Are Your Technical Tests Inhibiting Your IT Recruitment?

Are Your Technical Tests Inhibiting Your IT Recruitment?

Technical tests are often used in IT recruitment. Technical testing can provide a far greater insight into how the potential employee will perform in your role. Interviewing on gut feeling is not right, and tests can assist in confirming or rejecting those “nice people” that are professional interviewees. Remember, most people have been an interviewee far more than an interviewer! But are your tests preventing you from securing great candidates?

What do technical tests entail?

Technical tests are a more practical way of interviewing a candidate. They are used in order to assess technical ability and knowledge required to be able to fulfil the role. Depending on the technical skills that are required for the role, technical testing methods will vary. Technical tests are a great idea to help your interview process. You can download a multitude of tests to suit your need. There are free ones and there are ones you can pay a fee for. It’s an industry all on its own and some people and companies are making a great living from it, so they must be worthwhile.

Not all questions administered to the candidate are aimed towards testing technical knowledge and ability. Often technical tests also test problem solving skills, personal skills, communication skills and even how their thought process is constructed.

You may already be testing IT candidates as part of your recruitment process. But are your tests right? What are you testing for? Don’t just test for testings sake! Make it a valuable part of your decision making.

How to test more effectively

The best technical tests in our experience are written by someone who knows the role you are recruiting. A person who understands all the necessary technical skills to be a success. But not only this, they will also be able to identify any transferable skills. By testing in this way, you may get a better chance to secure the best person for your role. Testing in this way can help identify those that will perform well at the role, even if they don’t have the tech skills that are on your list.

When using an ‘off-the-shelf’ technical test, you’ll find that some of the questions are not relevant to your role. Whilst they may be valid technical questions, not all will be suitable. This is the feedback we have had from candidates. And in some instances, the suitability of the technical test has even discouraged them from taking the role.

So in short make sure your technical test is relevant to the role you are recruiting, otherwise you may be losing out on some great candidates. However, it’s also important to ask the right questions in interview to help determine someone’s technical ability.

technical test

What should technical interview questions entail?

To be able to make a fair decision about the ability of the candidate to perform in the role, it is vital to ensure the questions you ask the candidate will reveal certain key attributes.

Our advice is to ask questions that will:

  • Relate to the company’s technical activities and demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge and experience in these activities
  • Demonstrate a candidate’s ability to complete technical activities that are required as part of the role
  • Demonstrate the candidate’s previous experience, knowledge, or education in a particular field
  • Require the candidate to demonstrate their problem-solving skills. This can be done by administering a case study that explains an issue the candidate may come across as part of the role and assessing how they solve the issue and comes to a conclusion.

Are technical tests worth doing?

All in all, technical tests are a great method to use to interview a candidate. They can reveal a lot about the individual’s ability to undertake the role they have applied for. But as well as technical testing, be sure to get to know the candidate on a more personal level to ensure they will be a good fit for your company.

Another key point to remember is to make sure that your testing doesn’t cause delays to the interview process. In the current market it’s important to make sure your process can be quick to secure the best candidates. You may find our blog 3 Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Hiring Process an interesting read.

The interview process can be a stressful time for both the candidate and the interviewee. If you need help recruiting the best IT professionals, our expert consultants are on hand to help you at every step of the recruitment process. Call us on 0207 788 6600.

Recruitment Agency vs Direct Hiring

Recruitment Agency vs Direct Hiring

We are in the middle of a long and sustained talent crisis. Candidate availability is decreasing by the day, and job vacancies continue to rise. Albeit at a slightly slower rate over the last few months. But the success of your business depends on your team. The people you hire have a direct impact on your success. So, when it comes to your next vacancy, you may be asking which is best for you – recruitment agency vs direct hiring.

We’ve asked our expert consultants to share their insight on the pros and cons of both to help you make that all important decision.

Agency vs Direct

We’ve written at length about the benefits of working with a specialised recruitment agency, but let’s compare some key areas when it comes to recruitment agency vs direct hiring.

Writing adverts

This may sound like a simple process, but don’t be fooled. Yes, it’s true that we can all write an advert stating the responsibilities and requirements. However, in the current market, that is not enough! Candidates are less likely to apply for a job with a list of demands. They want the story, the feeling, a sense of what you stand for. They want the benefits, the future opportunities, and a sense of being part of something important in the world.

