Byteboard technical interview

What Byteboard’s technical interview does differently from other solutions – and why that matters

How we improve signal, hiring confidence, and more


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We created Byteboard so engineering teams can hire more confidently and equitably. The industry status quo favors a small subset of engineers, from similar non-diverse backgrounds. And, the industry has a long way to go to change. In addition to being bad for candidates and bad for the industry, this paradigm leaves a lot of great talent on the table.

Breaking the status quo requires doing things differently. At Byteboard, that means redesigning the interview so you get great signal on candidates, being thoughtful on how we assess open-ended interviews, and improving the candidate experience. Fewer mis-hires, more happy candidates. Here’s more on how we do it.

Project-based interview

How it’s different

Our project-based interviews reflect the day-in-the-life of an engineer. The first exercise is a technical reasoning exercise in which candidates interact with a design document, reasoning through various implementation options, and providing a recommendation. The second exercise is coding implementation, in which candidates work with a rich, realistic codebase. The two exercises are cohesive and work with the same problems. This format emphasizes critical thinking over memorization, and allows us to capture complexities that aren’t possible with starting from scratch, Leet-code, or quiz-style questions. We are able to get signal on the skills candidates need to be successful in the role itself, like communication and collaboration, not just on the assessment.

Why it’s better

Automated screeners and interview outsources don’t give a full picture of what a candidate is capable of. They offer a patchwork of contrived exercises, and miss the opportunity to evaluate for skills we capture in the Byteboard interview such as systems reasoning, tradeoff analysis, and product sense. As a result, they over index on coding skill and cater more to those with more time to study, leading to a less equitable candidate experience. By using one realistic problem set, Byteboard assessments get a better signal on how the engineer will perform on the job.

Human Review

How it’s different

Our candidate work samples are graded by practicing engineers and researchers. Their evaluation of the anonymized work sample is calibrated using specific questions that ensure grader consistency. They also provide short answer feedback on specific tasks and overall performance. Based on the grader responses and highly structured rubrics, the Byteboard team generates a skills report highlighting candidate performance. This report includes a skills map with both qualitative short answer feedback that highlights specific strengths and weaknesses of note within the work sample and an actionable recommendation on whether to move forward with the candidate. Byteboard produces a detailed skills report within two business days, so you get the convenience and time savings of full automation, with the rigor and nuance of human grading.

Why it’s better

We’re not anti-automation, necessarily, but at this stage, the technology can’t capture the nuance of candidate output. There are many ways to be a good software engineer. Automated engines miss all but the solution they’re trained on, giving only a pass/fail. Of course, the rigor of the rubrics matters, too. Interview outsourcing does have the potential to capture this nuance, but it depends on the standards that are set. Byteboard is transparent about how we come to our recommendation by showing grader feedback, the skills report, and the work sample itself. And, we regularly update our rubrics and grader calibration based on performance data.

Bias Reduction

How it’s different

At every layer of the Byteboard experience, we work to reduce bias. The project-based structure reduces bias in two ways. First, allowing candidates to take the assessment on their own time reduces test anxiety and improves performance. Second, we anonymize candidate identity in grading, so each candidate is graded fairly.

Why it’s better

With Byteboard, you don’t have to give up anonymity to have human graders. Because the end result of a Byteboard assessment is a work sample, it can be easily anonymized for reviewers. No need for a resume, name, or even hiring company name. This gives you the richness of a human-reviewed assessment with the inclusion of an anonymous review.

But, anonymizing the work samples is only the first step. Because there’s such limited transparency in the automated process, you can’t take for granted that they are inclusive in practice. Our research shows companies often rule out candidates for small mistakes or give false negatives. Byteboard’s graders also include short answers that expand on a candidate’s skills map and allow you to dive deeper into the work sample itself, drawing a clear line between the recommendation and the candidate’s work.

Better Candidate Experience

How it’s different

Technical interviews are known as a necessary evil in an industry that is very competitive in acquiring talent. A better experience is a differentiator. Byteboard gives candidates the runway to show what they’re capable of, without studying theoretical questions or fumbling through disjointed problem sets. And, they can set the conditions for their own success — Byteboard lets them pick between their own IDE or cloud editor and select their preferred coding language. As an organization, you can show your future employees that you care about their experience and their time pre-Day 1. Candidates rate Byteboard 4.4 out of 5 stars.

MUCH MUCH better than most of the other platforms: Codility, HackerRank, CoderPad, and Leetcode (to name a few). I honestly wish that every company used this. It made me feel like an engineer and not a pawn being quizzed to solve a theoretical riddle in one hour.

Why it’s better

Great candidates have a lot of options. Candidates will drop from the funnel if they’re frustrated with their assessment experience. This is common with automated screeners in particular. Automated screeners are built for the sole purpose of weeding out candidates, with little to no regard to candidate experience (or signal, for that matter). Byteboard helps keep qualified candidates on the hook with an engaging project similar to what they do in their job and the opportunities to show everything they bring to the table.