How to design and execute a superior coding challenge

A primer for recruitment specialists

Hiring managers and recruiters frequently visit college campuses to discover and hire the best talent. The activities centred around these hiring festivals come under the umbrella of campus hiring or university hiring.

Campus hiring events are held annually on most college campuses across the country. Large MNCs and FMCG brands start guest lectures in IITs around July. Hiring fests abound in December when premier MNCs are invited to campus. The NITs follow a similar schedule, with events kicking off in July and being held year-round. BITS campuses have two drives from August to November and January to March.

Recruiting companies range from reputed MNCs such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google to the large services firms such as TCS, CTS and Infosys; to FMCG and automotive brands such as Reliance, Mahindra and Mahindra and others.

Campus events may include guest lectures, introductory sessions with students, evaluation tests and assessments, group discussions, screening interviews, coding interviews, hackathons and coding challenges et al. While most of the events focus on talking, hackathons and coding challenges go straight to the nub of assessing the problem-solving and analytical abilities of students.

With the recent pandemic, almost all of this activity has moved online. Coding challenges in particular are a natural fit for the online digital environment. These challenges act as a preliminary/qualifying round for fresh graduates and students, sometimes after an informational interview or event.

How does it work? Typically, the candidate gets a web link from the hiring company, which leads the candidate to a stand-alone coding platform where they can take the test. Many companies prefer to use internal tools or coding assessments provided by leading recruitment platforms such as HirePro. Upon logging in, the candidate is given a series of coding problems to be solved in a specific time duration, ranging from 30 minutes to a couple of hours.

If you’re a recruitment specialist or hiring manager looking to set up a coding challenge for your campus hiring program, here are some dos and don’ts you must follow for success:

  1. Plan Ahead: Although many platforms provide templatised and pre-packaged coding challenges, a round of planning and due diligence on your part will make it a more valuable activity.Your organization may have specific or atypical needs in terms of coding – programming language, platform, domain etc. Clarify these details with your internal teams and work with a domain expert to set up the right coding challenge.For example, the HirePro platform provides an exhaustive library of over 2,000 high-quality curated and reconstructed questions in 28 programming languages and a range of automated coding skills tests that you and your team can choose from, to design your coding challenge.The same goes for the level of complexity and type of challenge – the scenarios and problem statements must be vetted by your internal team.
  2. Promote: The coding challenge must be promoted appropriately with your target audience – the candidates. Explore the opportunities afforded by the college/educational institute to promote it. Enquire if digital announcements on the college social media, website and WhatsApp groups are possible – you will need to prepare appropriate cards or posters to share on digital media.
  3. Platform: What platform the challenge (or challenge series) will be hosted on is an important consideration. Evaluate the possibilities out there – the market leaders typically have the capacity to scale as per your requirements. However, niche platforms and newcomers may offer newer features. Some of the important features that you must add to your evaluation list include:
    1.   A feature-rich assessment interface that provides superior user experience
    2.   A chatbot for live support during the challenge
    3.   A robust proctoring feature-enabled platform for the challenge, whether human or AI-powered, that can help eliminate fraud.

    One vital requirement is for the platform to maintain session integrity in case of network or power outages on the candidate’s end. Accounting for low-bandwidth scenarios is always advisable in our vast country with varied network availability.

  4. Support: As with in-person events, lots of things can go wrong online as well. It is essential that you earmark the right real-time support flows (processes, personnel) on the platform end, college end as well as within your company. Power outage, network outage, candidate infrastructure issues and a myriad of other issues can prove to be roadblocks. Proper troubleshooting support can mitigate most of these.
  5. Closure: Ensure your candidates have a superior experience across every touchpoint with you, your team and the platform. Give them constructive feedback post the event with details of how they did on the challenge. Announce your assessment rubrics prior to the challenge and within the challenge (in the platform itself). Let candidates know how they performed against the rubrics and expectations. Give proper instructions to selected candidates as to how they will be moved into the next phase of assessment.

A streamlined event can ensure a seamless experience for your candidates and hassle-free selection for your team. A well-designed and executed coding challenge can help land your company the best talent for your open positions.

HirePro’s coding assessment platform provides a frictionless and secure test environment for unbiased selection of talent. Talk to us today to evaluate the platform for your next coding challenge.

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