Technical Screening Guide

Two women sit in front of a laptop.

Welcome to your technical screening guide! This guide is an overview of the technical screening stage of a hiring process. The objective is to help you feel prepared and confident at your next technical screening

In this guide we will review the following:

  • Definition & Purpose of Technical Screenings
  • Types of Technical Screenings + Tips For Success
  • How To Prepare For Technical Screenings

Definition and Purpose of Technical Screenings

What is a technical screening?

A technical screening is a step in the hiring process in which the candidate’s technical skills are assessed. They are common in the tech field, where many positions require a certain level of technical ability.

What is the purpose of a technical screening?

During a technical screening employers evaluate if the applicant has the technical skills that are required for the job. This may include programming skills, ability to use a specific software or platform, or technical knowledge. It informs the employer how ready the candidate is to handle the job, and if they would need further training.

But many technical screenings tell the employer much more than this! Employers also use technical screenings to learn about a candidate’s problem solving, communication, and organizational skills. How the candidate performs during the technical assessment, gives the employer valuable insight into what it is like to work with them.

Types of Technical Screenings and Tips for Success

Four of the most common types of technical screenings are the live technical interview, online technical assessment, whiteboard interview, and take-home assignment. Let’s review each of them, and discuss tips for success.

Live Technical Interview

Overview

During a live technical interview the candidate responds to technical questions in real time. The questions may require the candidate to solve a puzzle, tell a story, or discuss a certain technology.

Example Questions

  • Tell me about a project that you developed using React.
  • What are modules and packages in Python?
  • How can you cut a cake into eight equal pieces in exactly three cuts?

Tips for Success

If you don’t know the answer, tell the interviewer what you DO know. For example, “I haven’t worked with MySQL, but I know that it is a relational database. I do have experience with other relational databases.”

Online Technical Assessment

Overview

An online technical assessment is an online test that a candidate completes on their own time. The test is usually delivered via a technical assessment platform that includes an IDE for writing code.

Example Questions

  • Given an array of integers, nums, and an integer target, return indices of the two numbers such that they add up to the target.
  • Delete the node at a given position in a linked list.

Tips for Success

Ask the HR representative or hiring manager which platform they use to deliver their assessment. Then you can practice on the interface beforehand so that you are familiar with it when you take the assessment. 

Whiteboard Interview

Overview

At a whiteboard interview the candidate is asked to write code or create a diagram on a physical or virtual whiteboard in front of the employer in real time. 

Example Questions

  • Print out all the permutations of a string. 
  • Draw on the whiteboard the design of a project that you have worked on. 
  • Given an array A of integers, find the maximum of j-i if A[i] <= A[j].

Tips for Success

During whiteboard interviews employers expect you to communicate your thought process, in addition to writing code. While writing the code you should explain your problem-solving process. 

Take-home Assignments

Overview

A take-home assignment is a programming task that the candidate must complete on their own time and submit to the employer. The tasks have limited scopes so that a candidate with sufficient experience can complete the task in a few hours. 

Example Questions

  • Build a signup form for a mobile app using React. 
  • Build a simple app that queries a certain API. 
  • Given a set of data, make a recommendation on how the company should proceed. 

Tips for Success

In addition to submitting your program, we recommend submitting an exemplary README. This will show your organizational skills, and communicate your thought process to the employer.

How to Prepare for a Technical Screening

If you are new to the tech field, technical screenings may feel unfamiliar and scary. Practice and preparation are some of the best ways to calm your nerves. With practice you will gain confidence and enhance your skills. The following are a few actions that you can take to set yourself up for success. 

Attend a technical screening workshop.

We offer the following workshops to prepare you for technical screenings. At the workshops you learn interview strategies that will help you standout from other applicants. You can sign up for the next workshop in the Events section. 

  • Breaking Down the Online Technical Assessment
  • Hacking the Whiteboard Interview
  • Coding Interview Prep

Review the skills listed on the job post.

The employer is likely to test skills that are necessary for the job. Read the job post and note any technical skills or technologies that are listed. Then review any gaps that you may have in your skillset. 

Practice answering common technical screening questions.

There are many resources with practice technical screening questions. Try searching for common questions within your industry by searching phrases like “SQL interview questions” or “front-end developer interview questions” on your favorite search engine.

Complete practice problems on online assessment platforms.

The platforms listed below have coding challenges that you complete in order to build your coding skills and practice answering interview style questions. Some of them are even used by employers to deliver online technical assessments!


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