What is CodePair? And how do you conduct a CodePair interview?

CodeSubmit’s CodePair can significantly improve your interviews. And today, you’ll learn how to use CodePair to identify the right people for your technical team.

Want to learn more? Read on!

What is a CodePair interview?

Let’s start from the beginning:

What are CodePair interviews… and what is CodePair?

That’s what we’ll look at next.

What is CodePair?

First, let’s start by defining CodePair.

CodeSubmit’s CodePair is a cloud-based, collaborative code editor that’s typically used in pair programming sessions. With it, you set up a powerful coding environment and work through coding problems with your candidates to assess their technical skills.

These types of interviews are more important than ever as an increasing number of hiring processes are conducted remotely. If you’re looking for an alternative to in-person pair programming or whiteboarding, that’s what CodePair offers.

A CodePair interview is, in other words, a remote hiring process where you utilize this shared code editor.

But why are remote interviews, such as CodePair interviews, so important? Let’s find out.

Codepair

Why do we need CodePair interviews?

Remote interviews are more important than ever. Employees prefer remote or hybrid work, and they tend to be more productive when working remotely. In fact, a Stanford study shows that employees’ productivity increases by 13% when they work in a hybrid environment.

And remote hiring opens up a far wider talent pool than the one that’s available to you locally. Just considering how hard and costly it is to hire developers. Getting access to more talent can be key to finding the right candidates.

Not only that, but you don't have to worry about taking time out of your schedule to meet in person. Remote interviews can be conducted entirely online, which is much more convenient for everyone involved.

Now you know why CodePair interviews are needed. But how are they structured?

That’s what we’ll look at next.

How is a CodePair interview structured?

Typically, an applicant will go through one or two screening calls before being invited to a CodePair interview. If you are thorough, you might even invite them to do a take-home coding assignment before their CodePair interview.

(However, requiring candidates to spend a lot of time on different assignments might not create a great candidate experience, so make sure you have a good reason for all those coding tests!)

Either way, CodePair interviews will help you assess your candidates so that you can decide which candidates to move on to the next round.

And most often, this means that you have a good understanding of your candidates after reviewing their resumes and talking to them over the phone or on a video call. CodePair is used at the stage when you need to delve more into their technical knowledge.

Now, how do you implement CodePair in your own interviews? Let’s take a look.

How do you set up CodePair interviews?

In this section, you’ll learn how to use CodePair in your interviews.

But to set up CodePair interviews, you need to understand what types of coding tests they support. And that’s what we’ll look at here below.

What are whiteboarding and pair programming?

There are two types of remote interview where CodePair is used: whiteboarding and pair programming. These types of technical interviews are often held in person, but with CodePair, you’re able to take the hiring process online.

How do pair programming and whiteboarding add value to your hiring process?

How will these skill tests help you identify the right candidate?

Naturally, they help you to assess your candidates’ technical skills.

However, they give you far more insights than that. With skill tests, you get an understanding of how candidates approach problems, the steps they take to solve them, and how they explain and discuss the solution. You might look for answers to questions like: Do they work well in a team? How good are their communication skills? How do they approach a problem when solving it?

What is the difference between pair programming and whiteboarding?

But what is the difference between pair programming and whiteboarding?

Simple:

Pair programming means that the candidate and a hiring manager (or another member of the team) work on the assignment together using CodePair. As the hiring manager, you’d ask applicants questions about their steps; why they choose to take specific steps, how they’re thinking about the solution, what are the pros and cons of the solution, and so on.

But a whiteboarding exercise requires the candidate to solve the challenge on their own, usually in front of a hiring team. While you’d used to only conduct a whiteboard during in-person interviews (hence the name), whiteboarding can be done remotely thanks to CodePair.

The type of challenge you choose to use depends on your goals and capacity. But when taking candidate experience into account, pair programming can be a better choice as most candidates don’t enjoy whiteboarding assignments due to the pressure they can involve.

Now you know what you can do with CodePair. But what does a CodePair assignment look like?

What does a CodePair interview exercise look like?

