If your tech assessment ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Written by Mike Rohan

Mike is the CEO of Technically Compatible who help recruiters make better hires and help their organisations build better teams through the use of their candidate intelligence platform. He’s a lover of good door furniture, chilled corned beef and all things SaaS

Imagine we meet at a HR conference, probably at the buffet (I am rather partial to a bit of quiche) and after some small talk is exchanged we get talking about tech recruitment.

If I asked you how your tech interviewing process was working for you what would you say?

Probably something like this….

“Tech hiring works just fine for us right now.”

And if I asked you to detail the process that goes from applications through to offers I imagine it would probably work a little like this….

“Talent Acquisition conduct a CV sift then a phone screen before candidates are invited to complete a ‘take-home’ assignment/paired code challenge/manual tech assessment which they typically do at night or over a weekend. Someone from engineering will mark that before we invite candidates in for a face to face interview.

………….at interview there’s a technical screen/whiteboard exercise where we discuss their assignment and general experience before progressing onto a competency/culture based interview.

We made most of the hires we needed to last year – our process works just fine.”

Sound familiar?

If it aint broke…

Who are you trying to kid? Who exactly does the process outlined above work ‘just fine’ for?

Let’s look at the key protagonists in this story of tech recruitment woe in more detail…


As Talent Acquisition you’re providing a service to tech stakeholders, it’s important that the quality of candidates is high and that tech have input into the screening process but it’s also important that you’re consuming as little developer/engineering time as possible.

Good developers are too precious a resource to have them spending hours constructing tests, marking candidate assessments and spending time via paired coding exercises, phone screens or face to face interviews with people who don’t have the skills for the job.

I’ve never known any developers spend a week in back-to-back interviews and gain a real sense of job satisfaction – especially when they come out of one having interviewed a right stinker of a candidate that should never have made it to interview.

They are employed to solve problems, write code and build products that change the world. Set them free from the drudgery of tech screens, use them intelligently and sparingly in the process.


Look after them, nurture them – cherish them like a precious flower.

At the very least you owe it to them to put them through a fair and consistent process that helps you evaluate if they are the right person for your role. Don’t forget you’re after some fairly hot property in a candidate-led market, they will also be assessing you as much as you’re looking at them – they will be deciding if you’re the sort of employer they want to work for.

Asking them to take up their weekend to work on a project for you, giving them a paper-based tech assessment that hasn’t been updated in years or asking them to work for free on a trial basis so you can assess whether they are a good fit just aren’t acceptable answers to the tech hiring conundrum.

Your assessment solutions should be intuitive, well designed and fit for purpose – are they?

And remember that hell hath no fury like a candidate scorned, the last thing you want is a series of poor Glassdoor reviews slating your interview process and annihilating your employer brand – fix it before it fixes you!

Everybody’s free (to feel good)

Everyone deserves the right to be happy, fulfilled and well paid for their work.

Talent Acquisition are the gatekeepers to this promised land and it’s up to you guys to create an assessment process that takes the long list down to the short list in the right way for everyone – it’s a tough gig and I get that. You need to give confidence to internal stakeholders whilst being respectful of the candidate’s time and ultimately help both parties decide if this is a good match.

Shine a light on your current methods of assessment, consider them from the candidate’s perspective and ask yourself if they will be an enabler or a barrier when it comes to delivering the tech talent your organisation needs over the next 12 months.


I am a problem solver, a sales guy and a joiner of dots – I am passionate about my product and the problems it’s been created to solve. However I acknowledge that not everyone needs or necessarily wants my solution – some companies don’t need what I have to offer, some companies don’t know that they need it, some companies might not want it – that’s life.

It matters less to me that you choose my solution and more that you accept there’s a sub-optimal solution in play and you set a course of action to rectify it.

And finally…

I once read that if you want to build an app or start a business you should go up to someone and ask them what they use spreadsheets for in a work context. Whatever they tell you, there’s the potential for an app in that.

Manual processes are inconsistent, inefficient and crucially they don’t scale.

Fix it.

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