How to Create an Effective Coding Test for Hiring Top Engineer Candidates

Designing an effective coding test for hiring engineers is crucial to finding lasting talent for the position. This test will evaluate the skills necessary for engineers to excel in their craft and performance. Engineers are in high demand in today’s job market, so it’s more vital than ever to have a streamlined hiring process. An effective coding test must evaluate coding language proficiency and problem-solving skills. Here we’ll break down the basics of setting up a fair and accurate coding test.

Two Parts To Designing An Effective Coding Test For Hiring Engineers 

Hiring engineers is two-fold. You must find a way to comprehensively assess prospective hires while beating out the competition for top talent. Success involves the right plan. For example, split the test into multiple sections, and utilize data-driven recruiting technology. 

It should overall assess three questions:

  • How well does the candidate know the material?
  • How well can they solve familiar problems?
  • How do they handle an unfamiliar problem?

Part One: Planning

The first step in creating a successful coding test for hiring engineers is to plan out the assessment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How much time do I have to complete the assessment?
  2. What skills are missing from the current engineering team that a new candidate must fill?
  3. What tools will facilitate a fair assessment that encourages diversity and doesn’t bias toward pedigree

Take the answers to these questions to start building a plan for the perfect assessment. Understanding how much time you need to assess what skills will aid you in answering the last question. If you are short on time and have many skills needing assessment, utilize data-driven recruiting technology and techniques that automate workflows to create fair assessments that encourage diversity. Suppose you have more time and fewer skills to assess. In that case, you have more opportunities to expand the test, utilizing different data-driven tools to examine each candidate thoroughly. 

Resume screening is another part of the planning process. As candidates submit resumes, interviewers must assess which candidates have the skills and experience to move forward. Artificial intelligence (AI) can improve time management and resume screening processes. AI can scan resumes in a fraction of the time it would take for a human, then summarize the information for the interviewer. 

Part Two: Split-Test

The effectiveness of the coding test depends on how the interviewers deliver it. Splitting the test into sections — a take-home test and a live-coding assessment — enables your recruitment team to eliminate unqualified candidates faster. 

Take-Home Test

The take-home coding test for hiring engineers should be the first part of the assessment. A virtual test asking various questions gives management a comprehensive overview of a candidate’s skills. Since grading these tests may be the longest, most tedious task in the hiring process, it’s beneficial to include automatic grading features. 

Incorporating multiple choice, multiple answer, short response, long response, and coding questions will be more comprehensive. If all the questions were only multiple-choice, it wouldn’t be thorough because candidates could receive a decent score through the process of elimination or test-taking strategies. Short-response and long-response questions are best answered through recorded videos. This method provides security because a candidate is less likely to respond with a fraudulent answer when plagiarism is impossible. It also provides elevated proctoring services, as candidates must allow their camera and microphone to be available during the test. Recorded answers also allow candidates to expand their thought process further than the written word and give the interviews an understanding of the candidate’s communication style.

The question topics should vary based on the programming language most used for your company's projects. Keep in mind that even though it is the first step of the assessment process, you should still have the applicants use applied knowledge to get some answers.  

Live-Coding Assessment

The second step in creating an effective coding test for hiring engineers is to provide a live-coding assessment for candidates who pass the take-home test. These candidates will have an interview over video conferencing with the engineering department leads to showcase their skill sets. 

Providing the candidates with an integrated development environment (IDE) built for engineers can create a fair assessment. Making sure each candidate uses the same IDE is important since each IDE has different features that can give some candidates an advantage. If you provide all the candidates with the same resources, the truly qualified candidates will stand out. 

It’s also important to provide virtual whiteboards to candidates before coding so they can create diagrams and map their thought processes for visual representation. You should save all the code and whiteboard creations as candidates create. Storing them will provide material for later review and comparison. Since live-coding assessments can be intense, it would be beneficial to add these to candidate profiles automatically. 

When providing the live-coding assessment, consider the problems the engineering department will face in real life. Pick one or two relevant issues and provide those scenarios to the final candidates. These problems give candidates a portrait of your company's day-to-day work. Additionally, the engineering department will have a realistic understanding of whether the prospective hire can fulfill the position's requirements.

Filtered: Data-Driven Recruiting Technology

Creating an effective coding test for hiring top engineer candidates can be a lengthy process. Planning, breaking the test down, and using data-driven recruiting technology are vital to staying ahead of the competition. Fortunately, Filtered can provide your recruiting teams with all the tools mentioned above (and more!) needed to hire the best candidates fast. 

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.