelligence (AI) resume screening. AI can scan resumes and create profiles of each candidate filled with their experience and skills. 

Next, the recruiter can base the take-home test questions on the candidates' combined skill sets. You should vary the questions on the test to help mitigate test-taking strategies that succeed with chance-based results. Multiple-choice questions help evaluate the candidate's vocabulary and process of elimination skills. Multiple-answer questions also help you assess the candidate's solution-oriented problem-solving. 

Recorded answers are very helpful for short-response and long-response questions. These questions can evaluate multiple skills, both hard and soft skills. They help recruiters see each candidate’s comprehension and communication skills and determine the question's accuracy. Having candidates give access to their camera and microphone can also help with proctoring and guarantee that the person taking the test is the actual candidate being evaluated. 

Fill-in-the-blank questions evaluate a candidate’s reading comprehension abilities, and last but not least, code snippet questions assess the candidate's ability to code in small amounts. 

After a candidate finishes the test, an automatic grader can help fasten the pace of the hiring process. Automatic grading allows recruiting teams to work on other parts of the process and gives candidates a faster answer on whether they will continue to the next round of code screening. 

Example Questions For The Take-Home Test

  1. Python (Short Response): Give an example of when you would need a Python interpreter and why.
  2. SQL (Long Response): What is DBMS? What is RDBMS? What are the differences? Explain thoroughly. 
  3. C++ (Fill in The Blank): This ____ recursive function finds the factorial of any given integer from user input.
  4. JavaScript (Multiple Choice): Which of the following methods is used to access HTML elements?
  5. Ruby (Multiple Answer): Select all that apply. Which of the expressions listed below will result in "false"?
  6. PHP (Code Snippet): This snippet of code, when triggered in a larger program, sends the user’s message to the email: Fix the errors presented to allow it to run properly. 

Live-Coding Assessment

The second part of code screening is a live-coding assessment. Recruiting teams should perform this part of the test with only a few qualifying candidates. This test will assess the candidate’s ability to code on-the-spot solutions while being watched by other development team members. 

When selecting the scenario to present to the candidate, ensure it is something your currently employed team could answer and possibly come across at your company. Proprietary questions place each candidate in a pragmatic position to see if they are a good fit. 

When assessing each candidate, ensure that the team uses a virtual conference room designed for engineers and pair programming. Virtual assessments are much easier to navigate and schedule. It hastens the hiring process and removes proximity issues preventing candidates from participating. 

The recruiting team should also provide an integrated development environment (IDE) and virtual whiteboard to each candidate for the test. IDEs can have a big role in a candidate's ability to navigate a programming problem, potentially giving some candidates an advantage over others. IDEs have been created to support different functionalities. Candidates using an older IDE may not have the same debugging functions as candidates using a newer IDE. To keep the code screening fair, it’s important to provide the IDE used in the assessment. The virtual whiteboard allows candidates to plan their codes and visualize their thought processes for the recruiting team. 

Example Scenarios For Live-Coding Assessment

  1. In a specific programming language, write out a program that prints “hello world” onto the console from scratch (without using a template).
  2. Given these three files that call functionality from each other, for each file, import the other two files, so then it works as an entire program. 
  3. Given the HTML of a webpage, use in-line CSS and JavaScript to give the webpage functionality and style. 

Filtered: Data-Driven Recruiting For Code Screening

When hiring tech candidates for various positions, code screening may be the best option for your recruitment team. Code screening allows recruiters to test each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Simultaneously, you can ask them relevant questions to see if they would be a good fit for your specific open position(s). 

Since competition is such a problem with the high demand for programmers, data-driven technology speeds up the process. Artificial intelligence resume screening, automatic grading programs, analytics, insights, candidate profiles, and virtual environments will benefit your hiring process. Filtered has everything you need to create a faster and more thorough hiring process. 

Filtered is a leader in skills-based hiring. Our end-to-end technical hiring platform enables you to spend time reviewing only the most qualified candidates, putting skills and aptitude at the forefront of your decisions. We’ll help you automate hiring while applying objective, data-driven techniques to consistently and confidently select the right candidates. To get started, contact our team today or register for a FREE demo.