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Hiring the right talent for any position is hard enough. However, finding the right skills when hiring engineering talent is even more difficult, especially when a bad hire can cost companies up to $240,000, according to a recent survey.

The burden is so pressing in the industry, that up to 60% of hiring managers said that in 2021 their biggest challenge was hiring developers and engineers. These numbers showcase that every little helps when hiring the right engineer for your company – even more so when building a remote team. Thanks to globalization and remote work possibilities you’ll get so much great talent applying that you’ll need to have the right filters in the hiring process to not overwhelm you. 

Tech assessment tests are here to save the day. They allow HR managers to gauge an applicants’ skills accurately and without bias. Ultimately, saving everyone time and money, and helping find the perfect fit for the engineering role on the table. 

What are tech assessment tests?

Tech assessment tests are a pre-employment tool used by hiring managers to help make the selection process smoother, especially for technical roles. These tests are a tool that allows you to build your engineering teams based on evidence, not an assumption, by testing key skills for the role. 

They are also a tool that enables those with low-code or no-code knowledge to be able to effectively screen candidates, without needing to borrow time from their internal technical leaders. 

How do tech assessment tests help when hiring engineers?

There are three types of technical tasks:

  • Real-like skills: based on everyday development scenarios to test real-life performance
  • Fundamental programming skills: based on hypothetical scenarios to test the candidate’s foundational technical principles
  • Technical knowledge: typically made up of multiple-choice questions that combine theory and practice, giving a rounded view into a candidate’s understanding of a specific language or technology

Let’s go through some expert advice from engineering leaders that’ll help make tech assessment tests the best tool in your hiring arsenal. 

Extra reading: Is Your Technical Hiring Tool “Valid” for Your Recruitment Process?

Engineering hiring strategies from a Senior Software Engineer at Codility

“Despite the relative importance of soft skills, the engineer’s success on the job relies on their coding ability.” – Krzysztof Wiśniewski

Krzysztof Wiśniewski is a backend developer, senior software engineer, and often a hiring manager at Codility. We had the opportunity to sit and chat through some of his go-to strategies when it comes to running tech assessments for hiring engineers. 

What are the most insightful tech assessment tests when recruiting tech talent?

Some tests and tasks are better suited for different roles and positions. For example, for Krzysztof, there is a clear winner when it comes to the most insightful tool when recruiting senior engineers:

“I always liked to have a system design interview with them. Such an interview aims to design a complicated subsystem from the ground up, based on an intentionally vague description of the problem. This type of interview is a real gold mine of insights about the candidate.”

Understanding what the role requires will allow you to better understand the tasks you’ll need to perform, even without knowing code. 

Advice for hiring managers looking to introduce tech assessments to their hiring workflow.
Understanding what the role requires will allow you to better understand the tasks you’ll need to perform, even without knowing code.

What are the top three things you learn about a candidate by running tech assessment tests?

Besides the evident technical skills that the candidate has, hiring managers know that no candidate will be a complete expert on everything asked of them. However, the tests help see more than just technical skills. 

Here are Krzysztof’s three most important things he looks for during a tech assessment test (besides technical abilities):

  • If the candidate can think in a structured way
  • If the candidate can make good analogies
  • How are the overall communication skills of the candidate

After all, engineers need to communicate as part of a team, and during the tests, the way they ask questions or explain what they are doing can tell you a lot about how they work with others.

Krzysztof explains the importance of understanding how the different experiences will work for the role:    

“Every candidate comes with a different set of experiences, and not every combination lends itself to the kind of problems we solve equally well, even if the candidate is strong.”

 Additionally, Richard Bell, from Instil Software adds saying that:

“We tend to debrief people after a test. You can learn a lot about how a person can handle feedback and work with others by delving into their solution with them.”

You might also like this: Three Tips for Recruiting the Right Engineer for your Team.

When is the best moment to run tech assessments in the hiring process? 

For more entry-level staff, it’s a good idea to use technical assessments to shortlist candidates; academic qualifications do not guarantee that they have what it takes. 

However, Krzysztof warns that when companies struggle to generate enough interest in the role, it may not be practical to add testing so early on, and sometimes – depending on the role – it might be better to experiment with skipping this stage. 

For more experienced roles, Richard points out that: 

“We ask experienced staff to do an assessment only after they have successfully completed the first round of interviews as we do not want to ask them to take an hour, or two, out to solve a problem if the fit is not right for them, or us.”

What advice would you give to hiring managers looking to introduce tech assessments to their hiring workflow?

There’s no real reason to avoid doing tests, Richard explains:

“I know that there can be a bit of a backlash against tech tests, but we want to hire people who enjoy what they do. In my eyes, if you don’t enjoy coding enough to take on a short challenge to prove yourself, then you probably aren’t the type of person we are looking for.”

However, it’s essential to be realistic with the role’s requirements and the answers the tech assessment test will give you. As Krzysztof says, you want to make sure your hiring workflow has been made on purpose and not “…just an annoyance that scares the candidates off, but the actual tool for selecting the right people to help your mission succeed.”

Tech assessment tools are crucial to understanding the real skills your candidate has. Additionally, they help reduce hiring bias and make sure the investment you’re making in the hiring process is as productive as possible. 

Get in touch with Codility to discover how our tech assessment tools can help your business grow based on evidence, not assumptions. 

Vienna Urias is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Codility

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