Screening

How to Build a Technical Skills Screening Test for Prospective Employees

The business world is a rat race, and when you are looking to hire new people, you need to make sure they’re the best. But how do you know who the most qualified person is? We’ve got the answer – technical skills screening tests 🤯🤯🤯

This article is the complete guide to technical skills screening. First, we’ll set the foundation by looking at precisely what technical skills are and why they’re important. Then we’ll look at ways you can test candidates for their technical skills, ensuring you always pick the best candidate for every role.

Excited? Well, let’s get started then!

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What Are Technical Skills?

Technical skills are the collection of specialized expertise and knowledge needed to perform a specific task or job role.

Unlike soft skills, which are innate interpersonal skills, technical skills are learned over time either on the job through experience or through specialized training. You may also hear technical skills referred to as hard skills.

Here are some examples of Technical Skills for different job roles:

For finance roles: 💸

  • Accounting
  • Administration
  • Auditing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgeting
  • Microsoft Excel

For software development roles: 🧑‍💻

  • Database Management
  • HTML
  • Java Script
  • C#
  • PHP
  • Computer Science Degree

For marketing roles: ❤️

  • SEO
  • Facebook Ads
  • Email Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Proofreading
  • Social Media

For customer success roles: 😃

  • Project Management
  • Word Processing
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • IT Proficiency
  • Foreign Languages
  • Reporting
Technical Skills Screening linkedin

Why Are Technical Skills So Important?

But what makes technical skills so important? After all, you often hear people say soft skills, like communication and time management, are what really make the difference.

Here’s why technical skills are important:

  1. They show that an individual has the competence to do the job you’re hiring for.
  2. They showcase previous experience and achievements in similar roles
  3. Technical skills demonstrate an objective level of knowledge – e.g., a Degree.

Technical skills are critical in creative, administrative, and technical roles where individuals execute tasks rather than manage/lead teams. For these roles, you need to be confident someone can deliver consistent outputs, time after time, to help the business meet its objectives.


What is a Technical Skills Screening Test?

Now that you know the importance of technical skills, you’re probably wondering how to ensure candidates have them.

But surely that’s an easy one? If they have the skills, they’ll be written on their resume, right? Wrong – data shows that 46% of resumes contain lies, so you need to assess technical skills for yourself.

That’s where a technical skills screening test comes in. A technical skills screening test is a test/quiz/exercise to objectively assess a candidate’s technical skills.

Depending on the depth of your requirement, you can deploy technical skills tests at the pre-screen or assessment phase of your recruitment process – it’s entirely your choice!

Technical Pre-Screening Skills Test

When it comes to pre-screening, the most popular way to assess technical skills is through a skills testing tool, like Toggl Hire.

Here, you create a test based on a particular skill, such as Graphic Design, or for a wider job role, such as a Marketing Manager. Then, you ask candidates to complete it in place of a resume. This gives you a greater insight into a candidate’s hard skills, eliminates the risk of resume lies, and helps you hire candidates at scale.

Personalized one-way video interviews work well here too. That’s because they allow you to assess technical skills ‘live’ rather than through a traditional quiz, with the bonus of subtly assessing soft skills, such as communication, here too.

You can learn more about skills tests from Toggl Hire by watching our 1-minute explainer below:

Technical Skills Assessment Test

If you want to go deep into a candidate’s technical skills, you can conduct a post-interview technical skills assessment. This will be a more vigorous exercise designed to demonstrate that a candidate has the technical skills required.

For this, you can use any of the following techniques:

  • Homework assignment
  • Live coding challenge
  • Paid test project
  • Trial work day/week
  • An assessment day – including group tasks, presentations, assignments, etc.


But Wait, Can’t You Test Technical Skills Via Interview?

You may be wondering why you can’t just assess technical skills during an interview. Sure, you can approach technical skills in this way, but if you go down this path, you’re running a technical skills interview, not a technical skills test.

Why is that a problem? Well, for the same reason you can’t trust a resume, you can’t always trust a candidate’s word in an interview.

Instead, we’d recommend using both a technical skills test and an interview in your hiring process. The skills test will show that a candidate has the skills, and the interview will help you understand why they applied the skills in that way.

Using both together is super powerful. You’ll understand a candidate’s full technical ability alongside how they incorporate crucial soft skills such as decision making, logical reasoning, and time management.


Setting the Benchmark – What is an Acceptable Score For a Technical Skills Test?

But, when it comes to technical skills tests, what does good look like?

Of course, that’s entirely up to you and your test. If the rest is easy, you’ll want to set a high pass mark, e.g., 90%. But, if you’ve intentionally made it harder, you may want to lower it to say 60%.

As a rule of thumb, at Toggl Hire, we recommend setting your pass mark at 80%. This way, you’re setting the bar high and ensuring you only go for the crème de la crème of candidates, not just your average Joe’s.

After all, most pre-screening tests are aimed at basic skills, so accepting lower scores compromises your hiring quality, tarnishes your talent pool, and increases the risk of a bad hire.

Bonus – With tools like Toggl Hire, you can set automatic pass thresholds. That means you automatically reject candidates that don’t hit the mark, saving you time and allowing you to focus exclusively on the rockstars!

Wrapping Up – Why Technical Skills Testing Is Non-Negotiable For Most Companies

So, now that you know what technical skills screening tests are, we’re pretty sure you’ll be hooked. But if you’re still not sold, and to wrap up, here are five reasons why they’re non-negotiable for so many recruiters:

  1. They ensure candidates have the skills you need – you don’t have to rely on their word ✅
  2. They’re quick and easy to set up, whether it’s for specific skills or a broader job role 🚀
  3. You can test candidates at scale, saving you time and money while slashing your time to hire 📈
  4. Automatic pass thresholds help recruiters focus on the top-tier talent 🌟
  5. They’re fun and engaging for candidates, allowing them to showcase their skills 👋
December 21, 2020