January 26, 2021
5 min read

For Recruiters: Tech Assessment Design for Software Developers

We've talked about tech assessments before in the context of software developer recruitment. We even dedicated a specific step to it in our series on hiring software engineers.

To put things briefly, a tech assessment is a test that lets you evaluate someone's abilities as a developer. Some people also call them developer technical interview questions, as the assessment may come in the form of several queries or problems.

Usually, you’d do a coding test meant to serve as a sample of the work the developer would actually do in your company. But there are many variations of the test possible, as we'll show later.

Today, we'll show you how to design a tech assessment or interview questions for senior developers as well as junior ones. We'll also show you some examples of the best interview questions for software engineers!

Why You Should Do Tech Assessments

It’s not hard to see why developer technical interview questions are necessary. First, resumes can't properly capture a developer's practical skills.

There are paper tigers everywhere, as well as those who tend to exaggerate on their abilities when they aren’t asked to prove them.

Then there’s the matter of unconscious prejudices influencing your scoring in the non-technical parts of applicant screening. The best tech assessments can help mitigate biases in your hiring process by evaluating skills objectively—or almost objectively, but we’ll talk more about that later.

And if the tech assessment is designed to meet your specific needs in the role you're hiring for, it ensures applicants have real-world abilities relevant to your needs.

Factors to Consider When Designing Assessments

Your developer interview questions or tests should definitely involve the coding skills you need in your new hire.

For example, if you’re hiring someone to develop an app, your interview questions should test for the precise skills or languages you want them to use in your app’s development.

But aside from that, you also need to try and incorporate relevant features of the job into the assessment. Like if the job requires someone to pair programme, get the help of one of your actual developers to work that into the test.

It's also important to get your current team behind the tests. They should be able to place their faith in the assessments, as that's the best indicator of the tests’ relevance to your dev team's needs.

That's actually why many people just get their developers to come up with the assessments.

There's one risk to this approach that you should look out for, though -- if you have a fairly homogeneous dev team, there's a risk that this may result in biased assessments.

There have been cases of diversity candidates struggling with certain tech assessments: not because of skill, but rather from biases in the structure of tests that privileged a particular approach to solving the problem.

Given that one of the great benefits of a diverse development team is variety of perspective and problem-solving approaches, biased tests can be a big problem. They can lead you to forming dev teams that lack innovation and creativity.

The advice here is to have diversity developers involved in building your question sets from the start.

This is actually how one tech assessment service company solved their problem with biased assessments.

How to Assess Your Talents: Basic Methodologies

Now, as we said earlier, there are a lot of ways to do tech assessments.

Details vary by case, of course. For instance, interview questions for senior developers focusing on front-end roles will often differ from back-end software engineer interview questions.

That said, there are some basic assessment types or methodologies that tend to be popular. We’ll show you a few of them here:

Whiteboard Interviews

Probably most often associated with Google, whiteboard interviews involve giving a candidate a theoretical problem, then having him draft the solution to it on a whiteboard. For example, you might ask an applicant to balance a red black tree in an algorithm.

Why assess theoretical understanding? Because people who score well in it tend to be good at theory's application in problem solving.

It's not always the case, of course: that's the argument against it. It's perfectly possible to get a great theoretician who's terrible at application.

Moreover, you might miss out on great engineers who just happen to be theoretically weak because they have poor memories or things like that.

Take-home Tests

These are more practically inclined than whiteboard interviews, as they give an applicant a coding problem and ask for a solution to be submitted within a deadline (often set by the engineers who made the problem).

You can thus use this to more closely identify and evaluate the practical skills you need.

Unfortunately, you do run the risk of cheating: applicants can have someone else help out with the solution at home.

To avoid this, do a follow up interview that questions them on their decisions in the solution. Most people have their actual developers do the questioning or assessment post-test, to better evaluate expertise.

One-on-one Problem Solving

This is a bit like a whiteboard interview but offers a variation where the problem is less theoretical and more practical (like a coding problem).

Of course, it would be difficult for applicants to finish the solution in the time for a regular interview… but that's not the goal.

Rather, it's to see how they actually work and think when coding, as they're asked to explain decisions or concerns while producing a solution.

Some companies even have a panel of developers and supervisors present to listen to the solution. Including the latter helps them test too how good applicants are at explaining their choices to people who aren’t developers or engineers.

Our Recommended Tech Assessments for Software Developers

To get you started, here are some sample assessments that you can use during your tech interviews for devs! Of course, you may need to customise them slightly to fit the exact needs of your team.

Final Thoughts

And that wraps up our piece on how you can do tech assessment when hiring software developers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

You can also get in touch with us for help in candidate assessment and recruitment of software engineers and developers. We have a large variety of assessments crafted by tech veterans themselves, and can thus help you improve your tech recruitment.

What’s more, we have a directory of tech talents all over Southeast Asia who’ve already taken assessments and whose scores on myriad tech competencies may be found on their profiles.

