As a full service agency one of the things we offer clients is that every technical candidate undergoes tests before they’re sent for interview. This way we know that they are capable of operating in the coding languages that the client needs. People wonder how we do this so this will throw a little light on the matter.
All the tests relate to specific coding languages and consist of multi-choice questions. Each question has one 100% right answer and other alternatives that are right, but not quite as specific as they could be.
The questions are mixed up relating to various aspects of the subject being tested and, if the candidate gets question 1 absolutely spot on, the next time a question around that particular aspect comes up it will be harder, adapting to the candidate’s skills.
So, for instance, if question 1 is about PHP namespaces and the candidate chooses the best answer, when PHP namespaces comes up again, perhaps at question 15, the question will be harder than if the candidate has chosen one of the alternative answers in question 1.
The results are given in categories 10 up to 18 (the highest). Sometimes a client will request a bespoke test and this can be arranged too.
What the tests don’t reveal is whether a candidate can code a project in a specific environment – only that they are competent at the level required in understanding the code and know what they’re talking about.
This is important as many candidates list a long string of codes that they ‘can use’, but their depth of understanding can be shaky in some of these. Sending people for interview without evidence that they are fluent in the code is a huge waste of everybody’s time.
When a tested candidate arrives for interview the interviewers are starting from a place where they can be confident that the candidate is competent in the code they require. However, we do advise them to give them the opportunity to show what the can do with something that is specific to the project.
In effect, interviewing a pre-tested and interviewed candidate is like starting at the short-list without having to go through that tedious first interview ‘weeding out’ process.