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Inspiration from the Inside – Introducing Take-Home Projects

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When our senior developer, Ayumi Yu, was starting out, she was having difficulty getting the developer job she wanted. She had majored in cell biology — following her parents’ dream of seeing her become a doctor — and had no formal computer science training. With her home-grown training to go by, potential employers didn’t have the vision to see how she could be successful with a degree that wasn’t software engineering or computer science.

One day, Ayumi was talking with a recruiter and she convinced them to give her a take-home project. Drawing on her basic programming skills, knowledge of HTML, JavaScript, PHP, and Google from making websites just for fun, Ayumi knew enough to hack things together.

She, of course, nailed the challenge. And that changed the game for her, opening the door to some excellent opportunities and starting her career as a software developer. It also changed the game for those companies who hired her: they got a fantastic employee they might have otherwise missed out on.

Ayumi is one of the inspirations for launching our newest products, take-home projects, and fittingly was the lead developer in building it. We’re proud to introduce it to the world today:

  • Take-home projects make it possible for companies to hire the best talent, period. New research shows in technical interviews “performance is reduced by more than half, simply by being watched by an interviewer.” The same study concluded that companies might be “filtering out qualified candidates by confounding assessment of problem-solving ability with unnecessary stress.” Some of the best developers simply need time and space to work through a project, and our take-home projects give candidates another way to show off their skills.
  • Abstract coding tests are silly. Why quiz an experienced developer on obscure concepts that will almost never come up in real life? Interviews shouldn’t be “gotchas.” This is about seeing if someone can do the job well – the actual job, not a theoretical version of it.
  • Candidates are turned off by bad experiences. Great talent is always going to be in demand. So if their interview experience is arbitrary and unrealistic, it sends a bad message: it says the company doesn’t care enough to be thoughtful about the questions…or even to spend time reviewing a candidate’s responses.
  • Our best customers wanted it. Amazing companies — like the ones we work with — want a scalable, more real-world construct in assessing developer candidates. They told us that. So we built take-home projects as an efficient way for a developer to work on a problem they’d really encounter on the job. Efficient for the candidate and for the employer.

You might be wondering what makes us different from other coding tests out there. Fair question. Like others, our take-home projects product delivers a standardized review process and an efficient way to assess more candidates in a shorter amount of time. But we offer some meaningful differentiators:

  • CoderPad take-home projects work like a real-life dev situation.This isn’t a standardized CS pop quiz but a real challenge you’d be asked to work on in that specific job and bring back your best solution. And we settled on the right challenge format with the input of some wonderful customers, interviewers and candidates.
  • CoderPad take-home projects respect developers and their work. A meaningless numerical score says nothing about someone’s skill. We offer a summary of test cases, final output, and an easy review of the candidate’s process to show precisely how they arrived at that output.
  • CoderPad take-home projects are candidate-centered. We care about candidates. Our test levels the playing field with a limited completion time — so people with all the time in the world can’t outperform, say, a busy working parent, simply because they have endless hours to devote to it. And it’s an appropriate technical challenge that’s geared toward the specific job.

We’re really proud of our new take-home projects product. It’s going to help our customers be more efficient. It’s going to empower more applicants to show off their problem-solving skills in the way that matters: working in the IDE. Ultimately, it’s going to help ground the interview process in skills and their application, versus relying on logos, alma maters, and who you know.

And the idea that we can play a part in helping everyone get a fair shake at the good jobs? Well, that’s pretty kickass.

View our take-home projects guide.