For many businesses that are hiring software and tech specialists they can see a mass influx of candidates. Tech tests or exercises can be a great way to cut down the noise and find the person with the right skills.
However, having been recruiting in the tech industry for over 3 years I have seen some good tests, and some that are just lazy. For some companies, tech tests are just simply a way of cutting through the CVs without speaking to a candidate first. In my experience this not a great tactic and technical tests should not be done just for the sake of it.
With that said I want to take a look at how tech tests should be used and what the ultimate purpose of using them is.
These tests and exercises are not just a way to pin point a candidate’s technical skills, but it can also help you learn something about the candidate in the way they work. These exercises should also be designed so the candidate can learn something about the business.
Make it real
There is no point asking for something extravagant that the candidate will never use or come across while working at your business. Make sure the technical test matches the job spec that you are hiring for; give a candidate the opportunity to work on a real-world problem that will give them a taste of what it’s like to work for your company.
To make sure you are getting the best results possible from your candidates make sure they are prepared and your have provided them with everything they may need to complete it.
These tests do not need to be the same for every candidate; although it can be time consuming to design them, there should be a different test for each role you are hiring for. For example, if you are hiring for a development professional focus the test around these relevant skills, if you are hiring for a Team lead and want to understand about someone’s leadership skills focus the test around delivery through management.
It is always good to refer back to these tests once a candidate is at interview stage; there is no point in forgetting about the results once completed. By not mentioning the results or the test, the candidate can sometimes feel like it was a waste of time and was just a CV cutting down exercise. It can also be a good way for you to drill down into their skills and why they completed the test the way they did.
So are tech test useful or just lazy? From my experience technical tests and exercises can be a great way to find the candidate with the right skills, but they can only have an impact if used properly not just to cut down on the CVs without speaking to candidates.
I currently work with a company that use both technical test and also non-technical presentations for most roles that they recruit for however these are all designed uniquely for each individual position. They each serve the purpose of challenging the candidate in a specific way weather that is Java development, product demoing or delivery through management skills, they all allow the client to learn something relevant about the candidate but also allow the candidate to tackle a real-life problem that will be synonymous with the position they are interviewing for. In addition these exercises are very rarely used as first stage and usually sit between a telephone and face-to face interview.
Does your business use technical tests? Do you see the benefit in using them? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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