It is said that seeing is believing: we are more inclined to invest confidence in a practical, rather than a theoretical, showcase of products or abilities.
I studied journalism at university, and every job I applied for after graduating had some form of test to provide my interviewers with a true and real-time example of my writing skills.
Testing highly technical skills in a formal interview is rarely practical in the IT industry and related sectors. Simply ensuring that the hardware for the job is in the right room can be a logistical nightmare.
Furthermore, getting a handle on a person's teamwork and communication skills can be difficult in an interview, which is why a more practical demonstration is favoured.
I believe this is prompting more companies to set up 'hackathons' and similar events, where groups of skilled amateurs are given challenges that put their technical talents to the test.
These events can range from challenges to hack into a networked device or create a mobile game in a day, to working out how to translate big data into useful, usable information.
One such event was a simulated cyber attack on the BT Tower, which tasked amateur hacking enthusiasts with breaking into the building's control server, which had been taken over by a bogus Anonymous-like hacker group.
Events like this not only serve to raise awareness of the skills needed in specific sectors of the technology industry, but give talent spotters a way to uncover individuals with sought-after technical skills outside the normal professional networks.
Representatives from BT, Patriot missile producer Raytheon, and other event sponsors, circled the hobby-hackers at the BT Tower event in a bid to sniff-out talented individuals with desirable skills who might be enticed into cyber security careers.
This approach gives companies a better insight into how professional hackers work in a practical environment, but it also unearths a rich seam of hidden technical talent.
Reports often paint a damning picture of the lack of digital skills in the UK, but I found it surprising to see obviously skilled hackers from a variety of backgrounds at the event.
The hobby-hackers had no professional cyber security training and were effectively self-taught from tinkering with software code and trawling online forums for hacking guides.
The introduction of compulsory coding into English schools will plug the skills gap in the long term. But I believe the short-term stopper comes in the form of recruiting through non-professional channels.
Cyber Security Challenge UK has run several hacking events, the winners of which have gone on to secure professional cyber security roles in major companies. These are jobs for which they would never normally be considered through a traditional interview process.
So I think it is inevitable that other companies will get involved in hackathons and similar technical skill testing events.
Rackspace, for example, helped to set up a boot camp designed to train talented PhD students to become data scientists.
And I predict that more companies in the technology industry will look past formal qualifications and eschew established recruitment practices.
This will open up opportunities for people with desirable skills but perhaps not the backgrounds that would normally attract them into the industry.
Even if this practical approach to sourcing skills does not succeed in closing the skills gap, it will certainly help to get the measure of the UK's hidden digital skills beyond specific sectors.
If nothing else, finding these skills will help to create the digital equivalent of the Territorial Army, where the industry can call on a reserve of skilled amateurs to bolster the professionals if a cyber war breaks out on UK servers.
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