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I received an email for a web company position I applied to. They are asking me to provide a 1h time slot, so that they can make me pass a coding test.

They'll send the test, start the time, and 1h after, I'll have to provide them what I came up with. This will be on Python and Javascript.

I'm a developer since 18 months only, as I was a Unix SA for 15 years before this. Is it a common practice? How to prepare and is there any tests examples on the net? I cannot find any.


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closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, Yusubov, Glenn Nelson, Corbin March, World Engineer Aug 13 '13 at 22:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Remember that interviewing is a two-way street. Use the test as an opportunity to evaluate their ability to write a decent spec, their ability to determine what can be accomplished in an hour, etc. –  Dan Pichelman Aug 13 '13 at 21:20
Put on hold by some members :( –  Apero Aug 14 '13 at 1:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, it's a common practice.

And most major online/freelancing job websites have them available.

Programmers feel sick and tired of tests, and it can even seem a bit insulting considering their experience, degrees, or certifications. Finding a job is tedious, jumping through the hoops is laborious, and having one more hoop to jump through is no doubt yet another anguish.

But from the employer's perspective, there are many reasons to test, and only a few not to:

Why an employer should test:

  1. Make sure the candidate is proficient
  2. Weed out the non-serious candidates
  3. Company hiring may require testing
  4. They don't know anything about programming and need a test to tell them if the candidate is proficient

Why an employer shouldn't test:

  1. It might scare/offend away the candidate
  2. The candidate might be so proficient they don't need the test

As other answers state, cramming is a horrible testing strategy. But it is always a great idea to work on sample tests, as you've asked about.

Stack Exchange even has some questions from test interviews here, and there are many example interview tests for python and javascript on the internet. It is possible (but unlikely) to pull up a test, study for it, and then be presented that exact test on a job interview, as some tests are pulled from the internet.

Here are some example interview questions that can be found on Stack Exchange sites:

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I want to note that my current company was getting 20 low-quality resumes a day with no programmer test. With a test in the job description, that number dropped to 2 much higher quality applications per week. Mileages vary of course, but this is just an example. –  rlb.usa Aug 13 '13 at 21:21
I'd expect to get tested in some way if it's what they're hiring me to do... –  James Snell Aug 13 '13 at 21:29
@JamesSnell That's a great idea : Set your expectations to be tested. If you don't, cool! If you are, it's not a big deal because you expected it already. –  rlb.usa Aug 13 '13 at 21:31
Sometimes the test itself is also irrelevant and what they're looking at is how the candidate approaches the task or tasks. –  James Snell Aug 13 '13 at 21:33
We do require a test where I work. It doesn't filter out all the bad candidates but I'm sure more than we would get otherwise. We still do white board tests when they come in just to verify they didn't falsify the test. The written test I've seen shouldn't take more than 30 minutes except for a middle of the road associate level. –  Rig Aug 13 '13 at 23:03

Is it a common practice?

It's not uncommon, though I expect it will vary by locale. About a third of the companies I've applied to have had some sort of test, mostly coding, though some have been written.

How to prepare and is there any tests examples on the net?

You shouldn't. If you're not in a state where you can finish a simple coding test, you probably shouldn't get the job. Cramming for a test only hurts the company you're applying to and your career. If you're going to practice, then practice for the job not the test.

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You should read Cracking the Coding Interview.

It's a book aimed at preparing you for thechnical interview questions on the "big companies" like Facebook, amazon, Google, etc. but I'm sure you can learn a lot from it.

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