Technical tests: a valuable interview tool or a talent deterrent?

Technical tests; a common part of the interview process for many companies, but are they adding value to your process or deterring top talent from applying to your roles?

Do they provide employers with the insight they need? Do they enhance the interview experience for the candidate? We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of this interview tool to figure out if tech tests are all they’re cracked up to be.


Tech tests are an objective way of measuring an individual’s ability, although some argue that they place too much focus on a technical pass or fail and neglect hiring on aptitude and competencies. With Google’s former head of HR stating that “test scores are worthless”, there is debate around their value in the recruitment process. Here’s some drawbacks of technical tests:

  • Don’t give a completely accurate representation of a candidate’s ability.
  •  Lengthy tests (more than two hours) are a big commitment for candidates and may even put them off of applying for or pursuing a role.
  •  Tech tests can be absolute, and a pass or fail approach may result in a good candidate being turned away from the role as the result of a single assessment.


It’s not all bad though; there are a lot of positives surrounding technical tests. In a survey by Stack Overflow, it was found that 87,000 professional developers had taught themselves a new language, framework or tool; something that can’t be represented by a university degree, certified qualification or direct job experience that can be displayed on a traditional CV. This shows the benefit of a tech test in measuring practical skill, rather than simply judging someone based on conventional qualifications. Here’s some other pros of the interview tool:

  • Easily filter out less capable candidates by accurately measuring quantitative results.
  •  Help save time on face-to-face interviews- practical knowledge is assessed in the technical test and other traits can be measured in interviews.
  • They give quantifiable insight; technical tests offer a better comparison of candidates through standardised testing.
  • Free of unconscious bias and therefore give every candidate an equal opportunity to perform.
  • Based strictly on job-related criteria.

Like anything, there are benefits and drawbacks to tech testing as part of the interview process. If positioned effectively, and designed well, they can be a great tool to help make better hiring decisions. If technical testing is part of your interview process, consider these points:

  • When are you asking candidates to take the test? If it’s before they’ve even met you or engaged with your company, consider how much ‘buy-in’ they have in your role or company, is asking them to spend 2 hours on a tech test acting as a deterrent to applying?
  • Are you asking questions relevant to the job role?
  • Are you timing the test? Is the timing unnecessary or is working under pressure part of the role?
  • Are you testing them on the programmes they’ll be using?
  • How long does the test take to complete? Is it a reasonable length? In other words… would you want to do it? If not, consider your candidate’s perspective.
  • Is a technical test necessary for every role? Could you dedicate time in the face to face interview to talk about the candidate’s tech experience?

If you’re utilising technical tests as a part of your interview process, sites such as HackerRank and TestDome are great for designing tests ranging from creating solutions, analysing code or fixing a bug.

If you’re a candidate with a tech test coming up, there are some really useful sites to practice on including Coderbyte and Code Signal which are great for learning how different tech tests work. If you’re looking for more advice on how to ace your next interview check out our blogs on interview success and top tips for assessment days and group exercises.

This post first appeared on the ISL Recruitment blog.

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