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What is a Technical Assessment?

A man taking an assessment as part of his technical interview.

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A technical assessment can be part of a technical interview or something you do in addition to a technical interview. In rare cases, it’s given instead of a technical interview. But no matter what kind of technical assessment you take, acing this evaluation is often a critical step toward landing the job. Why?

These tests help an employer decide if you’re capable of everything your resume and cover letter say you are. And while they might sound a bit intimidating, technical assessments are nothing to fear. In fact, they can help you stand out from the other applicants.

What Is a Technical Assessment?

A technical assessment evaluates your technical abilities to do the job. Do you have the required skills the employer is looking for in candidates? If you do, how do you use them? Is it the same way the company wants or needs? Do you have some of the necessary skills but not all of them?

Technical interview assessments try to answer these questions (and more) by evaluating your hard skills. This is different from evaluating your soft skills, like communication, time management, and collaboration. How? 

Hard skills are required for this job, and that’s what a technical assessment and technical interview evaluate: do you have the essential skills for the role? Soft skills, though, are what you use in almost any and every job.

MORE: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Why Do Companies Use Technical Assessments?

Companies use technical assessments to see if you have the necessary skill set and if you have them at the level the company needs. For example, you might be able to work with Excel, but do you have the advanced Excel skills required for the role?

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Technical assessments also give the company insights into how you’ll approach the core functions of the role. Do you copy and paste individual cells? The whole row? The entire spreadsheet?

And finally, companies use technical assessments to see if your solution lines up with the way they want the job done. For example, the answer to your coding assessment may skip several steps because you discovered a fantastic shortcut that saves time. And while the company may be impressed you’ve found a timesaver, they may also think performing each step is more important.

Some companies, like PwC, issue assessments for most entry-level roles — which you’ll receive via email within a few hours after applying. This can help the company determine which candidates it wants to move forward to the interview round.

Is a Technical Assessment Part of a Technical Interview?

Technical assessments can be part of a technical interview, but that’s not always the case. Tests and evaluations come in many forms, so when and where you do your technical assessment varies.

In addition to being part of a technical interview, the technical assessment can be a take-home assignment or part of a case study.

>>MORE: 5 Technical Interview Questions for All Careers

What Industries Use Technical Assessments?

When you think of technical assessments and technical interviews, you probably think of tech-related industries. So, if you’re applying for a coding or software engineering job, you expect you’ll have a technical assessment and technical interview. And that’s absolutely correct!

But since technical assessments test your technical abilities for the job, they come in many forms. Your technical assessment could be: 

  • Creating a pitch deck for a sales role
  • Developing a marketing plan for a marketing role
  • Designing a social media campaign for a social media role
  • Editing an article for a writing or editing role
  • Analyzing a profit and loss statement for an accounting or financial analyst role

All of these assessments evaluate your technical or hard skills for the role!

How to Prepare for a Technical Assessment

So how do you prepare for a technical assessment? Here are the tips and tricks you need to knock it out of the park.

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Review the Role

Start by reviewing the job posting. In some cases, the employer includes a general outline of the interview process and if there’s a technical interview or technical assessment (or both!). 

But if the posting doesn’t include that information, review the job description to get a deeper understanding of the role to help you prepare for any technical assessments that do come your way.

For example, if you’re applying for a coding role and the posting says you must be proficient in JavaScript and Python, you should be prepared to do a technical assessment in one of those languages. Likewise, if the job is a business developer role and the main function of the job is to cold call prospects, you might need to prepare and send a cold email or make a cold phone call to demonstrate your abilities.

>>MORE: Best Coding Bootcamps Online for 2023


If you know what kind of technical assessment you’ll take or what platform the company uses to test applicants, practice, practice, practice! If nothing else, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with how the test works (like taking a practice SAT).

For example, Goldman Sachs and other other big employers use HackerRank to test engineering applicants. You can take a practice test to familiarize yourself with the process before completing your HackerRank technical assessment for your application.

>>MORE: Guide to Working at Goldman Sachs

Know Your Limits

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t complete the technical assessment. But instead of abandoning your application, be honest with the employer. Explain what you can’t finish and why you can’t. Maybe there’s a gap in your knowledge, or the test is at a much higher level than you expected. Or perhaps it’s an indication that the role isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.

Explaining to the employer what’s going on (instead of ghosting them) demonstrates you have the ability to identify and acknowledge your weaknesses, something that takes courage and self-awareness. And who knows? It could lead to the employer matching you to a role that’s perfect for you or offering the support you’ll need to thrive in the position.

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Rachel Pelta is the Head Writer at Forage. Previously, she was a Content Specialist at FlexJobs, writing articles for job seekers and employers. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, The Ladders, MSN, and Money Talks News.