Today, many businesses are focused on streamlining operations through novel technology and revamping customer experiences with a new web and mobile software. All these initiatives require software developers. This means good developers are in greater demand than ever.
Companies must not only compete aggressively to recruit good developers, but fill these roles efficiently. Online tests are commonly used to evaluate job applicants’ coding skills. A great tactic for assessing candidates efficiently, but in the longer-term, the value of test scores is undermined by ever-changing tests – and other issues relating to consistency and fairness, outlined below. However, in 2018, tests are combined with smart data analytics, providing hiring managers data that is independent of the particular questions or challenges that tests comprise. That insight is each candidate’s predicted performance in the workplace.
Tests for software developers reduce the cost and time of hiring – and avoid inevitably subjective assessment from HR staff and hiring managers: Shortlisting candidates for a role will often fall to the individual reading an applicant’s CV and covering letter. There are any number of reasons why CVs are a problematic means to filter clients, e.g. good CV formatting doesn’t make someone a good developer and there are lots of rock-star developers who don’t yet have A-list companies on their CVs.
Assuming that a software engineer has a sufficiently impressive CV, they must then shine in an interview with HR and hiring managers. While excellent emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and a rapier wit are all great assets to perform well in an interview, they have very little to do with being an outstanding software engineer. There is also a risk of discrimination. Even when hiring managers have the best of intentions, bias can be subconscious.
It may come from a sense that the candidate wouldn’t fit into the existing team, when the candidate may in fact be an outstanding technical asset to a team. Recently there have been a number of public accusations of organisations having sleep walked into a “brogrammer” culture in their software engineering function. These organisations have engendered, however unwittingly, an environment lacking in inclusivity that brings out the best in talented female and minority ethnic group programmers.
Until now, online tests haven’t guaranteed fair and reliable comparison of candidates. There are various pitfalls. Companies use different tests to recruit for different roles, and tests are inevitably updated in line with evolving best-practice standards for languages. Tests also need to be refreshed once candidate pools and their peers have become familiar with them, as test solutions are often shared across online developer communities. If a replacement test is more difficult, it’s harder for a new candidate to attain the score that an organisation has defined as the threshold for shortlisting.
These pitfalls stop online testing achieving the objective that it set out to solve. Technology now exists that benchmarks test result in terms of the objective performance of software developers once hired, and now can, with advanced online testing, directly predict the ultimate performance of a candidate once hired. This direct and readily verifiable statistical confirmation of the validity of an online test means that organisations can be confident that they are not biasing their online testing.
By using a fair, consistent, and continuously validated means of evaluating professionals, companies can find and hire the right recruits for the right projects. This streamlined and intelligent approach also means larger companies can realise all the scale benefits that online testing presents and thus scale their software engineering recruitment processes, selecting the best developers from large candidate pools whilst minimising the time recruitment processes take away from key technical resources in a software organisation.
Of course, technology will never replace rigorous interviews, to assess the softer skills a candidate might possess, but there is a huge potential cost and time saving to be realised, as well as making possible a vastly larger addressable candidate pool in the recruitment process preceding the interview stage.