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Crafting Effective Technical Interview Questions: A 4-Step Guide


Do you ever feel like you’re throwing darts in the dark when writing technical interview questions? 

You want to assess a candidate’s skills but are unsure how to design questions that accurately reflect the role and provide valuable insights.

As an interview and assessment platform, we have extensive experience in this area. We’ve spent years honing our question creation process to provide our customers with the most effective interview and assessment questions.

But whether or not you use our questions or even another interview platform, we want to make sure you get the most out of your interview questions so you can bring only the best candidates to your company.

This guide will illuminate our 4-step process for creating exceptional technical interview and assessment questions. We’ll delve into:

  • Brainstorming with the A-Team: Discover how to leverage the expertise of engineers, managers, and even your non-engineering stakeholders to generate top-notch question ideas.
  • Building confidence through validation: Explore the concepts of test validity and reliability and gain insights into how you can quickly vet your questions.
  • Monitor candidate feedback: Grab useful feedback from your test takers and interviewees to elicit helpful insights on your question quality.
  • Continuous Improvement: See how to leverage candidate data and feedback to constantly refine your question library, ensuring it reflects the ever-evolving technology landscape and your needs.

Create brainstorming groups 

The first step in formulating impactful technical interview questions involves assembling diverse thinkers. You’ll want to include a mix of seasoned engineering experts, cross-functional teammates, and managerial staff to ensure a well-rounded perspective on what constitutes a relevant and challenging technical question.

Regular sessions with this team are crucial. Make it a priority to discuss current challenges and real scenarios that can be transformed into practical coding exercises. This ensures the relevance of your questions and helps in mirroring actual problems candidates might face on the job.

To broaden the scope and applicability of your questions, you can involve non-technical stakeholders in the brainstorming process. Human resources, product management, and customer service representatives can provide valuable insights into the soft skills and problem-solving abilities crucial for the role. Their perspective might highlight necessary competencies that purely technical personnel might overlook.

This inclusive approach enriches the content and aligns it more closely with the interdisciplinary nature of modern tech roles, ensuring that the questions you develop are both technically sound and reflective of real-world business needs.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the following guidelines when working with your team to create your technical questions.

The three U’s of a good question

Every question that you use in front of candidates should answer “Yes” to the following queries:

  1. Is the question Understandable?
  2. Is it Unambiguous*? In other words, if you asked the question to several experts, would they agree on the answer without any hesitation? 
  3. And most importantly, is it Useful? I.e., is it important for a developer in a professional setting to know this? 

*While questions with various possible answers can make good interview discussion material, unambiguity is essential in automated testing, like with a screening assessment.

Remember, no matter what kind of technical question you’re creating; you should strive to rank candidates based on their all-around coding skills, not just their memory or ability to search the Internet quickly.

Internally test and validate the question

Once you’ve developed your interview questions, it’s essential to ensure they meet professional standards through testing and validation. This process not only evaluates the question’s effectiveness but also checks for fairness, reliability, and validity.

You’ll use feedback from this internal testing phase to refine the questions. This might involve rephrasing, adjusting the difficulty level, or discarding questions that do not meet the standards.

Engage Your Internal Community

Before deploying any question, it should undergo a thorough review within your organization. Involve a diverse group of stakeholders—engineers, product managers, and even team leads—that resemble your target audience. They should evaluate the questions from two angles:

As test takers: They should attempt to answer the questions as if they were candidates, providing feedback on clarity, relevance, and the realistic challenge the question poses.

–  As reviewers: From a reviewer’s standpoint, stakeholders should assess whether the questions effectively measure the skills they purport to test and if those skills are crucial for the roles in question.

Validation metrics

You’ll want every question reviewer to focus on three key areas during validation:

Clarity and unambiguity: Ensure the question is easily understandable and leaves no room for misinterpretation.

Relevance and utility: Confirm that the skills being tested are essential for the role and provide realistic insights into a candidate’s on-the-job performance.

