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Tech Talent Assessment: Innovative Interview Techniques to Assess Tech Talent

Tech Talent Assessment: Innovative Interview Techniques to Assess Tech Talent
Submitted by Sayoojya on

Traditional, linear interviews are becoming a thing of the past, with recruiters and assessors turning to innovative techniques to unearth the very best in tech talent. These techniques can include coding challenges, hackathons, and whiteboard exercises to evaluate candidate’s skills, experience, and creativity, such as their ability to collaborate and solve problems.

This article will explore these unconventional interview techniques to assess tech talent, focusing on real-world, problem-solving scenarios. In addition, we’ll uncover how these techniques can be implemented in a technical setting and how they can provide insights into a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Limitations Of Traditional Interview Techniques

Traditional interview techniques, even those devised for comprehensive technical interviews, have many shortcomings. However, the obvious issue is not digging deep enough into a candidate’s practical experience. By presenting the candidate with unique challenges, recruitment teams get direct insights into how the potential hire can adapt and deploy the right skills to complete a project.

However, depending on the needs of your organisation, you might also want to scale up the difficulty of the undertakings you’re inquiring about—there’s hardly any point in probing about workday staff augmentation with a candidate who has mostly worked with startups, as it’s pointless to focus on small-scale projects with someone who’s mainly been employed at Fortune 100 companies.

Presentations are also a great way to learn more about a candidate’s experience and history, but they don’t provide any insights into their ability. This is why innovative interview approaches are needed to fully evaluate a candidate’s skills and critical thinking.

Unconventional Interview Techniques To Assess Tech Talent

There is a wide range of interview techniques that can be deployed depending on the organisation, job role, and industry. In tech, the focus predominantly assesses a person’s practical skills and ability to collaborate. Because of this, recruiters are turning to more unconventional techniques such as coding challenges, hackathons, and whiteboard exercises.

Coding Challenges

Coding challenges are short exercises that can be completed remotely or in person under an imposed time limit. These challenges are designed to identify candidates with the ideal skill set for the role by assessing their practical skills in a real-world setting.

The benefits of coding challenges are:

  • They simulate a real-world project
  • They can be standardised so that every candidate is given the same challenge
  • They allow assessors to evaluate many factors to make an informed decision

This technique also allows assessors to fire relevant questions at the candidate based on the topic at hand. Likewise, you should also focus on adjacent fields—if a candidate says they’re adept at Python, this is a good excuse to ask about data science and how they’ve tackled (if they had the chance) certain, common or not, challenges.

When interviewing for a full-stack developer role, the coding challenge could involve a short exercise asking the candidate to create a basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) application for managing a list of tasks. This will assess both the frontend and backend capabilities of the candidate.


Hackathons are one-to-two-day events where developers, data scientists, data engineers, or any other type of IT professional are invited to solve a real-world problem designed by the organisation. This usually involves a prize, but in our scenario, this technique could also be used to identify the best candidate(s) for a specific role within a company.

Microsoft has established itself as an innovator in hackathons through its annual ‘Building the Future’ event. In these events, participants are challenged in various ways, including using blockchain technology to build mobile applications or designing shared infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Whiteboard Exercises

Whiteboard exercises involve giving the candidate a problem and having them propose a solution while explaining their decision-making on a whiteboard in a collaborative setting. This allows the candidate to display their critical thinking and work processes while communicating with the assessors and receiving live feedback.

Whiteboarding is the method of collaborating on a brainstorming session using a whiteboard, whether virtually or in person. These sessions have been used by teams globally for many years, to stimulate creativity as teams brainstorm new ideas or seek to solve a problem.

In a cybersecurity environment, candidates could be presented with a mock pen testing report and asked to analyse the data on a whiteboard, allowing assessors to gauge the quality of their conclusions based on the said data.


These are the three unconventional, innovative interview techniques for assessing talent in the tech industry. However, it is important to design each assessment technique based on the needs of the organisation and the demands of the role. Using these techniques broadly or generically will fail to achieve the purpose of the exercise and provide little in the way of valuable insights.

Tech recruitment specialists can craft interview experiences that go beyond the resume and help you design assessments that accurately gauge a candidate's fit for your unique company culture and role demands. Contact us today to meet our tech recruitment experts.