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What makes a good coding challenge?

Published Jul 12, 2017
What makes a good coding challenge?

Recently, Patrick shared his coding challenge experience with our community. The post was shared on Reddit, and the thread turned into an interesting discussion!

What do you think of coding quizzes/challenges that are often part of job interviews? To what extent are they fair indicators of developers’ future performance? Actually, what even makes a good coding challenge?

Share your thoughts and experience with us!👇

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Nicolas Treiber
a month ago

In my opinion, challenges/quizzes are a good way to estimate the capabilities of a developer, but only for a specific kind of test. For example, a test where the interviewer would ask you “code a WPF interface with that component, that one, etc.” has no interest because it only check if the person knows the specific components… but in our work we never know every single part of a language/framework/library…
A challenge should if the coder:

  • knows the basics and advanced concepts of the language/framework
  • is capable of conceptualize a solution to a problem, even if he’s not able of imiplementing it during the test
  • is able to find search for and understand solutions to problems on the resources (internet, docs, etc.) in a relative short time
Esteban Negri
a month ago

I think quizzes are never fair, maybe my opinion is biased because I failed the CodementorX quiz challenge :D but not everyone can solve coding quizzes in less than an hour, at least that’s not how my brain works.

The way I solve that kind of quizzes in real life is by getting away from the keyboard, making a coffee and look through the window, the solution comes by itself after a while but it gets hard when you have to solve three of those in less than an hour and if you don’t you don’t get the job.

I have almost 10 years experience in web development so I solved a thing or two during that time ;), that should count for something.

Regarding coding challenges, those should be ideally a real world issue like fixing a bug on one of the company’s system and I agree that a pair programming session would be great.

Hajder Rabiee
a month ago

A good challenge consists of something that’s relevant for the job and allows for a candidate to stretch his capabilities a bit. If a challenge has different levels, like minimum + optional tasks, it will display the ambitions of a candidate and hopefully facilitate in distinguishing candidates. More important is that the task+solution should also be open for discussion and let the interviewer understand the thought process of candidates. A challenge should aid in the hiring process and not be the sole decision maker.

I’d be interested in letting candidates come in and do some pair programming as a discriminator. I know that’s what I would do in my company…I think it would allow the candidate to understand what a daily task looks like and also help the interviewer understand how a person would work in a team.

Patrick O'Dacre
a month ago

A challenge should aid in the hiring process and not be the sole decision maker.

This.

My most recent experience with Hired.com did the opposite. Despite a strong resume and ample experience, 2 short code challenges were enough to convince Hired to not work with me.

Pair programming would be great; not only would it give them a chance to see how I work, but it would give me a chance to see how they work.

Software is a team sport, and it’s important for the candidate to be confident that a potential team is going to be a good fit.

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