Effective Technical Screening: Strategies for Hiring Success
Tech Candidates Assessment

Technical Screening: How to Get It Right from The Start?

Ihor Shcherbinin
VP of Recruiting at DistantJob - - - 3 min. to read

Are you finding the prospect of technical screening daunting and aren’t sure where to start? With IT roles taking an average of 44 days to fill, it’s clear that finding the right candidate is both crucial and challenging.

This process is further complicated by the rapid pace of technological advancement, which can leave a skills gap. Technical screenings are invaluable in these scenarios, offering a structured approach to efficiently and effectively assess a candidate’s skills and compatibility with the role. But what are the keys to an effective technical screening process?

Let’s examine how you can optimize your screening from the start and ensure your organization secures the best talent.

What is Technical Screening? 

Tech screening is the initial phase of the recruitment process designed to evaluate a candidate’s technical skills, knowledge and suitability for specific roles.

This evaluation typically involves different methods, including coding assessments, technical interviews, portfolio reviews, and behavioral interviews that focus on identifying individuals with the ideal expertise before moving forward with a hiring manager to make a final decision. 

Best Practices in Tech Screening

There are different methods for conducting a technical screening process. In most cases, recruiters focus on phone screenings and code assessments. While both approaches are suitable to evaluate technical skills, they are not the only ones to ensure a holistic evaluation. 

Let’s go over the best practices that will help you craft your tech screenings based on the roles you’re looking for.

1. Define the Role Criteria 

While basic, this first step sets the foundation for a successful hiring process. Knowing you’re looking to hire a developer is not the same as knowing you’re looking for a mobile app developer with extensive experience in building cross-platform applications.

Not all projects are the same and require the same level of knowledge. The level of specialization varies, particularly for tech roles. 

Start by establishing clear and specific criteria for technical proficiency relevant to the role. Here is where you define what are the “Non-negotiables” in terms of skills, technologies and experience required, ensuring that this first screening filters all these candidates, separating the good ones from the great ones. 

2. Use Structured Assessments

Tech screening focuses mostly on filtering the first batch of candidates. Ideally, a good screening test is able to separate candidates so you can then focus on more thorough technical interviews based on the roles you’re seeking. 

With structured assessments, you can have a good grasp of a candidate’s technical abilities. Based on the role you’re looking for, coding challenges, problem-solving experiences, or technical quizzes can be designed to gauge proficiency in relevant areas. Usually, these assessments are divided into two parts:

  • Pre-interview online tests: Some companies, particularly those that have a large number of applicants, use online multiple-choice tests or coding exercises to narrow the candidate pool. Usually, these tests take less than an hour and are very straightforward. 
  • Interview screening: In this first interview you can ask candidates general background questions regarding their education and work experience. 

3. Be Flexible Providing Other Types of Tests

The problem with pre-interview online tests is that while they are often used to reduce the talent pool by only selecting a few candidates for more in-depth interviews, they usually don’t accurately reflect a candidate’s true capabilities or potential.

We’ve noticed that in some cases, skilled candidates may not perform that well in those types of tests for different reasons. In some cases, they are better equipped to excel in practical, real-life scenarios; in others, they are unfamiliar with testing platforms, etc. 

You can also be flexible and provide other types of evaluation methods. A blend of assessments has usually worked great for us. 

Again, this depends on the role. However, some additional tests that are useful for filtering out candidates are take-at-home evaluations and a pair programming interview

Take-at-home evaluations allow candidates to showcase their skills within a specific timeframe in their own environment. Without the pressure of a timed assessment, they can provide a more accurate reflection of their capabilities.

On the other hand, pair programming interviews are highly effective for roles that require collaboration and teamwork. During these interviews, candidates work with current team members to solve coding challenges or real-world problems synchronously. This approach allows you to evaluate candidates’ technical skills and their ability to communicate, collaborate and adapt to different working styles. 

4. Customization is Key

Each role requires a different skill set. To ensure that your tech screening is effective, you need to customize it based on your criteria and hiring needs.

For example, a software engineering position may prioritize proficiency in programming languages, algorithmic problem-solving, and familiarity with certain development frameworks. In contrast, a data science role might emphasize expertise in statistical analysis and machine learning algorithms.

By customizing the screening process to focus on these role-specific competencies, you can create a more reliable filter for evaluating a candidate’s qualifications. 

You can have foundational tests and change them based on the role. For example, a first live interview to get to know the candidate better, an online test, and a take-at-home test. Based on those results, you can choose whether to move forward with the candidate or continue looking for other candidates. 

5. Take Advantage of Automated Tools

Using automated tools and platforms can help streamline the screening process even more. These tools are particularly useful for coding and technical assessments. They can help you evaluate code submissions and gain more insights into candidates’ performance. 

Here are some useful screening tools to vet tech candidates:

Online Coding PlatformsHackeRank, LeetCode, CodeSignal
Technical Assessment PlatformsCodility, TestDome, CoderPad
Take-home AssignmentsGitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket
Pair Programming InterviewsCodePen, Collabedit, Live Share
Behavioral Assessment ToolsPymetrics, Traitify 

6. Conduct Live Technical Interviews

Live technical interviews are an important part of the tech screening process as they allow you to grasp more about the candidate’s technical skills and knowledge.

