How to succeed at technical tests
Lessons learnt from hundreds of interview processes
Technical tests are meant to be an exercise to check how well you code. Not all companies look for the same thing, but there are definitely best practices you should live and die by when you submit your work.
Here are some guidelines, with some real life employer feedback on why the test got rejected.
Planning your project
Design your solution to the problem
Before you start coding, think about the problem. Take a pen and paper, draw, think about the constraints and how to OO your code properly. You have to show this and explain what design patterns or other decisions you took BEFORE you jumped into it.
- What are the downsides of your solution? Are there other solutions that would be better?
- Is your solution overkill? Does the task really require a full web app, or would a command line app be fine?
Employer quote: “They approached every problem as a CRUD style web development problem.”
Ask questions about the task
If you have questions about the tech test, just ask the employer. They will be happy to answer.
You’re not a code monkey. If you disagree with something, say it.
Take your time
It’s not a race. Don’t forget most people don’t have tests specifically for juniors so even though the test might mention a time frame, ignore it. Seriously, ignore it and build something incredible.
TDD TDD TDD TDD
No question about this, start everything TDD/BDD properly.
Employer quote: “2 out of the 4 devs who submitted a tech test…have not tested their code. This was a reason for [us] to reject them right away.”
- Make many smaller commits, rather than one giant commit.
Careers team quote: [One of] the big 3 things we hear from employers [is] commit often, not one big commit.”
- Commit on green.
- Write clear commit messages.
Employer quote: “There was no explanation [in the commit] of what was going on.”
Do it on your own
If this is a real tech test that you will submit to a company, do it on your own. Unfortunately, coaches won’t be able to help you. You can, of course, use Google and your normal developer tools.
Complete all the tasks
Try to complete all the tasks/features specified in the tech test description.
Tell the employer when you will submit your code
Make sure you communicate with the company when they should expect to get your code. This will demonstrate that you understand how you work and you can meet deadlines.
If you’re a Makers alum, then don’t forget to check out the resources in GitHub: There’s a submission checklist, a testing checklist and a README checklist — so you can be 100% certain you’ve got all your bases covered.
Interested in applying for the course? Check out what we do here.