Employment testing

24th September 2008 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

I was at a job fair recently and met a very enthusiastic HR person from an interesting company. Actually, if the truth be told, I went to the job fair specifically to make contact with this one company.

One of the things I’ve found annoying about job fairs is that they’re losing some of their purpose. In the olden days you would hand over your resume and virtually get a first interview on the spot. Nowadays it seems much more “I’ll tell you a bit about the company but if you’re interested go check the careers page when you get home”.

I very much enjoy the opportunity to talk to people face to face and make a personal impression – but when the people I speak to at the fair aren’t actually there looking for people then it doesn’t really get me anywhere.

Anyway, this HR person was full of praise for her company from an atmosphere and organization point-of-view (as you would expect). And what I’ve been able to find out about their technology also sounds very interesting.

The first stage of their recruitment process is an online “logical reasoning test”. Sounds pretty fun – I was all fired-up so went home and applied. Nothing happened for a month.

I was under the impression that the test was pretty much guaranteed. Unless you were totally unsuitable then you’d get to sit the test… doesn’t take them much work to send you the link. I like to think I’m good at logic tests so I was keen to take it and show what I can do. Eventually I phoned up my HR contact to ask about it (voicemail *sigh*). And guess what… very next day the invite appeared in my inbox. A coincidence? I don’t know!

So I sat the test… 105 minutes 11 questions. Starts with flowcharts… 1) take the contents of box 6 and add it to the contents of the box whose number is in box 3 and put the result in box 1… 2) alter instruction 1 by subtracting the number in box 11 from the first box mentioned in instruction 1… 3) if the contents of box 1 is even, jump to instruction 1. That sort of thing. Then at the end it’ll ask you for the number inside a specific box.

Basically it’s describing a software algorithm without using actual code. But I tried to not be too clever working out what the algorithm was – I actually worked through the logic, doing the steps and altering the contents of the boxes. Took me ten minutes to do the first question and I’m worrying that I’m going to get into time trouble… after all, they always put the easiest questions first, right?

Well the first third of the test was all like that. The middle third was similar but the box that you were supposed to watch for the answer was not part of the data set (i.e. numbers are getting added into it) but was part of the instruction set (i.e. a loop variable or something like that) so you had to look at things slightly differently. But after the first two questions I was getting into the swing of things.

Then the last third were very easy indeed. They didn’t involve following any program flow, just had to look at the logic and write down the answer. In the end I had enough time to go through the test a second time to check my answers so I’ll be surprised if I’ve got anything wrong (not that I’ll ever find out!).

So now we wait. Hopefully my resume and test combine well enough that they’ll call me in for an interview.

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What else has been keeping me busy. Part 3! Spammers do A/B testing

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