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Job interview programming exercise. What to expect?

Billy Sclater
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 18, 2012
Posts: 131

I have a job interview soon for an entry level position as a Java Web Developer working on the front-end side of things.
The job is a junior position, and (if successful) I will be working under the wing of a senior developer.
The position is with an airline. I have no commercial experience and they are considering me! So it must be quite 'entry-level'!

This is the only information I have about the position.

Part of the interview will be a test. I will be given an exercise and be expected to write a program in Java, and given about an hour
to complete it, after which I'll be quizzed on the code I produced!

Kind of a difficult question to answer (not so different than 'how long is a piece of string?'!), but could anyone give me an example
of an exercise that would be given to a candidate for an 'entry-level' position? I am just trying to get an idea of the difficulty level.

Thanks in advance(:

Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2374
    
  28

It could be anything, really. Sorry, not helpful, but depending on what echnologies they use + how skilled they expect the entry level devs to be, it could be anything from a fizzbuzz challenge to build this web page for me to explain this very complicated recursive program

Billy Sclater
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 18, 2012
Posts: 131

Well, I sure hope it's a fizzbuzz test!!

As I have no commercial experience or qualifications except a OCJPSE5 cert. and that was clearly stated on my resume,
my intuition tells me that it will be something simple. I've already been screened with a 'technical' telephone interview.
The questions were pretty much core Java and pretty easy.

The face to face interview will be in 2 days, so I'll certainly post back and report what coding test they actually gave me.

Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61202
    
  66

Billy Sclater wrote: working working on the front-end side of things.

Then I'd not really expect much in the way of Java, but rather HTML, CSS and JavaScript.


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Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2374
    
  28

Honestly, at entry level, I'd be looking at whether a) this guy can sit on his ass for 3 hours and code? b) is he smart enough to be teachable. There might be some places that look for specific technologies, but then you can expect them to tell you before hand in the phone interview.
Billy Sclater
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 18, 2012
Posts: 131

Then I'd not really expect much in the way of Java, but rather HTML, CSS and JavaScript.


The thing is that I have not mentioned any commercial experience or qualifications in those technologies on my CV.
I did however mentioned that I can deploy an applet using HTML, but that was mentioned as a hobby.

Hmm...I am beginning to wonder if HR have let me slip through the net as an unsuitable candidate.

I'll reply in a few days and let you all know what happened anyway.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61202
    
  66

For an entry level position they be assuming that they need to teach you what you need to learn. I'd recommend stop over-worrying. Just go in and show them what you do know.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38793
    
  23
Go through some of the many discussions in the beginning and Java in general fora. You will see the sort of problems people have, and thinking about the answers given should help you improve your programming, and many how to answer interview questions.
You will find lots of threads about interviews in this forum, too.
Billy Sclater
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 18, 2012
Posts: 131

Just got back from the interview. The programming exercise was to make a 'Tic Tac Toe' game. It was
a pair programming exercise, and I got to write the code with one of their developers.
They also said it was ok to use Google. After the exercise they reviewed the code with me,
asked how I might improve it. Then came a standard HR interview with fluffy questions like
'Where do you see yourself in 5 years?'. I think I did ok, I'll post back soon with the result!
Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2374
    
  28

Tic Tac Toe is a nice fizzbuzzy challenge :p Doing pair programming is a nice twist. It allows them to look at your thought process. I'm sure you did well. Best of luck!
Billy Sclater
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 18, 2012
Posts: 131

Just heard back about the interview.....I didn't get the job );

I interviewed ok, both technically and non-technically, and apparently got on well with the team, but...I failed on the coding exercise.

The exercise (making a tic tac toe game) had six steps. I got to step 5. The feedback I had was that the quality of my coding was not good enough.
I wrote the game as a console application. Each player had to enter an X 'and' a Y coordinate of the tic tac toe grid in the console to place
their X or O. The code was all horribly dumped into the main method and the 2 classes I wrote were horribly incohesive!
I tried to redeem myself in the code-review interview by being critical of my program and explaining how I'd clean it up but....obviously I wasn't successful!

Apparently, one of the developers in the company, did the exercise in 90 mins, as a beautiful swing application with AI and a computer player!
They said that they never expected the candidates to be able to finish the entire exercise, but I got the feeling that they weren't too impressed with my coding abilities!!

I think I rushed it and paniced, and for some reason I didn't use Google or any of the stock code on my USB stick (nerves).
(Apparently it was ok to use these resources for the coding test). I'm sure I can do better than that next time, and I'm also going
to do the ExamLab coding assigments as extra practice before my next interview.

The agent I used fought my corner and asked them if they'd consider taking me on a trial basis, apparently they took some time
to consider this, but ultimately declined as they think I'd need a lot of training.

Absolutely gutted! And I get the feeling that I may have damaged my viability with the agency I used! or maybe I'm over-analyzing!

Oh well, thanks for the replies!!

 
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