To gain access to that as well as our assistance on assessment, contact us at Skilledd!

We've talked about tech assessments before in the context of software developer recruitment. We even dedicated a specific step to it in our series on hiring software engineers.

To put things briefly, a tech assessment is a test that lets you evaluate someone's abilities as a developer. Some people also call them developer technical interview questions, as the assessment may come in the form of several queries or problems.

Usually, you’d do a coding test meant to serve as a sample of the work the developer would actually do in your company. But there are many variations of the test possible, as we'll show later.

Today, we'll show you how to design a tech assessment or interview questions for senior developers as well as junior ones. We'll also show you some examples of the best interview questions for software engineers!

Why You Should Do Tech Assessments

It’s not hard to see why developer technical interview questions are necessary. First, resumes can't properly capture a developer's practical skills.

There are paper tigers everywhere, as well as those who tend to exaggerate on their abilities when they aren’t asked to prove them.

Then there’s the matter of unconscious prejudices influencing your scoring in the non-technical parts of applicant screening. The best tech assessments can help mitigate biases in your hiring process by evaluating skills objectively—or almost objectively, but we’ll talk more about that later.

And if the tech assessment is designed to meet your specific needs in the role you're hiring for, it ensures applicants have real-world abilities relevant to your needs.

Factors to Consider When Designing Assessments

Your developer interview questions or tests should definitely involve the coding skills you need in your new hire.

For example, if you’re hiring someone to develop an app, your interview questions should test for the precise skills or languages you want them to use in your app’s development.

But aside from that, you also need to try and incorporate relevant features of the job into the assessment. Like if the job requires someone to pair programme, get the help of one of your actual developers to work that into the test.

It's also important to get your current team behind the tests. They should be able to place their faith in the assessments, as that's the best indicator of the tests’ relevance to your dev team's needs.

That's actually why many people just get their developers to come up with the assessments.

There's one risk to this approach that you should look out for, though -- if you have a fairly homogeneous dev team, there's a risk that this may result in biased assessments.

There have been cases of diversity candidates struggling with certain tech assessments: not because of skill, but rather from biases in the structure of tests that privileged a particular approach to solving the problem.

Given that one of the great benefits of a diverse development team is variety of perspective and problem-solving approaches, biased tests can be a big problem. They can lead you to forming dev teams that lack innovation and creativity.

The advice here is to have diversity developers involved in building your question sets from the start.

This is actually how one tech assessment service company solved their problem with biased assessments.

How to Assess Your Talents: Basic Methodologies

Now, as we said earlier, there are a lot of ways to do tech assessments.

Details vary by case, of course. For instance, interview questions for senior developers focusing on front-end roles will often differ from back-end software engineer interview questions.

That said, there are some basic assessment types or methodologies that tend to be popular. We’ll show you a few of them here:

Whiteboard Interviews

Probably most often associated with Google, whiteboard interviews involve giving a candidate a theoretical problem, then having him draft the solution to it on a whiteboard. For example, you might ask an applicant to balance a red black tree in an algorithm.

Why assess theoretical understanding? Because people who score well in it tend to be good at theory's application in problem solving.

It's not always the case, of course: that's the argument against it. It's perfectly possible to get a great theoretician who's terrible at application.

Moreover, you might miss out on great engineers who just happen to be theoretically weak because they have poor memories or things like that.

Take-home Tests

These are more practically inclined than whiteboard interviews, as they give an applicant a coding problem and ask for a solution to be submitted within a deadline (often set by the engineers who made the problem).

You can thus use this to more closely identify and evaluate the practical skills you need.

Unfortunately, you do run the risk of cheating: applicants can have someone else help out with the solution at home.

To avoid this, do a follow up interview that questions them on their decisions in the solution. Most people have their actual developers do the questioning or assessment post-test, to better evaluate expertise.

One-on-one Problem Solving

This is a bit like a whiteboard interview but offers a variation where the problem is less theoretical and more practical (like a coding problem).

Of course, it would be difficult for applicants to finish the solution in the time for a regular interview… but that's not the goal.

Rather, it's to see how they actually work and think when coding, as they're asked to explain decisions or concerns while producing a solution.

Some companies even have a panel of developers and supervisors present to listen to the solution. Including the latter helps them test too how good applicants are at explaining their choices to people who aren’t developers or engineers.

Our Recommended Tech Assessments for Software Developers

To get you started, here are some sample assessments that you can use during your tech interviews for devs! Of course, you may need to customise them slightly to fit the exact needs of your team.

Final Thoughts

And that wraps up our piece on how you can do tech assessment when hiring software developers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

You can also get in touch with us for help in candidate assessment and recruitment of software engineers and developers. We have a large variety of assessments crafted by tech veterans themselves, and can thus help you improve your tech recruitment.

What’s more, we have a directory of tech talents all over Southeast Asia who’ve already taken assessments and whose scores on myriad tech competencies may be found on their profiles.

To gain access to that as well as our assistance on assessment, contact us at Skilledd!

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