Hiring is one of the most important pieces of an organization’s success, so it’s imperative we test candidates for the skills they will be required to use on the job. Taking the step of skills testing to ensure candidates can perform at the level your organization needs will increase your chance of retaining those employees while ensuring you build a team who can get the job done. An ongoing question in the hiring community is “How do recruiters source and screen candidates in a field where they have no hands-on experience?” It’s unreasonable to expect a recruiter to have hands-on experience representing every field your company will hire candidates for, so it’s necessary to equip your recruiting team with the right knowledge and tools to ensure they will recommend highly qualified candidates to hiring managers.

Things to look for in a candidates’ coding abilities

Education is a foundation and not enough to guarantee a candidate’s abilities, especially since education now comes in many forms–from free online courses to traditional university settings. You’ll need to know a few basic things beyond what languages a candidate can code in. While it is useful to ask candidates about their favorite language to work in or to rate their abilities in the languages their role will require, you still need proof that they can code well. Three major components of a candidate’s coding skills to consider:

  • How the code is written
  • Their approach to solving assigned problems
  • Sustainability

I’ve never written code. How can I validate the work of those who do?

You could take a candidate for their word, but you may find yourself with employees who have oversold their skills and cannot execute the required skills at the expected level. Having a candidate write a code sample for you on the spot is one way to review work, but this won’t necessarily give you reliable information. An on-the-spot request may cause stress that a candidate wouldn’t experience on the job. Or, your candidate may already know how to complete your sample request through accessing a resource like Glassdoor, where previous candidates shared your interview questions. Using a company such as eSkill to test coding ability can equip you with more reliable results and a consistent measuring stick for all candidates. eSkill’s existing test bank has a variety of computer languages to choose from, and you have the option to personalize these tests to match your organization’s specific needs. You can even use the eSkill Author to customize testing with your proprietary content. By using the customizable features of eSkill, you can select questions validated by eSkill, while making sure the test represents the skills an applicant would use in the role they are interviewing for.

Can we develop an in-house test?

Testing candidates’ coding ability with something solely developed in-house by your existing code team could put your organization at risk for EEOC or OFCCP claims. Working with an experienced skills testing company, such as eSkill (which has a record of millions tested and zero legal challenges) will keep your company compliant as you vet candidates. You can also use multiple versions of the same test to prevent anyone prepping a future candidate by sharing details of the test they were assessed by.

Have no fear, you don’t have to be a coding expert to assess a candidates coding skills, you just have to use the right tools.

Kristina Minyard

Kristina Minyard is currently the Director of Ignite Education in Huntsville, AL. She has over 11 years experience in HR, Recruiting, and Business Development. She utilizes her skills and experience in HR Consulting, Technical Recruiting, HR Policies, Staffing Services, and Labor Relations to create content on her blog hrpockets.com and other platforms.


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