Technical Screening Questions


What is Technical Screening

Technical Screening is the process of testing and evaluating a candidate’s skills and experiences against a set of requirements using conversation-friendly questions to uncover strengths and weaknesses without appearing confrontational. There are three types of screening questions.

  1. Generic Screening Questions
  2. Job Description Screening Questions
  3. Resume Screening Questions

Generic Screening Questions This is used to garner information about the candidate’s career, technical background knowledge and past experiences. These are the types of questions asked when the recruiter does not have enough information about the job requirements or the candidate’s resume (or has not spent time reviewing to understand both documents). A samples generic question is:

“How did you end up as Enterprise Architect?”

Prepare to spend some time listening to your candidate on this one. You may hear information from when he/she finished college, educational qualifications, to the current position he/she holds. From this question you can get the number of years a candidate has in a specific technology. Be attentive to this one…

Job Description Screening Questions: This is the type of question a technical recruiter would ask after the job description has been fully reviewed and understood. In this phase, the technical recruiter must/should go back to the hiring manager with questions. I refer to this as the Request for Information phase. Just ask any human resources professional, and they will inform you that job descriptions do not always have all the information that makes it easy for recruiters to find the right candidates. They’ve been cases of hiring managers asking for experience in a product whose release number was not yet available in the market.  Example ” 2+ years experience in MS Dynamics CRM 8.1a”. Imagine the indignation felt by a candidate when asked for his experience  in a product not yet released. So in this case the Request for Information – directed at your hiring manager should be something like this…

How many years have you used MS Dynamics CRM 8.1a? Or “How many developers/administrators do you currently have working on this product?”

Resume Screening Questions: Here the technical screening is based on the review of the job description and resume combined. The recruiter is now familiar with all the technical requirements of the  job description, and is able to describe the position as if he/she is the hiring manager (or close enough).

Technical Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

These are some of the questions asked on technical screening and here are my thoughts.

How important is the screening of a candidate? – Screening is one of strongest requirements for being a technical recruiter. This is why the employer or hiring manager is not doing it him/herself, the hiring manager believes that its your job to find a candidate that matches their requirement, and how would you find out if this candidate matches without performing a technical screen. Without a technical screen, a recruiter may present candidates that are either not qualified or over qualified, which makes both the candidate and hiring manager upset and diminishes the recruiter’s credibility.

What are some easy steps to screen technical resumes or candidates? -There are 3 steps to screen technical resumes:

  • Review and evaluate the job description for questions, skill (mis)matches, technology etc more
  • Evaluate the technical resume, looking for how each skill was used by candidate
  • List questions from resume and job description, asking candidate how each required skill was used – keep questions to 3-4 maximum on each encounter or phone call

Where can I find sample technical screening or pre-screening questions? See Products Page.

What happens when a recruiter does not call to screen? – When a recruiter does not call to screen, it’s a hit or miss, more a miss than a hit. The candidate is not really yours to present. You could of course present the candidate and it may turn out a good match – pure luck, but remember that becoming successful at your job should not be based on luck but on good practices. On the other hand, if the un-screened candidate is presented and turns out a bad match, you would have wasted several hours. Become more effective with your matching process, make sure you screen your candidates before presenting.