Originally published on https://www.alfiedarko.co.uk/posts/top10-techtest-tips/
If you’re doing up New Year, New Me, New Tech Job then take these tips I’ve compiled in order for you to submit a take-home technical test of high professional standards & secure the bag ?.
There have been many instances where I’ve not completed or done amazingly in regards to the project, but by putting these tips into action, I’ve always been able to reach the next stage. The secret sauce? Keep reading!
#1 Don’t assume, ask questions!
Some take-home technical tests leave things very ambiguous (in order to trip you up? For you to go in your own direction? Not sure yet ?). I feel like you shouldn’t make too many assumptions you should always ask about anything you are unclear of beforehand.
As a frontend developer, I usually find it useful to ask about things like, am I restricted to use certain technologies? Do I need to support certain browsers? (Internet Explorer ?)
It’s good to show that you want to understand the task as well as possible before you carry it out. Nobody wants to spend hours on something only to then realise they have gone in the completely wrong direction!
#2 Plan Plan Plan
Take a planned approach. Please don’t just start coding right away!
Document how you might approach the project, what you might need and things you might need to consider.
If you like drawing, you can do some quick diagrams (if necessary).
This not only helps you breakdown the problem at hand but it shows your interviewer that you can plan in order to tackle solutions.
#3 Detailed README’s
A good README is key. It should tell me everything I need to know about the project. This should include things like a summary, the technology used, how to install etc.
Don’t sleep on this as its the first thing your assessor will see!
Check this short and snappy article I wrote about README’s
#4 Deploy your app
Use Github Pages, Heroku, Zeit, Netlify etc. Anything you want so you can deploy your app!
It’s nice to show that you know how to deploy projects on the web and also if you get an interview (fingers crossed) it saves you time from having to install and run your app.
Instead you can just click on your app URL, and its there.
Don’t be that person scrambling around running into issues installing their own app! (Because I’ve been that person ?)
#5 Clean Code
Clean code is one of the most important things the assessors are looking out for. You want it to make sense not just to you, but for others too! Make sure your functions and variables are appropriately named. Having your files being nicely organized in the right folders also helps.
Also leave comments in your code at parts where ever you think people might need some explanation, especially with more complex logic.
You don’t want to be asked to talk through your code and get confused by what you wrote a few weeks ago! (Because I’ve been that person too ?)
We mostly want our project to be easy to reason through & files, components etc. easy to find!
#6 Write Tests
Writing tests are a big part of what you will do as a developer!
Unless asked not to, always write tests! Companies with good engineering practices really take testing seriously (hopefully ?)!
It’s definitely a good practice to get into. It also helps other people understand what your code is supposed to do!
#7 Don’t Rush!
Keep calm and don’t rush! Rushing often leads to mistakes, reduced foresight and often causes us to overlook the finer important details.
#8 Write TODOs!
If you happen to run out of time, don’t sweat it too much! Write a list of things you would have completed if you more time. You can also quickly bullet point the approach you would have taken.
Most of these things are to show insight into your problem-solving skills. Show the assessor that you knew exactly what you were doing & you had a plan!
I feel like this has helped me countless times. Especially in the job hunting season where you may find yourself juggling multiple take-home technical tests! (Remember: It doesn’t hurt them to give you a technical assignment instead of just not replying to your CV. So be aware when you’re dishing out your CV as they can pile up!)
#9 Write about what you could do better!
I always write about things I think I could have done better or improved. This illustrates good critical thinking in that you can look at your won code and pinpoint the parts that you think fall below your usual standard. If these are the same things the assessor picks out, it shows great awareness.
#10 Ask For More Time If Needed
The worst they can say is no. I have found companies quite open to you asking for more time. Nobody wants to read through rushed code anyway.
Let them know as early as you can that you may need more time because of life obligations. I like to tell them straight up that I have other technical tests to complete at the same time. Feel’s good to flip the sense of urgency back on the company you are interviewing for!
#Bonus: Have Fun With It!
Feel free to use things and tech you always wanted to try out, experiment with new approaches and use it as a learning opportunity (document all this in the README too!).
If you don’t get the job, then at least you have learnt from building the project! If you really like what you have done, then you can switch it up a bit and put it in your portfolio! Make every move benefit you in the long run!
I really hoped this helped! Thanks for reading!
Good luck with the job hunt!