Steps to Conduct a Technical Interview (With tools and pro-tips)

There is going to be an upsurge in the volume of tech hiring by 2023 as per several reports based on market studies and this will add more hiring projects in the to-do list of recruiters from enterprises looking for tech talent. The tech hiring surge will also offer hiring business opportunities for recruitment agencies and freelance recruiters. 

The tech talent market is highly volatile and competitive, therefore companies looking for tech talent need to have a robust talent acquisition pipeline where technical interview rounds are one of the most crucial components. Further, there are several steps in a tech interview and understanding each of this step is important for every tech recruiter and organization looking to acquire top tech talent. 

In this write-up we are going to understand the steps to conduct tech interview and some of the important tips from thought leaders from the recruitment industry to make the technical interview round effective. 

What is a tech interview? 

Technical interview is a type of interview that employers conduct to assess a candidate's technical skills required for a job position. Employers conduct a technical interview to determine a candidate's knowledge for a variety of different specialties like information technology, manufacturing industries, production, marketing, human resources, healthcare, education, hospitality, and so on. 

The need and the benefits of conducting a tech interview 

The goal for conducting a tech interview is to assess whether a candidate can articulate industry terms that relate to the job in question. Though your resume and the cover letter serve as the first place where recruiters will come across your technical skills, technical interview helps validate the same. Plus, it also helps recruiters understand your strength and weaknesses, areas that need improvement, and help decide on the necessary training that needs to be given. All of these helps making the onboarding and the probation period smooth and rewarding for both the candidates and the employers. 

Steps to get started with a tech interview round 

1. Work on the job description 

As the first step before starting your tech interview it is very important as a recruiter to understand the job description and the role requirements.  The next step is to communicate the exact role and responsibilities efficiently to the candidates. A detailed job description can help interviewers set questions and set a benchmark for the skill set to expect from the most ideal candidate. Here the main challenge is that job descriptions mainly emphasize on the hard skills therefore it is important to include an interview round or a set of questions that can identify the necessary soft skills.  

2. Conduct a pre-screening interview 

Tech job openings with enticing perks are well-known to attract thousands of applicants which adds to the burden of the CV screening team. Moreover, most of the tech roles will have a defined set of qualification criteria such as a specific educational background, experience, skill sets, and personality. Recruiters can easily list down and prepare a questionnaire and conduct a pre-screening test or an interview for the same. This step can be easily automated using an online form or can be conducted as a bot interview where the response can be recorded and used to select candidates to the subsequent interview rounds. This step is highly useful to understand whether the candidate qualifies the basic expectations of the employer and the willingness to take up the responsibility using less effort and time from both the candidate and the recruiters’ end. 

3. Give on-job assignments 

On-job assignments help recruiters put the potential candidates into the shoes of an employee and assess how will the candidate be able to perform his or her day-to-day tasks. On-job assignments could be as simple as giving an assignment topic and asking the candidate to submit it as a word document to as complex as creating the work environment and the day-to-day challenges which is called a job simulation test.  

There are different types of job simulation tests as listed below:

Role-playing Job Simulation: This assessment technique helps identify a candidate’s ability to perform varied responsibilities required for the role. 

Work Sample Job Simulation: It helps assess whether the candidate is able to perform a specific task. 

In-basket Job Simulation: It helps assess the ability of a candidate to perform a time-limited job role. 

Situational Job Simulation: It helps assess the candidate’s decision-making capability and risk-taking ability. 

Take Home Assignments as Job Simulation: This assessment technique helps identify the candidate’s ability to perform the job responsibilities independently. 

4. Focus on identifying the key soft skills 

Technical interviews often emphasize the hard skills that candidates need to be possess in order to fit successfully in the job role. Here it is also important for the recruiters to understand the soft skill requirements that align with the role. Therefore, it is important to have an assessment interview that focusses on identifying the required soft skills. Several employers also utilize gamified interview rounds that can identify key soft skills. Here are some of the softwares and tools that can gamify the interview round as well as identify soft skills. 

  • Keypresses: Measures the cognitive ability  

  • Balloons Game: Provides the assessment of Risk-taking ability  

  • Digits Game: Tests the memory power  

  • Arrows Game: Ability to learn from past experiences 

  • Length Game: Measures the attention span 

  • Faces Game: Predicts the emotion, recognition, and perception 

5. Conduct a virtual interview 

The interview stage usually spans across a series of rounds therefore majority of companies prefer conducting the initial rounds or sometimes even all of the rounds online. This helps save travelling cost for the candidates and event hosting costing for the employer. Moreover, a virtual interview enables increased participation from the candidates and especially the passive job seekers who are already busy with a current job.  

Several virtual interview tools come with features such as interview scheduling tool with calendar integration using which recruiters can manage their schedule using that and candidates can give confirmation regarding their presence for the interview or even request for alternative date and time slots. 

6. Conduct an in-person whiteboard tech interview 

In-person interview certainly beholds the potential to assess candidates better with the help of their behavioral aspects that express their confidence level, intent to take up the role, willingness to learn and take up new challenges, and so on. Experts in the HR industry had always been suggesting to look whether the candidate is a good cultural fit with direct interview for the final round especially when hiring for top managerial roles. Some of the most important attributes that recruiters should look for during a candidate interview includes the body language, expressions, and so on which can add value to the selection process. 

Whiteboard technical rounds are well known during the assessment of a candidate’s coding skills. Most of the remote online coding tests turns out to be an open book test therefore a whiteboard test can ensure the level of experience and expertise a candidate holds to resolve an issue as quickly as possible and the confidence level.

Final Takeaways 

The overall purpose of conducting technical interviews is to enable candidates demonstrate their abilities through a series of questionnaires and on-job assignments where the interviewer asks the candidate to demonstrate their abilities and skills such as programming, coding, engineering and computer-based competencies, problem-solving ability, etc., instead of asking candidates if they possess the required skills. 

Here are some of the important aspects to consider and make a note of while conducting a tech interview. 

  • The number, types, and the quality of questions asked by each candidate. 

  • Review the candidate’s previous work history and relevant experience.  

  • The time taken by each candidate to complete the assignments. 

  • Ask your candidates about your work preferences so that you can assess the willingness of the candidate to stay for a long term in the workforce. 

  • You can also consider utilizing recruitment process outsourcing to conduct the tech interview round especially in case of volume hiring. 

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Signing off:

Vidhya V,

30 November 2022

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