Coding Test: Why 2 Hours are Not Enough

by Desislava Nikolova

Globally, there is a significant developer shortage and that, coupled with remote work being the norm these days, incentivizes companies to go beyond the usual group of candidates and testing techniques.

The Art of Hiring in Tech

According to Workable, the average time to hire in tech in the US and Canada, as well as globally, is about 30 days. That sounds like more than enough time to select the right test and measure the candidates’ ability to complete it. The effort is worth it because hiring can be a costly process and you do not want to end up rehiring for the same position soon after you are done.

Rehiring is associated not only with labor gap costs but also with training and onboarding costs. According to Harvard Business Review, currently, there are two open jobs for every person that is unemployed, so companies: 

‘… must learn to hire better.’

Long form coding tests are a valuable hiring tool and can give a good assessment of the developer’s soft skills – in particular, their motivation and ability to work independently. The 2-hour long form test still carries an aura that is hard to refute. However, the ability of long form tests to assess senior-level work, soft and technical skills, as well as, more closely match a developer’s natural working process is an indisputable win over the dubious effectiveness of short form tests. 

The Long Versus The Short Form Coding Test

A coding test is about writing quality code in a specific language and within certain timeframe. The results should capture the solution of the problem statement. Short form coding tests attempt to measure outcomes of activities in a relatively small timeframe – usually up to two hours. It is best when coding challenges can test a vast pool of concepts or an in-depth understanding of a specific domain of programming, such as algorithmic thinking or asynchronous communication. However, the 2-hour (short) form tests are good mostly at assessing quick thinking in small timeframe, skipping most other aspects of the meaning of the coding test. 

Our extensive research and experience have led us to the design of a coding assessment platform Codeaid tests for what matters most – we want to remove the misconception about the nature of the coding test and hiring in tech. 

Coding Tests That Help You to Hire Right

Why would long form coding tests excel at the task of hiring good tech talent? We believe that 2-hour coding tests suffer from myriad disadvantages and some of them reveal clearly the benefits of the long form tests: 

Short form tests can rarely assess the full spectrum of a programmer qualities 

As mentioned, in remote work it is very important to hire motivated and qualified employees and assessing their so-called soft skills is key. Short form tests can rarely assess the full spectrum of such qualities. In addition, long form, well-defined tests can measure both the ability of the candidate to work independently as well as their motivation to complete a longer task.  

The global workforce is shifting towards remote work and this is a trend that goes well beyond the bounds of US and the European continent. Candidates are willing and very motivated to take long form tests and this applies to prospective employees of all seniorities.

Short tests do not test for more in-depth knowledge or senior-level work.

Short form tests are, as the name implies, short: there is not enough time to test for more in-depth knowledge and senior-level work in such areas as database design and software system architecture. Anything approaching a real-world problem can barely be touched upon using a 2-hours test, which reduces their value exponentially considering the actual demands of the workplace. 

Short form tests cannot assess the candidate’s ability to ‘work-from-scratch’ 

The ability to develop something from ‘scratch’ is hard to test in 2 hours or less. Long form tests can help to assess if the candidate can design a good foundation for a software solution. Maybe you have a programmer with experience but is he or she able to build software from the very beginning on their own? Long form tests allow you to check if the software developer has real confidence in the technology they work with. 

Short form tests do not test cognitive engagement  

For a task of any complexity, developers should commit time across multiple sessions and in the inter-session periods they are often thinking about the task “in the background”.  A long form test is meant to be solved in more than one session; hence you have the time to measure this important behavior and assess the aptitude of your candidate in a situation very close to a real-world scenario.   

Short form tests do not facilitate a feedback loop 

Last but not least, you may want to conduct the test with a feedback loop. If the candidate can fix bugs quickly or solve issues effectively, the feedback loop works successfully. If someone requires many iterations of feedback to get something done right, that is a problem. Long form tests open the doors to an interactive testing format and help you to measure how the candidate performs in a setting very common in the workplace. 

Making sense of hiring is easy if the tools are good. Choosing long form tests has advantages that make hiring effective. We believe that you should hire the best talent and that you deserve to know exactly who you are hiring. Codeaid is a free coding test platform that features long form tests that will help you to measure programming skills that matter the most. Don’t hesitate – contact us

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