The Technical Assessment: How To Ace Your Next Interview Test
If you are applying to a new job in tech, chances are you’ll be asked to take a technical assessment. Whether you are self-taught or an experienced developer, these technical interview tests can be time-consuming and feel intimidating. They can even make you feel like you’re back in school again. But rest assured! A technical assessment can also be a great way for you to showcase your programming and problem-solving skills.
By knowing what to expect and how to prepare, you can go into your next tech assessment with confidence and achieve a better result.
What is a technical assessment?
A technical assessment is typically given by employers who are hiring IT, computer science, engineering, or other technical professionals. The goal of this test is to help them gain a concrete understanding of your technical abilities and skills as they pertain to the role, as well as what your thought process is when solving specific problems.
A combination of application-based techniques and knowledge-based questions may be used to assess your understanding of the required concepts, tools, and frameworks that are required for success. These tests can take place in-house, through a third party, or a computer assessment. Depending on the position you’re applying for, formats can range from take-home coding challenges, behavioral interview questions, or onsite quizzes/whiteboard challenges.
Benefits of taking a technical assessment
Technical assessments can be used at any stage of the hiring process, either as a pre-screening tool to weed out unqualified candidates or a deciding factor in the final round. “Technical assessments have grown in popularity in recent years,” says Trish Spina, a Senior Director within our Technology division. “As more employers transition to remote and hybrid remote work arrangements, tech assessments have helped them streamline and speed up the hiring process.”
Tech assessments also benefit job seekers in several ways. “Not only do they cut down on the number of interview rounds and reduce interview fatigue, but they also give you an opportunity to showcase your skills and expertise in a tangible way,” says Trish. “If an employer is very impressed by your skills, they may bump your title up or even create a specialized role for you.”
Next up, how to prepare…
Understand the job description
Your first step in preparing for a technical assessment should be to review the job description. Make sure you understand exactly what is expected in the role, as well as what skills and qualifications are required for success.
Review the fundamentals
Many technical assessments focus on the fundamental capabilities you should have. As a result, be sure to brush up on the basic applications in your field. Ensuring (and showcasing) that you have a strong understanding of the required technical principles and methodologies will be critical to a successful technical interview.
Technical assessments can add a lot of pressure to the interview process, especially if you aren’t prepared. To help you feel more confident, look for practice tests that represent what you can expect from the real thing. From coding challenge websites to data analysis exercises, there are plenty of online resources that you can leverage to practice solving tech problems that may be presented to you. On the coding side, Coderbyte and Codility are to great websites. The book “Cracking the Coding Interview” is another good resource.
“Google and YouTube can also be incredibly informative,” advises Trish. “Not only are they free, but you can find resources on nearly any type of topic. Whether you need to brush up on fundamentals and theories or want to gain a better understanding of a process, there’s something for every type of tech professional.”
When running through a practice assessment, try to time yourself. “Practices tests aren’t always timed, but the real technical assessments typically are,” says Trish. “As you prepare, you’ll want to start practicing with time drills so you can ensure you are able to complete the actual technical assessment within the allotted time.”
Highlight the right skills
In additional to your technical skills, the hiring manager will be closely assessing a variety of other essential skills throughout the technical assessment. This includes:
- Communication skills
- Problem-solving ability
- Ability to think creatively
- Analytical thinking skills
“While the technical component of the assessment is important, this is just one factor an employer considers when making a hiring decision,” says Trish. “As a solution provider, you must be able to show you understand the big picture. Hiring managers want to see the thought process behind your code and your solution’s impact on larger company goals.”
When applicable, this means you must be able to clearly articulate your thought process and explain your work. Read also: 6 Soft Skills Every Tech Team Needs
If you don’t fully understand the technical assessment or feel you cannot complete it correctly, not all hope is lost. If you can be transparent with the employer and demonstrate a willingness to learn, you could still be in the running. “The majority of our clients are flexible on requirements,” says Trish. “If you don’t know how to do something, it’s okay to tell them. Just be sure to explain your level of expertise and be able to provide examples that highlight your willingness to learn.”
With tech evolving so quickly, a commitment to learning and continuous development is critical even if you pass the technical assessment with flying colors. “Tech updates happen every day, so there is an understanding that tech professionals will deepen their skills based on their experience within the role and evolving industry trends,” says Trish.