BPS TECH Research: Inside the Minds of Developers – How They View Technical Knowledge Tests

In a recent survey conducted by our IT recruitment agency BPS TECH on the Serbian tech scene, we wanted to understand better the motivation and attitudes of candidates when knowledge tests are included in the selection process, in addition to interviews with the HR department or relevant Tech Lead. 
Through our years of daily conversations with candidates, we realized that this step in recruitment is often crucial in their decision-making about further participation in the process, so we wanted to verify the actual statistics and to what extent tests are a hated category, and what percentage of candidates find them very useful and important for their personal development. Also, for the purpose of a better comparison, at the end of the text, we have presented a brief report of global trends gathered in a conversation we had with the company DevSkiller.

What do we mean by knowledge tests and what did we measure?

Knowledge tests mean any testing aimed at assessing the candidate’s technical knowledge in the process of assessing the ability to work in a specific position.
Our research was focused on candidates’ attitude towards knowledge tests, as well as on the reasons why respondents form that attitude, and secondary factors that can influence whether the respondent wants or dooesn’t want to take the test.

The majority of respondents are IT professionals with several years of experience in the industry

The survey involved IT professionals of different seniority levels, while the results show that the majority of respondents (45.5%) are Seniors – IT professionals with several years of experience. After them, we received the most responses from Mediors (39.88%), while those with the least experience – Juniors, account for the smallest number of responses (14.7%).

The attitude towards the use of tests in the recruitment process is mostly negative

According to the research results, the majority of respondents (44%) have a mostly negative attitude towards testing, while the percentage of those who have a completely positive attitude is only 4%. However, there are IT professionals whose opinion on the topic is neutral, accounting for 13% of the total number of responses.

The reasons range from lack of time to the fact that the tests do not measure the true skills of the candidate needed for the job

When asked what reasons influence their negative attitude, by far the largest percentage of answers (59%) belonged to the fact that the tests often do not measure the right knowledge and experience needed to work in the position for which the candidate applied. Answers such as too much time consumption, or the lack of meaning of the tests because the tasks are repeated in the continuation of the interview with the technical person, also make up a significant percentage of the answers. In addition to the most prominent answers shown in the table, in our research there were also candidates who stated that the time given to perform the test is often too short, but also that companies often do not understand the private obligations of candidates and expect the same commitment to the test as to their primary job, which is unfeasible in most cases.

The attitude can also be positive – thanks to the tests, IT experts can test their technical knowledge

Comparing the total percentage – 44% of negative attitude against 3% of those whose attitude is positive when it comes to testing, the difference is evident. However, when it comes to those IT professionals whose attitude is positive, the response statistics are as follows:
  • Ability to assess current technical knowledge (32%)
  • Tests measure knowledge in a more objective way than technical interviews (25%)
  • Candidates have the freedom to manage the time they will allocate for the execution of the test (22%)
  • They feel more comfortable expressing their knowledge in writing form (21%)

Company’s reputation and employee experience have the biggest influence on the candidates’ decision to enter the process that contains the knowledge test

When asked which factors influence the decision to enter the process of which the knowledge test is an integral part, the largest number of answers (54%) indicated that it is of great importance what kind of reputation the company has on the market, what are the impressions of current employees, but also the quality of the projects they would work on. An interesting fact is that the responses regarding “departmental” attitudes are almost the same in number – 16% of the responses indicate that the candidates remain of the opinion that the testing is redundant regardless of the circumstances, while 18% of the responses indicate that there is no room for overthinking ifthe test is a mandatory segment of the selection process. Other responses show the attitude regarding the lack of transparency when it comes to the salary range for the position they applied for, while at the same time the company insists on setting aside time for the execution of the test.

DevSkiller Report

We also spoke with representatives of the company DevSkiller, which deals with tech skill assessment in addition to mapping the skills of technical persons. Thanks to given access to their annual reports, which analyze, among other things, the behavior of the candidates during the execution of the tests, we learned that their feedback is like the one we gathered through this research. Regardless of the market and company structure, the global attitude of candidates is that most of them have an animosity towards tests, except in situations where the tests replicate a project that the candidate will work on in the future. If the test represents form and not practicality, the candidate’s motivation decreases, and thus the desire to work in the given company.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the research!
For more information, DevSkiller report is available here.

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