IT Skills Assessment

by Mark Ko
IT Skills Assessment

A survey of nearly 1,700 SHRM members found that 56 percent of employers use pre-employment assessments to measure an applicant’s skills, knowledge, and experiences.

When the cost of a bad hire reaches more than $800,000 according to some execs, it pays to take the time to assess and vet your candidates thoroughly. Along with interviews, you want to make sure you have a strong skill assessment and reference check practice.

Below we’ll cover how you can use IT skills assessments to find the best IT candidates and improve your quality of hire.  

What Is an IT Skills Assessment?

IT skills assessments are pre-hire tests you can use to evaluate an applicant's IT knowledge, skills, experiences, and expertise. Most hiring teams use IT skills assessments alongside interviews, reference checks, and other pre-hire tests to get a fuller picture of your candidate. 

IT skills assessments are typically hard skills tests that can evaluate a range of IT skills, including programming skills, web analytics, software testing, cyber security, quality assurance, database design, software programming, and more. 

How to use an IT skills assessments

We recommend using an IT skills assessment directly after or before the first interview. Skills assessments are good ways to evaluate whether a candidate is ready for an interview, or they can be used to help you make a decision after multiple successful interviews.

You should cater your skills test to reflect the demands of the specific role you’re hiring for, and testing for general skills that most IT professionals should be able to demonstrate is also a solid approach. More often than not, these tests will focus on hard skills, but testing candidates for soft skills is important – especially if the candidate will be working in a team setting or overseeing employees. 

Why you should use an IT skills assessment

The real question is why shouldn’t hiring leaders utilize IT skills assessments? Prices for skills tests range anywhere from a few dollars for a test to $10,000+ annually for a full subscription. When bad hires cost you 30 percent of a new employee’s first-year salary on average (according to the U.S. Department of Labor), it will save you money, time, brand equity, team morale, and more to implement the right tools and hire with confidence. 

And IT roles are technical positions. Depending on your needs, they require a range of computer, programming, and development skills, which are generally easier to test for than more conceptual skills, like some soft skills. IT skills assessments aren’t all-in-one solutions or a quick-fix answer to finding the best candidates, but they are practical tools that can be used in conjunction with a number of other pre-hire assessments (interviews, reference checks, other skills tests, etc.). 

What to Test for in Your IT Skills Assessments

Depending on the languages you’re working with and the type of role you’re filling, there’s a wide range of things you can test for in an IT skills assessment. Here are a few things you can test for when hiring an IT professional: 

  • Programming skills
  • Web analytics software
  • Software programming
  • Database design
  • Ability to operate IT systems 
  • Standard subject-based tests, like Microsoft Office simulations or Java tests
  • Cyber security
  • Networking/DevOps
  • Data science
  • Artificial intelligence

Unsure about how to implement an IT skills assessment? Check out our ultimate skills-based hiring guide.

IT Skills Assessment Example Template Questions

There are a number of ways to test for IT skills depending on what kind of role you’re hiring for. One way to use a reference check, for example, is to allow candidates to assess themselves and compare their scores with their references. 


Here are a few questions you can use to get a self-assessment score from candidates. 



Strongly agree




Strongly disagree

I have a strong understanding of the specified programming languages for this role (Java, Python, etc.).


I have a proficient understanding of Microsoft Office and its various Word processor packages.


I have extensive experience in web authoring and am confident in my web editing capabilities.


I am comfortable working with databases and can modify complicated data structures.


I am proficient in _____ software. 


Short Answer Responses

  1. What steps do you take to keep your IT knowledge up to date?
  2. Why did you get into IT? 
  3. What development tools are you most familiar with? 
  4. Walk us through your troubleshooting strategies.
  5. If you were given a task you didn’t know how to complete, what would you do?
  6. Imagine you’re explaining a complex IT-related challenge to an entry-level hire; what would your approach be in communicating with them?
  7. What’s your leadership style? What are some key strategies to effectively lead and manage an IT team? 

Final Thoughts: IT Skills Assessment Test

IT skills assessments can be great tools and assets to your hiring process. They allow you to identify key hard and soft skills and provide candidates with an opportunity to score themselves, which you can later compare with references.

With Crosschq, we’re dedicated to helping you improve the gold standard of hiring metrics, quality of hire. Our Q (Quality of Hire) Report leverages 24+ million hiring decisions, allowing us to come up with five radical insights on what works and what doesn’t when measuring quality of hire. 

Sign up for a Crosschq demo to learn more about how you attract, retain, and develop top talent.

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Mark Ko

Content Writer

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Topics from this blog: Candidate Assessments


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