How to Test Developer Skills Before Hiring

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Testing developers on their programming skills is part of what makes technical recruiting “technical”.

Testing developer skills isn’t just important, it is one of the most basic necessities to find and hire worthy developers. Yet, according to these survey stats from 2019, 86% of companies find it challenging to find qualified IT professionals and in the same survey, respondents identified training and upskilling employees as their top staffing priority.

Software developer assessments help technical recruiters ensure that the hired IT resources are already qualified for the intended job and don’t require additional training, at least immediately after joining.

While testing the levels of coding proficiency was straightforward before the pandemic, the quickly normalizing remote work culture has introduced new challenges for technical recruiters.

How can you test developer skills when you’re hiring remotely? Is the process dependable? Is it truly possible to gauge someone’s coding proficiency online? The answer to all those questions is a “yes”.

Let’s look at a few ways you can test programming skills online:

Organize a hackathon

Organizing a hackathon is a superb way to create a pool of potential candidates with specific skills and test them on those skills. Having said that, it takes a lot to turn a hackathon into a successful hackathon. From ensuring enough participation to choosing and onboarding the right judges to ensuring the actual hackathon is excitingly challenging, there are a lot of moving parts that need flawless execution.

The right partner, like HackerEarth, can make the process of putting together a successful hackathon much easier. With HackerEarth, you can also ensure that the hackathon doesn’t end up just being an event and actually contributes to your hiring goals.

Pair Programming Sessions

Pair programming sessions are also known as live coding interviews. During a pair programming session, the interviewee solves coding and programming problems in real-time, in front of the interviewer.

Some consider this method of software developer assessment outdated and unfit for today’s virtual programming landscape. However, with the right coding assessment tool, pair programming sessions can be effectively conducted in a virtual environment.

Virtual Coding Assessments

Virtual coding assessments present candidates with real-life coding challenges that they have to solve in real-time. Most recruiters look beyond the simple black-and-white approach and don’t decide the fate of a candidate based solely on their ability to successfully overcome the challenge.

Such a programming skills test can be used to gauge how well a candidate understands a given problem if they are using the correct approaches, and whether their problem-solving ability is up to the mark.

A coding assessment tool can be used to conduct transparent assessments of coding skills online.

However, to save time and improve efficiency, recruiters must have a filter that only sends truly relevant and deserving candidates to the skill assessment stage.

This filter can easily be applied with the innovative investigation of the applicants’ backgrounds.

Analyze Portfolios With Diligence

Any developer worth their salt has a portfolio outlining their best work. For those just entering the workforce, the portfolio can be a single landing page. The point is that if a candidate does not have a portfolio, it should be considered a huge red flag.

The portfolios that you do receive should be evaluated based on the relevance of their past experience and the evidence of innovations.

A portfolio can also be used to guide the preparation of a sufficiently relevant and challenging coding assessment. Based on their past experience, recruiters can design an assessment that enables them to test the right problem-solving skills.

Check Out Their Past Projects

Thanks to platforms like GitHub and StackOverflow, recruiters can easily access many of the past projects that a developer has worked on. It is smart to check out a candidate’s profiles on these platforms in conjunction with their portfolio. This gives recruiters a holistic understanding of the developer’s capabilities and helps them make an informed decision about moving them to the assessment stage.


There you have it, easy and effective ways to screen developers online. Using these techniques will help you take the guesswork out of hiring developers and enable your IT teams with resources that can effectively contribute to the growth of the organization.

Liked this article? Read more such awesome articles on The HackerEarth Blog.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


HackerEarth is a remote-ready platform that helps you build dream tech teams. Subscribe to The Hire Wire! —