Online Coding Challenges - Free Interview Prep
From the different types of challenges to the best way to prepare for a challenge.
Complete code challenges and test your skills against our global community
What is an online coding challenge?
So you’re interviewing for a new job and you’ve been asked to complete an online coding challenge? This can sound a little daunting at first, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
Given the unfortunate prevalence of imposter syndrome in the developer community, some may feel like they will be found out if they take part in an online coding challenge. However, you really have nothing to worry about. These tests are designed by others like you, to be intuitive and approachable, while giving a fair and accurate reflection of your skills.
What Does Taking an Online Coding Challenge Involve?
With such a variety of coding challenges, it can be hard to specify exactly what will be involved. However, aside from the various types of online coding challenges mentioned earlier, you can also expect challenges to be either timed or untimed. While some challenges are “untimed” you’ll still want to complete them as swiftly as practicable. As this both demonstrates you are proactive, but more importantly will allow you to submit your challenge before the rest of the competition.
Most challenges are designed to be “open book” meaning you’ll have access to Google and any other resources that may help you work through the challenge. However, some are designed to test your existing knowledge, with these you can also expect to install some kind of monitoring software to ensure you are completing the challenge in test conditions (just FYI Geektastic don’t do this - they want to remove as much exam stress as possible - who wants someone looking over their shoulder when they are working). In our experience, the latter form is relatively rare these days. Most companies are only really interested in testing you on your real world skills which, invariably will involve access to a variety of sources.
How will you be assessed?
How you will be assessed will depend on the challenge or platform used. Regardless, you will be assessed by either a human reviewer (as with Geektasticour platform) or you will be automatically scored by the computer.
How you will be assessed should affect your approach somewhat. With a manual review, you’ll want to put greater emphasis on commenting your code and showing your thought process. Here, creative problem solving will be rewarded, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box (but don’t go too far off piste - at Geektastic we have seen some great solutions but they are so out the box they put the hiring team off as they demonstrate an inability to follow instructions). With automatic reviews, however, it’s a more useful approach to try to assess what the “correct approach” is, and work towards this.
How taking one can benefit your career
Now that we’ve discussed a little about what coding challenges are and what to expect from an online coding challenge, it might be worth mentioning some of the ways they can significantly benefit your career:
Landing your dream job - The first and perhaps most obvious answer is that, if your dream job/company makes use of coding challenges, you’ll need to complete one to give yourself a shot of landing that role.
Ranking against other developers - Some online code challenge platforms allow you to show your ranking against others that have completed the same test (yes you’ve guessed it - Geektastic do this using a very clever ELO ranking system) . This kind of competitive programming can be an excellent way for employers to gauge your skills. In fact, our platform will allow you to display this to any potential employers that might be looking for developers with your skills. This can be a fantastic way of advertising your talents when looking for work.
Using your scores when looking for work - Aside from being an excellent tool to let employers find you, coding challenges serve as another boost to your CV. You can proudly display your scores from certain challenges and use that to demonstrate your competence to any companies you apply to, regardless of if they use coding challenges or not.
On top of these, the benefits to employers also apply to you as a developer. Less waiting around when looking for a new role. Clients can tailor their development plan for you based on your scores and you’ll get a fair and objective assessment, free from unconscious biases.
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