Innovative Ways to Evaluate IT Talent


October, 2023

Innovative Ways to Evaluate IT Talent

topic IT Recruiting visibility1410 views

So you need to hire top tech talent for your company, but you're tired of the same old interview process. Sure, resumes and references can give you a sense of a candidate's experience and skills, but they don't really show you what someone can do, especially for highly technical roles. You want to see candidates in action, not just hear them talk about what they can do.

The good news is there are innovative new ways to evaluate IT talent that are far more engaging and effective than a standard interview alone. From coding challenges and hackathons to design sprints, these techniques allow you to see candidates' skills and creativity in action. They also give candidates a chance to demonstrate their passion for building new technologies.

For your next IT hire, consider supplementing the traditional interview with these interactive techniques. You'll get a far better sense of what candidates can actually accomplish, and you'll find candidates who truly love the work. Win-win! Leave the boring interviews behind - the future of IT recruiting is challenges, hackathons and more.

Coding Challenges Put Technical Skills to the Test

When it comes to evaluating technical talent, coding challenges are an innovative way to put skills to the test. Unlike a standard interview where candidates just talk about their abilities, challenges allow you to see what they can actually do.

Develop a challenge that replicates a real task or project your team works on. For frontend roles, ask candidates to build a basic web page or app. For backend, have them create an API. Evaluate not just whether it works but how clean, optimized, and scalable the code is.

Timebox the challenge to a few hours so it's challenging but doable. Provide any resources or starter code to level the playing field for all candidates. Be available to answer questions.

Once submitted, review the work with your team. Assess how the candidate approached the problem, if their solution is logical and shows technical depth, their coding style, and any best practices they followed.

For the top candidates, bring them in for a follow-up interview. Discuss their solution, how they would improve or expand on it, and dive deeper into their experience and soft skills. Between a coding challenge and in-person interview, you'll gain a well-rounded sense of who your best hire might be.

Hackathons take the challenge concept to another level. Hosting an event where candidates work on a project together over a few days can reveal key qualities like collaboration, communication, leadership and the ability to work under pressure. While more time-intensive, hackathons provide an unparalleled chance to see candidates in action.

Whether a short challenge or multi-day hackathon, skills-based assessments give you an authentic view into candidates’ technical abilities and potential for your team. When hiring for critical IT roles, coding challenges and hackathons should be an essential part of your interview process.

Hackathons Showcase Problem-Solving and Teamwork

Hackathons are intense events where programmers, designers, and project managers come together to build innovative solutions. For companies hiring IT talent, hackathons offer a glimpse into how candidates think on their feet and work with teams under pressure.

Hackathons showcase problem-solving skills and collaboration

At a hackathon, participants are given a tech-related challenge and only 24 to 48 hours to develop a solution. This means coming up with an idea, designing the solution, building a prototype, and presenting it to judges - all in a very short time frame. To be successful, participants need to be able to understand the problem, brainstorm solutions, make quick decisions, and work with teammates they’ve just met.

For recruiters, observing candidates in this environment provides insight into their technical and soft skills that a standard interview may miss. You’ll see how applicants handle obstacles, make compromises, resolve conflicts and motivate their teams. Candidates who thrive under pressure, facilitate collaboration, and build innovative solutions are ideal for fast-paced IT roles.

While hackathons may seem chaotic, they give companies a chance to identify talent that will hit the ground running. Candidates who do well have a growth mindset, think outside the box, and make the most of limited resources. If you’re looking to build an agile team of developers, designers or tech leads, get out of the interview room and into the hackathon. The results may just surprise you.

Real-World Simulations Assess Communication and Critical Thinking

Real-world simulations are innovative ways to evaluate critical soft skills in IT candidates like communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Coding challenges

Give candidates a complex coding problem and see how they work through it. This allows you to assess their logic, coding style, and ability to optimize solutions. Provide incremental requirements to solve so you can evaluate how they respond to changing needs, much like in a real work environment.


Hosting a hackathon, whether in-person or virtual, lets you observe how candidates collaborate in teams to develop tech solutions to problems. You’ll gain insight into their creativity, technical skills, and ability to work with others under pressure. The solutions they build can even be integrated into your business.

Pair programming

Ask candidates to solve a coding problem together while explaining their thought process. This collaborative approach tests communication skills, ability to consider different perspectives, and talent for articulating complex technical concepts to non-technical colleagues.

Simulations like these give you a glimpse into the “soft” skills of candidates that are hard to determine from a standard interview alone. They replicate the types of challenges your team faces and allow you to assess if a candidate will be a good fit in your company culture. While interviews have their place, real-world simulations may just be the innovative evaluation techniques you’ve been looking for.


You're looking for new ways to evaluate IT talent that go beyond the usual interview process. Coding challenges, hackathons, and other innovative assessments allow you to see candidates in action and determine if they have the passion, collaborative skills, and technical abilities you need. They also give candidates a chance to showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills in an authentic way.

If you want to hire the best and brightest, you need to update your talent evaluation methods. Move over interviews, the future of IT recruiting is all about real-world challenges, collaborative competitions, and the chance for candidates to demonstrate just how innovative they can be. Give it a try - you and your candidates will be glad you did. The future of your company could depend on it.

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