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Top coding skills tests for non-technical recruiters

Skills-based hiring in tech

Tech employers are seeing better results than the industry-wide average. Read The State of Skills-Based Hiring in Tech to learn more.


The programming and software development industry has noticed significant changes recently, with many companies laying off coding employees. Yet hiring a programmer for your company is still a task that you might face as a non-technical recruiter if your business has a vacancy you must fill.

Hiring coding employees can present a challenge because you must assess multiple soft and hard skills, avoid unconscious bias during evaluation, and discover who among your candidates has the relevant experience while keeping your time-to-hire metrics low. Meeting these challenges, however, can be easier than you first anticipate if you use top coding skills tests to screen your candidates.

How do coding skills tests help you as a non-technical recruiter, and which skills can they help you evaluate?

We’ve gathered the information you need. Find out why coding skills tests are important and which ones to use when hiring programmers below.

What is a coding skills assessment?

As a recruiter, you may encounter problems when assessing highly skilled candidates, such as lengthy time to hire or difficulty hiring for culture add. However, a coding skills assessment is a set of tests you can use to quickly overcome these challenges. You can use an assessment to determine if a candidate can meet the essential programming requirements of your job opening, such as:

  • Coding language familiarity like JavaScript, Python, and C++

  • Knowledge of frameworks and libraries like Angular JS and React

  • Version control knowledge and systems such as GIT to collaborate on the code

  • Debugging and code review abilities to ensure they can improve the code quality

  • Code documentation knowledge to help other team members maintain the code

Coding skills assessments help you as a non-technical recruiter in various ways, providing objective evaluation and mitigating potential hiring biases by pointing you to numerical results. They ensure you identify your candidates’ coding skills, such as code structuring and algorithm knowledge, and facilitate your hiring team’s screening process. They work with large applicant pools by simultaneously inviting several candidates to complete assessments.

Suppose you are a recruiter looking to use coding skills assessments to hire your candidate. In that case, you’ll see that each skills test in the assessment has standardized questions or coding challenges – problems that might include arrays challenges, objects and data structures tests, or debugging skills. 

For example, you might want to assess specific sub-skills such as debugging or coding familiarity with the Python coding language, the most popular programming language in 2023. You can select a Python coding (debugging) test or Python data structures & objects test to do this. These tests will feature specific questions that we have included in this article.

Why are coding skills important?

Coding skills such as debugging, working with object-oriented programming methods, using arrays, and using algorithms can have countless advantages for developers. Here are some of the reasons coding skills are important for your candidates:

1. Coding skills offer advantages for building applications and collaborating

Although there are several challenges that coding employees may encounter when writing code, such as buggy code or meeting the end user’s requirement, coding skills, like code testing and adhering to coding best practices, are fundamental. These specific skills can ensure candidates:

  • Use the optimum coding practices to write easily manageable code

  • Mitigate confusion when collaborating with developers

  • Debug code on scripts that don’t run smoothly according to specific requirements

Specific skills, like using algorithms, are also fundamental in helping candidates solve challenging problems, sort and process data, and complete machine learning projects. Therefore, you should ensure your candidates have the specific debugging and collaboration skills to achieve these project requirements.

2. Skills in coding make candidates better problem solvers

Coding skills also offer benefits to the candidates you hire. They can help candidates hone their problem-solving and analysis abilities, including finding errors in their code, and think logically when handling challenges such as identifying spam and fraudulent transactions with software and machine learning. They are also fundamental for completing image recognition projects by writing code that can solve challenges for the user efficiently.

The best outcomes to expect when you hire candidates with top coding abilities like these include that they can:

  • Reduce potentially threatening or harmful messages by filtering spam with software

  • Complete content labeling projects using meta tags to reinforce search engine optimization for businesses

  • Create code that solves the user’s requirements with excellent applications that provide a top user experience

All of these benefits work to support clients and end users, which is good for your business and the client’s expectations. With candidates who use code to solve problems efficiently, you can reinforce your relationship with your clients.

3. Solving real-world problems is easy for candidates with coding skills

Some other real-world problems that coding skills can help candidates solve quickly include fixing bugs in mobile applications and completing customer service automation projects. The outcomes of these projects and the use of coding skills include:

  • A seamless user experience with mobile applications

  • Smoother and faster customer bug resolution times

  • Increased security for individuals who make transactions with specific software

  • Simpler image storage and easier methods to extract information for machine interpretation

Candidates with advanced coding skills can create applications such as digital banking, e-commerce apps, customer relationship management tools, appointment scheduling platforms, and social applications. 

Some of these examples might require low code, meaning candidates would use a drag-and-drop interface to produce the code, and others require more developed skills, such as integrated development environment knowledge, to create mobile smartphone applications.

Which skills and traits are important for coding?

