Technical tests feature in the engineering and IT recruitment process for almost every company in those industries.
But how much of a role should they play? Arguably, less than they currently do in most companies.
Because most leaders find that tech tests don’t necessarily give them the most useful information when it comes to who to recruit. If that sounds like you, here’s what to do about fixing it.
How to make technical tests a better recruitment tool
1) Carefully select the skills you want to test
A habit that some companies fall into is thinking that they must have a technical test, but then not deciding on the skills they actually want to know about.
It’s not uncommon for technical tests to examine completely unrelated or very general skills that aren’t relevant to the job at hand.
If you’re hiring a new software developer and you’re planning to have them work across several different projects at the same time, why not create a test that provides varied scenarios?
Go narrower than general tech stack in choosing the subjects you want to test on if you want to get actual usable data from your tech test.
2) Don’t waste time on lengthy tests
Some tech tests can get quite lengthy. Sometimes, this is called for. If you’re hiring a machine learning specialist, you might not be able to fire off a quick ten-minute test and get a full estimation of their abilities!
But there is an argument that a technical test that appears unnecessarily long will put off some of the best candidates.
At the moment, there’s a significant shortfall in tech talent in the UK. This means many applicants can pick and choose the job opportunities they go for. Some may consider that your prioritising of testing technical skill might indicate a company culture that’s lacking in some way.
Be sure that if you are going to have a lengthy tech test in your recruitment process that it definitely needs to be there. You might even explain why it’s necessary to test these skills and highlight your company culture when you describe your recruitment process to others.
3) Don’t use them as your only recruitment tool
Technical tests only really tell you one or two things about a potential recruit. Those things don’t go much further than their off-the-cuff technical knowledge and – possibly – their grace under pressure.
But perhaps the most important quality you want to be able to judge before hiring someone is their team fit. How well are they going to match your company culture? How well will they mesh with the rest of your development team?
Because one thing that’s just as true for technical positions as it is for others is that you can train new hires in hard skills they’re lacking, but it’s much harder to train soft skills.
This means an IT or engineering recruitment process that focuses more on a candidate’s soft skills – communication, teamwork, coach-ability, delegation for leadership roles, and even personality – provides talent that is a better long-term fit for your organisation.
You can then train their hard skills, secure in the knowledge that you’ve hired someone who is going to fit in well with the rest of your team.
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