How to Use HackerRank’s CodePair Tool [Tutorial]

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Many companies incorporate a code pair exercise where the applicant must solve a coding riddle. I gave 50+ of these as the interviewer before myself needing to enter the job market where I interviewed with more than a dozen companies and completed many code pair exercises as part of the interview process. In this article I attempt to demystify this process, explain what interviewers want to see as well as provide some strategies for mastering the code pair interview.

An applicant will typically go through one or more screening calls before being assigned a code pair exercise. Sometimes the applicant will receive a takehome assignment before the code pair exercise. If the applicant passes these initial screenings then the next step may be a code pairing exercise.

Code pairing exercises range from super simple to devilishly complex. Typically the level of the role you are applying for will largely dictate the complexity of the problem, but some companies prefer to give difficult problems to see how candidates perform under pressure. However, even easy questions can be a strong source of stress for the nervous applicant.

After meeting the interviewers the applicant will typically be asked to log into a code pairing website where everyone can see the code as it is being typed and run the code to receive a result. Some requirements and often times some data is provided to the applicant and some, but not all, requirements for a correct solution listed. Usually standard input and output functions of the language (e.g. printf or console.log) are used to output results. The applicant is given a set amount of time to complete the exercise and achieve the correct output.

Sometimes there will be follow up requirements if the applicant solves the exercise early.

Devote time to defining interview questions upfront

The goal of the onsite interview—or in this case, the remote interview—is to get an in-depth look into each candidate’s skillset. The more accurately you can evaluate their skill sets, the more likely you are to be able to ensure you’re choosing the candidate best suited to the role.

Overview of a technical hiring process

First, what should your developer interviews look like?

Simple:

You have an application phase, interview phase, and assessment phase.

You’ll likely start your hiring process with a phone screen to initiate your developer assessment.

However, if you’re part of an organization with too many candidates, you need to filter them more effectively upfront. In that case (and we only recommend this in this specific situation), you can use a screening test to get through the first round of candidates.

You can use our own screening tool, CodeSubmit Bytes. (Want to try it out? Get access to a demo here.)

After your initial phone or code screening, it’s time to introduce your pair programming task.

Once you’ve identified some promising candidates and completed the pair programming round, move on to a few more interviews. We typically recommend a manager interview and a team interview.

This offers a far better candidate experience than including brainteasers that don’t measure candidates’ skills and, instead, create a terrible experience. It’s also a process that focuses on actual programming skill over interviewing skill, helping you identify some strong signals of future performance in all of the interviewing noise.

That said, your candidate experience depends on how well you execute your pair programming interview tests. Here’s how to conduct them in the right way.

FAQ

How do I prepare for a CodePair interview?

Be prepared

As an interviewer, look through your candidate’s CV, résumé, or source code if they have submitted it. This will help you set your own expectations for their skill level and personality, which will help when communicating with them. Knowing that you have the same hobbies could be a good ice breaker!

What is code pairing interview?

CodePair is a cloud-based, collaborative code editor for pair programming sessions with your candidates. CodePair makes it easy to set up a powerful shared coding environment and work through coding problems with your candidates. Your technical interviews have never been more effective.

What is CodePair link?

A code pairing interview helps interviewers get an understanding of the candidate’s coding, collaboration, and communication skills.

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