I recently came across this post on Reddit, and though it was posted about 3 years ago, it wonderfully encapsulates every senior engineer’s aversion towards technical assessments. This well-known aversion always comes up in conversations with engineering leads and tech recruiters, and someone invariably asks — how do senior hires react to the coding tests on your platform?
There are two perspectives at play here.
- First, there is the business need to hire developers with proven skill, and a coding test is a proven way of assessing skills.
- Second, is a senior engineer’s desire to be valued for the portfolio they have built, and the skills already at display.
As the Redditor posted – engineers with years of project experience that is publicly available on platforms like GitHub and StackOverflow do not take easily to being assessed, and then ghosted.
So, how does one reach a middle ground in this case? Before diving into the solutions, let’s understand the reasons why senior engineers don’t want to take coding assessments.
Reasons why senior engineers are reluctant about taking coding assessment tests
Reason #1: Lack of trust in coding assessments
Senior engineers feel that assessment tests don’t accurately reflect their practical skills and knowledge gained over the years. In fact, they feel that the topics covered in assessment tests are too basic or perhaps not relevant to their specialization.
Reason #2: It doesn’t tackle real-world problems
Forums like Quora are great places to understand the developer perspective on take-home assessments. A Quora user shared that these interviews don’t represent the real-world problems, highlighting that:
According to this Quora user, coding interviews work well for senior engineers who cram the interview instead of solving real-world problems.
Reason #3: They experience fear of failure
Imagine a senior engineer who takes the coding assessment but fails to get a good score. Oh the shame!
Senior developers feel the pressure to not only ace these tests, but also get a grand score as they are supposed to be experts in their role. Failing in the coding assessment might put their reputation at stake, and thus the reluctance.
Reason #4: They have time constraints
Senior engineers often have busy schedules. That’s why they feel that taking time out for an assessment that takes hours to complete and which isn’t a guarantee of a job offer, could hinder their productivity and cause delays during their work hours.
Reason #5: They feel assessments are biased
Senior engineers often feel that tech assessments are biased. Good developers are excellent problem solvers, and that is an ability that is hard to detect in a hour-long test. Most assessments can be solved easily with online guides and answers. It becomes easy for senior hires to fool a badly designed test. This leads them to believing that tech assessments overall are inaccurate and biased.
So, how does one break this perception?
Now you know the real reason why senior engineers are unwilling to take coding assessments. The conundrum now is – as a company, how do you build a tech assessment process that serves your needs, as well as appeals to senior hires.
It goes without saying that this step needs some compromises on both fronts. And, instead of hoping for a singular solution, it would be better to think of customized approaches that fit in with your specific business needs.
However, there are some surefire ways to help senior hires break their mental barriers about tech assessments. Let’s look at them below.
Addressing concerns and misconceptions
There might be senior engineers who believe coding assessments can only assess the developer’s weaknesses. If developers have similar concerns, show them how coding assessments at your organization work. Understand their concerns and explain to them how taking this assessment test will help in:
- Accurately assessing their knowledge
- Add value to the entire tech hiring process
For example, recruiters and hiring managers who use HackerEarth Assessments in their workflow use real-life job simulations to create take-home assessments that more accurately reflect a developer’s strengths. This helps in making the hiring process more realistic and sets the right expectations for both the developer and the hiring team.
Tailoring coding assessments for senior engineers
Senior engineers want more personalized and targeted coding assessments. They don’t want to take assessments with basic programming questions relevant to junior roles.
So, create advanced coding assessments that align with the job role you’re hiring them for—matching their level of expertise.
To do this, look at advanced coding questions that you can use in the assessments. But that’s where most recruiters and hiring managers fail.
A simple way to do this is to:
- First, ask your existing senior engineers about the kind of questions they’d want to see in the assessment
- Then use coding assessment platforms like HackerEarth Assessments to create a customized assessment.
Will you create tech assessments that engineers absolutely love? Maybe not.
But that’s not entirely a bad thing. Let’s start with accepting that no one likes taking tests and when your livelihood depends on it, these tests can easily become a source of anxiety and stress.
So, let’s not worry about creating tests that engineers will fall in love with. Let’s look at creating assessments that are accurate and which a senior developer will trust enough to not ghost you midway during the hiring cycle.
Sidenote: If you are looking to create a personalized and highly-specific coding assessment for senior engineers based on the job role you’re hiring for, try HackerEarth Assessments. Not to brag, but we’ve been doing this for 10+ years.