Candidate experience: Evaluate whether the question offers a positive test-taking experience that is neither frustrating nor discouraging.

By testing and validating each question, you ensure that your assessment tools are practical and aligned with your company’s standards and expectations. This step is crucial in maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of your interview process and ensuring the selection of the most qualified candidates.

Monitor candidate results and get their feedback

Once your questions are in use, you should continuously monitor how candidates perform on them. This involves collecting and analyzing data to ensure the questions function as intended. Key metrics to consider include:

Success rate: Check if the percentage of candidates passing the question aligns with your expectations for its difficulty level. A mismatch might indicate that the question is either too easy or too hard.

Completion time: Analyze whether candidates’ time to complete the question matches the allotted time limits. Significant deviations can suggest a need to adjust the difficulty or clarity of the question.

Variability of responses: Observe the range of answers provided by candidates. High variability might indicate ambiguity in a question or that candidates misunderstand the problem.

Additionally, you’ll want to collect direct feedback from candidates when possible. It provides insights into their experience with the question and the overall assessment process. Consider implementing mechanisms for collecting feedback, such as:

Post-assessment surveys: Quick surveys following the assessment that ask about question clarity, perceived relevance, and overall test fairness.

Comment boxes: Allow candidates to leave comments on specific questions. This can be an excellent source of qualitative data, revealing issues not captured by quantitative metrics.

Use both the qualitative and quantitative feedback mentioned above to update your questions. This might involve refining questions to enhance clarity, reduce ambiguity, or adjust difficulty. It might also involve updating or removing questions that are fundamentally flawed or outdated. 

You’ll want to ensure a system is in place to regularly review the feedback and performance data. This should involve multiple stakeholders, including the original question designers and hiring managers, to decide which questions to keep, modify, or discard.

Consistently reassess your needs

The technology landscape continuously changes, with new frameworks, tools, and languages emerging while older technologies may become less relevant or obsolete. Therefore, you should ensure your technical interview questions remain current and are aligned with the latest industry standards.

You’ll want to establish a routine process for reviewing and updating your question library, which can easily be part of the quality review described in the previous section. This review ensures that your assessments reflect the current state of technology and the skills that are most in demand. 

To help make sure you’re continuing to meet the needs of your company, consider taking the following steps:

Stay up-to-date on technological trends: Stay informed about industry trends by utilizing resources like Indeed Hiring Lab datasets, CoderPad’s Annual Developer survey, and tech blogs. These resources can provide useful insights into what skills and tools are becoming more or less prevalent.

Gather feedback from technical teams: Leverage the expertise of your engineering team and technical leaders within your organization. Their day-to-day experiences can provide practical insights into which skills and tools are essential for current and future projects.

Implement a technology request system: This allows team members to suggest new technologies or frameworks for your assessments and interviews. It makes the process democratic and ensures that your questions are relevant to the actual work being done.

Use the information you gather from those steps to develop custom questions that reflect specific needs or new technologies relevant to your company’s projects. This keeps your assessments up-to-date and ensures they are tailored to evaluate the specific skills needed for success in your organization.


Of course if you’re using CoderPad Screen, much of the heavy lifting for creating and managing technical assessment questions is already handled for you. Our platform is designed to streamline the assessment process, ensuring that you can focus more on evaluating candidates and less on the logistics of test administration.

Even when you use the example questions in CoderPad Interview, we encourage you to tailor the provided example questions or develop your own to specifically meet your organization’s unique challenges and needs. This customization allows you to assess the skills that are most relevant to the roles you are looking to fill.

While our platform provides a strong foundation for practical assessment and interview questions, the principles outlined in this guide are universal and can enhance any technical interview. Regular updates, feedback integration, and ongoing reassessment of your assessment strategy are vital practices that will ensure your technical interviews remain practical and relevant.

By adopting these best practices, you optimize your technical interviewing process and enhance the overall hiring experience. This ensures that your assessments are not just a formality but an essential step in building a competent tech team.

Some parts of this blog post were written with ChatGPT.