A DrakkenTech, are committed to giving opportunities to developers from tough backgrounds and to empower them with both soft and hard skills. We have some wild stories about taking on interns that cannot even explain what a “function” or a “variable” is.
After processing these experiences, we have realised that we do not position ourselves as an organization that teaches our employees basic coding concepts. So, we got serious about technical assessments.
In the coming weeks, we will share more about our journey in developing a rigorous yet lean technical assessment, and we also want to hear your thoughts on the subject.
But for now we will just share some tips to developer candidates who are coming up on a technical assessment, whether with us or elsewhere.
Before your technical assessment
Hover over the boxes to read about experiences that we’ve had that led to this tip.
During your technical assessment
We asked our Director (Pieka Grobbelaar), to give you some extra advice. Here is what he had to say:
Should candidates touch-up on their skills or go “test” their knowledge? What do you think is the best practice is?
I would say to do things like HackerRank or something that follows a similar format. I’m not sure it would be helpful to read up or dust off all your coding knowledge because there is so much ground to cover, whereas a couple of exercises would be better.
If you got stuck on a question, what would you do / how would you approach the situation?
If I don’t immediately know the answer, I would break the problem down into smaller steps, which I think any developer should be able to do. You then take the first step and Google an answer. That is of course if you are allowed, otherwise at some point you’ll have to cut your losses and tell the interviewers you don’t know and move onto the next question.
How would you mentally prepare before a technical assessment?
As I said previously, I don’t think “studying” is the way I would prepare, but mentally I would prepare for it the same way I would prepare for an exam. On that note, I have it on good authority that to study hard the day before and get a good night’s rest, is better that putting in tons of “extra hours” the night before, at the cost of sleep. Adequate sleep will afford you more much-needed clarity of mind during the assessment. Also, don’t stress yourself out too much. Rather see the assessment as an exciting challenge and opportunity.
I would even go as far as to create an environment for myself where I would feel more relaxed, comfortable and calm.
If during the technical assessment you got overwhelmed with stress, how would you calm yourself down in that moment so that you can finish the question?
This one is hard for me to answer because I quite good at sidestepping downward spirals over a stressful situation, but I suppose I would try to slow down and regain composure, mental composure also. Maybe even ask for a three minute break to just stand up, go outside, breathe a couple of times, and give yourself a little pep talk. And I would like to add something I learned from Stoic Philosophy and that is: rather than telling yourself “You got this”, because sometimes you don’t, you should tell yourself it’s survivable or that it’s “not that deep”. Even if you fail the technical assessment, exam or whatever dismally, you’ll survive and there’s always tomorrow and there’s always another opportunity.
What advice would you give to someone you cared for that is will soon undergo one of these technical assessments?
I would tell them to make sure they’ve been coding for a couple of weeks in advance. Make sure that you’re “code fit”. Don’t take a couple of months off after you’ve graduated your course, and then go two or three months without coding, and attempt a technical assessment with little or no preparation. That’s just looking for trouble.
Lastly, I would say to read this blog 🙂
So, stay focused, stay calm, and approach each assessment with confidence. Happy coding and goodluck for all your future technical assessments!