Coding tests for Software Engineers?

07/11/2016 | Eclectic |

Software development keeps being a hot item. In a world where everything goes online and mobile a lot of developments can be seen. Modern solutions for existing products and services are developed, but also totally new industries are arising. We are using devices and apps very naturally today, that we didn’t even know of three years back. And this is only the beginning….

“Every of these new developments
is based on code.”

We can almost not think of any innovation that doesn’t have software inside or that isn’t produced by machinery that is programmed in order to do what it needs to do. Coding is going to becoming a basic skill for future generations. But in our world today there are only a few experts that are able to code. While the amount of people with coding skills is growing, the main question is, which programming language is useful to know today in order to prepared for the future. Well, no one knows. New programming languages seem to arise monthly, but also frameworks are being developed in order to make software development easier and more standardized. There is a lot to come.

However, many companies are looking for software developers – different seniority levels, different experiences, different programming skills, different tasks that need to be tackled… but they all have one thing in common – they need them now! And they only want the best! So how to approach this? You can rely on everything the CV tells and on all information you get from a candidate out of a personal interview. For most parties that is more than enough. Hiring managers seem to have the right understanding about what candidates have been doing on their past projects. But there are some companies that decided purposely to go another way:

“Coding tests are getting a more and more
common part of the recruitment process
for software developers…”

There are different opinions about coding tests among hiring managers and candidates. There are also very different forms of coding tests. Some companies invite candidates for personal interviews and ask them to work on a technical problem as part of the interview session – right there, in front of the hiring manager or some potential colleagues. Others are working with one of the common test suppliers and ask candidates to take a test at home at a moment of their convenience. This might be the more human way to approach the topic. Anyway, most candidates accept it as a challenge but aren’t really happy with the tech tests – definitely not if they need to be done under a lot of pressure and in front of potential employers and team members.

However, companies decide to apply the tests for a number of different reasons:

  • there is real evidence of the current coding skills of the individual proven on a test case chosen by the potential employer
  • candidates can be compared directly with each other
  • all candidates finally hired needed to take the test – it’s only fair to let everyone do it

There is one main thing that has not been mentioned above but that is most important for the hiring managers: often enough it’s not only a question of hardcore coding skills – it’s much more about how candidates approach the case. How do they handle the problem and the time pressure? Which way do they take to find the solution? How do they structure their work? Do they have a proper overview? etc. The way of thinking through the process and approaching the goal as well as the acceptance of the fact that there might be more than one good solution or that another solution might even be better than the chosen one and finally the solution itself says a lot about the candidate’s attitude, way of working and personality….

Often enough companies don’t even want to find the best 20% of all candidates by using coding tests – they only want to eliminate the lower 20% and generate some insights in the candidate’s personality and way of working / thinking….

So, next time you’re asked to take a coding test – think twice before you get upset… 😉