Time management advice for short timed test for job?


Has anyone got any advice for me for this situation:

With a view to getting a job as a web developer, I have to take a practical timed test in a week’s time. I took a web form based test for them and did OK apparently. Well enough for them to continue with me. Basically it’s a XHTML, CSS and JavaScript and PHP position. Generally I’m OK in these things. When I need to do something I can get it done pretty well but I’m not super fluent. I’ll often fall back onto books, websites, asking questions etc. But I can always get a good job done in the end, just not super fast.

So this test is going to be a practical project I guess, I’ll have two and half hours to spend on it, then that’s it, they judge what I got done in that time. So I’m a bit worried about that. I can imagine myself being overwhelmed, have to look things up, and basically end up within the time hardly doing anything. Obviously that’s a pessimistic view but that’s my fear.

So I’m wondering if anyone has any advice about how to manage my time during the test? Obviously I need to read the brief very well several times to start with but at that point I can see me thinking, there’s no way I can do all that in the time and getting in a bit of a mess and not behaving in the best way from then on. There’s every chance that the test requires too much to be done in two and half hours, and they’re just interested in how far I get. One thought I’ve just had: should I aim to get the whole thing done in whatever manor (in a quick and dirty kind of way, anything that just basically works), or get one bit done well? Maybe the brief/test question will offer guidance on that.

Any thoughts/advice on best way to tackle it please? :slight_smile:

I suppose I should set about brushing up on my PHP (including OO?) and JS now… :frowning:

In the “real” world you have Google and other sources to look things up. This is not a real world test but more of a memory test. Your best preparation is probably a good movie and a good night’s sleep.

By way of anecdote, when NCR was considering hiring me I too got a time bound test, three hours for three problems. I did the thing and looked at my watch, less than half an hour had passed. Now I was worried, why would they give me so much time for such a seemingly simple test? I went over the thing and could find nothing wrong. About 35 minutes had gone by. What the heck, might as well hand the thing in. I was hired.

Some time later I met the fellow who had given me the test and I asked him why so much time for such a simple test? How many many right answers did you need to pass? He replied: “All of them have to be right, we score you by the time it takes to complete the test.” I said: “Had I know that, I would have handed in the test sooner but I took my time to review the results.” Then he said: “You had me worried. I have the world speed record for that test and you almost beat me.” LOL

Movie and a good night’s rest!

Right, thanks [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue]captainccs.

I will have access to Google etc. though as I’m doing this at home. My concern wasn’t/isn’t that I can’t look up at all, my concern is that working and looking stuff up and asking questions is slow. Slowness is not OK. I suppose that’s exactly what the test is designed to get at. Oh well.

What sort of tests were the three tests you were given?


I hesitated telling you about my tests because there is no way to know if they have any similarity with that you are going to get. It’s a bad idea to get fixated on the wrong idea. :wink:

I had to play computer. I was given some input and three pseudo-code algorithms and asked to give the answer the computer would give. Loops and branches. There was nothing to “know” beyond the three Rs (read, rite, rithmectic). For this kind of test your best preparation is to be rested and relaxed. Now it’s up to five Rs! (read, rite, rithmectic, rested and relaxed) :cool:

Stress will kill you in this situation, as captain mentioned.

The simple answer is know the basics. If you cant remember how array_walk works, then use a foreach. Almost every function is just a shortcut for doing things with basic language constructs. It may not be the cleanest, fastest way to express the code, but it works. And feel free to stick a comment in there ( //Replace this with array_walk ) or some such, that way they can look at your code and know ‘Okay, he knows he can do this better, but didnt have the reference in front of him’.

As stupid as it sounds, dont immediately start coding. Take a couple of minutes, plot out what you’re going to need to do to make it work. You’ll find you move much more smoothly if you’ve got your ideas together before you start trying to put the thoughts into code.

No, I don’t think that’ll be the sort of test I’ll get. My guess is I’ll be required to produce some basic little mini website with some particular piece of functionality. There’s every chance it’ll be too much to do, at least in a good thorough way, in the time but they’ll be interested in seeing how far I get as well as the way I do it. That’s my guess. It’s been described as a practical test.

No not at all. That’s the kind of thing I had in mind with this question. I can see myself being overwhelmed and not operating too well because of that overwhelmedness.

Yup, the comments bit is a good idea/point.