In the tech world, hiring processes often involve take-home tests. They're an excellent way to evaluate coding abilities outside of the stressful environment of whiteboard interviews. However, there are a lot of areas that are prone to providing a poor candidate experience.

By making these changes, we have seen candidate completion rates on assessments improve by 25-50%.

Here's how to optimize the experience for candidates completing take-home assessments:

1. Start With Boilerplate Code

From a developer's viewpoint, beginning with a blank slate can be tedious. By providing some boilerplate code, you're addressing a few core benefits:

  • Efficiency: It allows candidates to bypass the setup phase and focus on the core problem.
  • Consistency: With a shared starting point, it's easier to assess different solutions on an equal footing.
  • Skill Highlight: The aim is to see how they approach and solve a challenge, not if they can set up a project from scratch.

2. Reasonable Timeframes are Key

Time constraints can sometimes obscure a developer's true capabilities. If a task is estimated to take two hours, considering allocating three. Here's why:

  • Less Stress: Giving a buffer reduces the performance anxiety, letting candidates think more clearly.
  • Transparency: Informing about the expected time helps candidates manage their schedules and approach the task with focus.
  • Quality Over Speed: The additional time often leads to well-thought-out solutions, which is what we want to see.

3. Offer a Choice in Tech Stack

Different developers have strengths in different tech stacks. By allowing flexibility, you're tapping into some evident advantages:

  • Familiarity: Candidates can utilize tools they're comfortable with, leading to more optimal solutions.
  • Diverse Solutions: An open-ended stack choice may lead to varying solutions, showcasing a range of skills and providing better signal to make the right hire.
  • Accurate Evaluation: It's a better representation of how a candidate might tackle real-world challenges in their preferred environment.

In essence, refining the take-home test process benefits both the company and the candidate. It ensures a more accurate depiction of skills and offers a smoother experience for those taking the test. Lastly, the goal isn't just assessment—it's also about fostering a positive interaction with potential team members.