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Are Online Coding Tests Effective for Screening Candidates?

Software development is one of the most in-demand positions in the modern world. But due to the fast-paced development of this field, there is a wide range of educational backgrounds, skills, and experiences of candidates applying for software developer roles.

To quickly identify competent applicants, businesses have switched to online coding tests such as those provided by HackerRank, Codility, and BlueOptima. These companies are claiming that their coding assessment tools can help recruiters identify the best coders to fill roles. But how effective are online coding tests when compared to traditional interview methods?

Do Online Coding Tests Save Time?

Without technology, recruiters spend an average of 3 days reviewing candidates, and 9 days interviewing for a role. Overall, the whole process takes 19 days on average. This timeframe jumps up to 85 days for the slowest 10% of hires. Every extra day taken to fill a role causes lost revenue, internal frustration, and potentially lost opportunities for the company.

By using technology in the hiring process, recruiters are able to cut down the hours spent recruiting for the average role. For software developer roles, one of the best uses of technology is to screen candidates with an online assessment. These tests can filter out the weaker candidates with minimal input and knowledge from recruiters.

American software company VMware found substantial benefits when using coding tests to screen applicants. For every 10 to 15 hires, they were able to save 2250 work hours by replacing manual tech screenings with online coding tests that applicants could take from the comfort of their own homes. This resulted in 18,000 hours saved per year, with twice as many candidates interviewed.

The consensus on saving time is clear; online coding tests can save recruiters a lot of time.

Do Online Coding Tests Predict Workplace Efficiency?

One of the primary criticisms of coding tests, both online and in the interview room, is that they do not always measure how well a candidate may perform in the role. Many tests are thought to be too theoretical, touching on topics that are more common in school or university than in the world of work.

This is particularly true when applicants are expected to memorise tiny intricacies of obscure algorithms that a senior developer would often just search for online. Many of the complex problems given in coding tests do not reflect the actual work that the developer might do in the role.

Some coding tests, particularly for graduate or entry-level roles, give simplified problems that are more likely to reflect real work. Another issue then arises where these problems are too simple, and you cannot distinguish between two competent candidates. Balancing these two problems can be difficult with some coding tests.

Some online coding assessment tools try to predict how well a candidate would perform in the workplace, and this is one of the major points that you should look for in a coding assessment. BlueOptima has developed Predictive Assessment, the world’s first coding assessment that accurately predicts workplace performance. There is a link between solving coding problems and workplace performance. However, outliers, imposters, and plagiarism all need to be detected by the tests to give an accurate score. Some coding assessment tools may also have other metrics that accurately predict performance, and you need to consider this when selecting the right tool for your business.

Can Online Coding Tests Remove Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias is an issue in the recruitment industry, according to 96% of recruiters. This is backed up by facts, with one study showing that applicants with white-sounding names were 74% more likely to be called up for an interview. With equality more in the public eye than ever, and recruiters looking to find the best candidates regardless of personal attributes, reducing unconscious bias from the recruitment process has become important.

Evidently, traditional interview methods open up the potential for bias. This could be through information reviewed on a candidate’s CV or resume, or interactions in phone calls or interviews. Even with more businesses including unconscious bias training for employees, there are opportunities for this bias to slip into the process. Recruiters are turning to technological tools to assist with removing bias.

When recruiting software developers, online coding tests are just one way to solve this problem. By using a third-party coding assessment tool, businesses can get an understanding of candidates’ ability with some bias removed. The screening process performed by these tests means that recruiters can focus on the abilities of candidates without even seeing discriminatory data.

HackerRank removes all personally identifiable information such as names, locations, age, and background. Skills identified in the coding tests and interviews are then presented in a report which attempts to remove as much bias as possible. Other coding assessment platforms have similar methods for removing bias, allowing recruiters to focus on the metrics that matter.

When it comes to removing bias from the recruiting process, online coding tests are a great step towards achieving equality.


Several issues occur in the traditional recruitment process. This includes the process taking too much time, and the potential for unconscious bias to slip into the decision-making process. By utilising online coding tests, recruiters are able to save time and focus on the skills that matter. This is evident by large companies such as VMware saving hundreds of hours per hire.

There are also issues that can arise from using coding assessment tools when recruiting software developers. These assessments can focus too much on theoretical algorithms and problems instead of the actual work that developers will do in the day-to-day job. Fortunately, some companies such as BlueOptima have developed tools and metrics that can more accurately predict the workplace performance of applicants.

Online coding tests have a multitude of benefits for technology recruiters. With the technology now available, they should be considered an important and essential part of the recruitment process for software developer roles.

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