The Technical Test Dilemma: A Deeper Dive

In today's tech-driven world, the hiring process often includes a step that elicits strong feelings from many engineers: the technical test. While I've personally been skeptical about its efficacy as a primary deciding factor, I also understand its necessity in certain contexts. Let's delve into this contentious topic and explore how to navigate it effectively.

The Two Sides of the Technical Test Coin

On one hand, if a candidate has a rich portfolio, such as side projects on GitHub or contributions to significant projects, it provides a clear window into their capabilities. In such cases, an additional technical test might seem redundant, even more so for seasoned professionals with over a decade of experience. It's almost comical to ask such a veteran to build a basic 'to-do' app!

However, in scenarios where a candidate's work isn't readily accessible, how does an employer gauge their technical prowess? This is where technical tests can serve as a bridge, offering a glimpse into a candidate's problem-solving approach and thought process.

Navigating the Technical Test Waters

If you find yourself facing a technical test, especially one with seemingly vague instructions, here's a roadmap to guide you:

Clear Communication:

If instructions are ambiguous, don't hesitate to seek clarity. It shows initiative and a desire to get things right.
If you understand the task but have made certain assumptions or taken shortcuts, articulate these decisions. Use the README file to outline your thought process, potential improvements, or any 'to-dos' for future iterations. Your code should communicate as effectively as a verbal explanation.

Attention to Detail:

It's not just about the destination but the journey. Employers often want to see how you arrive at a solution. Did you leverage all available tools before seeking external ones?
Highlight any concerns or areas of improvement. For instance, if you've used an ID for a table in an API task, note that using a UUID or ULID might be a better approach in a real-world scenario.

Efficiency and Optimization:

While it's essential to solve the problem, it's equally crucial to do so efficiently. Showcase your ability to optimize code and reduce redundancies.

Adherence to Best Practices:

Ensure your code is clean, well-organized, and follows industry best practices. This not only makes your solution more robust but also demonstrates professionalism and a commitment to quality.

Documentation and Comments:

A well-documented solution can be a game-changer. It shows that you care about the next developer who might work on your code. Comments can also provide insights into your decision-making process.

Scalability and Future-Proofing:

Highlight how your solution can be scaled or adapted for future requirements. It showcases foresight and an understanding of real-world application dynamics.

In Conclusion

Technical tests, while often dreaded, can be an opportunity. They offer a platform to not just showcase your technical skills but also your problem-solving approach, attention to detail, and communication abilities. So, the next time you're presented with one, embrace it as a chance to shine and remember: it's as much about the journey as it is about the destination.