In order to demonstrate the best of their abilities, developers need to feel at home during an interview. That’s why, engineering managers with the best brands (e.g. Stripe) simulate a native coding interview environment, using tools and technologies familiar in their day-to-day.
Candidates should feel excited about showcasing their skills to companies by solving relevant, interesting challenges that they’d be doing on the job. Companies who do this will have an added advantage of strengthening their technology brand.
In turn, focusing on irrelevant “gotcha” questions, brainteasers---and worst of all---whiteboard coding interview not only neglects to evaluate the skills needed for the job but also creates a poor experience for your candidates.
Here at HackerRank, we’re constantly working to improve the way developers are evaluated on their technical skills. We sat down with the head of technical content engineering, Dr. Heraldo Memelli, to break down the features that developers love most about HackerRank interview assessments:
1. Intellisense, our auto-complete feature
The auto-complete feature similar to what is found in modern editors such as Eclipse or Visual Studio. The auto-complete automatically gets triggered for languages such as Java and C# at the specific syntax points.
With the Intellisense auto-complete feature, candidates spend less time worrying about irrelevant aspects of coding, like typos. For instance, if a candidate has already defined a variable name before, Intellisense allows the candidate to automatically select that variable name the next time they use it.
It might sound trivial, but candidates are given immense peace of mind knowing they won’t be bogged down by retyping the same things over and over again. They can focus on what really matters: Critical thinking, big picture concepts, and complexity of coding.
Here’s what candidates see “before” vs. “after” of auto-complete feature:
2. Code Environment: VIM vs. Emacs
VIM vs. Emacs ….Tabs vs. spaces...each decision is a purposeful and personal one. Candidates can adjust the browser environment to by setting up Tab Spaces and Editor Mode preferences.
With HackerRank assessments, developer candidates can adjust the browser environment to set up how they want to code. Fun fact: We surveyed over 39,000 developers on their favorite IDE: VIM beats all other editors by a landslide. Fans say its powerful keyboard commands are a crucial component of why it’s loved by developers everywhere.
When candidates are focused on solving tough problems, the last thing they want to worry about is irrelevant, minor blunders or typos that aren’t representative of their true skills. In their day-to-day jobs, they’d have the ability to debug and fix errors in their code.
That's why we introduce linting in our editors. This static analysis helps developers worry less about typos and more about the critical thinking, problem-solving, and technical knowledge that you actually care about.
4. Test Case Results
This is quite possibly the best feature of HackerRank for candidates, according to Gayle Laakmann McDowell, tech hiring consultant and author of Cracking the Coding Interview.
"All code assessment tools work the same way, to my knowledge. There's a set of about 10 - 15 test cases. Some will be very small to check just correctness. Others will be very large to test efficiency. The actual inputs on these test cases aren't exposed to candidates, because otherwise, they would just game the system and hard code in the input/output pairs. HackerRank is the only one who can show you the results of those test cases (not the test cases themselves, but the results -- e.g., "Test Case 7 - Failed due to timeout")."
Without this feature, if you make even a tiny mistake, you don't have any feedback on this. This mistake could be a misinterpretation of the problem, an actual bug, or a minor error in how you format the output. These issues often cause someone to get zero points and therefore fail, despite not being particularly reflective of the candidate's skills. It results in lots of good candidates getting low scores, for pretty arbitrary reasons.
On HackerRank, candidates see that they didn't pass one of the test cases and can then find the bug, fix the formatting issues, or optimize the code. Much better for candidates and for companies.
For hiring managers:
Now, let’s turn the tables. Which features of the HackerRank assessments do hiring managers love most?
1. Code playback for candidate tests
Yes! All candidate tests are recorded for easy playback and review. Never miss a keystroke. An automatically generated interview report will recreate the entire interview for review so anyone on the hiring team can view a candidate’s interview performance.
2. Code generator
When you are creating custom coding tests for candidates, we provide an interface that generates the skeleton or boiler-plate code and takes care of the input/output. This way, candidates will only have to complete the function that solves the problem and not waste time with parsing the input. Code generator supports 23+ languages.
3. Name anonymization
Everyone is looking to hire more diverse candidates. And yet the hiring process is brimming with unconscious biases. For instance, when making split decisions on a candidate’s resume, people unintentionally favor certain demographics over others.
With a HackerRank test, you can anonymize the test completely so you won’t know any identifiable information about them. The only piece you see is how well they code.
Bottom line: It's the little tweaks to make developers' lives easier that will help you build a world-class candidate experience for developers. We're always working to optimize our platform for developers. Auto-fill, debugging, and favorite coding environments are just a few of the ways that we're helping developers showcase the best version of themselves.