When assessing coding skills, knowing which traits and abilities to consider is essential, such as soft skills like empathy, hard skills like framework knowledge, and personality attributes like conscientiousness. Here are the skills and traits to consider when hiring a coding employee:

Soft skills to consider for coding candidates

Specific soft skills and traits such as problem solving, communication, analytical skills, and attention to detail are essential for coding candidates because they:

  • Ensure candidates can communicate their work processes with their team members 

  • Guarantee candidates understand the end user’s requirements before creating an application or software

  • Help them work well with team members from different departments and non-technical staff

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists communication skills as an essential skill that coding employees must have, reinforcing the importance of teamwork. It explains that interpersonal skills are crucial for coding employees to work well with others. Analytical skills ensure software developers can evaluate the end user’s needs and meet their requirements according to the Bureau. For these reasons, you should assess soft skills as well as technical skills.

Personality traits to consider for coding candidates

When looking at a coding candidate’s personality, specific personality traits may enhance the outcome of their work, but it’s crucial to avoid hiring based on personality alone or culture fit. It’s always ideal to determine what and how a candidate’s personality can add value to your team, because diversity adds to productivity. Consider looking out for the following personality traits: adaptability and curiosity.

Adaptability for coding candidates

You should try to find candidates who can prove their adaptability and willingness to adapt, including taking on new projects like social media bot programming or programming languages like C# if it lies outside their comfort zone.

Learning if this adaptability has yielded excellent results for their employers is also fundamental because this knowledge will give you tangible data to help evaluate the candidate in depth. For example, if a project’s scope increases and the coding employee needs to add new features to a website, they should be prepared to complete new duties, such as using JavaScript and its libraries to add the new features.

Beyond this, asking your candidate how the new features enhanced the app’s user experience can help you visualize the positive project results they have achieved.

One of the easiest ways to evaluate this willingness to adapt is to use a Critical thinking skills test or personality skills tests alongside cognitive tests. Experts suggest conscientious candidates are adaptable, so considering whether candidates have this personality trait using DISC and cognitive tests is well worth it.

Curiosity for coding candidates

Curiosity is a fundamental skill for coding candidates because it ensures they constantly strive to understand the cause-effect relationship between their code and the outcome. For example, suppose a coding employee creates an appointment scheduling platform and notices that a specific conditional construct in the algorithm works well for efficient scheduling. In that case, they should be curious and try to understand why this conditional construct works.

Altogether, these skills can lead to innovation in projects, consistency in coding, and an ability to deliver efficient and flawless applications.

Skills and traits tests for coding employees

Although we have provided some top coding skills tests for non-technical recruiters to help you assess your candidates’ coding skills, such as debugging and using specific coding structures, we have several extra suggestions to help you hire a professional. Here are some key skills and traits tests you should consider.

C++ language-specifics concepts skills test

If you want to hire a coding employee who understands the C++ programming language, our C++ language-specifics concepts skills test will work well in your hiring process.

This test will evaluate your candidates’ coding skills in C++, particularly when solving challenging software problems, such as their ability to complete game programming projects, browser development, or operating system development.

C++ language specifics concepts skills test graphic

It’s the ideal test for hiring mid-level C++ programmers and will assess your candidate's knowledge of the following:

  • Data types in C++

  • Skills in data type definition

  • Ability to perform string manipulations

  • Typecast manipulation abilities

  • Main function knowledge

  • Temporary objects knowledge

With this test, you will receive your candidates’ scores as a percentage to review their aptitude. It’s also easy to inspect the candidates’ codes and review their steps after submitting them to see their code-writing process.

Python debugging skills test

Debugging in Python is an essential skill because it ensures your candidates can enhance the user experience and software quality by removing bugs. Assessing these skills requires little time with the Python debugging skills test. It will help assess whether candidates can: 

  • Interpret written code in Python

  • Identify bugs in Python code

  • Fix the bugs in the Python code

Since Python is one of the programming languages most widely used across the globe and is ideal for web development and automation, it’s well worth assessing your candidates’ skills with this test if they will be using Python. 

In real case study examples, coding employees often use Python to produce platforms similar to YouTube, Dropbox, and Instagram.

Candidates who take this skills test will read the requirements and have 30 minutes to attempt to fix the script that contains a few bugs. If successful, they will ensure the script works efficiently.

React Native skills test

If your candidates will need to use the React Native framework to build popular apps for mobile platforms, including iOS and Android operating systems, it’s important to assess their React Native skills, such as performance optimization and mobile application development knowledge. 

The main advantage of this React Native skills test is that you can use it to learn which candidates can keep development time low and understand the role React Native plays in user interface development. The test assesses the following sub-skills:

  • Developer workflow knowledge

  • Knowledge of UI development

  • Skills in component and plug-in development via React Native

An exemplary performance on this skills test will show that candidates can develop new applications or add new features to an app using React Native. It will also tell you whether candidates can complete versioning upgrades and resolve any issues with the application.

