IT: Machine Tests, Overcome the Hurdle

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Ace The Test!

Machine tests, also known as practical tests, are a great way to test out employee candidates who have some experience in working in the software field. For a company, there may be lots of applicants to a job vacancy for, let’s say a software engineer, Even though the vacancy is for just one or two people, hundreds of applications and resumes can reach the company. Of course, even with some filters like minimum experience and educational qualifications, the number of resumes that come into the office is still large.

Besides we can’t judge just how good someone is just by looking at their resume. Most of the time experience is just a number, just because someone has let’s say 5 years of experience in programming, doesn’t mean that they are a good fit for the position a company has. Maybe someone with just one year of experience can do better than the guy with five years under his belt.

How good are you?

-It depends on skill.

Code is fun to watch
Coding is fun -Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

The best way to gauge that skill is to have to perform in your environment. Give them a task that you know can be completed in a set time frame. a small task which challenges their problem-solving skills can easily help you see how they handle a task. In short, a machine test is a means by which a recruiter can see how you perform. If a company is conducting a machine test, it’s to see how you handle pressure, how you react to a given obstacle, and how you solve a problem.

The choice for a skill is yours
The choice for a skill is yours

I have been conducting a few machine tests lately and I fell there are things the candidates should prepare on before they attend it. This article is not a surefire way to ace a test. It’s a helping hand for those who are preparing for a machine test, for those who don’t know what a machine test, is, and for those who might get an opportunity to attend one. I’ll be giving out little pointers that will give you an edge in machine tests so hang on tight while we take a closer look at a companies machine test.

Machine tests : The fundamentals.

As I mentioned before, machine tests are solely there for testing just how good your skills are. You will be placed in an almost work-like environment and given a fixed time to complete a task. Usually, the problems are based on your experience, level of knowledge and requirements the company has set for the position. It’s a good idea to do research on the company and the position which you are applying to.

If you are not aware of what you are applying for then you cant prepare well for it.

Just knowing that the position available is “software engineer ” does not qualify as doing adequate research. You need to consider what language are they expecting, what level of experience is required,  what kind of technologies do they work on, which OS should be specialized on and so on. There are tons to do research on so don’t slack off on it. If the opening is for a PHP developer, then you don’t have to prepare for it using other languages like C.

Never Forget the Basics.

If you have done programming then you should remember that pattern exercises we did when learning the language. Exercises like printing ‘*’ ‘s in specific patterns like pyramids, diamonds etc. Those were not just basics, they are the fundamental building blocks we used to master coding. They may have been exercises, but that is no excuse to forget how to do them. Those exercises were there so that you can understand the fundamentals of loops and if conditions.

If someone is not skilled in using for loops and conditional statements effectively, then irrespective of their experience, they are not qualified. I have seen many times when applicants failed to recreate simple patterns like this during machine tests. So always learn the basics.

Think about what makes you a perfect fit for the role
Start from a.b.c of coding

Watch what you write in your Resume

Your resume is how you introduce yourself to the company. Do Not fill it with everything and anything that comes to mind. When you are an experienced programmer, you tend to have an arsenal of programming languages under your belt instead of just one. Languages like javascript, JQuery, CSS, Ajax etc are used by just about every web developer. But frameworks are different.

Just because you used one framework for a single project doesn’t mean you are good at it. So think twice before writing a bunch of programming languages in your resume. I usually give customized tests sometimes to people having plenty of experience and knowledge in a wide array of languages. I think other examiners think along the same line. So it’s a good idea to specify how long you worked on the language or your level of knowledge in it.

To choose from a group, the best person for the job is hard.

Sometimes when we see a resume filled with ten or more programming languages we usually pick one of them and test the candidates knowledge on that. So always be ready to be able to do any code in the languages you list out in your resume. If you are not confident enough to do it just mention that you only know the basics of the language. There’s no shame in that. You can refer here for my guide on how to make a great resume.

Practice makes Perfect

The harder you work, the better you get.

There are tons of example question on the web. Even if it’s not on the language you specialize in basic c programs can be implemented in just about all the languages. So refer such questions online and see if you can implement them in your favorite language. The best way to prepare for machine tests is to simply practice your coding skills. Websites like HackerRank can surely help with this.

Think outside the box when necessary.

Usually, for higher experienced applicants we don’t give out the hardest question we can find. Instead, we give some question we usually give trainees and see how they approach the question. By looking at someone’s code you can tell a lot about their style. So an experienced coder would have a more organized piece of code. A single problem can be approached by different methods.

Here we look for efficiency and time management rather than skill. Even a simple CRUD (Create Read Update and Delete) Problem can be given to them.but most of the time I’ve seen them fail at this even when those with lower experience managed to finish them in lesser time. Some just give up if they run into a problem. If you get stuck on a problem look at it from a different angle. The problems usually how you look at it. From my personal experience, a change in perspective really helps when you are stuck on a problem.

Google as much as u can.

For a programmer, there’s no better friend than google. Improve your googling skills. It’s the sharpest tool you have so use it as much as you can. Most problems you face are already solved by someone out there. Places like StackOverflow, Quora, and online forums discuss similar problems and collaborate with many others and solve these hiccups.

Why waste your time solving something that’s already solved.

Most solutions are just a google away.

So when preparing for machine tests, don’t be afraid to rely on google. Improve your ability to find things on google. The only way to do that is by more googling. In fact, googling can be the best skill you can develop.

The key to success is Preparation

As I have said many times before, preparation is key. The best possible thing we can do is to prepare for every scenario as best as we can. Remember that hard work always pays off and that with a little planning and hard work just about anyone can get past these challenges with ease. Do practice problems and try things differently, explore the internet and expand your scope, there are countless things to learn. Just when you think it’s over, there’s a new chapter filled with whole new challenges up ahead. So prepare well and surpass your limits.

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