If you don’t have experience of this, you are likely to find that your advert will be a bit of a ‘damp squid’ and won’t attract the people you need to make your business a continued success. Agencies are writing adverts day in, day out. They know what it takes to get the best response.

Access to candidates

A recruitment agency will have access to many more candidates than you will if you recruit direct. Not only do they have a large database of experienced candidates, but they are also able to advertise in lots of different ways. This means that you don’t just get the best people who are currently on the market. A recruiter will also headhunt suitable candidates for you using a combination of technology and their personal network. This means that your shortlist should be the very best candidates for the job.

Direct hiring tends to be focused on adverts, website pages and the odd social media post. The reach is not as great as that of a recruiter. With direct hiring, you are unlikely to have the tools you need to get your advert out as far as it needs to go. Lots of companies use their own employees to recommend candidates. Whilst this is great in some instances, it can have an impact on your diversity. Something to bear in mind with any employee referral scheme.

Sifting through CV’s – Recruitment Agency vs Direct Hiring

Depending on how much time you have, it could be a benefit for you to read through all the applications you receive if you do decide direct hiring is for you. The advantages are that you see not just shortlisted candidates, but every single response. This will give you a real insight into the market (if your job advert is great!) and may give you insight on what you need to change to attract the best.

You’ve also got to have the technical knowledge when it comes to IT. You may be looking for experience in a particular piece of tech. And unless you’re aware of other technologies where skills can easily transfer, you could be missing out on a great candidate!

Either way, be prepared to spend lots of time looking at unsuitable CVs as the pay-off for direct hiring. However, if you don’t have the extra time needed to go through the process, using a recruitment agency van be a valuable way of finding new talent for your business. Shortlisting is completed on your behalf, and you only have to choose who to interview from a shortlist of CVs.


Employer branding

You’ve probably heard more and more people start to talk about employer branding. It’s a vital part of the direct hiring process. When was the last time you reviewed yours? What does your Glassdoor say about you? How are your Google reviews? There are many things to consider when recruiting direct when it comes to how you are perceived in the market.

However, we know that there are some really great companies to work for our there who don’t have any employer brand at all. And if this is you then using a recruitment agency is the best idea. Recruitment consultants are highly skilled at attracting candidates to opportunities. They sell the opportunity first and the company a very close second. This gives the added benefit that any questions candidates have about your values, culture, and more, can be answered directly. So, whether you have a strong employer brand or not, you’ll still get the best candidates using a recruitment agency.

The same can be said for candidate experience too. If you already have a robust recruitment communication process, great, direct hiring could be for you. But remember that candidates expect a response within 24 hours of their application now. They expect to be kept up to date at every stage in the process. Do you have the time and organisation to do that effectively?


There’s a general misconception in the market that using recruitment agencies can be costly. But this is usually when it’s looked at in isolation and not compared to direct hiring. If you wanted to do the same work as a recruiter does, it could end up costing you considerably more. And this cost increases if you’re not regularly recruiting. Recruitment agencies spend hundreds of thousands of pounds behind the scenes to make sure that they are providing the best service and the best candidates.

You’d be amazed how much it costs to just advertise a job on one job board, let along over 30! Access to CV databases is also at a great cost, and let’s not get started on the costs associated with LinkedIn! Then there’s the time spent searching out the best candidates. At Langley James, we allocate at least 3 full days just to shortlist candidates for you. And in the current market, this can take longer too.

But there’s one huge benefit when it comes to cost. Recruitment agencies will not charge you a penny until they have been successful, regardless of the time spent on the role. This is something you can’t do with direct hiring. You take a financial risk every time you recruit direct – there are no guarantees of success.

Recruitment Agency Vs Direct Hiring – Summary

If you have lots of time on your hands, and an ‘easy to fill’ role then direct hiring will probably work for you. But, if you have a harder to fill role but you still want the very best candidates, without having to invest your own time, you need the help of a recruitment agency.

About Langley James

We have been helping companies to attract and retain the very best IT talent since 1999. But we don’t just simply find the best candidates. We can advise you on the current jobs market conditions. Share data on average IT salaries. Talk to you about the benefits that candidates are looking for. In fact, we do everything we can to help ensure that you get the very best people for your team. Get in touch with our team to find out how we can help you to recruit the best!