Using Programming Skills Tests in Your Technical Hiring Process

Engineering candidate assessing code with sticky notes on a computer screen for an interview

The ideal scenario in recruiting is to have a fast and thorough hiring process that ends in hiring the right person. While interviews are meant to assess candidates, due to the high demand for technical specialists, candidates also use interviews to assess the companies. To hire the most qualified engineers and technical professionals with the most potential, recruiters must assess their hiring process and implement skills-based hiring with programming skills tests to get ahead of the competition. 

Hiring Process Necessity: Programming Skills Tests For Accurate Candidate Assessments

While not every technical position is programming-heavy, there is still much that can be said about candidates with those skills. Programming skills tests can bring out the best in candidates and separate the good from the great. The best way to create a programming skills test that eliminates bias, quickly gathers data, and allows for efficiency, is to test in sections, test for diverse skills, and simulate real-world scenarios. 

Testing in Sections For Efficient Hiring

Virtual interview with candidate. Recruiter giving thumbs up to the candidate while holding her application

Sectioned testing is the best way to weed out candidates quickly. Programming skills tests that start with resume screening can set a president for what is to come from each candidate. While resume screening seems tedious, it’s rather important. Resumes don’t just tell recruiters about training and experience, resumes showcase soft skills, such as:

  • Organization 
  • How does the candidate organize their experience and training? 
  • Vocabulary
  • How does the candidate describe the responsibilities of each of their previous positions?
  • Leadership
  • Was the candidate in a leadership position?
  • And more…

To gather the information from each candidate's resume without wasting time and resources, recruiters can utilize artificial intelligence resume screening

Take-Home Test

Virtual take-home tests for candidates can provide the best first step in sectioning programming skills tests. When asking programming skills questions on a take-home test, it’s important to ensure each question assesses some aspect of the candidate's skills. ‘Throw-away’ questions do nothing for the interviewer and the candidate. Utilizing a hiring platform that supports miniature integrated development environments (IDEs) to run code snippets can provide significant value in this take-home test. It would also be beneficial to incorporate recorded answer questions. A take-home test platform encouraging candidates to talk out their answers provides recruiters with more beneficial information. Recorded answers showcase the candidate's communication skills, thought processes, and more.

Here are a few examples of programming questions to ask on a take-home test.

  1. Which of the following are wrapper classes in Java? (Multiple answers question)
  2. In SQL, what is DBMS? What is RDBMS? What are the differences? Explain thoroughly. (Short video response question)
  3. Given the following code snippet in C, fix the syntax error so that the code snippet runs properly. (Code snippet question)

Live Coding Assessment

Live coding assessments are usually one of the last steps in a programming skills test. This test section truly puts the candidates in a position to showcase their strong suits. When recruiters are at this aspect of the programming skills test, it’s likely the candidates remaining are the strongest of the talent pool. Therefore, recruiters will need to spend a lot of time observing the candidate's skills individually and in real-time. Collecting the data from this hiring process can take away from truly assessing the candidates. With artificial intelligence and candidate profiles, IDEs can save the candidate's code and console output automatically for recruiters to assess later. Virtual whiteboards can also be utilized for candidates to visualize their thought processes and planning while creating diagrams and frameworks. 

Here are a few examples of programming questions to ask during a live coding assessment.

  1. Create a functioning virtual shopping cart in PHP. 
  2. With Python, create a function that finds the maximum range of a triangle's third edge, where the side lengths are all integers provided by user input. 
  3. In C, create a function to find the nth Fibonacci number using recursion.

There is no exact number of candidates that should be declined in each section. Despite this, the take-home test should have the most candidates, and the live coding assessment should be used to assess only the most qualified candidates you are willing to hire.

Testing For Multidisciplinary Candidates

Multidisciplinary candidates are essential to the success of any company. These new hires should fill in the skill gaps present in the current department. Recruitment analytics and reporting can help recruiters identify these skill gaps, so they have a baseline of what to look for in new candidates.

Diverse group of employees standing together smiling

Programming skills tests should test multiple skills that span various categories. To provide a programming skills test that finds multidisciplinary candidates, it will have to use inclusive wording, unbiased grading, and thoughtfulness.

Oftentimes the best candidates come from various backgrounds. Not every candidate will have formal training and years of experience. Sometimes, the most qualified candidates are self-taught and go-getters. Therefore, the resume screening process should rarely rule out any candidates. It should be used just for providing further insight into the candidates, and the actual programming skills tests should rule out any unqualified applicants.

Testing With Simulations For Accuracy

The best programming skills tests are written to simulate real on-the-job scenarios that candidates would have to navigate if offered the position. The best way to identify real-world scenarios for the candidates is to ask the currently employed team members. Some of the questions to ask the team are:

  • What is one task that you or one of your team members must complete every day?
  • What virtual environments are you utilizing to complete your typical assignments?
  • What are some of the challenges that come with the requirements of the position?

With the information from these questions, your team of recruiters can create questions and problems that truly showcase the reality of the position. 

It’s even possible with sophisticated technical hiring platforms that your recruiters can mimic the exact virtual environments your team works in to test the candidate’s ability to adapt and navigate problems within it. 

The whole point of testing with simulated job assessments during programming skills tests is to reach for accurate results that impact the decision-making process. If candidates cheat or apply under false pretenses, these results will be skewed, and all the work you put in to ensure accurate results goes down the drain. Identity verification and fraud prevention tools can ensure that this doesn’t happen. These tools sync with other verified online platforms like GitHub and LinkedIn to ensure each candidate is posing as themselves. These also help proctor take-home tests and live coding assessments, so candidates are not using prohibited resources. 

Implement Programming Skills Tests For All Positions

As the technical world grows exponentially and technical job requirements become more complex, the difficulty of vetting candidates who can provide expertise in multiple fields continues. Despite the position, programming skills grow in importance for all sorts of fields and industries. Understanding how to program is a benefit for all roles and responsibilities. Therefore, when your recruitment team is looking for the most qualified candidates, programming skills tests can come in handy.

Common positions that utilize programming: Unexpected positions that utilize programming:
Computer and Information Systems Manager.
Software Engineer.
Data Scientist.
Full Stack Developer.
Network and Computer Systems Administrator.
Computer Systems Analyst.
Product Manager.
Content Marketer.
Manufacturing Tradesperson.
Car Mechanic.
Music Producer/Audio Engineer.
Sports Stadium Manager.
Medical Provider.
Marine Biologist
Fashion Designer

Filtered: Programming Skills Tests For Better, Faster Hiring Decisions

Programming skills tests are crucial for finding multidisciplinary talented candidates. It is only possible to create a seamless process with extra insights and time saved by utilizing artificial intelligence, hiring platforms, and skills-based hiring tools. Unfortunately, switching between tools and platforms can get confusing and waste the recruiter's time if caught between too many. The best way to combat this issue is by having a single technical hiring platform that includes all the features necessary. This seems difficult to find, but luckily Filtered provides all the integrations mentioned above and more for recruiters to create successful programming skills tests. 

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.