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Talent Assessment | 1 Min Read

When Quality Matters: Measuring Programmer Effectiveness with Online Coding Tests

What a programmer isn’t

Contrary to the popular image, a programmer isn’t someone who “knows code”. Familiarity with the rules of one’s chosen programming language is the most elementary, and overestimated, skill a programmer can have. What matters more is whether the programmer has built real-world applications that are robust, scalable, and easy to maintain. Looked through this lens, the task of hiring the right programming talent suddenly appears to have too many grey areas for comfort.

Online coding tests to the rescue

Thankfully, there is a proven way to filter high-value programmers from those who are mere typists – online coding tests. The point is that because programming is a live, breathing activity, there’s no way a medium as restrictive as pen-and-paper can ever come close to mapping it. Online tests offer not just the convenience of technology, but also the power to create new and meaningful tests quickly. This is a very important advantage in a world where business conditions and technologies change rapidly.

The heart of online coding tests is measuring a programmer on fundamental indicators of software ability: problem solving, complexity management, efficiency, thoroughness, etc. For instance, a programmer who is able to quickly solve every challenge posed but leaves small chinks in the armor can never be a good fit; this is where online coding tests come handy, telling you how the programmer fared in test cases.

Similarly, experienced software developers will agree that minimizing complexity is far more important than being clever. After all, software that is too complex to understand will raise the entry barrier for new programmers, and impede evolution.

Online coding tests have time and again delivered the best ROI for hiring managers and technical managers alike. They help save countless precious man-hours, which can be utilized much better in strategic tasks, and at the same time find the right coding talent in the most effective and efficient way.

Originally published April 1 2018, Updated June 16 2020

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