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  • Writer's pictureHilla Edlis

The Debate of Home vs. Office Begins Even Before Hiring: Here's a Practical Tool to Help You Decide

Updated: Jan 9

Ever since covid-19 introduced itself into our lives, the hot topic of working from home or the office has slightly diverted our attention from another and no less heated home vs. office debate. Namely, where should developer coding tests be taken? This question, which often arises while planning the hiring process, has been known to spark disagreement and intense debate among both job seekers and employers.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this debate. It all depends on each company's unique situation and preferences. Sometimes, it may even be appropriate to test different candidates differently, depending on various considerations.

Here is an easy-to-use practical tool to guide you through making the best decision according to your company's situation and goals:

Start by addressing each of these topics, asking yourself the questions that follow:

1. Determine the purpose of the coding test:

Is it to assess the technical skills of the candidate? Some argue that administering the test in the office provides a more realistic assessment of a candidate's capabilities since it eliminates the possibility of cheating or seeking assistance. Others believe that taking the test at home, in the candidate's natural setting, reduces stress factors, so the outcome more accurately reflects the candidate's true abilities.

Is it to assess the candidate's ability to work in a specific environment or with particular tools? If so, it may be more appropriate to conduct the test in the office to simulate the working environment as closely as possible.

2. Consider the candidate's location:

Is the candidate located in a different city or country? If so, it may be more practical for them to take the test at home rather than travel to take it. This can help to save time and money for both the candidate and the tech company.

3. Evaluate the technical requirements for the test:

Does the test require specific hardware or software that may not be available to the candidate at home? It's easy to forget that candidates may not have access to the same set of tools that are available in the office. If this is the case, the tech company may need to provide the necessary tools or a similar environment for the candidate to complete the test at home or administer the test in the office.

4. Consider the company's policies and resources:

Is it possible to provide a testing environment in the office, that is free from distractions and disruptions? This is important to ensure that candidates can focus on the test, and not become a destruction to the office employees themselves.

5. consider the time and effort required from candidates to complete the test:

Is it feasible for the candidate to come into the office for the test? It may be difficult for candidates who are working full-time elsewhere to fit in an in-office test. On the other hand, a candidate's commitment to the process may be greater after making an effort to come in.

How long should it take to complete the test? Ideally, the test should be completed in one sitting, no longer than 2-3 hours. While taking the test at home may be more convenient for some candidates, it can also be challenging to ensure they don't spend too much time on it. It's important to set a clear time limit to avoid candidates feeling discouraged if they are not hired after putting in a lot of effort on the test.

Now It's time to prioritize your considerations. What is most important for your company? Is it the candidates' ability to work well with others? Do you have limited resources in the office? Or do you want to expand your pool of candidates to include people from different locations? Write down all of your considerations in order of importance.

Next, make a decision! After considering and prioritizing all aspects, you should be able to make an informed decision. For example, home assignments may be more cost-effective for early-stage startups, as it eliminates the need to provide a testing environment and additional resources in the office. On the other hand, a big corporation may believe that completing the test in the office offers a more realistic assessment of a candidate's capabilities.

Whatever location you choose, when giving candidates a coding test, it's important to communicate your decision. Some candidates may feel that a home assignment is too time-consuming or that a company is using their completed tasks for free labor. To avoid this, make sure the test is reasonable in terms of time and doesn't closely mimic your company's actual product. If you choose to give the test in the office, ensure that the candidates have a comfortable and quiet space to work in, and don't put pressure on them to finish quickly.

And most importantly, regardless of where you decide the test should be taken, remember to provide the candidates with timely and genuine feedback. We will address this yet another controversial topic sometime soon.

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