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Contractors: Avoid TEST-FIRST software engineering testing platforms

20 July 2016 2 comments

3 minutes


I recommend experienced contractors avoid software engineering testing platforms especially when the client requests you complete a test before a telephone or face-to-face interview. In other word, avoid TEST-FIRST. Of course, you might exactly know what you are getting into, conduct research and seeing it for yourself. Just know the consequences.

I took a Hacker Rank test in June 2016 for ValTech for a Scala job with the full knowledge that the role would not be subtle for me, because I wanted to work from home (partial remote working) during the months of July and August. I was curious about this form of TEST-FIRST recruiting. (See my other articles: Why aren’t you getting the best contractors and what can you do about it – Part 1 and Part 2 )

I never heard any feedback from ValTech or the their representative recruitment agency.

I strongly recommend that:

  • Professional software developers, especially experienced contractors, should refrain from taking any Hacker Rank tests. The clients that use these services are recruiting on the cheap, probably. Most likely they do not make time to assess their contractors and permanent staff appropriately without using brute force methods. In other words, they do not care about you, even more worse than the average IT business, they likely demonstrate lack of empathy. If they care not for people, then their software is probably bad in terms of architecture, infrastructure, and most importantly, morale.
  • It is not easy to delete your personal data or close your account from the Hacker Rank website. This is an outrage and disgrace. I am still waiting for official confirmation from the company that my account and my data has been removed.

    *** UPDATE ***: A support person from Hackerrank sent me an email, yesterday (20th July), saying that my account and data will be deleted in one week. I suppose that is a resolution of sorts.

So far if you are conducting research Codility looks a better platform than Hankerrank. I have witness some technical leaders using it to check skills, but after they had a telephone conversation with the contractor.

All of these software engineering testing platforms (Codility, HackerRank) are broken in my opinion, because they afford the illusion of cheap and effective recruitment practices; and they have slotted themselves into exploiting the generation of Script Kiddies. Software engineering is a very creative field, you rarely come across a situation, where you repeat work items, program the same subroutine over and over, every single day of the week. If you think programming is copying and pasting text, implementing computer science N-tree traversals algorithms from scratch, or stacking baked beans on a supermarket shelf, then you are thinking it wrong. It is much more than that. If you cut off from your creativity, then you are losing a part of yourself, you are selling your soul.


  1. Beware Hackerrank by Richard Linnell
  2. Lazy HR testing with Codility on Reddit a discussion list



  1. I recently got an email regarding the test schedule and I never thought that can have any bad impact. I really feel relaxed after I got to read this blog. Thanks for your suggestion.

    Comment by David Stephan — 26 July 2016 @ 11:42 am

  2. Hi David
    Thanks for feeding back. I am glad only to help spread awareness. Are you a technical leader? Which side of the fence are you normally sitting on (candidate or interviewer)?

    Comment by Peter Pilgrim — 26 July 2016 @ 1:35 pm

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