The interview process is one of the important aspects of a company as well as for a candidate’s career. The company gets a chance to hire the best candidates that will result in the betterment of their company while the candidate gets a chance to showcase his abilities and put his skills to good use by solving real-world problems.
A lot of students are now taking up the technological field because of the potential of growing the field provides and a lot of technology companies are being set up nowadays. How does one then make sure that the employee-employer compatibility is up to the mark?
The traditional coding interview processes are well known and widely trusted for picking the right candidates but these days even better techniques have emerged to make sure that the candidate is not only well-versed with the fundamentals but also has the ability to assess if the candidate will be suitable for the company as a developer.
The technique is take-home coding projects. Take-home coding assignments are conducted far and wide by different startups and big companies. To name one such company giving take-home coding assignments, you can check out Apple’s take-home coding challenge.
In this article, you will look at several take-home coding assignment examples which you can practice on your own as a two-hour coding challenge. This article also provides a comprehensive guide on how you can create the perfect take-home test to hire software engineers for your next hiring process.
Traditional and Conventional Interview Processes
- Whiteboard interviews: Whiteboard interviews are the most common form of technical interviews where the candidates are assessed based on their problem-solving abilities and knowledge of a particular language and algorithms. The developers are used to writing code in their favourite IDE and the transition from that to a whiteboard with no autocomplete feature and syntax highlighting makes the candidate nervous which can result in misjudgment of their candidature.
- Live-Coding Interviews: This coding interview is where the developers feel a little more comfortable as they can click the keys of their keyboard (which they are used to) to come up with a solution for the problem the interviewer has provided. However, the anxiety levels that couple these interviews remain the same. It also becomes luck and interviewer-dependent since the interviewee might be prepared but might not be able to answer a certain question which can result in a rejection.
- Pair Programming: This form of interview process gives the interviewees a better environment as both the interviewer and the interviewee work on the same problem which offers a chance for the interviewer to assess the candidate’s analytical ability and the ability to understand and contribute to the codebase.
- Online Assessments: This is the most common form of assessment that is taken before in-person interviews which test the candidate’s computer fundamentals, aptitude, reasoning, and data structures and algorithms.
Advantage 1: Reduce Costs of Interviews
The hiring process is pretty expensive considering both money and time. Candidates are made to go through multiple technical rounds and then a final HR round to assess their profile and candidature for the company. The tests are generally based on problem-solving, data structures and algorithms, computer fundamentals, aptitude, and communication skills.
While these tests can assess a candidate’s intelligence as a technical individual, they don’t necessarily mean that the candidate will perform equally well as a software developer. This is the reason why sometimes companies end up hiring the wrong candidates and costs incurred in their hiring is money lost, not to mention the loss of the chance when a good candidate could have been hired.
Take-home coding challenges are curated around the job profile for which the interviews are being taken. This ensures that the candidate has the calibre and the aptitude for the particular developer profile and he/she will be able to cope up well with the company and the applications they are hiring for.
Advantage 2: Fair and Accurate
Often students and job-seeking individuals raise a question that why are they being assessed on problem-solving, data structures and algorithms, computer fundamentals, aptitude, and communication skills when they are interviewing for a job profile of let’s say web development or app development.
While companies prefer taking up the aforementioned topics to test if the candidate will be suitable for multiple technical roles. And it is a no-brainer that without having proper computer fundamental knowledge and problem-solving skills.
Getting into software development doesn’t make sense but the fact that the suitability of an individual for a development job cannot be assessed just based on traditional interview strategies cannot be ignored either.
Take-home coding challenges offer the companies a more accurate system of analysing the candidate’s capabilities and have a better idea of how the candidate will be able to perform in a development environment with an experienced team to contribute to the company’s already existing huge codebase.
Take-home coding challenges are structured in a way that the candidates are provided with a problem statement that consists of real-life edge cases on which the developers can be tested. This offers the companies a chance to create a fair and accurate hiring system for their next hiring process.
Advantage 3: Fun and Interesting
As a developer, you are not aloof to the fact that there is nothing more interesting and fun than solving real-world challenges. If the challenges are to be solved for a hiring test, it becomes all the more interesting. The race is against time and you have to implement and showcase your talents and abilities in the best possible manner.
Take-home coding challenges put forward a company’s ideology and attitude which attracts more potential candidates towards the job. Hiring the best people will id in the company’s future growth and development.
