Conducting a Technical Screening: Checklist and Questions

Hire Remote Developers
Fred Monnier
Fred Monnier
Chief Staffing Operations Officer
Conducting a Technical Screening: Checklist and Questions

Table of Contents

Technical screening is a process organizations use to evaluate a prospective hire's technical abilities and skills more efficiently.
Published on
September 27, 2022
Updated on
October 10, 2023

Hiring the right information technology (IT) professional can be exhausting and time-consuming for human resources (HR). Unsurprisingly, many companies have adopted technical screening interviews to streamline the process.

Unlike traditional interviews, technical screening involves testing and evaluating candidates' experiences, skills, and personalities simultaneously. Depending on your needs and requirements, the technical screening process may include interviews, phone calls, multiple-choice questions, and live coding assignments.

Why is such a process beneficial for companies, and how do you know what works best? Read on to learn more and explore our technical screening checklist of questions for interviews.

What Is Technical Screening?

Technical screening is a process organizations use to evaluate a prospective hire's technical abilities and skills more efficiently. It usually consists of interviews, multiple-choice questions, phone calls, and coding exercises. Here's what the process may include:

Technical Screening Assessments

Most companies perform basic technical screening assessments before interviewing candidates. These tests allow employers to see if candidates have the right technical skills and experience to succeed.

Popular pre-employment technical screening assessments include:

  1. Pre-interview online assessments: Some startups use timed coding exercises or online multiple-choice tests to narrow the candidate pool. These assessments usually take less than an hour to complete and don't require candidates to outline their thought processes. Many companies use the best technical skills screening software for pre-interview online assessments.
  2. Phone screening: During this method, interviewers ask general background questions about the candidate's education and work experience. Candidates may also be required to type answers into a shared editor or Google Doc. Some employers use multiple rounds of phone interviews.

Technical Interviews

Some companies use interviews to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the position. During these interviews, interviewers ask questions about a particular product, topic, workflow, or tech stack.

For example, if you're hiring a JavaScript programmer, interviewers will ask applicants questions about JavaScript, such as:

  • What is JavaScript?
  • What are the types of scope in JavaScript?
  • How do you handle exceptions and errors in JavaScript?
  • Is JavaScript an object-oriented programming (OOP) language?
  • What is a pure function?
  • Is it possible to write a multi-line string in JavaScript?
  • What are the most common primitive data types in JavaScript?

Additionally, interviewers may ask candidates to outline solutions to specific problems, give a presentation to the hiring team, or write code on a whiteboard or computer. They do so to learn more about a candidate's background and skills. However, interviews can be time-consuming because they usually consist of multiple rounds with various departments, such as human resources (HR) and the C-Suite.

Pair Programming

Pair programming is a collaborative process in which two people write code on one machine. In technical screening, the assessor gives candidates a problem or an assignment and evaluates their progress in real-time. During the process, the assessor discusses the task with the candidates to understand their approaches.

Pair programming offers many benefits, including:

  • Faster time-to-hire: Pair programming can significantly accelerate your hiring process. You only need one pair programming round after phone screening or online assessments to zero in on prospective hires. In contrast, interviews typically require you to go through several rounds.
  • An objective hiring process: Pair programming exercises are less subjective than interviews because the assessor witnesses candidates' performance, work style, and results first-hand. Meanwhile, interviews only show you results and theoretical responses to scenarios.
  • Improved candidate experience: Compared to other exercises, pair programming tests are more fun and interactive. They also give candidates a better understanding of how your team works.

You can perform pair programming in person or over the computer, but most companies prefer to do it online to cut costs. Unfortunately, pair programming can be tough to conduct. For one, you can't just get any HR professional to be the assessor — you need an IT expert familiar with the skills and knowledge you're looking for in the new hire. Your chosen assessor should also conduct interviews professionally and efficiently.

Why Is Technical Screening Important

Technical screening is a reliable way to test candidates' practical knowledge and experience. It also provides other benefits, including:

Improved Talent Pool

The primary purpose of technical screening is to evaluate candidates' practical knowledge and skills. You can use it to quickly weed out applicants who don't meet your basic technical skill requirements, which will give you more time to evaluate quality candidates.

To illustrate, if you need a developer with over three years of Rust programming experience, you can use technical screening to filter out candidates who fail to meet this requirement.

You can also use technical screening to test soft skills and work ethic alongside technical skills, especially when you opt for pair programming exercises.

Reduced Unconscious Biases

Like everyone else, HR personnel is prone to unconscious biases, such as the halo effect and intuition bias. Such tendencies can jeopardize the success of the entire recruitment process, reducing fairness, equity, and diversity.

That's why HR should use technical screening to reduce unconscious hiring biases. When interviewers assess candidates depending on the technical test results, they leave less room for subjective judging of candidates' skills.

Enhanced Candidate Experience

To improve your company branding and attract first-class talent, you must deliver memorable candidate experiences. In other words, you need to demonstrate that you care about your candidates.

Technical screening improves the candidate experience by:

  • Letting applicants complete assessments on their own time
  • Assuring candidates that they are evaluated based on their technical skills and experiences
  • Giving applicants meaningful feedback, such as test scores and constructive criticism

Lower HR Costs and Hiring Time

Hiring mistakes are often expensive and time-consuming. At a minimum, HR personnel must:

  • Write and post a job description
  • Promote it on social media
  • Use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan through all the resumes
  • Conduct interviews or pair programming exercises
  • Carry out background checks

The entire process can easily take weeks or months. A comprehensive study by LinkedIn's Economic Graph team has revealed that the median information technology job requires 44 days to fill.

Fortunately, you can cut HR costs and hiring time by using technical screening to uncover the best candidates. Unlike non-technical interviews, these provide deep insights into how a candidate will perform on the job, reducing the chances of hiring the wrong person.

