Evaluate Problem Solving Skills in Software Engineers

evaluate problem solving skills

Software Engineer is an umbrella term to describe a technical role that demands skills like designing, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation all inculcated in one person. Since it’s not feasible to test all the above-mentioned skills at once, evaluating only the problem-solving skills of the Software Engineers has a proven record of being highly efficient in testing their caliber.

So, what exactly are problem-solving skills?

Problem-solving skill is a broad term that includes all the skills that a person uses to solve problems effectively. Proficiency in research, analytical and creative mindset, and decision-making ability are the main characteristics that often make a person an expert in problem-solving. So, in order to assess software engineers properly, you’d need a test that vets candidates for these abilities.

Why problem-solving skill tests have proven to be one of the best choices for assessing Software Engineers?

Software engineers are majorly required to find creative solutions to real-world problems, optimize complex source codes and debug them. Problem-solving skill is one such hero skill that helps these engineers in navigating their way through all such tasks with great ease. 

How can these problem-solving skills be assessed?

Undoubtedly, some professional skills like communication skills can be easily assessed with the help of a quick interview. However, when it comes to evaluating problem-solving skills, matters become more complicated.

Problem-solving skills are vital in every industry, especially the tech sector, where engineers and tech professionals are exposed to complex and unsolved problems on a daily basis. Specifically, software engineers are continuously challenged to analyze difficult problems and devise creative solutions for them. 

As known to all of us, the quality of the solution to any complex problem largely depends on the problem solver’s thought process. So, before hiring a software engineer, assessing their flow and direction of thoughts, alongside other problem-solving skills a.k.a proficiency in research, analytical and creative mindset, and decision-making ability, is a must.

But how do we actually assess someone’s thought process? 

Well, you’d need skillfully designed questions that candidates have to analyze, comprehend, and find creative solutions to, in order to assess their full potential. Fortunately, we do create problems that meet these criteria. So, read on to learn how WeCP (We Create Problems) evaluates problem-solving skills in software engineers. 

A basic 3-step technique for evaluating the problem-solving skills of the candidates

Tech employers can use WeCP’s assessment tests that vet the candidates in three stages.

Stage 1 – Understanding the problem

Understanding the requirements of a problem is vital for crafting a relevant solution. If a candidate fails to comprehend a question correctly, their solution will fail to produce the desired output.

In an actual workplace, understanding a problem’s requirements is even more vital. Otherwise, if the engineers of an organization write programs that produce undesired outputs, it might lead to business losses and wasted resources.

Thus, a successful tech assessment should be clearly able to differentiate between those candidates who understood the problem well and those who did not. Test cases, which accept only relevant outputs, are the magical components that help in making a clear distinction, thereby solving 1/3rd of the recruiter’s problem.

Stage 2 – Designing a relevant solution

A candidate may correctly understand a problem but fail to design a relevant solution. This is why the second stage of evaluating problem-solving skills is even more vital.

If an applicant understands a question’s requirements, but cannot achieve the desired output, there is a gap in their problem-solving abilities. Skill assessment tests help in identify these gaps and efficiently filters out the unfit candidates.

Stage 3 – Optimizing the solution

After writing a relevant solution, the candidates may find that their code has some limitations and does not pass certain test cases. In this event, the applicant must have the relevant understanding to be able to debug their code and optimize their solutions accordingly.

WeCP incorporates this stage into the testing criteria, keeping in mind the constant need of designing optimized solutions to unknown problems in the professional world.

Specially curated skill tests to evaluate problem-solving skills in Software Engineers

Software development skills are best assessed using real-world coding questions that test a candidate’s ability to solve complex problems. It is equally important to have specifically designed questions to assess the problem-solving skills, alongside the 3-step approach.

These questions must require the candidates to understand the nature of the problem and find practical solutions to them. Then, wherever necessary, candidates must be able to optimize the problems to overcome limitations or errors.

Read further to understand the simple approach taken by WeCP for evaluating problem-solving skills in software engineers:

Here, we are taking the example of a coding question wherein the candidates have to find the sum of two numbers.

Stage 1 – The candidate identifies the problem

This basic problem requires applicants to code a program that adds two integers, which is simple enough. The program just needs to take two string integer inputs and output the sum. After realizing this, candidates must craft a relevant solution.

Stage 2 – Candidates code a solution

In the second stage, candidates may write a simple solution that takes two inputs and returns an output. For the first few test cases, the code will run successfully. 

However, a code of this kind will face runtime errors in the remaining test cases. Why is that? Well, the candidate must further optimize the basic code as mentioned in the next stage, to pass these remaining test cases. 

Stage 3 – Successful candidates proceed to optimize their solution

To optimize their solution, candidates first need to realize why the runtime errors are occurring.

For this particular problem, the runtime errors occur because the program is not optimized to deal with very large numbers. This is because the program simply adds the two strings, string A and string B, and the system struggles to store very large numbers. So, some of the specially curated test cases that are meant for catching these corner cases, fail.

An optimized solution for this problem must overcome these limitations. For example, one solution could add the integers bit-wise. To manage this, the program would start by reversing the string before adding each integer individually, as opposed to simply applying the addition operation between the given numbers. 

Thus, WeCP assesses software engineers way beyond just the syntax of the coding languages. WeCP ensures that the applicants must possess keen analytical skills and problem-solving proficiency to score well in these skill-based tests. 

The problem-solving criteria that we detailed in the simple integer addition question are also implemented in the platform’s more advanced problems. Thus, employers can reliably evaluate experienced candidates for senior roles as well.

Start evaluating software engineers with WeCP 

Software engineers are a vital part of your team and are tasked with solving problems at scale. To find the best talent, it’s crucial to assess engineers for key skills, including their proficiency to tackle complex tasks. 

WeCP (We Create Problems) ‘s assessment tests vet candidates for their thought process and problem-solving skills across 12+ performance metrics to help you pick the best candidates for your organization.

Get in touch with WeCP now and switch to an advanced hiring solution.

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