Investment in take-home coding challenges can prove to be beneficial both for the companies and the potential candidates. The candidates can assess their shortcomings and strengths while the companies can assess a candidate’s technical capabilities in the best possible manner.
Steps to Conduct Take-Home Coding Challenges
Phone Screening: First and foremost a phone screening should be conducted for the candidate before providing him/her with a take-home coding challenge. This is essential as even if the candidate has excellent technical capabilities but if he/she isn’t a good fit for your company’s culture they won’t be able to gel in well with your team and the purpose of hiring a new employee will go unsolved.
The phone screening helps to save both the interviewers’ and the candidates’ time and energy as a take-home coding challenge requires quite an amount of time and skills. A good company makes sure that the candidate’s and their ideologies and goals align before considering them for a potential role.
Assigning A Qualified Team: To assess a candidate for a technical job, a developer role specifically, you not only need to look at the candidate’s ability to solve a problem in a given time but also need to analyse ‘how’ a candidate is approaching a problem. While the technology has advanced in many spheres, manual analysis of the candidate’s code is way better than using automated processes.
This is because every technical team follows certain practices and guidelines which results in the overall uniformity on the company’s codebase and picking a candidate who will be able to keep up with such practices based on what he already knows is only possible when a qualified team is looking at how he has solved the given problem.
Designing The Perfect Take Home Challenge: As much as a company is looking for a suitable employee, a candidate is looking for a suitable employer. Therefore, designing a take-home coding challenge that shows the company’s constructive work culture is crucial. The company needs to set pre-defined evaluation criteria so that the candidates are aware of what the company is exactly looking for.
The time duration of the take-home coding challenge should not be more than 3-4 hours. The take-home coding challenge should also be relevant to the role but should not look like the company is making potential candidates implement a feature for the company without paying them.
Post Take-Home Coding Challenge Follow-Up: After a candidate has put so much effort into creating the solution for the take-home coding challenge, feedback from the recruiter would be highly appreciated by them. It is a professional courtesy to provide feedback to the candidates so that they can identify the strengths and weaknesses they displayed while they were conducting the challenge.
Examples of Take-Home Coding Challenges from GitHub
- A collection of data science take-home challenges by siddhujetty
This is a collection of several interesting data science challenges which include ads analysis, clustering grocery items, diversity in workplace, engagement test, funnel analysis, JSON city similarities, loan granting, online video challenge, song challenge, URL parsing challenge and user referral program.
- A collection of robotics coding test challenges by andrestoga
This is a collection of 4 robotics challenges that andrestoga completed while hunting for jobs. The four challenges include – multi-agent planning, odometry, puppet master, and tricycle pose estimator.
- A collection of tech interview tech-home projects by arecvlohe
This is a collection of 7 tech interview coding challenges that arecvlohe completed while searching for jobs. Ahrefs, Citrusbyte, It Works!, Auth0, Waldo, PowerChord and ValPak are the companies whose challenges have been mentioned. Every challenge has a separate repository which will give you a better understanding of the challenges.
- Hiring Exercises by pineapplehq
This repository contains exercises that pineapplehq covers during its hiring processes. There are four different directories to choose from – backend, data, DevOps, and frontend. Potential candidates are required to choose the directory they have expertise in.
There are two exercises for the frontend task, one is to create an offer and the second is to visualise employee compensation and the benefits associated with it. The DevOps task is still under construction.
Frequently Asked Questions
To do the take-home coding challenge, you are provided with elaborate guidelines which you have to follow while performing the task.
Usually, a coding challenge is supposed to take 2 to 4 hours.
To pass a coding challenge, you need to make sure that your submitted code is in line with the requirements of the company.
Coding challenges are assessed by a team of developers already working at the company after which your candidature is decided.
Usually, candidates are pre-screened before they are provided with a coding challenge.
Yes, coding challenges provide you with a chance to solve real-life problems while displaying your technical skills.
Take-home coding challenges are the next big phenomenon for hiring processes at technical companies. Through these tests, candidates will work equally hard on solving questions on coding platforms like
CodeStudio and will practice in order to make their software development aptitude strong. If you are a student, you should be prepared for both a traditional interview process as well as a take-home coding assignment as a part of your hiring challenge.
By Pooja Gera