The Where & When of Technical Tests

Technical tests: the inevitable requirement for any technical candidate looking to secure a new role. The question I believe needs exploring is not ‘Should we have a technical test’, more rather ‘When should we have a technical test’…

In the current climate, businesses are finding new ways to operate as ‘normal’ and candidates are facing tough times across furlough, redundancies and more. Even in these new norms, the interview process remains as standard with an interview to determine suitability, a technical test and typically a final interview to review all of the above. Recently, I’ve spoken to candidates who are exhausted by the amount of first stage interviews they are undergoing which are typically 1 hour long telephone interviews, only to find out they may not be a technical match for the role. Equally, how much time would it take for a job seeker to complete several technical tests when some organisations require tests which can take hours on end? My opinion on the subject lies somewhere in the middle ground (Way to sit on the fence, Jack) in that some organisations are revolved around cultural fit and protecting their ways which created their reputation, whereas some businesses have strict technical requirements for short term roles which rely less on culture and more on completing the job at hand.

After constantly hearing mixed reviews and opinions from clients and candidates alike, I thought there was only one reasonable way to settle the matter…. A LinkedIn Poll.



‘What stage of the interview process should be a technical test?’

Drawing out the figures (I knew that my continual statistical analysis at Uni would help me one day), we can conclude that over half (57% to be exact) of the respondents believe that the culture fit should occur before the technical test. Essentially indicating that the technical test should be a second stage process. Contrasting this, 32% of respondents answered to preferring a technical test as the first stage. The remaining 12% answered ‘Other / Undecided’.

The results clearly indicate that candidates and clients are leaning towards ensuring the culture fit as a priority when interviewing. Several individuals reached out to me directly to discuss in more detail – all of whom reflected the idea that technical skills can be taught, whereas culture fit is inevitable. As much as I completely agree with this statement, it’s important to address that for specific roles with niche requirements, the technical fit is essential for completing the role. I recruit daily for Developers and Software Engineers to join some of the regions most exciting brands – this could not be possible without candidates matching the technical requirements of the business. Equally, as more and more organisations adopt a remote working approach, the differentiation of personality and culture fit is becoming slightly less relevant for those who are technically able to complete a role.

A common theme I’m receiving from candidates, especially those who sit in Development and Engineering, is that culture fit and organisational ambition is a priority of theirs when they determine their next role. In a competitive market, where candidates often have several offers to join organisations, candidates are more interested in discussing their long term suitability to a business prior to engaging in hours of technical tests. 

Now, my question to anybody reading this is, should a technical test as a first stage truly be an issue when you are working with a reputable and honest recruiter? Here at The Candidate, we are passionate about knowing the ins and outs of our clients; what makes their business special, what makes their culture work, what is important to them for future hires. Our first conversations with our candidates are based upon discovering the ambition of our candidate, their technical ability, personality fit and what is important to them. We would only discuss a role with you if it matched your expectations, or if we saw an opportunity to find you your ideal next role. Given that we understand our client’s culture, and how you would fit within a team, it provides the opportunity for us to offer the technical test as a first stage. The technical fit can be collated as a priority, with both parties (candidate & client) interested, which allows for no time wasting for anybody involved.

I’d love to hear more opinions on the subject. I am always reachable on [email protected] if you’d like to share your thoughts or would like to know more about the roles we are recruiting for.