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I'm writing to ask if a company might serve as a suitable fit for me.

One firm I am applying to informed me that they would use external tests to evaluate my knowledge of .NET developing skills if I moved on to the next round of the hiring process.

If they use tests from outside sources instead of their own, is that a good sign?

I want to work with developing professionals, therefore I'm curious.

Also, does anyone know if these type of tests are certified in any way?

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4 Answers 4

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It's very common for companies to use bought-in test suites. They have better things to do than to write their own tests. Hirenest doesn't seem to claim to be certified, from a quick look at their web site. I don't suppose the people buying in the tests care.

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The last job I got I applied for on 2 seperate occasions, and the second time they had just recently switched to a new company to provide their external coding test, while the first time around they had their own internal one. The internal one seemed really good, the external one would have put me off that job entirely with how godawful it was, if it had been my first impression of them. One example was a question where the english was so bad, it was unclear if the solution demanded an 'and' or an 'or'.

I guess my point is that you can't really conclude anything at all about the company based on if they have these tests, or the quality of them. Certainly you're not applying to google or tesla when you encounter these tests, but for otherwise decently sized companies it's just standard now to let someone else take over some steps. Needless to say the next hire got a different coding test, but it was still outsourced from that point forwards. If someone is gonna be productive within your system over time is gonna be hard to see in one afternoon either way.

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I want to work with developing professionals, therefore I'm curious.

Your colleagues likely won't be the ones to decide this part of the hiring process. One might think they should, but very likely someone else decided what kind of test to use at that stage of the interview. You'll get a better feel for if your future co-workers are 'professional' or not when you meet them on site. So don't miss out on potentially good places just because one step of the interview process is goofed up.

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If they use tests from outside sources instead of their own, is that a good sign?

I want to work with developing professionals, therefore I'm curious.

Companies use tests for a number of reasons:

  • they have found good test results identify better programmers.
  • They don't have the time to evaluate the programming skills of candidates.
  • They don't have the staff to evaluate programming skills.
  • They have been told that professional programmers can be found using tests
  • They have been using tests forever.

Unfortunately the use of tests might not mean anything about the quality of the people that get hired. It might not mean that the people that work there can mentor new employees. It might not mean that the company is a good place to work as a programmer: they can still have a broken development process.

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This isn't a significant sign either way; it's just that company's process. It may indicate that they particularly like those tests; it may simply indicate that they don't want the cost hassle of maintaining their own tests and the system for applying them..

No, there is little or no standardization of tests, just as there is little or no standardization of degree/certification programs. With luck, the test will be targeted at the skills you need to succeed in that company. But it may just be a general "do you know enough to learn the rest" sanity-check.

Just treat the test as part of your interview, do what you can with it, try not to stress about it ... and, as always, continue interviewing with other companies until you have a signed offer and start date. Some would say until you have a signed contract and have started work.

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