Take home coding tests are seen by many as the ideal alternative to stressful in person live tests. While that may be true to a certain extent, it doesn't mean that there aren't pitfalls to be wary of, here are my 6 top tips for making sure you crack your next take home test:
- Make sure you know exactly when the test is due, they might be casual about it but see if you can nail them to a deadline. This would be expected in a job and so you should do the same here, it actually works in your favour as well, if they want it done in 24 hours and you had been thinking "I'll get to it at the weekend" you can now re-asses.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about it if you need to. It’s unlikely that they have covered off literally everything in the spec. If you are short on time and just want to get started then add a comment to the readme about an assumption you made that saved you asking a question.
- Add a readme, explain your thinking and approach. At the end of the readme add some notes on what you found challenging and how you would improve it. Make sure the readme contains all steps required to get the project up and running so that they can run it locally if they want to.
- Ideally host it as a Github repo and send them the link to it. Emailing projects with many files zipped up can be flaky.
- Flag best practice breaches. If you go down the Github route and have passwords or API tokens in your code then highlight in the readme, or in a comment, that you know this is bad practice but for the purposes of the test you have included them. If the test specifically tells you not to do this then don’t, however that’s getting beyond what I think would be expected of in a reasonable take home test.
- Don’t solve more than they ask for, the idea here is that you have been given a task to do to assess your coding skills and your ability to follow instructions. By all means do a good job but this isn’t the time to “express yourself”.
There you have it, everything you need to make sure your next take home test.
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