Has anyone had to take a live developer test given by a potential employer? If so, what was the experience like? What sort of questions/tasks were you asked to solve? What is the best way to approach taking a test like this?
Yes. A lot of filemaker developer shops, especially at a higher level, do some sort of 30 minute test where they will give you a list of tasks and a few files, then watch you complete them.
Basically, it's just a test to vet out people that have oversold themselves on resumes (EG, someone says they are senior level with 10 years of filemaker experience, but maybe they only worked a total of 10 hours on filemaker over 10 years as a user).
What's the experience like? Think about taking a drivers test, you know what you have to do, you may forget all the steps, and someone is watching you like a hawk the whole time and not necessarily providing you with instructions. But as long as you score enough points to pass you're fine.
Don't expect a score or result to be shared with you.Expect there to be a number of challenges, so be confident in the skills you put on your resume.
The objective sometimes isn't to finish everything on the list. Finishing tasks completely and correctly outweighs doing poor work quickly.Don't expect to ask questions from the proctor once the test starts.Expect to be watched, or even recorded.Expect to use your own computer and filemaker software during the test.If there's more than one way to reach a goal, notate out loud your thought process for which method you are choosing and why.
Some tasks that were on some of the ones that I took (going on 4 years ago so my memory is fuzzy) included:1) Take a non-filemaker, non-standard datasource and parse it into filemaker records.2) Clean up a set of data.3) Script error checking.4) Create a looping action / batching script .5) Convert a single table, two-layout file from an older version of filemaker.6) Scrape webviewer data.7) Code a webviewer to display dynamic web site data.8) Write a recursive custom function.
That's really all I can remember off the top of my head. Note that you should have a complete strong portfolio of your previous work before you even apply.
Thank you, Mike.
That is extremely helpful. I appreciate it!
Not all tests such as this are "over the shoulder". I recall taking a few that were: solve this problem, remote, you have x days, open book ok. But they were not trivial and took some experience to quickly assess what needed to be done and present an acceptable interface!
Think in terms of what kinds of things might you need to accomplish (a single module of a larger project) whether you work for someone else or for yourself. Think in terms of if you were asked to create one of the Starter Solutions (all relatively simple, right?) – each of those samples might be a module for "testing". How can you use all the features of FMP (as Mike listed). How is your design sense? How quickly can you find the answer to a question? Etc. It may depend on the position for which you apply.
My clients call with new additions and I have to do the same thing (assess needs quickly, know what's already there, work with a team if needed and know how to add the changes). Or I may get a new project where these skills are needed. The testing is to simulate how you would work in a real situation. They may also test you on getting the job done without them from the inital start of the test. If you can't follow-through on a project? Sorry!
As long as your not doing the potential employers work for free ....
I've actually been asked that before.
Sends up a huge red flag for me.
No need to apologize. ;-)
I have had a prospective employer sign me up as a paid contractor on a small, low-risk project in place of this kind of developer test. That's totally fine. It isn't as common, and that's a shame. It's a bigger investment, and a more environmentally sound test, at the potential loss of seeing how you deal with some infrequent-but-important scenarios. I suppose you could do both a prepared developer test and a live contractor period, but I doubt it's worth it.
Well, I just finished taking that test.
Man, I don't drink, but I feel like if I ever needed one it would be now. Most nerve racking thing I have done since I used to pull focus wide open on a 1000mm lens!
But all in all it was a good way to judge my own skill level.
But truthfully, several of the tasks I had problems with I was able to do in no time after the pressure was off. So all-in-all I don't know if it was a very accurate measurement of my actual skill-level.
Thanks everyone for the advice!
Actually, since you cracked under pressure on something you were able to do when not under pressure, it could be a very good judgement of your skill level.
There’s always room for learning and improvement, and it looks like you just figured out some areas to improve.
Maybe so...maybe so.
I guess if I'm ever on a bus packed with people and I'm told I have 10 minutes to come up with and implement a working filemaker solution or the bus will explode, it's probably a good day to take an Uber.
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