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Companies - Managing Remotely - Hiring Remotely - Tue Nov 15 2022

How to Vet Tech Candidates to Optimize Recruitment

Vetting software developers for your open role can be time-consuming and tough to get right. You’ll want to verify that your top applicants have the technical skill set you need to advance your next development project –but how?

While software developer assessment tests won’t give you the full picture of your candidate (such as their soft skills, personality, product knowledge, interest in industry trends, etc.), they’re a key step in checking hard skills during the recruitment process. Here are the best practices for vetting technical abilities to optimize your recruitment results.

5 Types of Software Developer Assessment Tests

From vetting software to live coding challenges, there are several ways to handle software developer skills assessments. Let’s break down the main types of technical interviews, so you can choose the right one for your recruitment requirements.

1. Live Coding Challenge

Recommended time: 0.5-1 hour

A live coding challenge gives applicants a coding test that they have to resolve in front of the interviewer. Typically, the candidate has to walk through their thought process and present key elements of the code.

While this type of software developer assessment test gets into the nitty-gritty of coding, it’s a high-pressure scenario for candidates and may not give you a realistic sense of their work abilities.

Pros

  • Get a sense of how candidates work under pressure.
  • Go in-depth into coding explanations.
  • Check for specific technical skills.

Cons

  • May not show long-term or in-depth thinking due to time limit.
  • May not show candidates’ real ability to resolve coding problems.
  • May not show the greatest candidates’ strengths, depending on the role.

Recommendations from Nexton

  • Keep it as short as possible.
  • Conduct this with dynamic interactions instead of just observing.
  • Choose the right interviewer to dialogue well with candidates.

Software Developer making Live Coding Challenge

2. Take-Home Challenge

Recommended time: 1-3 hours

The take-home challenge allows candidates to solve a coding test from the comfort of their own homes. While it also checks for technical know-how, this type of software developer assessment test may be significantly longer.

For this reason, applicants tend to dread take-home challenges and find them dull. You may run the risk of having candidates drop out of the recruitment process, which is why you should keep it as short as possible.

Pros

  • Checks technical know-how without the high-pressure or time limits of a live challenge.
  • Lets you see more long-term or in-depth thinking.

Cons

  • It’s a significantly longer test.
  • Candidates may be more likely to drop off.
  • May not show the greatest candidates’ strengths, depending on the role.

Recommendations from Nexton

  • Make it fun so candidates stay engaged.
  • Plan the task well, so candidates don’t spend more than the allotted time.
  • Consider the workflow for who will score it and under what rubric.

Software Developer making a challenge from home.

3. Practical Exercise

Recommended time: 0.5-1 hour

Another option for vetting software developers is the practical exercise. Instead of a full-scale coding task, a practice exercise is a shortened version that’s very specific to the technical skills for the job. For example, you may ask candidates to fix a buggy piece of code or perform a code review. This type of software developer assessment test may be ideal for keeping your top applicants engaged in your recruitment process.

Pros

  • Checks technical know-how without a huge time commitment.
  • It’s more tailored to the technical skill you want to test.
  • Prevents candidates from dropping off during recruitment.

Cons

  • You may not get as much comprehensive information about their technical skills.
  • May not show the greatest candidates’ strengths, depending on the role.

Recommendations from Nexton

  • Use this if you’re looking for a very specific type of skill.
  • Give clear instructions so that candidates don’t “overwork” the exercise.
  • Make sure it’s not just a hoop to jump through. Think about how this tailored task gives you info about the candidate.

4. Analytical Programming Session

Recommended time: 0.5-1 hour

Another powerful software developer assessment test is a programming session to learn how candidates evaluate and plan a challenging situation. The idea is for the applicant to perform a deep analysis of a task (including key considerations and resource requirements) without actually coding.

This type of software developer skills assessment is ideal for more senior or management roles, where strategic and long-term thinking is valued.

Pros

  • Checks technical know-how, especially related to analyzing or planning development.
  • Lets you see more long-term or in-depth thinking.
  • Involves a much shorter time commitment.

Cons

  • You may not get as much comprehensive information about their technical skills.
  • May not show the greatest candidates’ strengths, depending on the role.

Recommendations from Nexton

  • Utilize this test for more senior or management roles where strategic thinking is vital.
  • Ensure that the interviewer has the right skill set to evaluate whether their analysis is solid.

Software Developer making Analytical Programming Session

5. Automated Vetting Software

Finally, you also have the option to use automated vetting software (such as Codility, HackerRank, CodeSignal, etc.) to handle software developer skills assessments. In this case, a candidate takes a test on a third-party platform.

While this takes the burden off your recruitment team and may save you on upfront costs, it’s also a risk. Your own team won’t be able to see the candidates’ technical skills in action, so you’ll have to trust the vetting software. Ultimately, this may not be enough to truly verify candidates’ skills.

Pros

  • Checks technical know-how with limited resources.

Cons

  • You don’t have control over the quality, depth and assessment of the test.
  • No possibility of interacting with candidates to ask about decisions.
  • May not be as in-depth as personally administered tests.
  • May not be tailored to the technical skills you want to test.
  • May not show the greatest candidates’ strengths, depending on the role.

Recommendations from Nexton

  • Vetting software isn’t generally recommended unless you’re interviewing entry-level developers or have low resources.

Software Developer making a challenge from a third-party platform

Vet Your Tech Candidates With Nexton

Managing software developer assessment tests during your recruitment process is essential to understand the depth and breadth of your candidates’ skills. To truly verify applicant abilities, you can utilize one of the options we discussed above and leverage a talent partner with extensive vetting experience –such as Nexton.

At Nexton, our team has deep expertise in vetting technical skills. As part of our talent solutions, we support companies by providing software developer skills assessments that are:

  • Tailored to each specific job opening.
  • Conducted by peers, so that the tech candidates are evaluated by experts.
  • Designed to meet standards at top U.S. companies.
  • Evaluated in different areas, including skills such as communication, problem-solving, management, emotional intelligence, etc.

Get in touch with our team at Nexton to learn how we vet top-tier software engineering talent and optimize recruitment results for companies everywhere!

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Nexton

Blog Team
Nexton empowers companies connecting them with the strongest engineering talent in LATAM.

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