This Is Recruiting: What Makes A Good Coding Assessment?

Coding Assessments - Podcast - HackerEarth

There may be very few old-timers left in the tech world today who would swear by the benefits of a whiteboard. However, even the new league of extraordinary recruiters find it hard at times to deal with this beast called ‘assessments’. 

Does a perfect assessment really exist? And if so, then is there a one-size-fits-all recipe that every company can use to craft their assessments? We have been hankering for the answer to these questions even as we continue to upgrade and better our own Coding Assessments platform. Thankfully, we found a kindred spirit in Martin Kelly, Principal Recruiter Engineering at HubSpot, who helped us find the answers we were looking for. 

Here are some excerpts from the conversation between Martin, and HackerEarth’s VP of Marketing, Alfred Alexander. 

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Alfred: To begin, let me ask you about how HubSpot uses coding assessments at the moment?

Martin: Before I jump into the coding assessments, I would like to talk about the changes we made to our face-to-face interview process, and how that has inspired the coding assessments in its current form. A little while back, we reviewed how we were doing interviews at our office and we really wanted to move away from those Google-type interviews which were all about whiteboards and had a lot of focus on whether a candidate knows how to solve a particular algorithm or not. We wanted to make it more realistic to how an engineer works day-to-day when they’re at the office. 

As a result of that, we moved away from whiteboard coding as much as possible, in favor of having the interviewee bring their own laptop to the interview, use their own IDE which they are familiar with, use their own documentation, and really have an environment as close as possible to how it would be if they were at work. As we made those improvements, we then moved on to making changes in our coding assessments. When I first started at HubSpot we were using a third-party provider for coding assessments, which was good but we needed something different. Engineers are in so much demand that it can be hard to get them to commit to doing a coding assessment before they come into the hiring process. 

We really felt we needed to invest in getting the assessment experience right so we could get these people to move through the process with us. At the heart of it was the idea that we should give engineers a problem to solve at home, in an environment that is as close to their normal working environment as possible. 

Alfred: I think what you’re also trying to say is that it’s important to give a candidate an improved experience while passing through the entire hiring process. More often than not, I see interviewing and hiring processes that are so disconnected from what one would be doing once you get hired and onboarded. 

Martin: Exactly! Companies put so much effort into finding great candidates, and if you think about it us recruiters spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and while interviewing. It’s that middle stage – the coding assessment – which can sometimes feel like the unloved middle child who is forgotten about a little bit, and who is always competing with their siblings on either side. If you look at the tie-to-hire, it’s really the middle stage – the coding assessment – which is sort of the make or break in getting people to move through the process. 

Alfred: And I think this also gives the candidates an experience of HubSpot and what they will be working on, the tools they will be building once they get onboarded. 

Martin: Yes, this is a two-way evaluation process, right? You’re judging the engineer, but they are also judging your process for the first time. And when it comes to the later stages of the hiring funnel – once they interview and you are ready to make them a final offer – hopefully it will be this experience of going through the assessment process, and understanding what your company has to offer which they will remember vividly. So, there is an opportunity to use the coding assessment to get you and your company some competitive advantage when it comes to the closing stages. 



Well, that was just a sneak peek of everything that Alfred and Martin talked about. We have the full podcast for you here if you’d like to know more about HubSpot’s hiring secrets and Martin’s own recipe for concocting the perfect assessment. 


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