4 Benefits of Using an Online Coding Test to Hire Great Developers
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4 Benefits of Using an Online Coding Test to Hire Great Developers

Post Author - James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

If you think the tech market is flooded with talent, the stats will prove you wrong.

  • In early 2022, general unemployment sits at 4%. The tech sector is even lower at just 1.7%, causing a squeeze on candidate availability. 
  • In 2022, data suggests that 86% of the most qualified candidates are already employed and not actively seeking a new role.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the outlook for technical hiring remains strong:

Even though the market is tight, loads of fantastic tech candidates are hunting for their next role. Some of the best companies use a coding test to turbocharge how they hire software developers – and in this article, we’ll show you why. 

After exploring the top four benefits of using a coding test to hire awesome developers, we’ll show you how we do it at Toggl Hire and answer some frequently asked coding test questions.

Read on below!

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4 Benefits of Using an Online Coding Test When Hiring Software Developers

Let’s jump straight into it. If you’re not already using coding assessments, here are the top four benefits organizations see when a coding test is part of their software developer recruitment process. 

#1 – Pre-Screening Skills Tests Evaluate Basic Programming Skills – Saving You Time During An Initial Filter

Cast your mind back to the last time you hired for a tech role – how did you conduct your initial technical screening? Did you read through hundreds of CVs? 

If so, we’re sorry to hear that – RIP your valuable time.

Next time, switch this up for a pre-screening coding test and let the technology do the filtering for you. Given that online coding tests are tailored for each individual role, they provide an instant indication of how well a candidate could perform for you on the job. 

Features such as pass thresholds are your best friend here too, with candidates automatically filtered based on their coding skills and other competencies, not made-up resume skills. Simply set the ‘minimum accepted score’ and let your skills assessment platform work its magic by identifying quality candidates.

As a recruitment professional, you shouldn’t be investing your time in evaluating candidates’ coding skills – why not let a pre-screening coding test do the work for you during the initial filter?

Benefit highlight – Online coding challenges automate the initial filter, saving you valuable time to focus on the rest of your process.

#2 – A Quick Online Programming Test Is A Better Representation Than A CV

Let’s face it, technical talent – software developers, technical engineers, and, especially, self-taught programmers – are rubbish at selling themselves.

That means that their resumes are going to be equally rubbish. They’re essentially useless as they won’t provide you with an accurate representation of how great the candidate is. 

A coding assessment is different. It allows developers to showcase their skills, talents, and experience in a way that’s actually meaningful for you and the hiring manager. Put bluntly, you’re able to test programming skills, not resume-writing skills.

As we also know, software development is a versatile skill that isn’t built in a traditional way. Therefore, don’t rely on traditional indicators such as past experience or useless college degrees – even technical interviews don’t give you the full picture. Instead, deploy a super-accurate online coding test when screening candidates to assess how they really perform.

Benefit highlight – An online coding test is far more accurate than a resume, showing you how candidates actually perform, not just how they say they do.

#3 – Low Effort, Low Commitment Coding Challenges that Candidates Love

Whether you go for a traditional coding assessment or a code-based skills test, one thing is certain – they’re fun and engaging for everyone.

For the hiring manager, it’s as simple as a couple of clicks to set up a test, tailoring it to the specific skill or job role that you’re hiring. Then you just need to send out the invitation link and watch the test results roll in. 

For the candidate, it’s just as easy. There’s no need to fill out lengthy application forms, re-jig a resume, or write a ridiculous cover letter. Instead, they complete a quick 15-minute challenge to show off how great they are. 

Coding assessments are fun, interactive, and intuitive skills challenges, delivering a level of gamification to the technical hiring process that’s like a catnip to software developers.

Coding tests help you nail great feedback too! Many recruiters struggle to get the hiring manager’s feedback, leaving candidates scratching their heads. This isn’t a problem with online coding tests, as candidates instantly see their scores and how they compare to others, showcasing areas to improve on if necessary. 

An online coding test provides your candidates with instant feedback – a powerful incentive for developers to apply and see how they fair off against peers.
An online coding test provides your candidates with instant feedback – a powerful incentive for developers to apply and see how they fair off against peers.

Benefit highlight – Online coding tests are just easy – easy to set up, easy to take, and easy to get results. And the gamification element makes sourcing for technical roles a lot easier.

#4 – Coding Assessments Are Asynchronous & Remote Friendly

Gone are the days of recruiters and candidates fumbling around their calendars. Skills tests of all types, including programming tests, are completely asynchronous, allowing everyone to maximize their time.

This helps recruiters scale their productivity by creating just one test and sending it out to hundreds or thousands of candidates. In turn, candidates can complete the test in their own time without having to move awkwardly around their current roles. 

Moving away from time-aligned recruiters and candidates is also great for remote hiring. With candidates distributed across the globe, coding assessments give you the edge over your competition and help you build an effective hybrid workforce.

And while we’re talking about getting an edge over your competition, async interviews are fast becoming the norm too. If you want to get to know your candidates face-to-face, and assess their soft skills, problem-solving ability and cultural fit, check out our Video Intros feature too!

