Here's how tech companies like Atlassian, Microsoft, and Red Hat are revamping their interview process for developers today

Scott and Mike AtlassianAtlassian

  • Software engineers are in high demand, and interviewing the best talent often includes a combination of coding exams, whiteboarding sessions, and behavioral interviews.
  • However, coding exams and whiteboarding sessions are often stressful and not applicable to everyday work, developers say.
  • Companies like Atlassian, CircleCI, Microsoft, and Red Hat are increasingly making their interviews more applicable to the jobs employees would actually do, such as allowing them to work with the code base and focusing on collaboration.
  • This is an excerpt from a Business Insider Prime story. You can subscribe to read the whole thing.

Software engineers are in high demand, and tech companies are in fierce competition for the best talent.

Salaries reflect the high demand of software engineers as well. In the San Francisco Bay Area, they bring home an average of $155,000, according to Hired. But determining who's qualified and who's not can be a process that's riddled with challenges and bias.

Traditionally, developers have been evaluated with a combination of coding exams, whiteboarding sessions, and behavioral interviews. Candidates often have to solve coding problems and explain their process to an engineer over the phone, or stand in front of a panel of engineers and solve a problem on a whiteboard.

Still, not all developers agree that these are the best ways to interview. According to Hired, only 54% of developers agree that coding exams effectively assess their skills, while 63% say these exams are irrelevant to their actual work.

Some of these exams may be highly technical or include tricky puzzles, with questions like "reverse a linked list" or asking how many ping pong balls would fit in a 747 airplane - something a candidate will never have to actually figure out at work. On top of that, they're stressful, according to developers. In that same survey, about two thirds of developers said that either coding exams or whiteboarding sessions were the most stressful part of the process.

Still, for many companies, coding assessments remain a vital part of the process, although in more recent years, major companies have lightened the emphasis on them. Microsoft revamped its product manager interviews to focus more on collaboration and actual work problems, while Google discontinued its infamous brainteasers.

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