Technical Screening Questions and Checklist

Now that you know the benefits of technical screening, it's time to think about the ways to conduct it. If you decide on the interview, here are the questions you can pose to prospective candidates to learn more about their technical knowledge and skills:

1. Which Technology Services or Tech Stack Do You Use the Most?

Ask this question to evaluate job seekers' familiarity with your tech stack, as your company needs an expert in its field of operation. Let's say your company uses JavaScript and Node.js for front-end development. If a prospective hire doesn't mention either of the two in the answer, you may want to consider the next candidate.

2. How Long Have You Been Working With This Stack?

This question reveals candidates' depth of experience with their preferred tech stack. Ideally, the best prospects should have at least three to five years of experience using their stack, especially if you're hiring them for a senior position. However, one to two years of experience is acceptable for junior and entry-level roles.

3. Have You Had Any Experience With the Cloud, Databases, and Infrastructure?

You only need to ask this question when filling a role that requires candidates to be familiar with these three subjects. When posing it, you can also use the following sub-questions to learn more about your candidates:

  • Why are you interested in the cloud, databases, and infrastructure?
  • How did you start learning about these subjects?
  • How much experience do you have with the cloud, databases, and infrastructure?
  • What cloud, database, and infrastructure projects have you worked on, such as apps, software, and documentation?
  • Which cloud platforms are you familiar with, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and IBM Cloud?
  • Which cloud, databases, and infrastructure technologies do you enjoy using the most and why?

4. What Have You Been Studying Lately, and Which Skill or Stack Would You Like to Focus On in the Next Job?

The answer to this question will show whether a candidate is dedicated to self-improvement and caught up with industry trends. Ideally, candidates should:

  • Constantly research and learn new things: FAANG-caliber hires don't stop studying after graduation. They keep on researching and studying their industry to remain competitive.
  • Be up to date with industry trends: The best programmers for your team should also be up to speed with the latest IT trends, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the cloud, virtual machines, 3D printing, and cryptocurrency. Even if their position doesn't require it, candidates should have at least a cursory understanding of these topics. Otherwise, they may have a difficult time participating in group discussions.
  • Understand your needs: The last part of this question reveals whether candidates understand the job and its requirements. If the stack they want to focus on differs significantly from what you're looking for, move on to the next person.

5. Which Project Management or Software Development Methodologies Do You Prefer?

When recruiting IT professionals, hire someone who uses the same software development or project management methodology as the rest of your team. You can learn whether this is true by asking the question above. The ideal answer should look like this:

I'm well familiar with Scrum. In fact, I've been working on Scrum teams since I graduated from college in 2017, so I have around five years of Scrum programming experience.

Although I've had some experiences with other project management methodologies, such as Waterfall, Scrum remains my favorite. That's because I'm a people person, and Scrum is more people-focused than any other software development methodology. Thanks to Scrum, I've built strong relationships with other developers. I also appreciate how Scrum empowers us to learn from experience.

I also enjoy working on other Agile teams, including Kanban and Scrumban. I've successfully built two iOS mobile apps using Scrumban: a video editor and a special effects app. You can learn more about them by checking out my portfolio.

6. Why Did You Choose To Become an IT Professional?

This question reveals applicants':

  • Motivation for becoming IT professionals
  • Specific interests, such as user interface (UI) design, AI, statistics, and testing
  • Educational background
  • Previous work experience
  • Passion projects

Ideally, the best match for your startup should have a solid motivation for becoming an IT professional and a genuine passion for the field. A passionate programmer is much more likely to succeed in the workplace than someone who only seeks a paycheck.

However, a good fit doesn't need to have a bachelor's degree. Many top programmers are self-taught — think Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

Related Reading: Alternative to Top IT Staff Augmentation Companies

7. What Kind of Company Culture Do You Prefer?

Before hiring candidates, you must determine whether your company meets their expectations. If it doesn't, your hires may quickly leave you, cause disruptions in the workflow, decrease customer satisfaction, and more.

To illustrate, suppose your company has a hierarchical culture that emphasizes consistency, long-term stability, and shared values across departments. The best candidates should prefer working in such environments. Applicants who favor a more relaxed company culture are probably not the best choices.

Accelerate the Technical Screening Process by Partnering With Revelo

Technical screening is a quick and efficient way to evaluate candidates' hard and soft skills. However, you still have to source candidates from tech hubs, job sites, and other platforms. Depending on your industry and company size, this can easily take weeks or months.

Fortunately, there's a way to accelerate the technical screening process — by partnering with Revelo. As Latin America's premier tech talent marketplace, we boast over 300,000 IT professionals who have been rigorously pre-tested for their soft skills, technical knowledge, and experience.

To start hiring, all you have to do is tell us about your company and needs. We'll match you with the best developers within 72 hours. You can then interview and hire the ones you prefer.

Contact us today to start hiring.

Need to source and hire remote software developers?

Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days.

Why Choose Revelo

Quick time-to-hire

Time-aligned Devs

Expert talents pre-vetted for technical and soft skills

Hire developersLearn how it works

Related blog posts

Your Guide to Remote Developers Management

Your Guide to Remote Developers Management

Lachlan de Crespigny
Tech Team Management
Tech Stack: Meaning, Benefits, & Use Cases

Tech Stack

Celso Crivelaro
Software Development
Software Engineer Career Path: What It Is & What It Can Look Like

Software Engineer Career Path

Rafael Timbó
Tech Team Management

Subscribe to the Revelo Newsletter

Get the best insights on remote work, hiring, and engineering management in your inbox.

Subscribe and be the first to hear about our new products, exclusive content, and more.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Hire Developers