It can be frightening to take a coding test and with good reason! Whether it is to get an interview or if it is the final step to landing the job, most of the time these assessments are make or break to move on with the interview to offer process. But with enough preparation, you can ace the interview and move one step closer to getting your ideal job.
How to Get Ready
Majority of the time in today’s virtual world, whether it is for an entry level or especially a senior level position, some type of assessment will be involved such as: Codility, CodeSignal, HackerRank, a company created live test, etc. There are a few things you should do to get ready if you're applying for a development job at a company that uses a coding test.
Do not Over Think but Take nothing for Granted
Don't underestimate how challenging a coding interview will be or expect that your abilities will be sufficient as the first step in effectively preparing for one always expect the unexpected. At the same time try not to over think and cause yourself anxiety or stress before it is time to take it, as this can cause you to second guess yourself and/or go against your gut which can waste time especially in cases of a timed test.
Coding interviews are intended to test you as much as possible, regardless of how skilled a developer you may be. These kinds of interviews provide the business with insight into your thought process such as troubleshooting and problem-solving issues that may arise in a real-life environment, how you approach challenges, and if you simply perceive the obvious underlying problems, in addition to evaluating your basic coding skills as it pertains to the job you are or might be interviewing for.
Get to Know the Business
Finding out as much information as you can about the business is another crucial step.
1. What specific software or services do they focus on?
2. What are the job details such as programming languages, Databases and frameworks are they developing with?
3. On what projects is the business now engaged and have you had any past experience working on a similar project?
4. What is their industry and what businesses do they collaborate with?
Take time to look the company up on LinkedIn, google, YouTube even. Do you have any colleagues (former or present) who knows about them or knows someone currently working there? Get to know the backgrounds of the team and know who you are interviewing with.
Get the basics down.
Frequently, a coding test would require you to perform supposedly simple tasks like modifying/debugging code or creating an algorithm that, in most cases, you could find online for free especially with YouTube, Google, even Tik-Tok, it should be fairly simple to find articles and videos from industry veterans who are hiring managers themselves.
These activities are typically designed to see how you approach and tackle the challenge. They are testing you to see if you would approach the situation simply or overthink it.
Practice (Write out your Code)
I know I keep bringing up Google and YouTube quite often, but none the less they are great tools for knowledge. Visual learners can watch countless videos on YouTube on preparing for assessments. With Google you have access to hundreds if not thousands of free practice tests you can take beforehand, so it is very important you find time to practice. The more relaxed you are going into an assessment, the better the chance you have in passing.
Another great way to practice is your past or current colleagues. If you have worked in the industry for years and are interviewing for a better opportunity reach out to some of your connections (past co-workers or even managers) for tips or even, ask them if they themselves use an assessment in their hiring process. If you are new to the industry reach out to your friends or former classmates who recently got a job or are interviewing themselves. This is a great way to get real life expectations of what may be involved in a coding assessment whether it is for an internal “Live Test” and especially for a platform like Codility or HackerRank.
While the test is on the computer, most companies will require you to write your code out during the interview.
Therefore, go into each coding exam fully aware of how crucial it is to the business. Even if the interviewer tries to reassure you by suggesting the outcome won't be determined by the results, they probably will. The business ultimately wants to know that you can deliver on your promises, and there is rarely a better way to do this than to demonstrate your ability to deliver.
Most importantly eliminate any doubt and stress, and the best way to do this is to arm yourself beforehand with as much knowledge and practice before your interview. The more comfortable and confident you are, the more successful you will be in passing an assessment.
Despite the difficulties, you can master your coding interview and get one step closer to your goal with a little homework, research, and preparation.