What Is the Right Time to Introduce a Coding Test

Jimmy Fountain

Head of Technology at MassChallenge



Pre-employment testing is a vital part of the employment process that allows you to accurately measure the skills and capabilities of the potential candidate. While benefits of the pre-employment testing are many, assessing your candidate’s ability to code should be introduced at the right time.

Actions taken

Understanding what people think of your company and anticipating the volume of candidates you will attract is crucial when deciding on if and when to introduce a coding test. That should help you factor in how you will filter the prospective candidates.

If you are a large company, be prepared for a lot of candidates with lots of resumes coming inbound. In that case, some skill assessment is necessary. If you are a small company and have no brand recognition, it is a poor idea to send out a coding test before you start interacting with a person. A coding test will be a turn-off for a person that will receive four to five offers and the same number of tests. A candidate with a full-time job will never step into that process.

At my company, we decided to send a coding exercise but only after we talk with candidates and have a phone screen. A coding exercise may take four to eight hours or even a whole weekend to compete and is a big-time commitment. Be sensitive to the candidate’s time and know that making large time commitments from a candidate may turn them away from a role that they would otherwise be excited about as well as a great fit.

Lessons learned

  • Before considering coding tests and when to send them, you should anticipate how many candidates you are likely to attract and what will help to filter them.
  • For most companies sending out coding tests too early will result in an early drop-off. Be mindful what is the best time to send out the test!

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Jimmy Fountain

Head of Technology at MassChallenge

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