Besides coding tests or solving coding challenges, live interviews allow you to discuss technical concepts, which allows you to see how well-versed a candidate is in specific technologies and programming languages. You can also evaluate, through their answers, their ability to explain technical concepts.

7. Provide Feedback

Providing feedback to candidates is another aspect of technical screening that is often forgotten. Candidates take time and effort in the interviewing process, so rather than just ghosting them or saying they are not moving forward, you can enhance the candidate experience by giving brief feedback on why they were not selected.

Candidate experience says a lot about your company. If candidates have an unpleasant experience, they will likely share it. 22% of unhappy candidates will actively encourage others to avoid applying to your company. And about 72% will share their experience online, which can impact your brand’s online reputation. 

Common Pitfalls in Technical Screening and How to Avoid Them

1. Making the Process Too Long

The main purpose of tech screening is to simplify the recruitment process. While you may make more than just one interview, the idea is to make simple tests that help you quickly identify the candidates that are worth moving forward with.

So, if you make these screenings too long, you’re not only wasting your time and resources, but candidates will soon lose interest. Candidates typically spend an average of 3 to 4 hours preparing and submitting only one job application.

When application and screening processes are too long and complex, over 60% of job seekers quit and look for other opportunities. 

2. Relying Solely on the Use of Tools

Automated screening tools are useful as a filter to help you identify more quickly qualified candidates. However, an over-reliance on these tools may overlook candidates’ unique qualities and capabilities.

It’s key to blending these types of tools with human judgment, also providing personalized interactions and tailored assessments to ensure a more holistic evaluation of candidates. 

3. Overemphasizing Technical Skills

A common mistake when recruiting technical talent is only focusing on technical skills. Skills and experience matter, but they are only a part of the equation. 

If you only focus on technical skills, you can overlook other relevant factors when hiring employees. Communication, problem-solving approach, keeping up with technologies, and cultural fit are a few of the aspects that hiring managers should also consider. 

4. Failing to Adapt Your Processes 

Technology is always evolving. Current programming languages and tools are not the same as those of 20 years ago. With this evolution, processes should also adapt.

Even if a process worked successfully in the past, you should always keep your recruitment strategies evolving and figure out ways how to improve them. This will help you not only hire faster but also hire better talent. 

5. Not Having Enough Technical Expertise to Evaluate

If your recruiters have no technical background or experience, how would they guarantee that you’re hiring the right candidate? While some automated tools can give you reports and results, you still need to make sure that the candidate you’re seeking has the expertise required for the role. This can only be evaluated by someone who actually knows and understands what they’re asking.

If it is the case that you don’t have anyone to evaluate thoroughly a technical candidate, then it’s time to consider other hiring alternatives, such as IT staffing

Reduce Hiring Time Up to 60% with DistantJob

If you want to speed up your hiring process, having a reliable tech screening process is the way to go. With structured and well-crafted interviews, it’s easier to identify which candidates are suitable for the roles you’re looking to fill.

However, tech screening processes involve aspects like having qualified IT recruiters and headhunters and the technology and experience to conduct these interviews. Go from hiring in 44 days to only 14 days with DistantJob.

With our 3-Tier Approval Process (TAP), we’re able to deliver meticulously vetted candidates, starting from detailed client needs assessment through strategic talent sourcing and candidate review. With our method, we ensure that you’ll have the perfect match not only for technical skills but also for company culture.

Find out more about our approach by booking a discovery call. 

Ihor Shcherbinin

Ihor, is the VP of Recruiting at DistantJob. He specializes in sourcing and placing top remote developers for North American companies. His expertise covers the entire recruiting cycle, from pinpointing job needs to finalizing hires. Known for his skill in remote staffing solutions and offshore team integration, Ihor excels in matching the best tech talents with U.S. organizations. His approach to virtual developer hiring is marked by insightful candidate selection and strategic offer negotiation, ensuring the right fit for every role.

Let’s talk about scaling up your team at half the cost!

Discover the advantages of hassle-free global recruitment. Schedule a discovery call with our team today and experience first-hand how DistantJob can elevate your success with exceptional global talent, delivered fast.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get exclusive content and bloopers

or Share this post

Let’s talk about scaling up your team at half the cost!

Discover the advantages of hassle-free global recruitment. Schedule a discovery call with our team today and experience first-hand how DistantJob can elevate your success with exceptional global talent, delivered fast.

Reduce Development Workload And Time With The Right Developer

When you partner with DistantJob for your next hire, you get the highest quality developers who will deliver expert work on time. We headhunt developers globally; that means you can expect candidates within two weeks or less and at a great value.

Increase your development output within the next 30 days without sacrificing quality.

Book a Discovery Call

What are your looking for?

Want to meet your top matching candidate?

Find professionals who connect with your mission and company.


    Talk with a senior recruiter.

    Fill the empty positions in your org chart in under a month.