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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 5:45 am 
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I'm currently short listing applicants for a job at my company, and I wanted to give each interviewee a small test to judge their abilities.

I was hoping you guys might have suggestions as to what I could do.

My idea was to set a small test (30 - 60 mins) during the interview from which I would be able to judge what level the interviewee was at (and therefore whether they are worth the cash they are asking for!).

Previously I have only receruited for juniors with no experience so a basic html test was all I needed, but now I'm recruiting for a mid-level (2 years commercial experience) and I already know that the job has attracted applicants with backgrounds from 1 years experience to 5 years. And just because they've got 5 years experience doesn't mean that are worth more / any good.

Should I go with a test where they have to code a solution to a problem, one where they are given a broken system and have to fix it, or one where they are given a working system and they have to implement an improvement?

What things do you think I should / could cover in the test given the timeframe?

It is important that I set something that has multiple solutions so that I can easily differentiate between the good programmers and the great ones.

On a side note if you are in the UK and interested you can see the advert here


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:59 am 
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30 - 60 minutes is very little time to implement anything much .. I'd give them a few broken scripts, with errors ranging from the trivial (missing ;s, missing $ signs, input parameters in the wrong order), that sort of thing, and ask them to fix them AND make any improvements if they see an opportunity. Sorts of things like adding input validation to a form, refactoring so the code doesn't rely on globals, etc.

Most important of all though .. allow time after they finish to run through the scripts and discuss WHY they did stuff. That should give you an insight into how they work. For example, for adding validation to a form is it more a case of "Because that's what I was taught" (bad answer), or "Because this change will improve the security of the script and allow us to feed relevant error messages back to the user" (Good answer).

PS. No offence, but that's a horrendous website.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:11 am 
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yeah the time factor is the big thing. Pretty much the only thing I think I can do is 'fix the broken script' and here's a small form/file input, here's the output, do the script.

I'm now thinking something that'll include string manipulation and the possibilty to code a straight structured file, or a function or class as the interviewee sees fit. Nothing complex, but it's about their approach that'll give me a good insight into them.

I've never had to do a test (luckily) so I have no direct experience of doign this in an interview. A few people have said they've done interviews where they've been given a task before the interview and told to bring their answer.

I kind of like that becauseit can cover a bit more, but at the same time they could just download all the code.

Maybe a combination of the two .... I don't want to be taking the smurf though.

Certainly having time to discuss the test is a great idea, I had planned to interview, test, then review the results later. I like your idea better!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:15 am 
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Last edited by raghavan20 on Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:25 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:17 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:34 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:12 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:20 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:22 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:15 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 2:09 pm 
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- I'd ask them about general concepts: semaphore, mutex, recursion, ...
- Give them a couple of problems ask them which language/environment they'd choose. Pay attention to the motivation of their choices...

To test their deep knowlegde of php let them solve this .


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 2:35 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 3:14 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:31 am 
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Hi, there is online service, that has PHP and MySQL questions together:


It has 30 questions.
Also there are separate test for PHP and MySQL. Each test has 20 questions.

Service is very easy. You need just to send the link of the test to future empoyee. You will receive the report automatically on email.


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