A CodePair interview exercise typically consists of an existing task offered in the library of the CodePair tool of your choice or using one that you create. Either way, CodePair exercises tend to be short, taking 30-60 minutes. The candidates are most often asked to implement an algorithm to achieve a goal, but some platforms, like CodeSubmit’s CodePair, provide flexibility for a large range of exercises.

codepair interview example

The difficulty level of your exercise will depend on the role you’re hiring for. However, there often isn’t a point in giving an overly difficult task to candidates. (After all, that will only show you what candidates can perform under pressure in a social situation… and how much does that really affect job performance?)

You want to see how they’d perform on the job, so give them a real-world task they can get done within the recommended time frame.

Also, don’t forget to prepare follow-up questions or tasks in case applicants solve the exercise faster than the set time limit.

How do you choose a live programming tool like CodePair?

To implement remote pair programming or whiteboarding, you need a live programming tool. You should look for a tool that includes the features you need (such as the languages/frameworks, seats, and so on). And really, the best tools are super intuitive to use so that you don’t have to spend time explaining how to use a tool when interviewing a candidate.

The CodeSubmit CodePair tool includes several must-have features:

  • Several supported languages

We support 18 languages out of the box. A few of them include Python, JavaScript, Ruby, Swift, and C++.

  • A powerful code editor

Our feature-rich, collaborative code editor is based on Monaco, the code editor that powers VS Code.

  • And plenty of features

You get access to video and audio calls, shell access, sessions with multiple hiring managers, databases and docker services, and so on. We also support integrations with Slack, Lever, Zapier, and Greenhouse.

You can sign up here to start a free trial and test it out.

How do you assign CodePair exercises?

Your CodePair interview typically starts with an audio or video section. Then, your candidate will be asked to log into the CodePair environment. Here, everyone can see the code that is being typed and run it.

Depending on the task you’re using, some data will be provided to the applicant and some requirements for the correct solution will be listed. The applicant is then given a set amount of time to complete the exercise.

However, opting for a more collaborative approach can help improve the candidate experience. In other words, try the classical pair programming approach; the hiring manager and the candidate discuss (or collaborate on) the exercise as the candidate is solving it.

Codepair interview

How do you ensure that your CodePair interviews are successful?

The first step to successful CodePair interviews is to familiarize yourself with the CodePair interface and learn how to use it. If you’re setting up your own questions, upload them ahead of time so that you can pull them into the CodePair session. And if you use the exercises included in the library, you’ll need to choose and test the exercise beforehand.

However, one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your interviews are productive is to use standardized questions.

You need a hiring team: the people who will oversee your recruitment process. This is often a team that consists of a hiring manager and a few technical hiring leads (for instance your CTO and a developer).

The hiring team creates exercises and hiring criteria that can be applied to each candidate. Not only does this make their lives far easier, but it also means that you apply the same hiring criteria consistently and reduce the likelihood of unfair hiring practices.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean you should get stuck in one right answer to a challenge. There can be many right answers, and it’s important that you and your hiring team listen to the candidate’s thinking behind a solution.

Also, remember to prep your candidates before the actual CodePairing session. Send them instructions so that they know what to expect and can take the right steps to open your CodePair session and use the program. This will take away a lot of pressure from them so that they can perform optimally during the interview.

Plus, let candidates know what you’re looking for. Only then will they be able to put their best foot forward.

Finally, don’t forget to prep before the interview!

Whether you’re holding a pair programming or a whiteboarding interview, you’ll likely ask a lot of questions.

Many candidates will be nervous (this is normal) so don’t drown them in questions. But try to create a comfortable discussion. Prepare your questions beforehand so that you ask those questions you deem to be the most important.

And if they get stuck during the interview, nudge them forward without giving the exact answer. You can ask probing questions like “What is the error message?” to help them get unstuck.

Over to you!

There you have it! Now you know how a CodePair interview works. Remote interviews are growing in popularity and so will CodePair as a hiring tool.

Want to get started right away?

Try our seven-day free trial to learn how to use CodePair (no credit card required).