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

Recruiting technical profiles is a headache for many companies. Not least because it's not always easy to assess candidates' skills. As a result, more and more companies are relying on technical tests to select candidates.

They provide an objective assessment of candidates' hard skills, complementing traditional interviews. But you still need to know when and how to use these tests to optimize their effectiveness!


In this article, we explore : 

  • Cases in which technical testing is a recruitment tool that really makes a difference
  • Your options for technical testing
  • Best practices for using these tests effectively to recruit the best technical profiles for your company


When should candidates take a technical test?

The advantages and disadvantages of technical testing

Technical tests offer many advantages for recruiters of tech profiles:

  • They allow us to test the candidate "in action" and avoid any casting errors.
  • They save recruiters time (and money) by helping them to sort through applications quickly.
  • They help to eliminate recruitment bias, and can make it possible to recruit on skills rather than CV.

But beware: technical tests are not suitable for all recruitments. These tests are often a dreaded exercise for candidates. They can therefore be frightening, and even act as a deterrent for certain profiles. Yet, in a context of particularly intense talent shortages in the digital sector, companies cannot afford to deprive themselves of these candidates.

So be sure to use technical tests sparingly, i.e. only when they add real value in terms of candidate assessment.

What's more, a poorly prepared or badly used technical test can be a real hindrance to recruitment. That's why it's so important to follow best practices (which we'll detail in the last part of this article).


Types of recruitment that lend themselves well to technical testing

Technical testing is particularly important when recruiting developers, whatever their field of expertise and whatever their level of experience. They generally involve correcting or improving lines of code, resolving anomalies, designing and modeling the architecture of a web application, or imagining a new feature.

Technical tests are particularly well suited to assessing proficiency in languages such as PHP, Angular, Python, Java and 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 primarily 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 it's a good idea to have your candidates take a technical test, or if you need more general advice for your Tech, Product & Digital Marketing recruitment, don't hesitate to contact Excelsior !

The different types of technical tests


Technical tests on specialized platforms

There are a multitude of platforms dedicated to companies wishing to assess the skills of their candidates, particularly developers. A few 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. Test correction and results generation are automated, saving recruiters precious time.

The disadvantage is that these tests are obviously relatively generic, and cannot take into account all the specifics of a position or a company's technical environment. As a result, they are not always 100% relevant, nor can they accurately assess your candidates' skills.


Technical tests designed in-house

The other solution is to rely on "in-house" tests, i.e. to design them in-house. These can be real-life situations, allowing the candidate to be tested on real-life use cases.

This is obviously the best way to thoroughly test a candidate's skills for a given position, and to ensure a good "fit".

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

So it's best to use in-house tests for particularly strategic recruitments, or when you need to use the same test more than once for a given position.

Best practices for integrating a technical test into your recruitment process


Suggest a (really) suitable technical test


Before even thinking about your technical test, define precisely what you want to test in your candidates: 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.

If you choose to use a test, however, it must be chosen or designed to assess these specific skills, and the scoring scale must be relevant. Make sure you give your candidates clear instructions, specifying the criteria on which they will be assessed.

When interpreting the results, bear in mind that you need to adopt a comparative approach: the aim is not to know whether a candidate has passed the test, but rather to know how he or she performed in relation to other candidates.

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



Enhancing the candidate experience

Candidates appreciate transparency. So be clear about your recruitment process. You could, for example, announce the various stages, including the technical test, in your job advertisement. On the other hand, be careful not to offer the test too early in your hiring process. Ideally, the test should be part of the 2nd or 3rd stage.

At all costs, avoid designing a test that is too long. There's nothing worse to discourage candidates. Nor should you propose an exercise whose results you can exploit. This can give candidates the impression that you're putting them through their paces without paying them.

Finally, give detailed feedback to the candidates who have taken the test, telling them about their strengths and weaknesses. It can be very frustrating for candidates to spend time on a test and get no feedback, either negative or positive. By giving good feedback, you ensure that all your candidates receive a good image of your company.

In conclusion, technical tests can be a valuable tool for recruiters of tech profiles, providing an objective assessment of candidates' technical skills. But like all tools, to be effective, they must be used properly.

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