Navigating the Technical Test: A Roadmap to Success

Your Opinion
Published: 19.09.23

Technical tests have become an integral part of the hiring process in the tech sector, with many hiring managers finding that the use of technical tests improves new hire performance by 24%. These tests are designed to narrow down the most qualified candidates by assessing their practical skills, problem-solving abilities, and overall technical knowledge. 

Whilst they can be daunting, especially for graduate job seekers, they also present as an opportunity for candidates to showcase their expertise.

In this thought leader article, Senior Recruitment Consultant, Douglas Paget, shares his valuable advice on taking a technical test, helping you to not only pass the test to the best of your abilities, but also demonstrate your true potential to the employer.  

Understand what the test is asking you 

Before diving into the test, take the time to thoroughly understand what the test is asking you and devise a short plan on how you will tackle it. In some instances, the test can be vaguely worded on purpose, which can throw you off before you have even begun, or it’s possible to misunderstand the question. Having a plan in place before you commence will prevent you working on the wrong solution and wasting time. Make sure to reach out to the hiring manager if you require clarification on anything or would like something to be explained further. 

Document your workings 

Always try to include a ‘README’ file guiding the assessor through the steps you took to arrive at the solution. This can contain a description of the code and provide details on particular patches, track bugs and the fixes you made. Make sure that your workings are coherent and structured correctly. It’s also good practice to insert a short paragraph sharing your thoughts on the test, and perhaps list some additional points on things you would like to have done if you had more time. Documenting your workings throughout the test will make it easier to justify why you prioritised certain aspects at the interview stage.  

Value your time 

Time management is critical during a technical test. If you try to do everything listed in the test, you could be there for 20+ hours, so it’s important to prioritise what you feel are the most important parts. Allocate your time wisely by breaking the test into sections or questions and setting time limits for each. Stick to your schedule and move on if you get stuck on a particular problem. Sometimes highlighting areas you could approve upon in an email or your documentation, will also showcase your ability whilst saving you many hours of work – let’s face it, some technical tests just take too long!  

Stay calm under pressure 

It’s natural to feel some pressure during a technical test but remember to stay calm. Take a breather when required, read over the questions carefully, and approach each problem methodically. Panic can lead to careless mistakes. 

Review your work 

Lastly, just like taking some time to prepare for the test before diving in, remember to review your work before you submit it. After working on something for a while, it’s tempting to shut it down and forget about it, but checking for errors, bugs, and logical mistakes can make the difference between passing and failing a technical test. 

Some food for thought, it’s also worth asking if the company would accept an alternative technical test which is relevant to the job you are applying for. If you have recently completed one, consider asking them to look at it which could save you time by not having to complete another one. 

Technical tests can be an overwhelming aspect of the job application process, with many suggesting that there are more effective, and less dismaying, methods for examining a candidate’s competence. But with the right mindset and preparation, they become a platform to showcase your skills and set yourself apart from your competition. 

For further advice and support on taking a technical test, get in touch with Douglas who will be happy to chat through your questions or concerns. 

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