Technical assessments are pre-employment screens for developer and engineering roles. A good skill assessment helps recruiters gain insight into a candidate’s ability to accomplish job responsibilities, programming skills (with languages like Java, Python or others) and problem-solving skills. Coding assessments allow you to make data-driven and unbiased hiring decisions.
Technical interview and assessment platforms assist in efficiently conducting pre-employment screenings for technical roles at scale.
Most technical assessment tools include screening tests, technical assessments or live interviews. Based on your company’s hiring needs, you can choose the suitable option:
Pre-screens – these technical skills assessments are used instead of resumes to shortlist appropriate candidates and move them through the recruiting funnel. These are great for high-volume hiring, allowing recruiting teams to evaluate many candidates quickly and objectively. The tool automatically grades the coding assignments, providing a fair assessment and saving engineering time traditionally spent scrutinizing resumes.
Technical Phone Screens are technical interviews to assess a candidate’s core competencies after entering the recruiting funnel. Company or vendor interviewers conduct these technical screenings, which are often time-consuming.
Take-home Assignments – typically used during the later stages of the hiring process, candidates complete these coding projects on their own time and submit them for review.
Live Interview and Coding Platforms –With an integrated development environment (IDE), you can determine how candidates write and run code, debug mistakes and understand their communication and problem-solving skills. Platforms for live coding interviews range from simple code editors to full-powered IDEs that simulate a local coding environment. These assessments are used during the technical or remote onsite interview stage once the candidate has completed the technical screening.
How Technical Assessments Tools Optimize Your Hiring
Coding assessment and interview tools are data-driven, objective and scalable, helping recruiters find the best developers and software engineers. Technical assessments can:
Save Your Engineers’ Time
Technical assessment vendors develop, validate and maintain the screening assessments, saving engineers from spending valuable time interviewing candidates and reviewing candidate solutions.
Limit Hiring Bias
By adopting technical skills-based assessments, you open the hiring funnel to diverse and non-traditional candidates.
Improve Quality of Hire
Technical assessment tools improve hiring quality by enabling recruiters to find talented candidates during the initial stages. Tools like Pre-Screen assess candidates based on their skills rather than their resumes.
Choosing a Technical Assessment Vendor
Technical assessment solutions are popular tools for all recruiting teams today. But with so many options in the market, how do you decide which one is the best for you?
Determine Your Hiring Needs
The success of any solution depends on its ability to meet your requirements. Determining hiring needs will allow you to better assess potential vendors based on your specific requirements. Here are some questions to reflect upon during this process:
- What is the current size of your engineering team? How much are you expecting it to scale in the next 12 months?
- What types of technical roles is your company hiring for? Which are the most challenging to recruit for?
- What is the average time to fill your technical roles? Would your team benefit from reducing time-to-fill?
- How much time does your engineering team spend preparing for, conducting and de-briefing technical phone screens? How much time do they spend doing the same for onsite interviews?
- How much time does a recruiter typically spend screening candidates in your current process?
Identify Hiring Metric to Optimize
Optimizing the right metrics will allow you to measure the solution’s impact and calculate the return on investment. Some hiring metrics to consider while looking for vendors:
- Time to fill – total time taken to hire a candidate
- Onsite to offer – the percentage of onsite interviews leading to offers
- Candidate volume – total number of candidates applying for the role
- Quality of hire – candidate’s performance during the first year in the role
- Candidate drop off – candidates voluntarily leave the recruitment process
- Engineering time spent – number of hours engineers spend on recruiting work (resume screening, technical screenings, interviews)
What to Look for in a Technical Assessment Solution
Once needs and technical metrics are defined, keeping a list of essential questions helps evaluate vendors. Here are the essential features to look for and questions to ask potential vendors:
Languages and Framework Support
A tool must cover a wide variety of programming languages and frameworks to test for all coding roles like web developer, iOS or Android developer, data scientist, front-end or back-end and others.
Certain roles require you to assess specific skills. For instance, for the role of an iOS developer, you need to check their experience with Swift. However, providing options to your candidates is helpful when evaluating general technical skills. You can determine candidate skills best in the language of their choice.
Having a platform that supports more programming languages is crucial here. Consider asking your vendor:
- What languages and framework does the tool support?
- What kind of roles can you test for with this tool?
Scoring and Reporting
Establishing definite evaluation parameters and metrics ensures objectivity, significantly reducing bias in the hiring process.
Coding assessment platforms should support auto-generated scores and reports with an in-depth analysis of the candidate’s code-writing and critical thinking skills. The coding score offers insight into the candidate’s proficiency and is predictive of the candidate’s performance in later rounds.
Developer assessment tools should also offer a live interviewing tool to interact and code with candidates collaboratively.
To identify the tool’s assessment and interview capabilities, here are a few questions to ask a vendor:
- Are the assessments developed using skills evaluation frameworks?
- What are the evaluation metrics, and how are they determined?
- How is the score determined?
- Does the tool support live coding and interviewing?
- Is it possible to conduct assessments at scale?
Integrations With Existing Systems and Ease of Implementation
The best tools support applicant tracking system (ATS) integration to simplify your recruitment workflow. With this, recruiters can stay on the top of the applicant pipeline, send assessments, conduct interviews and view and share reports all within their ATS.
Here are some questions to ask prospective vendors:
- Does the tool integrate with your choice of ATS?
- Does the tool allow you to invite applicants and receive results directly within the ATS?
- How long does the integration take?
- Does the platform provide custom API access?
- Is it possible to customize features and interact with candidates?
- What do your customers have to say about the implementation?
- What kind of support do you offer?
Diversity and Inclusion
Developing an inclusive culture is possible through technical skill assessments. While selecting an assessment tool, consider the following questions:
- How do you ensure your coding questions are unbiased?
- How do you ensure compliance with employment laws?
- Do your assessments follow best practices from IO Psychology to validate assessments?
- Do you routinely conduct adverse impact analyses?
Are You Ready to Invest in a Technical Assessment Tool?
When you are ready to invest and have a list of vendors, a request for proposals (RFP) is effective to evaluate them according to your criteria objectively. Create a list of must-have and nice-to-have features based on your needs and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for an RFP.
For example, if your company needs to rapidly scale your engineering team while minimizing engineering time spent on unqualified candidates; you might list the following requirements on your RFP:
- Asynchronous technical assessments powered by validated skills evaluation frameworks
- Demonstrated assessment reliability, fairness, and validity in line with applicable laws governing federal employment
- Question library and assessments created using research-based best practices
- Ongoing vendor support for new task creation and assessment maintenance
- Specialized assessments for hiring front-end, back-end, full-stack, data and machine learning engineers (nice to have)
- 5 sections essential to any RFP for purchasing software
- Recommended requirements for tech interview and assessment vendors
- Customizable boilerplate language for each section
Sophia Baik is Co-founder and VP of People, Finance, and Operations at CodeSignal, a coding skills assessment platform dedicated to helping companies #GoBeyondResumes in tech recruiting. Prior to co-founding CodeSignal, Sophia started her career in investment banking at Lehman Brothers before gaining experience in marketing and operations at tech companies such as Wayfair, Zynga, and Beepi.
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