What to Look for When Screening Developers

Hannah Drewry / LinkedIn

It is well known in the developer hiring industry that testing candidate’s technical skills is important to ensure that they possess the core skills required for the job.

Oftentimes, hiring teams implement screening processes that revolve around analysing candidates' CVs and work history as detailed on their professional social media profiles (such as LinkedIn or GitHub).

However, cross-referencing of where a candidate has worked and what they have accomplished in their previous roles is not always an effective way to determine if they have the relevant practical skills, mainly due to the following reasons:

  1. In reality, candidates might not be as good as they appear on paper.
  2. Candidates with less impressive CVs are often discarded, which introduces bias. Also, it results in the company having to spend more on candidate sourcing in order to substantially increase the number of applications.

Why Thorough Screening Is Crucial

The importance of screening increases when a company receives a large number of applications. If this is not done, a large number of unqualified developers may reach the further stages of a tech interview process, that generally require a lot of company resources.

Screening can give the hiring team a sense of confidence, if it is done correctly.

Advantages of a Practical Skills-Based Assessment

The basic concerns about candidate's tech competence can be resolved by doing skills-based assessment. The goal of such assessment is to answer one single question: can this developer code?

To implement such assessment, follow these rules:

  • Challenge the candidate with a straightforward task targeting their main competence (e.g., if it’s Frontend, the setup should include all the HTML and CSS, and the candidate would only need to write the JavaScript logic for implementing the behavior of a certain feature).
  • The candidate should spend minimum time setting up their environment before they can get started with the task. So provide a ready-to-run setup, explain the code structure, and how to build and run it.
  • The results should be automatically assessed. Provide a suite of automated tests that run every time the candidate has submitted their work. You can host your coding test in a GitHub repository and define a GitHub Actions workflow that would run the predefined end-to-end automated tests, whenever the candidate creates a Pull Request.
  • Provide your candidates with a way to ask for help whenever they encounter a problem. This will also allow you to identify any glitches in the task setup.

Here is an example of such a coding task for skills-based candidate screening that embraces the principles above.

In Closing

When it comes to identifying unqualified candidates early in the process, skills-based screening has become an effective and developer-friendly way for organisations to test their candidates.

Consequently, you’ll be less likely to make a bad hire, which can be costly and demoralising.

How Alva Coding Tests Can Help

Interviewing developers is a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be. The practical skills-based assessment outlined above will save you valuable time and give you a better understanding of your applicants’ coding skills and problem-solving abilities than CV screening.

Designed by industry experts from leading companies such as Stripe and Spotify, our coding test platform provides ready-to-use real-world coding tests and supports most modern programming languages and tech stacks.

Never miss out on great talent again

"We saved hundreds of hours with the Alva Coding Tests' out-of-the-box technical interview solution that integrated seamlessly with our existing setup." — Andreas Gabrielsson, Head of Engineering at Alva Labs.