Code Test Interview: Testing Full Stack Development Skills

As we continue into the information age, more positions will require programming experience. A code test interview is a great tool to zero in on what matters in technical hiring: skill and expertise. By identifying specific skill sets, it’s easier to determine whether a candidate is a fit for a specific position. Too often, skills become obscured by appearance, background, or education. A code test interview can help eliminate bias while gathering data on each candidate. Here is how you can create and implement the best code test interview that assesses all aspects of programming from front-end to back-end

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The Code Test Interview For Multiple Positions and Skills

Multiple industries have developed the need for technical positions, especially since the start of COVID-19, the demand has increased, but the supply of workers in the workforce remains the same. It’s becoming increasingly crucial for technical hires to have knowledge on multiple aspects of the tech industry from infrastructure and hardware, to software and programming, so that companies can secure multidisciplinary employees. Luckily, a sophisticated code test interview with proper questions and skill-based hiring platforms allow recruiters to assess multiple skill sets, hard and soft.

Types of Code Test Interviews

There are different ways to issue a code test interview. Depending on the requirements of the position, the usage of virtual testing environments and questions may be different. 

Take-Home Coding Test. 

When candidates are given a take-home coding test, they can complete it at home and on their time. This eliminates scheduling conflicts and provides automatic grading, so recruiters don’t have to waste resources and time. 

Take-home coding tests can provide information on various skill sets. This part of the code test interview is commonly used at the start of the hiring process to easily weed out unqualified candidates. 

Take-home coding tests that utilize skills-based hiring platforms with the ability to support multiple questions will provide the most insight into candidates.

Types of questions on a take-home code test interview:

  • Video Recorded Answers (long and short response)
  • Fill in The Blank Code Snippets
  • Multiple Answer Questions
  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Short Coding Challenges

Using a variety of questions on a take-home test should give recruiters insight into a candidate's adaptability and comprehension.

Live Whiteboarding.

Virtual whiteboard code test interviews can provide useful insight into the candidates' thought processes. Candidates can use a virtual whiteboard to: 

  • Plan and build code 
  • Create diagrams 
  • Plan and build frameworks 
  • Solve problems 

These code test interviews are typically held on a conference call with an interviewer or team leader supervising the candidates’ work. It’s also commonplace to utilize this part of the code test interview in the middle of the hiring process to help cut down the talent pool to only the top-placing candidates.

Pair Programming. 

This code test interview is commonly used at the very end of the hiring process with the top candidates to evaluate their on-the-job skills. With pair programming, candidates are paired with a programmer from the employer's team to solve a coding challenge. The pair usually share a common coding platform, such as an integrated development environment (IDE), to complete the task under the supervision of the interviewer. The best insight comes from having these environments mimic the software used on the job. That way, candidates can get a sneak peek of the real job, and recruiters can simulate the job requirements for a true analysis.

Pair programming code test interviews should have challenges that are realistic to the job's requirements. To determine what questions to ask, recruiters can ask the current team what tasks are required by someone in the position and simulate those tasks as the challenge. Recruiters can also utilize hiring performance metrics to determine skill gaps within the employed team and base the challenges around the needed skill sets.

Key Elements For Recruits To Execute a Successful Code Test Interview

Developer candidate taking coding test on their laptop with notes on a notepad

Once you have decided how the code test interview will be executed, take these steps to ensure the code test interview is ready for your applicant: 

  • Choose the code language that candidates themselves would use on the job.
  • Instructions should be clear and easy to follow — ask applicants for any questions or clarifications.
  • Use coding challenges that mirror real-world projects, preferably those likely to occur on the job.
  • Set a reasonable timeframe for completing the test.
  • Provide a reasonably difficult challenge. It should not be too easy or impossible to solve. A truly motivated candidate will enjoy a worthy challenge and feel they have worked hard to earn their spot if they are ultimately hired.
  • Be generous with feedback. Even if applicants do not get hired, they will appreciate your taking the time to review their work and help them improve for their next interview. 

No interview template will fit your company’s hiring funnel perfectly. But continuous adjustment and improvement will make the code test interview reliable and repeatable for your technical hiring process. 

After completing the test, candidates’ output should be scored and ranked for comparison. The best practice is to have a predetermined standard for evaluation instead of relying on one’s judgment. Subjective standards for assessment can change during evaluation, sometimes for reasons unrelated to the skill test. Below are some guidelines to build an evaluation standard for code test interviews:

  • Check if the code fulfills the required function and does what it needs to do.

  • Check documentation and notes that explain the coder's thought process.

  • Comments that aim to assist other people in reading the code are a good sign of empathy from the applicant.

  • Check if the candidate uses best practices in building the code, ex., using multiple small functions.

  • Check if the code is easy to maintain.

  • Look for a clear line of methodology and use of well-placed variables.

  • Test for security.

  • Test for speed and deployment.

  • Check for plagiarism.

By using a code test interview score as a beginning point instead of a CV or resume, recruiters and employers can find the best caliber of applicants for their teams. Code test interviews can be taken onsite, online, or at home, depending on the company’s technical hiring process. Candidates should have adequate coding tools and the environment to perform the challenge. A code test interview should be moderately difficult and mirror real-life challenges at work. HR and recruiters can also build a positive candidate experience by setting a reasonable timeframe for the test and providing feedback afterward. 

Provide the Right Tools and Environments

Interviewers should provide candidates with adequate coding tools and a conducive environment that mirrors those on the job. Ideally, candidates should be focused on writing code on the day of the test instead of figuring out how the assessment platform works. One solution is to share the platform and coding tools with candidates beforehand. If this is not possible, prepare a walkthrough video or other resources to help familiarize candidates with the coding test platform. 

HR and recruiters should also be ready to assist candidates with troubleshooting technical issues should they arise during the test. 

Lastly, the interviewer and the candidate should check the stability of their Internet connection before the code test interview.

Filtered: The Code Test Interview Platform For Sophisticated Evaluations 

Choosing the right tool for code test interview assessments is essential for a valid evaluation. Filtered offers expert coding challenges with support for 30+ languages. Our tests are designed to cover multiple skill levels within major engineering disciplines. Our platform is also equipped with fraud detection so that you can hire technical talent with confidence.  

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.