Real case study examples of the React Native framework in action include Facebook, Instagram, and Bloomberg applications, which include cross-platform mobile apps for deployment on iOS and Android.

PHP entry-level coding algorithms test

With the PHP entry-level coding algorithms test, you can review your candidates’ knowledge of intermediate-level coding algorithms and how they work with PHP frameworks such as Symfony and Laravel. Some of the specific extra knowledge you can review include:

  • Knowledge of arrays and functions to return specific integers

  • Code creation processes that meet task requirements

  • Whether candidates can use coding editors and IDEs

These skills have plenty of real-world applications. Knowledge of arrays and functions can help programmers use large datasets and sort or identify variables. Code creation that follows specific best coding practices, such as avoiding deep nesting and writing readable code, ensures programmers can create applications with the support of team members. Using integrated development environments is an essential skill for editing and testing code.

PHP is an essential framework for various reasons – it has been featured in website building and application creation for more than 20 years. Although developers use it on web servers, they can use it to build several types of software. The main examples of software your candidates will be able to build with PHP knowledge include:

  • Applications for desktop

  • Web pages that are dynamic

  • Applications that are object-oriented

In a real case study, WordPress is one example of software that developers used PHP to create. Therefore, if your business is creating applications such as this, it’s crucial to test your candidates’ PHP knowledge with this test.

JavaScript coding algorithms test

Testing your candidates’ entry-level JavaScript coding experience can significantly affect projects such as web page development, dynamic web page development, multimedia control for websites, and web page features animation. You will be able to test specific sub-skills with the JavaScript coding algorithms test, such as:

  • Entry-level algorithms

  • Code creation in JavaScript integrated development environments

  • Time management abilities since the test features a timer

The versatile JavaScript scripting language works well with HTML and CSS and is a core technology that powers many websites – more than 1.8 billion. If your company creates websites for clients such as YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, or LinkedIn, it’ll be helpful to evaluate your candidates’ JavaScript knowledge with this test.

Our experts crafted the JavaScript coding algorithms test to help you assess entry-level JavaScript programmers. Therefore, if you are hiring a junior JavaScript developer, this skills test will be ideal for your hiring process because it evaluates skills such as editing code and resolving challenges in the context of coding and creating applications.

Go coding entry-level algorithms test

With our Go coding entry-level algorithms test, you can evaluate multiple skills, such as algorithm knowledge and test-case–solving abilities that are fundamental in projects such as creating software apps. In specific case studies, it’s clear that many companies use Go to create renowned applications, such as the BBC and Facebook apps. Therefore, we recommend this test if you are looking for candidates who can create similar real-world apps.

A couple of extra sub-skills you can assess with the Go Coding Entry-Level Algorithms test include:

  • Knowledge of integrated development environments

  • Editing and writing code that matches coding best practices

The Go coding entry-level algorithms test is also ideal for testing candidates' coding skills against a time limit and reviewing the processes they use to complete coding challenges. When you pair this test with a numerical or cognitive skills test, you will better understand your candidates’ coding knowledge.

HTML5 test

Our HTML5 skills test will reveal which candidates understand how to code and structure their code using a hypertext markup language to build web content for the internet. This test will benefit you if you’re looking for candidates who can assist you with website and application development, add new features to websites, and resolve bugs with HTML5 skills.

It’s possible to assess the following sub-skills using the HTML5 skills test:

  • HTML layouts

  • HTML element groups

  • Presentation of HTML tags

  • HTML tags format knowledge

The advantage of this test is that you can hire web developers or HTML5 programmers objectively, based on their skills, even if you are a non-technical recruiter. This outcome is easy to achieve because you just need to review how the candidate has performed when answering questions in the test.

Clean code test

To hire an applicant who can complete a project correctly on the first attempt without wasting money and time, you should remember that clean coding skills are essential and evaluate them with a Clean code test. With this test, you can evaluate various skills, including:

  • The simplicity of code structure knowledge

  • Knowledge of crucial principles in software design

  • Knowledge of enhancing the readability of code

  • Code principles related to SOLID design

Candidates with these skills will understand the difference between spaghetti code and code that adheres to “don’t repeat yourself” or “you’re never going to need it” principles. The result of code such as this means other developers can read it with minimal effort and will not need to refactor code with a poor structure.

Although candidates might consider using tools to create clean code, such as HTML Cleaner, JS Beautifier, or Decoravit, clean code principles are fundamental for code collaboration. Therefore, evaluating your candidates’ clean code knowledge with this test is important.

