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How to create assessments with candidate experience in mind

Join CodeSignal CEO Tigran Sloyan and Co-Founder Sophia Baik in Data-Driven Recruiting Episode #47 as they discuss how to design an assessment that will leave candidates with a positive perception of your recruitment process and of your company. In this episode you will learn about:

  • Why companies should care about candidate experience
  • How to create assessments that your candidates will actually complete
  • What candidates learn about your company from your assessments

Objective skill assessments are a key part of eliminating bias from the recruitment process and hiring the candidate who’s the best fit for the job. Not all assessments are created equal, though. In this episode of Data-Driven Recruiting, Sloyan and Baik discuss what makes an assessment an effective indicator of skills and how to leave your candidates with a positive impression of your recruitment process and of the company.

Questions to ask about your assessment

Creating a quality assessment means thinking both about your company’s needs, like finding the candidate with the right skills, and about your candidates’ needs, including an assessment process is not too burdensome for them. Asking these three questions when designing an assessment can ensure you strike the right balance.

1. How long should our assessment be?

“It’s very tempting to create long assessments,” says Sloyan. Hiring managers want to measure every possible skill they are looking for in a candidate, which can easily result in a 3-4 hour assessment.

CodeSignal has found that completion rates drop off significantly when assessments go past 90 minutes. When your candidate is early in the recruitment process, they are not yet deeply invested in your company and are likely to skip an assessment that asks for a significant amount of their time.

At the same time, assessments that are too short will not be effective measures of skill. Assessments that take less than an hour to complete may not provide enough information to reliably assess candidates’ skills or predict their potential for future success in the role.

The ideal length of an assessment administered at the top of the funnel, Sloyan says, is around 60 minutes.

2. How many questions should we ask?

At the top of the funnel, an assessment should consist of a variety of questions and small tasks. Your candidate for a programming position might complete a combination of multiple-choice questions and coding questions, for instance. The goal at this stage is to assess a candidate’s “breadth” of skills rather than “depth in a single area,” Sloyan says.

Later in the recruitment process, you can ask candidates to complete a more time-intensive project – just make sure it relates to your company. A “real” project gives your hiring manager a better sense of how the candidate would actually perform on the job. It is also an opportunity for the candidate to learn more about your company and will result in a more positive recruitment experience for them.

3. How difficult should our questions be?

Hiring managers might be tempted to ask only the most challenging questions to set the bar high for your candidates. There are a few problems with this approach. Research shows that candidates may not perform at their highest potential under stressful recruitment environments. It can also result in a demoralizing experience for candidates whose skills do not align well with those measured by your assessment. 

The experiences of candidates matter for your company – regardless of whether they meet the skill requirements today. Through the hiring process candidates will form an opinion about your team and your company, and they will share this opinion with their friends. Even if they don’t end up joining your company, this is a chance for you to develop your company’s advocates. And of course, you do not want to leave anyone feel that your hiring process was unpleasant.

It is best to start with a few “warm up questions” before getting to the challenging ones, Sloyan explains. These leave all candidates – even the ones who didn’t get the job – feeling that the recruitment process was fair.


Skill assessments, like all parts of the recruitment process, are a two-way street: a way for hiring managers to gauge candidates’ skills and a way for candidates to form an impression of your company. Designing assessments with candidate experience in mind requires you to think carefully about how long your assessment should be, how many questions you should ask, and how difficult the questions should be. A quality assessment won’t just help you find the best candidate – it will help ensure your best candidate accepts the offer.

Learn More

Want to learn more about how you can build a winning organization through data-driven recruiting? Visit CodeSignal to find out how you can measure technical skills effectively and objectively with its automated assessment and live interview solutions.

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