3 Ways To Test Developers Before Hiring Them

Nov 29, 2016 · 4 min read
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Those who work in software development are many things: inventors, problem solvers, investigators, etc. So when hiring a developer, simply reviewing a resume and a portfolio isn’t enough information. While these documents may provide a display of one’s skill set and a list of past experiences, what they don’t show are investigative skills, problem-solving methods, or an applicant’s ability to collaborate.

These abilities are best revealed through test taking. The only crux is, with more than one type of popular testing method, how can companies know which method will prove the most useful in their team’s search for a developer?

Here are the three most popular testing methods used in the hiring process:

1. Automated Testing

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Automated tests are one of the simplest ways to screen a developer, filtering the highly-skilled from the novice.

Platforms like Tests4Geeks offer a library of tests to choose from, including tests covering just one topic as well as tests encompassing multiple categories like CSS, HTML, and Javascript. Platforms like Tests4Geeks allow clients to send an applicant an exam through a unique link or constant links if multiple candidates are going to take the same test. They also allow personal branding features like adding the company logo and a custom domain, so the test looks personalized and professional.

The timetable for developers to complete and submit these online tests for grading can range anywhere from three days to two weeks. Then the platform grades the tests and emails the results to the client.

While test results can offer a lot of insight into a developer’s abilities, there are also some downsides. Namely, the lengthy deadline. For low-skilled developers, this lengthy period to complete the exam affords them the opportunity to get assistance on the tougher questions, ending in misleading test scores. For highly-skilled developers, these tests can require more time than they have available. Since experienced programmers are very in-demand these days, requesting that they complete a long test can result in the developer finding another job faster.

While these tests can prove helpful in some cases, they can also work against a company’s efforts. It’s best to evaluate the developer’s portfolio to see if an extensive test is truly necessary or if something that requires less time would be better suited to evaluate them.

2. Questionnaires

Programming questionnaires can be a great way to quickly identify truly smart programmers. The biggest asset to these tests is that they are timely and evaluate not only a developer’s coding ability but also the way they problem-solve.

FizzBuzz comes highly recommended by programmers as an excellent way to recognize the ill-experienced and the highly-skilled. At first glance, the FizzBuzz questions look quite simple, but don’t let that fool you. The questionnaire is blindingly easy on purpose, and in actuality, the questions are quite challenging. Only exceptional programmers can complete the test with high scores.

Deadlines for these tests may vary, but on average these tests don’t require more than a couple of hours. Other sources of good programming questionnaires are Top Coder and Google Code Jam.

3. Live Coding

Live coding tests can display a multitude of components, including problem-solving methods, as well as the ability to collaborate and communicate within a team.

To start, introduce the applicant to your company’s project, or a similar project, and roughly identify any areas where there seems to be some issues. Clients can then use screen sharing to observe how applicants locate and solve problems.

Live coding tests are timely, typically running between 15 minutes to an hour, at the most.

Adding a developer, or at least someone with a decent amount of programming knowledge, to the hiring committee is ideal for these live tests to evaluate and grade the applicant’s work accurately.

For clients that aren’t able to hold live coding tests of their own, Hackathons can be a fruitful substitute. In these events, software developers and programmers come together to collaborate on a particular type of software. Since each Hackathon event tends to have a particular focus, companies looking for a particular set of skills can easily choose the most relevant event for their needs. Even better, distance isn’t an issue now that most Hackathons are live-streamed, so companies can still vet talent from a distant location.

Before implementing any of these testing methods, companies should take the time to learn a basic level of the developer’s particular profession, whether it’s back-end coding, front-end coding, UX design, etc. Understanding basic terms and processes can help avoid miscommunication during the hiring process. Not to mention, it will impress top developers in the industry and increase their interest in the position.

Once your team is ready to screen developers, don’t waste too much time reviewing portfolios and holding interviews. In most cases, the test is the most useful portion of the hiring process so laying more emphasis on the test portion will provide greater results!

For companies in search of an outsourced development team, consult with us at Gigvy to check out our network of some of the top app development talent in Latin America.

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