Benefit highlight – Skills tests and Video Intros allow you and your candidates to work asynchronously, maximizing your time and performance. Better still, candidates can finally focus on coding problems rather than interview scheduling headaches.

coding test

How We Test Coding Skills & Hire Developers at Toggl Hire

Now that we know all about the benefits of an online coding test, you’re probably wondering how to get started. 

Well, the good news is that with Toggl Hire, skills tests of any kind couldn’t be simpler. In just two clicks, our Smart Tests allow you to instantly create a bespoke coding assessment, with questions written and reviewed by a panel of sector experts. (Of course, if you need something more specialized, you can create custom questions too!)

Then it’s as simple as sending out your assessment link, sitting back, and watching the applications pour in. Automated pass thresholds do the heavy lifting for you by highlighting high-quality candidates ready to move forward to the next step – be it a homework assignment or a series of coding interviews.

If you like the sound of that, here’s a case study of how we recently used coding challenges to hire four developers at Toggl Hire – click through to see the results! 

Refresher – Brief Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions About Assessing Coding Skills Online

What is an Online Coding Test?

Virtual coding tests are programming challenges designed to assess the skills and competencies of a developer. They vary in functionality, ranging from a simple question and answer to inserting code into a live environment. Programming skills tests cover all languages and frameworks.

Recruiters and hiring managers use coding assessments to understand technical competency alongside assessing soft skills such as problem-solving, communication and time management.

What is a Coding Speed Test?

A coding speed test is an extension of a traditional developer skills test but with an added emphasis on how fast you can type code.

In these tests, the questions may be slightly more straightforward, but candidates will also be scored on how fast they can write quality code. Typically, that speed is measured against a ‘word per minute’ benchmark.

What if Candidates Google Coding Test Questions?

Like any test, cheating is a real concern. To overcome this, most skills assessment platforms have a vast library of regularly updated questions to keep things fresh. Most tools also have a range of anti-cheating features to stop test-takers from bending the rules. 

Here’s an example of the anti-cheating features we have within Toggl Hire.

coding test anti cheating

Pre-Screening Skills Assessment – How Long Is Reasonable?

As a general rule, pre-screening tests of any kind shouldn’t be longer than 15-20 minutes. This is the initial quality filter to help the hiring team make more data-driven decisions about the best-fit candidates for the role.

Shorter tests keep things fair for the candidate while still giving the tech recruiters insight into the skills, experience, and knowledge level. 

Programming skills assessments later in the hiring process can be longer (up to 45 minutes) to help gain deeper insight and spot the right candidates. Hiring managers often rely on a combination of coding interviews, skills assessments and paid projects to build highly capable, diverse teams.

Why Are Coding Interviews Like a Test?

While soft skills are important, for most companies, the value software developers bring is through their coding ability. That’s why many technical interviews still feel like a ‘coding assessment’, with hiring managers wanting to see the coding ability firsthand.

If you’re a candidate, this isn’t something to be worried about, though. It actually plays to your strengths and gives you another opportunity to show off your coding skills and code quality. 

What Kind of Online Programming Tests Comes Under Toggl Hire?

With Toggl Hire, there’s a wide range of coding skills test options on offer for you and your candidates. Our Smart Tests are ready-to-go skills assessment templates that allow you to adjust test time, pass score and the number of questions. In case you want to go deeper and customize the test questions, you can convert a Smart Test into a Custom Test and make it your own.

test parameters

Easily choose between Smart, Static, Free Text, or Coding question types depending on how you want candidates to showcase their talents.

coding test question types

There’s a massive amount of variety within Toggl Hire. We’ve got an extensive library of programming languages, from the popular JavaScript and React to Elixir and Go. And for roles that require slightly broader technical know-how, why not go generic and opt for a broader Frontend Developer assessment?

Coding Skills Test vs. Homework Assignment – Which One’s Better?

Homework assignments are essentially in-depth coding tests designed to better understand a candidate’s abilities. Rather than a Q&A set-up, they’ll often be ‘mini-projects’ wrapped around a case study scenario.

For candidates, homework assignments require more effort but allow them to work without immediate time pressure, providing room to devise innovative solutions. For recruiters, they give a more detailed view of a candidate’s ability, but they take longer to review.

Because of these factors, like in-depth technical interviews, homework assignments are often used later in the recruitment process. By this stage, candidates will commit more time to the assignment, while recruiters will only have to review 3-5 submissions.

Wrapping Up

If you’re hiring software developers, you’ll know how competitive the tech market is right now. Companies that stay ahead and recruit the top tech talent constantly think outside the box, using coding tests to screen and assess candidates at scale. 

The benefits of coding tests are there to be had, with greater accuracy, time savings, and an improved candidate experience, all on offer if you’re ready to evolve.

When you are, tools like Toggl Hire make the journey easy, with a super-fast setup, expert question sets, and automated thresholds on hand to turn you into a tech recruitment superstar!

James Elliott

James Elliott is a Strategy Manager and Writer from London, UK. When not working on the day job, James writes on a variety of business and project management topics with a focus on content that enables readers to take action and improve their ways of working. You can check out James’ work on his website or by connecting on LinkedIn.

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