A while ago I applied to work at a large tech company. Recently a recruiter of theirs has contacted me. They would like me to do an online assessment. The rules are I have 2 weeks to start the assessment from the time I receive the link to it. The assessment itself is 2 hours long. They sent me a long, broad list of topics to study/review. Some of the topics are very generic, like "operating systems" or "databases". Others have links to the Wikipedia articles on things like Dijkstra's algorithm. I'm having trouble deciding how much time I should dedicate to studying? 13 full days is quit a lot if it's not paid. Somehow I didn't receive the link on time so I got an extension for even longer. If relevant, I'm at the beginning of my career. The e-mails were surprisingly long but I got the overall sense I'm not supposed to spend too long preparing for it.

For things like Dijkstra's algorithm, are they just trying to assess how familiar with the filed you are? There's lots of different ways to implement it and there's a big difference between having a high level understanding of what it does (or even how it works) and all the academic analysis of the algorithm. For example Wikipedia lists 3 different runt times depending on the data structures used to implement it, I'm guessing an assessment question wouldn't be as specific as "explain what causes the difference in run times"?

  • i would also consider googling all the questions you get, there are answers all over the net for this stuff
    – bharal
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


If you have time, spend the whole two weeks.

Dijkstra's is very generic in tech interviewing and it comes up all the time. Same with OS's databases, and run times.

13 full days is quit a lot if it's not paid.

This would be a fair criticism if you were learning a particular technology or a proprietary codebase. But this stuff will be used in all your future interviews anyway, so consider this prep to every tech interview you will ever do.

Why not take the time?

  • Any advice on how much to study certain topics? I can see myself going down a rabbit hole when studying "operating system's paging" and spending a lot of time on specifics that aren't likely going to be on the test.
    – curryarias
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 6:30
  • @curryarias the expectation with algorithms like Dijkstra's is usually that you can write them unassisted either in an online code editor or on a whiteboard. It really depends on the job through. I have never been tested on OS fundamentals, but I also work primarily in web dev. Commented May 10, 2020 at 8:07

You can use as much or as little time as you need, but if you feel you are ready, that would probably be the optimal time to take it. You aren't obligated to take the whole two weeks, and sometimes it may be better to avoid delaying the inevitable and get it over with when you are ready. Of course be sure to spend some time and go over your algorithm basics before just jumping right into it, but basically they're just more or less trying to see how you can think with regards to solving a problem.

Don't worry about this too much, and best of luck!

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