Aptitude testing software engineers

I sat a three-hour aptitude test yesterday that is designed to test my ability to concentrate, understand complex requirements and accurately implement (follow) instructions.

It was a mentally draining experience. Afterwards I was trying to find a way of explaining the test to my wife (who is a lawyer and mediator, not a techie). She shivered in horror as I explained it to her.

On further reflection I think the following analogies fairly represent the test:

  • The requirements (questions) were written by a psychopathic school principal.
  • The hardware platform was a 1970’s Russian copy of a 1960’s Apollo mission computer.
  • The development was outsourced to a South American software house (at which point the requirements were translated to Spanish). They subcontracted to a developer found on RentACoder who wrote the code in his bedroom.
  • I’ve been asked to debug and prove the programs correctness with only a fan-fold dot-matrix source code listing.

I think I did fairly well. It certainly makes you think hard. The questions are perfectly fair, but are designed to lead you towards false assumptions and dangerous short-cuts.

The things you go through to get a good job!




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