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The aim of any interview is to find a good match for both parties.

Companies want the best software engineers they can get, and software engineers want a role that suits them. But there are many different desirable soft skills, attributes, and personality traits that factor into making the right decisions when hiring developers.

Sure, you’ll want to learn about the software engineer you’re considering, but how will you exactly analyze the value this person will bring to your company?

Organizations are shifting towards using technologies for technical interviewing. This helps to lessen costs and globalize the labor market. And when it comes to hiring developers, it’s easy to see why an online coding interview are the way to go.

A coding online test is more of a skills based assessment than an actual interview, and it’s important that hiring managers know what to keep in mind in the technical interviewing process. In this article, we’ll go over the elements of a world-class coding online test—so when you get in front of your interviewee, you’ll know precisely what to do.

Test developer’s problem-solving capabilities

During a coding online test, you’ll want to incorporate problem-solving into the mix. If the software engineer cannot solve problems, there’s a good chance they don’t have what you’re looking for.

When hiring developers, coding online tests (sometimes code challenges) are typically used to weed out software engineers who may not have the skills or resiliency to get past the first round of an interview. They narrow the list down to only the qualified candidates with the right skills for the job.

You’ll likely want to host the code challenges through a platform like Codility. You’ll then include a link to the code challenges for the candidate. Throughout the code challenges, the candidate will be assessed on their problem-solving skills. For some code challenges, you can set the expectation that there will be no outside help. For others, you can collaborate directly with the software engineer.

With either setup, you’ll be able to see first-hand how the software engineer handles code challenges typically found in the field. During this part of the code challenges, it’s important to have the candidate document their work and leave comments. This will ensure you can review their approach to the problems with other decision-makers.

Assess their coding ability with a skills based assessment

Of course, you’re probably most interested in the candidate’s hard skills in the technical interviewing phase. Are they proficient in the languages you need? Can they manipulate code like a computing wizard? Or are they lacking certain hard skills that would make it incredibly difficult to carry out their primary tasks in a particular role?

Asking what languages the software engineer knows is great—also strive to find out how they’ve used those languages in the past. These answers will help you measure how passionate the applicant is about programming.

The correctness of the code is always going to come into play. As mentioned above, the coding online tests serves to check that a candidate has the requisite abilities for the basics of the role.

Efficiency should also play a big role in your skills based assessment. Take into account how fast the software engineer is able to complete assignments, and how his or her speed affects the quality of the work itself. As we often find, working too quickly can lead to errors and overlooking important details.

Code on a screen
Skills based assessments can help you with hiring developers most suited for the role.

Know what desirable soft skills and attributes you’re looking for

Paying attention only to hard skills isn’t going to provide you with the full spectrum of what you need to know. You must already know the desirable soft skills you’re looking for so pay attention to their soft skills and signs of other positive qualities. There are different types of soft skills—examples include responsiveness and tone of voice when collaborating with an interviewer, their overall professionalism.

The different types of soft skills this candidate possesses are all hinting at the bigger picture of what it’s like to work with this candidate. Software engineers who take a while to respond to your emails may be focused on other priorities, or have some work to do on their time management. If you’re catching signs of resistance or negative attitude during the skills based assessment process, don’t ignore them. Attitude and positivity are big culture factors.

Surprisingly enough, one of the most desirable soft skills is their personality. This shows you just how far someone can get in this field when they can work well with others. If you’re hearing enthusiasm in their answers, that’s probably a good sign that they’re collaborative and eager to tackle projects.

Have them assess themselves honestly, too

Asking software engineers to assess their own strengths and weaknesses is also beneficial, and information gleaned here should be tucked away for the future if they are hired.

How software engineers answers questions about themselves can reveal worlds about their personality, self-awareness, and self-confidence. Encourage honesty, because neither of you will be happy if you try to fit them into a role for which they are unsuited. In fact, you may find through this process that they’re even better suited for a different role, so we encourage you to stay open-minded throughout the process.

Need help hiring developers without losing valuable insight into the different types of soft skills and abilities to assess in the technical interviewing process? Contact us.

Marketing Specialist at Codility, Jeff is passionate about empowering hiring teams to connect with candidates. He draws on his own experiences as a recruiter to create meaningful content. Outside of work, you can find him on the soccer field or catching the latest Sci-Fi flick.

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