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Coding Tests and Company Size: Finding the Right Fit

By
June 15, 2017

Using online programming tests can have a significant impact on your tech recruitment. After sending more than 4 million coding tests on behalf of our clients, we’ve observed some distinct trends in how different-sized companies use our tool to achieve hiring success. Here are the best practices companies of varying sizes use when implementing online coding tests as part of their recruiting workflow.  

Coding Test Best Practices for your Organization:

Startups

“We are spread pretty thin, with limited resources (I’m the Founder and Head of Engineering), so one person easily becomes a bottleneck in the hiring process. We don’t need a perfect process, we just need something fast that works.”

Sound familiar? Growing companies, whether they’re startups or small businesses, have very specific needs: Find great people, hire the best, and hire fast, with little or no friction in the process.

Online coding tests for startups

1. Save time by using one programming test for all your technical roles, focusing on the fundamental skills you want to see in any potential new team member. It’s tempting to try and craft a perfect recruitment process, but what you really need is a better way to reduce the need for high-touch interactions with unqualified candidates. Startups and smaller companies using Codility are most successful when they keep things simple - build a test that will reveal a candidate’s core competencies and open up a conversation. 

2. Set benchmarks to move people through your pipeline faster. If your recruitment process is managed by non-technical colleagues, make it easy for them to quickly screen candidates by setting benchmark scores for your online programming tests. Then, increase or decrease the benchmark depending on the quality of the resulting interviews.

3. Be open to flexibility. Internally, discuss with your hiring managers how you’ll assess candidates applying cold vs. referrals vs. sourced. When you have a candidate coming from a high-quality source, like referrals, bring them onsite earlier. But don’t skip technical assessments! Use CodeLive to run through a pair programming task with your candidates side-by-side so you can see how they interact with other devs and approach real problems.

Mid-Sized Companies

“We have a hard time defining where a recruiter’s work stops and where the Hiring Manager should step in - plus, we’re constantly trying to balance objective and subjective measureswhile keeping the candidate engaged in our process.”

Sound familiar? Mid-sized companies are more prescribed in how recruiting and tech teams work together and focus on hiring as swiftly as possible. But they also need to keep in mind processes and workflows going on in the background. When hiring scales, the team and tools need to be ready.

Online coding tests for midsized companies

1. Front-load your interview process with objective measures, and dive into subjective measures later. You want to make sure your technical candidates are both a good culture fit and have the coding skills required for the job. When you’re running a process at scale, incorporate objective measures, like online coding tests, as the first step in your interview process. This way, when you bring candidates onsite to look at team/organization fit, personality strengths/weaknesses, and any other subjective measures, you can ensure candidates already possess at least the minimum technical requirements for the role.

2. Engage candidates before sending assessments to explain the advantages of a testing platform. Communicate that the online coding test is a unique way for the candidate to showcase their programming skills to the hiring manager. What candidate doesn’t want an opportunity to flaunt their abilities to the person deciding whether to hire them? Highlight points like:

  • Coding tests online are language agnostic, so they can use the language they are most proficient in. 
  • They can decide when and where they take the test, and use resources like Stack Overflow and GitHub to troubleshoot. 

3. Get your process down pat. Take advantage of the fact that your organization operates with more sophistication. The same way individual contributors start to specialize in their respective roles, hiring team members should specialize in how they contribute to the recruiting process. Hiring managers can take a step back and allow recruiters to shoulder more of the screening process using coding tests, and spend more time digging into running great onsite technical interviews. 

Enterprise Companies

“Because so many people touch our recruiting processes across different teams and offices, it’s important that our screening process is scalable and repeatable and that we treat each candidate fairly.”

Sound familiar? Large, established companies have a headcount plan and typically adhere to a set of guidelines and processes when opening a requisition. Optimizing the recruiting frameworks and workflows they use can save hundreds of hours.

Online coding tests for enterprise companies

1. Fine-tune custom coding assessments to avoid manually vetting hundreds of candidates. Looking for a super specific skill? For highly specialized roles, put extra effort into crafting custom coding tasks to form the coding tests you send candidates. The work you do upfront before opening the requisition will save you hours once the candidates start pouring in. 

2. Use coding tests as a jumping off point to have deeper conversations with candidates. While online coding tests are best used for screening purposes, you can also use candidates’ submitted code as a focal point of interviews later in the process. Receiving candidates’ code is useful, but having them walk you through their thought process face-to-face is crucial. It also helps creates a great candidate experience. Candidates will feel like their investment of time in the programming test online was worth it and that their conversations onsite were meaningful.

3. Make sure everyone involved in the process is 100% sure what to do and when to do it. Assign only the permissions someone needs to do their job, and nothing more. If a hiring manager only manages frontend roles, then only grant them access to those respective candidates. It will also remove the headache of sifting through candidate populations that they’ll never have to touch. Integrate Codility with your applicant tracking system so that recruiting team members are seamlessly working out of only one platform.

Staffing Companies

We want to build stronger relationships with our clients, so we only want to send them the best coders, but we’re unsure how to build tests or grade the programming skills of our technical candidates.”

Sound familiar? Staffing companies focus on matching great candidates to great companies. Using coding tests, agency recruiters can augment their own relationship-building skills to be able to test for technical skills too.

1. Leverage Codility’s default online coding tests to do the heavy-lifting for you. Once you touch base about what kinds of roles your clients are looking to fill, easily set up tests in Codility for each respective requisition. Also, consider working with the Codility team on coding test recommendations for each role. 

2. Find a good benchmark for your coding tests. Focus on the statistics around candidates’ scores rather than on the code they submit. If too many candidates are passing your coding assessments, then increase the threshold required to advance in the process. If too few pass, then decrease the threshold. Constantly monitor the data to ensure you’re sending your clients the right volume and quality of candidates. 

We’re excited to be able to partner with so many companies on their tech hiring. From aspirational startups, to burgeoning mid-sized companies, to enterprise giants, to staffing companies, we’ve learned a ton about how different organizations weave coding tests into their technical recruiting. What insights will we gain from sending millions more coding assignments and working with thousands more businesses?

Want to try Codility for your team? Start a free 7 day trial of our tech recruiting software now: 

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