At Global {M} we help tech companies find software engineers who will build the applications and products of the future.
From open banking to genomics, one thing is always consistent: the need to test during recruitment.


As a bridge between candidate pool and employer, we hear the opinions of both sides on this contentious but essential element of recruitment.

From a candidate’s perspective their time is at stake. The format, length, and relevance of a test can tell them a lot about a prospective employer. Active candidates may have as many as 5+ tests to complete during their job search so completion is not guaranteed.

From an employers perspective they want evidence of how a candidate thinks and solves problems, how they code, test, and document their work. Often large salaries are at stake so due diligence is seen as paramount.


So what are the options?

Take home coding challenges are the most common. We advise making the challenge interesting and as close to tasks faced in the role as possible. It should respect a candidate’s time and be as short as possible without compromising its value. Lastly it should be clear what the parameters are, otherwise engineers may try to impress and be impractical with their solution.

Low completion rates for take home tests is a huge issue but follow the advice above and it can be avoided. If however you want a candidate to do a long, hard, and abstract take home test (we wouldn’t recommend it!) ensure a lot of buy-in from candidates first.

Another form of test is a one-on-one pair programming exercise. With this format both sides get to see in real time how each other thinks and communicates. It can be intense and intimidating so the employer needs to ensure the environment is low stress, positive, and collaborative. That way the candidate will be at ease and happy to ask questions and communicate freely. 

Finally you can avoid coding and opt for a deep dive into experience during a tough technical call or ‘whiteboard challenge’. This route alleviates the drop off rates but often only shows you how good someone is at memorising things rather than evidencing that through writing code. It can also have a teacher/student feel which is bad for candidate experience.

With testing, candidate buy-in is critical. Have an extensive, softer, ‘get to know’ style interview before any high investment test.

Here employers need to pitch
1) their benefits
2) the interesting problems they have to solve
3) the vision and potential of their business
4) the cool tech they use and
5) essentially how great they are! Do this by video, give a virtual tour of the office, even demo your platform to promote engagement. 

Unless you’re Facebook or Google, candidates need to be enticed. Strong engineers have multiple offers to choose from. The testing phase of a recruitment process is another way to sell your company, so keep the candidate in mind when deciding how to test during recruitment.


by William Gee, Account Manager at Global {M}