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I recently took an online coding test for a software engineering position (entry level). I am not very good at programming while a timer is counting down, but nonetheless two questions went very well. However, I completely drew a blank on the last question even though it was similar to the others in terms of skills that were tested. But somehow I just could not figure out how to solve the problem and ended up not submitting any solution for the last question.

Right after the test, when the stress of the countdown timer was gone, my mind cleared and I realized how easy the solution was and I wrote (from memory) the solution to the problem in about 5-10 minutes.

Of course I understand that it is normal to fail tests and I don't mind to fail every once in a while since it helps me to learn and improve. However, in this case I did not fail to answer the question because of a lack of skills or knowledge but because of a temporary brainfade. I clearly have the skills and I am very disappointed with myself.

I feel that not providing any answer to the question will severely limit my chances of clearing this interview round. Therefore I was wondering if I should e-mail the recruiter and explain what happened. I could even include the code I wrote to solve the problem (although I can of course not proof that I actually wrote it right after the test in 5 minutes). But I am not sure if explaining myself would help me in this situation or actually make things worse. Could you help me determine what the best course of action would be in this instance?

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    Its an online test once submitted then its final. and even if you submit it, they will think that you referred online and try to make up. Dont worry now. Just go for other for now. – Rafee May 31 '17 at 9:54
  • When you say 'blackout' that implies that you lost consciousness, or had a period of memory loss. What you had sounds like a more typical case of your 'mind going blank' or not dealing well with the time pressure. I would be careful to communicate truthfully what happened when you contact this recruiter. – Alex Spurling May 31 '17 at 11:45
  • Two cups of coffee before starting the test would have helped. – Juanche May 31 '17 at 12:13
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    This happens, like in any other test or exam. Practice makes perfect. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 1 '17 at 7:48
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    Can't hurt, and might give you a slight edge over someone else who also only got 2 questions right, but don't get your hopes up... Anyway people fail to get jobs all the time so just chalk it up to experience, don't let it get you down, move on and keep applying for jobs. – colmde Jun 1 '17 at 11:44
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You can do that. I personally don't think that being able to work under stress is important for a software developer - as long as you have a good manager.

Whether it helps or not, nobody knows. I'd give you points for "wants the job and perseveres when things go wrong". Which are much more important than getting it right first time. But that's me.

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    I'd also give points for "is willing to communicate when faced with problems or questions". That's a really valuable skill. – Erik May 31 '17 at 10:08
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    You don't want someone too slow. But the stress is due to the test, not due to the timing. Someone might easily do a task in two hours but fail in a test. – gnasher729 May 31 '17 at 12:53
  • I would say working under stress is very important. What happens when there is a major problem that needs to be fixed quickly, but none of your developers work well under a bit of stress? – ayrton clark May 31 '17 at 13:44
  • @ayrtonclark In that case, the failure was somewhere else in the system anyway - it should never have gotten to the point of failure. – PeteCon Jun 1 '17 at 2:18
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Therefore I was wondering if I should e-mail the recruiter and explain what happened. I could even include the code I wrote to solve the problem (although I can of course not proof that I actually wrote it right after the test in 5 minutes). But I am not sure if explaining myself would help me in this situation or actually make things worse. Could you help me determine what the best course of action would be in this instance?

If it were me, I'd just let it go and hope for the best while planning to move on.

I don't know of any employers that use timed tests who would place much value on an answer received after the test had concluded.

Part of the thinking behind timing the test is "work under pressure". Answering later at your leisure doesn't fit that requirement.

While you certainly can follow up with your answer, don't expect much. And don't qualify your answer with reasons why you are not very good at programming while a timer is counting down - that would only weaken your position. It's not unlike folks that struggle answering questions during an interview who want to provide better written answers at a later date. It's unlikely to help at all.

It's possible that the company doesn't require an answer for every question. It's possible that your other answers will blow them away and you'll be invited to the next round anyway.

Or maybe this company places so much value on "working under stress" that this job isn't a good fit for you anyway.

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testing + interviewing are a skill.

there are a lot of great resources to practice coding exercises.

I highly recommend to those I mentor: https://www.codewars.com/

Not only will help you with landing entry level, but part of it is once you submit a working solution to a challenge you see the community's answers and the upvoted solution, and you learn, get better/efficient.

will help a lot of mid career people or anyone migrating from one computer language to another.

a lot of developers are satisfied with a solution, the ones that people want to hire are ones that don't panic, but also go back and refactor code, optimize, especially environments that need to scale.

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    this is exactly correct. spend a lot of time on hackerrank and you'll ace "coding tests". it's simply a skill to master - and if you do master it, you can, quite simply, make a lot of money. – Fattie Aug 18 '17 at 1:04

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