Looking for a role in the tech industry? Our Expert in Residence, Dee Murphy, discusses how to pass the tech test and land your dream job.
The ‘Practicum’, or technical test is a guaranteed part of the process for all candidates interviewing for engineering roles. Often conducted before a face-to-face interview, this process gives recruiters the evidence they need to qualify whether you have the baseline ability to do the job, and therefore warrant an in-house interview. These tests vary depending on the company or position and will take anywhere from 3-30 hours to complete.
Tests will most likely be led by the senior technical people in the company that you would work alongside if you were to get the job, and usually after a non-technical interview or telephone screening.
The first part will be an analysis of the skills mentioned in your application or during the pre-screen chat. The second part will be a deeper dive into your experience related to particular skills (e.g. C++) and finally a test of your basic logic, computing ability and problem solving skills (e.g. finding errors in a program).
You may also get asked to complete a more abstract task such as ‘create a product or piece of software for a customer’ in which case you’ll be expected to explain how your idea or solution would work and how you would implement it.
Here’s how to survive the technical interview:
Practice, practice, practice. Go back to basics and strengthen your foundational knowledge, run through common programming paradigms and write simple software applications in the programming languages you’ll be assessed on.
You will be asked tricky questions during the process but remember that the solution nearly always lies in something rudimentary and basic. Think carefully and break down processes in your head or on paper, before explaining an answer or beginning your code. Your ability to plan and analyse is just as important as your ability to perform technically.
Don’t wing it! The technical interview is not the time to chance your arm or pretend to know more than you do. If you’re unsure, ask the interviewer for guidance. They’ll respect your enthusiasm and commitment to learning.
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