Problem solving test

Soft skills such as problem solving are important for coding candidates because they ensure they can resolve challenges when building web pages or applications, such as debugging or code refactoring. With the Problem solving test, you can determine if candidates can:

  • Interpret information to make choices

  • Assess numerical data to resolve coding issues

  • Prioritize tasks by reflecting on project rules and requirements

  • Create a schedule to solve problems promptly

Some common problems coders can solve when building websites if they have these skills include mitigating dated visual designs, resolving security problems, and reducing website clutter to enhance the user experience.

4 sample questions that feature in top coding tests

If you’d like more information about the specific questions your candidates will face in our top coding tests, below are some examples of sample questions.

  1. C++ language-specifics concepts skills test sample question: Create the function find_gap that takes three positive integers as arguments and returns the first pair of two prime numbers spaced with a prime gap of length gap between a and b as an array.

  2. Python debugging skills test sample question: You have initially written a function buying_candy that takes an integer and returns an integer that represents the number of unique ways to buy candy. However, you notice that there are some bugs in your code. You now need to debug it.

  3. React Native skills test sample question: The layouts in React Native require using Flexbox. To render elements side by side horizontally, which of the following properties would you use?

  4. React Native skills test sample question: To reuse the component logic in React, you can use a higher-order component. What is a higher-order component?

Coding skills assessment – FAQs 

Searching for more information about coding skills assessments? Consult the frequently asked questions list below.

What are custom questions ideal for use in a coding skills assessment?

You can add a custom question to your coding skills assessment if you want to test your candidates for specific knowledge, experience, or skills that uniquely align with your requirements. For example, if your company is a remote-first business and your employees are in different places, you may consider using a custom question such as “Do you have remote work experience?” or “Describe your remote work experience.” 

Which types of custom questions are available from TestGorilla?

TestGorilla provides multiple custom questions for coding skills assessments and many other assessment types, including multiple-choice, essay responses, and coding. If you want to dig deeper into your candidates’ coding knowledge, consider using the coding custom questions. However, we also recommend the essay and video custom questions if you want to discover more about your candidates’ traits and personalities. 

How are assessments different from coding skills tests?

The main difference between coding skills tests and assessments is that up to five tests can make one assessment. For example, you may select the React Native skills test, the Python debugging skills test, and three other skills tests to comprise an assessment for your candidates. Adding a maximum of 20 custom questions to your assessment is possible, and you can include an essay-style custom question if you require more information about your candidates.

Which other coding skills tests can I use with TestGorilla?

With TestGorilla, recruiters can use multiple coding skills tests. To test your candidates’ PHP knowledge, consider our PHP intermediate-level algorithms test. It’s a great starting point to assess specific skills, such as mid-level programming abilities in PHP. In practical, real-world cases, this will tell you whether candidates can build simple static websites and professional dynamic websites. Still, you may also select other options, such as C# or JavaScript tests, to assess various skills.

When should I use a coding skills assessment when hiring candidates?

To streamline your hiring process, use a coding skills assessment when you have received responses to your job listing but before you ask candidates to attend an interview. Doing so will help you filter out unqualified candidates and, thanks to the knowledge of your candidates’ skills, give you more discussion points during the interview.

90% of tech employers reduce mis-hires when they use skills-based hiring.

Source: The State of Skills-Based Hiring in Tech

How TestGorilla can help you find a skilled coder

TestGorilla is the optimum skills testing platform to help you find the right coding-skilled employee because we offer a wide selection of coding skills tests. Some other advantages of using TestGorilla include:

  • Bias-free candidate evaluation. You can ask every candidate to complete the same test and receive results as percentages to achieve an objective assessment process.

  • In-depth assessment. If you want to evaluate applicants more closely than checking their resumes or need further proof than checking their side projects, our skills tests will assist you. With individual results for each candidate, you can quickly and easily learn who has the best skills and knowledge.

  • Easy comparison of candidates. Selecting one candidate over a similarly skilled candidate can be difficult, but our assessments make it easy to compare them. Use the star rankings and percentages to hire a candidate knowing they are statistically more likely to outperform another candidate based on the results.

Using TestGorilla is easy. After you sign up, choose a name for your assessment, select the appropriate tests from the test library, add any custom questions, and invite candidates to complete your assessment. When you receive the results, all you need to do is check the percentages and rankings to choose skilled coders to interview.

Get started with TestGorilla

Is it time to start your hiring journey and discover the right coding-skilled employee? Your hiring objectives do not need to be challenging – you can achieve them with our tests and custom questions. 

TestGorilla has supported thousands of companies with their hiring requirements, including UNHCR and Revolut. We offer a skills testing method for accurate candidate reviews that will help you test candidates' coding capabilities and soft skills.

If you need help comparing the best candidates or a real-world prediction of how your candidates will perform, visit the TestGorilla website to explore our skills assessments. 

Get started with TestGorilla to build your assessment in just a few steps.


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