Technical Assessments in the Tech Hiring Process: Striking the Right Balance
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Technical Assessments in the Tech Hiring Process: Striking the Right Balance

on 04 August 2023

Hiring processes can be very intensive in such a competitive market and sometimes this intensity can be the main reason why a first interview doesn’t lead to anything further. Striking the right balance between having a good conversation with a candidate and unfold their profile further can be very tricky, even though it might not look so at first glance. Although from an employer’s perspective the main reason for an interview is to basically discuss a candidate’s bag of skills and experiences further and get an idea of their personality and attitude, it is important for a candidate to leave with a good impression and have a positive experience with the company.

The intensity I am mentioning is even more present in interviews for tech related roles where, more often than not, candidates are given a technical test to work on during the interview (most of the time during the 2nd interview) or take-home tests to complete after a number of days. The technical test is quite a hot topic having a number of tech candidates categorically against it for different reasons. On the other hand, you find Hiring Managers who swear by it and consider the test as a staple in the interview process.

The primary purpose of technical tests is to assess a candidate’s proficiency in specific technical areas that are relevant to a job. These tests enable employers to gauge the depth of a candidate's knowledge, their ability to apply theoretical concepts to practical scenarios, and their problem-solving skills. Technical tests also serve to validate the skills mentioned by candidates on their resumes and in interviews, allowing employers to verify their abilities first-hand. This will then shape how the hiring process proceeds; a follow-up interview, where the solution to the test is discussed, or a rejection.

The primary purpose of technical tests is to assess a candidate's proficiency in specific technical areas relevant to the job:

  1. Coding Assessments: These tests evaluate a candidate's programming skills and ability to write clean, efficient, and error-free code. Candidates may be asked to solve coding challenges, write algorithms, or debug existing code.

  2. System Design Exercises: These tests assess a candidate's ability to design and architect complex systems. Candidates are often presented with real-world scenarios and asked to propose scalable and efficient solutions.

  3. Data Analysis and Interpretation: These tests measure a candidate's ability to analyse and interpret data, often using tools such as Excel, SQL, or statistical software. Candidates may be given datasets and asked to perform calculations, generate insights, or build predictive models.

  4. Technical Problem-Solving: These tests present candidates with challenging technical problems that require analytical thinking and creative problem-solving. Candidates must demonstrate their ability to break down complex problems, identify potential solutions, and communicate their thought processes.

Technical tests do have their benefits particularly to the Employer. Some are listed hereunder:

  1. Objective Assessment: Technical tests provide a standardised and objective way to evaluate candidates' technical skills, eliminating potential biases that may arise from subjective evaluations alone.

  2. Accurate Skill Evaluation: By assessing candidates' practical knowledge and problem-solving abilities, technical tests provide a more accurate measure of their capabilities compared to relying solely on resumes or interviews.

  3. Time Efficiency: Technical tests can help streamline the screening process by quickly identifying candidates who possess the necessary technical skills, enabling employers to focus their resources on the most qualified individuals.

  4. Differentiation among Candidates: In competitive job markets, technical tests serve as a differentiating factor among candidates with similar qualifications. They allow employers to identify standout candidates who can excel in the specific technical requirements of the role.

In conclusion, a technical test is needed in the hiring process for most tech jobs particularly for mid, senior and team-lead level. In a world dominated by technology, it is important for a company to assess the level of knowledge and practical experience. It is also needed since most of the times tech jobs are highly paid roles so one needs to look at it from a business sensitivity aspect too. Having said that, one needs to find the right balance in making the test not so intensive that it takes up a lot of the candidate’s free time. Hiring Managers need to remember that most of the time candidates already have a full-time role that takes up most of their time and today, since we live in such a fast-paced world, work/life balance is crucial. A realistic time frame to complete the test is also important to keep in mind and not expect a candidate to return a completed test after three days. Striking the right balance is key.

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