3 Technical Assessment Types and When to Use Them

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Technical assessments are a standard part of the hiring process within the tech industry. In fact, they’re rarely not used when trying to find valuable software engineers. There are three main types of technical assessments, each with its own unique characteristics.

  • Code tests
  • Take-home tests
  • Live interviews

These assessments help hiring managers and recruiters narrow down their pool of candidates for consideration. They are given at the beginning of the hiring process and allow recruiters and hiring managers to get a better understanding of a candidate’s abilities.

Code Tests
Timed and automated, code tests are pass or fail assessments. Even if a simple typo is made, a developer could be failed because of it. That makes this type of technical assessment a double-edged sword. However, it can weed out unqualified individuals based on the simple tests they are designed to present. Code tests generally present a problem to the candidates required to code to fix it.

E-mail communication is the most common way of getting in contact with candidates for the assessment. Code tests can also be given through sites like KillerCoder, CodeSignal, or Hackerrank. This type of assessment is best presented to junior developers and may not be a good fit for anyone above that level.

Take-Home Tests
Similar to code tests, take-home assessments present a problem (or task) to the candidate for them to solve. But, unlike code tests that take no more than one to a few hours to complete, take-home tests span days—or up to a few weeks. Additionally, these are scored differently. An individual or in-house team reviews take-home assessments, typically with a rubric that focuses on certain skills aspects of the task.

Unfortunately, take-home assessments can come with problems:

  • The rubric used or task instructions may not be clear enough or differ from one another, creating confusion.
  • Candidates may not complete the test and drop out of the process entirely.
  • Cheating could occur since solutions could be searched on the internet or answered by the candidate’s friends or family.

Live Interviews
These are similar to standard interviews, except they include a task the candidate is presented and must solve with the recruiter or hiring manager watching. This is an observational assessment, though the candidate can ask questions and communicate with the interviewer. Live interviews generally don’t last more than one hour. They will likely contain questions as well for the candidate to answer. During these tests, the candidate must share his or her screen with the interviewer, who should instruct them on what they need to do. This gives the recruiter or hiring manager a direct look at how the candidate functions in a professional situation.

Technical assessments are valuable resources for hiring managers and recruiters. With the remote shift in 2020 due to the pandemic, businesses in the tech industry needed a way to see the skills of a developer before hiring them. These tests helped them bridge the gap between the in-person environments they were used to and the virtual system the world was forced to develop.