Jacob Kaplan-Moss

Series: Work Sample Tests

Work Sample Tests: Introduction to Work Sample Tests November 9th, 2021

Earlier this year, I wrote a series on interview questions. Good interview questions are one key to hiring well, but they’re not the only key. Today, I’m starting a new series on another critical factor in effective hiring: using work sample tests, aka practical exercises. This is part 1: what are work sample tests, and why do we need them?

Work Sample Tests: The tradeoff between inclusivity and predictive value November 10th, 2021

Good hiring processes try to maximize inclusivity and predictive value, but unfortunately, work sample tests bring these goals into conflict. There’s always a tradeoff between predictive value and inclusivity. The guiding principle of work sample tests is: construct a test that balances predictive value and inclusivity. Fair work sample tests will be predictive enough to give you a high degree of confidence that you’re making a good hire, while also being designed to be as accessible to as many candidates as possible.

Work Sample Tests: A Framework for Good Work Sample Tests: Eight Rules for Fair Tests November 17th, 2021

What makes a work sample test “good” – fair, inclusive, and with high predictive value? Here’s my framework: eight principles that, if followed, give you a great shot at constructing a good work sample test.

Work Sample Tests: Coding “Homework” November 23rd, 2021

Coding homework is my default work sample test: I use it for all engineering roles unless it’s obvious that another kind of exercise is better. There are good reasons to make homework-style work sample tests the default: they’re relatively easy to construct, they scale reasonably well to large hiring rounds, they’re accurate simulations of real work, and easier than most other kinds of tests to construct in a way that maximizes inclusivity. Here’s how to conduct a coding homework work sample test.

Work Sample Tests: Pair Programming November 30th, 2021

I tend to prefer asynchronous work sample tests. The flexible scheduling of asynchronous exercises (i.e. “work on this whenever you like”) works better for the majority of candidates. But for some candidates, and some roles, synchronous exercises work better. By “synchronous” I mean: work sample tests that are explicitly scheduled, and that has both the interviewer and the candidate working directly together at the same time. In these cases, I often turn to pair programming.