Best Practices for Remote Interviewing

This document is for technical interviewers who want best practices on conducting remote interviews on CoderPad.

CoderPad is a collaborative platform for conducting technical interviews in the browser which makes it easy to interview across geographies or time zones.

Preparing the Coder

When an interview is on-site, most candidates know what to expect. A remote interview is a different ballgame, and your candidate may not have participated in a completely remote interviews before. Set them at ease by communicating and preparing them for a remote interview format.

Ensure the candidate knows that the CoderPad remote interview will be fully conducted in CoderPad, and whether or not it will include video. There’s no need to coordinate a separate phone call or Skype session. One click opens a video call within the CoderPad browser window for quick and easy communication and collaboration. It’s helpful to send candidates a link to our free practice Sandbox ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves with the coding environment.

It’s also helpful to candidates to outline what to expect during the interview. Who is the interviewer or interviewers? How many questions will be asked and how long will the interview last? How many separate interview sessions will there be? Encourage the candidate to ask questions during the interview and collaborate with their interviewer.

Preparing the Interviewer

If you’re a new interviewer on CoderPad, we recommend you start by playing around with the editor in our Sandbox. This will let you get comfortable with the interface and customize your editor settings without using up any of your interview quota.

Next, head over to the Question Library. This is where you can save your frequently used interview questions ahead of time, for easy one-click insertion into an interview. Click “Write New Question”, fill in any starting code or instructions, and save. If you like to let candidates choose which language they prefer to code in, we suggest you write and save your questions in plaintext. And if you’re working with a team, it’s useful to agree on a common way to name questions for ease of sharing.

CoderPad also lets you save custom MySQL and PostgreSQL databases that candidates can query. Visit the CoderPad Custom Databases Guide to learn how to add and use custom databases if you will need them for your interviews.

Our Custom Files feature allows an interviewer to test a candidate’s ability to manipulate data, navigate a file system programmatically, and prove their expertise in a system similar to what they’ll encounter on the job.

Typical use cases for Custom Files are CSVs representing data sets for analysis, or log files to aid in debugging exercises. Custom Files are attached to Questions, so you can set up unique scenarios for a candidate to encounter during their interview. Candidates will be able to access the file using their chosen programming language.

If you need to do systems design or diagramming in your interviews, you can use Drawing Mode.

Conducting Remote Interviews

First, it’s important to make sure the candidate feels comfortable. To this end, we recommend introducing yourself and briefly reviewing your role, then asking the candidates a few questions about themselves. Opening up the floor to allow them to share their background and any interesting facts about themselves will help put them more at ease. Having a few minutes of conversation helps candidates feel more comfortable with interacting and asking questions once the coding begins.

You can also help them get more comfortable with the CoderPad environment if you point out their ability to choose their preferences under the Settings button. They can adjust auto-close brackets, code autocomplete (only available in some languages), tab size, and key bindings. As the interviewer you can also toggle on/off code execution.

It’s important to take the time to explain the coding exercise to the candidate before they begin. Make sure they fully understand what you expect them to accomplish, and clarify any questions they may have.

The coding exercise in CoderPad should test for problem solving skills, including the ability to problem solve by asking questions of the interviewer or searching Google (everyone uses it in real work settings!). Keep video chat open so you can continue discussing the problem or answer any questions through the interview. This will help you evaluate the candidate’s ability to communicate efficiently and effectively. Interacting with your candidate will make for a better interview experience!

If you want to run unit tests to evaluate a candidate’s code, you can set those up ahead of time in the Questions menu. Create a second question with the unit tests for your main question. After the candidate has completed their solution, you can then use the “Append to Pad’‘ button to add in part 2 of your question containing the unit tests.

The Interviewer Notes section is for you and is hidden from candidates. It automatically saves any notes and snippets of code you add into that pane with the interview playback. This is a convenient place to jot down any thoughts or comments that you would want to share with the rest of your team after the interview.

After the Interview and Reviewing Pads

Once you’ve clicked the End Interview button the pad closes for further editing, makes it inaccessible to your candidate, and launches playback mode. You can hit the play button in the bottom left to auto-play the interview, or drag the slider to skip around.

You can access any pad or share it with other members within your company by sharing its original URL (in our example, Utilize your notes or saved snippets of code and review with your team post-interview or have your team watch the full line-by-line playback.

Let us know if we can help

If you have any questions or concerns about how things work in CoderPad or want some tips on how to evolve your process to be more remote-friendly, feel free to email us at – we’re happy to help!