Recruiting tech profiles: when and how to use technical tests?

Monday, March 6, 2023

The recruitment of technical profiles is a headache for many companies. In particular, because it is not always easy to evaluate the skills of candidates. So to select them, more and more companies are relying on technical tests.

They allow for an objective evaluation of candidates’ hard skills, in addition to traditional interviews. But you still need to know when and how to use these tests to optimize their effectiveness!

In this article, we explore :

  • The cases in which technical tests are a recruitment tool that really makes a difference
  • The different options available to you when it comes to technical testing
  • Best practices for using technical tests effectively to recruit the best technical profiles for your company

When should candidates take a technical test?

The advantages and disadvantages of technical tests

Technical tests have many advantages for recruiters of technical profiles:

They allow you to test the candidate “in action” and thus avoid possible casting errors.
They save recruiters time (and therefore money) by helping them sort through applications quickly.
They help to eliminate recruitment bias and can allow recruiting on skills rather than on the CV.

But beware, technical tests are not suitable for all recruitments. Indeed, these tests are an exercise often feared by candidates. They can therefore be frightening, and even act as a deterrent for certain profiles. However, in the context of a particularly intense talent shortage in the digital sector, companies cannot afford to miss out on these candidates.

Therefore, be sure to use technical tests sparingly, i.e. only when they provide real added value in terms of candidate evaluation.

Moreover, a poorly prepared or badly used technical test can be a real obstacle to recruitment. Hence the importance of respecting good practices (we will detail them in the last part of this article).

Types of recruitment that lend themselves well to technical tests

Technical tests are particularly used in the recruitment of developers, whatever their field of expertise and whatever their level of experience. They generally consist of correcting or improving lines of code, resolving anomalies, designing and modeling the architecture of a web application, or imagining a feature.

Technical tests are particularly well suited to evaluate the mastery of languages such as PHP, Angular, Python, Java, or JavaScript. They are therefore also very useful for jobs related to data or testing.

Finally, they can be used to test the mastery of specific tools such as InDesign or Sage 3000, for other types of positions.

On the other hand, for positions that require strong soft skills, project management or team management skills, technical tests are not necessarily the preferred recruitment method.

If you still have doubts about whether or not technical testing is appropriate for your candidates, or if you need advice for your Tech, Product & Digital Marketing recruitments, please contact Excelsior!

The different types of technical tests

Technical tests on specialized platforms

There are many platforms dedicated to companies that want to evaluate the skills of their candidates, especially developers. Some examples: CodinGame, Hackerrank, Isograd, TestGorilla, Skillvalue, Devskiller…

The advantages? These platforms are intuitive, and offer large libraries of tests, ranging from simple MCQs to much more elaborate exercises. The correction of the tests and the generation of the results are automated, which allows recruiters to save precious time.

The disadvantage is that these tests are obviously relatively generic, and cannot take into account all the specificities of a position or the technical environment of a company. Therefore, they are not always 100% relevant or do not allow you to accurately assess the skills of your candidates.

Technical tests designed in-house

The other solution is to rely on “in-house” tests, i.e. to design them in-house. They can be concrete situations, which will allow you to test the candidate on real-life situations.

This is obviously the best method to test the skills of a candidate for a given position, and thus ensure the “fit”.

But there is of course a disadvantage, and not the least: designing and conducting this type of test requires a certain investment in terms of time. You have to define internally who will prepare the test and who will correct it. As we know, technical teams are often already very busy.

It is therefore in your interest to favor in-house testing in the case of particularly strategic recruitments, or when the recurrence of hiring for a given position allows you to use the same test several times.

Best practices for integrating a technical test into your recruitment process

Propose a technical test that is (truly) adapted

Before even thinking about your technical test, define precisely what you want to test your candidates for: methodology? Speed of execution? Problem-solving skills? Knowledge of a specific programming language or software? Depending on your answer, a simple technical interview may be more appropriate than a test.

However, if you do choose a test, it should be chosen or designed to assess these specific skills, and the scoring scheme should be appropriate. Also, make sure you give your candidates clear instructions on what criteria they will be evaluated on.

When interpreting the results, keep in mind that you need to take a comparative approach: the goal is not to know if a candidate passed the test, but rather how he or she did compared to other candidates.

Finally, take a step back and don’t rely solely on your technical test results! The candidate with the highest test scores is not necessarily the best candidate for the job. A good recruitment is never only based on hard skills, but also on soft skills. That’s our belief at Excelsior, and that’s why our recruitment support is always based on people.

Take care of the candidate experience

Candidates appreciate transparency. So be clear about your recruitment process. For example, you can announce the different steps and therefore the technical test in your job offer. Be careful not to offer the test too early in your hiring process. Ideally, the test should be offered as a second or third step.

Avoid at all costs designing a test that is too long. Nothing is worse for discouraging candidates. Also, don’t offer an exercise whose results you can exploit. This can give candidates the impression that you are working them without paying them.

Finally, give detailed feedback to candidates who have taken the test, telling them their strengths and weaknesses. It can be very frustrating for candidates to spend time on a test and not get any feedback, either negative or positive. By giving good feedback, you ensure that you are sending a good image of your company to all your candidates.

To conclude, technical tests can be a valuable tool for recruiters of tech profiles, as they allow an objective evaluation of the technical skills of candidates. But like any tool, to be effective, they must be used properly.

Did you like this article and would you like to know more about our digital Tech, Product & Digital Marketing recruitment service? Contact us now!

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