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Take-Home Projects Are the New Resume. Here’s Why.


Whiteboard interviews are dead; putting candidates in a cramped room with strangers breathing down their necks is not a recipe for finding the perfect talent. We can create a better hiring process. I know it and you know it too (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog, right?).

So how can we make it better, especially now, when it’s clear change is long overdue?

It starts with prioritizing skills over degrees from fancy universities, code quality over work experience at big-name companies, and exceptional thinking over powerful personal connections. It starts with getting away from the resumes that help companies focus on the wrong things in favor of prioritizing the right way to assess candidates.

It starts with take-home projects – and we’re not alone.

Recent research indicates that scrutinizing candidates as they sweat through a typical whiteboard exercise is great at inducing massive anxiety but fails miserably at finding the best technical talent. In this study, the people forced into a traditional whiteboard exercise did half as well as the group allowed to do it in a private room. No surprise – do you want your boss staring over your shoulder as you work?

Equally scary – but not surprising – the typical process also disadvantages certain groups. Every woman who took the public interview failed — while every woman in the private interview passed. Yes – every woman. The reality is, there’s a very real potential that companies are shorting themselves of substantial talent – and with it, the differentiation, intellectual property, and revenues that could come with a deeper talent bench and more diverse ideas.

Our new take-home projects product is a way for companies to get the technical talent they need — and build a team that reflects the world around them. With it, you can:

  • Ensure a consistent, evenhanded process. Everyone gets the same question, period. There’s no opportunity to make it easy for candidates an interviewer might favor, consciously or unconsciously, or make it harder for others.
  • Test for what really matters: dev skills. A traditional whiteboard process really measures a candidate’s ability to code correctly while someone watches over their shoulder like a hawk eyeing a nervous mouse. It’s not a true skills evaluation. Plus, in an actual work setting, how often do we ask someone to code as fast as they can with a hovering Big Brother-like presence looming over them? You already know the answer: never.
  • Accurately assess ability. You want to know how well someone can code – not how skilled they are at “performing” the interview. Most of us can fake it til we make it for short periods of time; it doesn’t mean we’d be a great fit on the team.
  • Distinguish between those who practiced enough to beat the system…and those who are just really good. Some people have the time and resources to practice the typical technical interview so they can “pass.” But it doesn’t mean they know their stuff.
  • Set a problem that is reasonable and fair. Cap your project to two hours of candidate effort and energy max. This ensures a level playing field that doesn’t disadvantage candidates like the busy working parent or swamped graduate student in favor of others who have endless time on their hands.

CoderPad take-home projects are a way for you to cast a wider net for the talent you already know you need — in a way that’s fair, consistent and a positive introduction to your company’s culture.

Give us a try today. Learn more about take-home projects.