Category Archives: Programming

The Best Programming Tests and Certifications

Proving your programming knowledge can be difficult. Even experienced developers often have relatively small portfolios – if you have spent a lot of time working as part of a large team, or on projects that are heavily protected by Non Disclosure Agreements, then you may find that next time you go looking for a job, you have little to show by way of example code and finished projects.
One way around this is to get yourself certified. There are many certifications available. The MCSD is a popular Microsoft certification for developers, and CompTIA also offer certifications that may be useful for people looking to work in IT. Unfortunately, these certifications are expensive, and you have to re-take them regularly.
There are some free certifications available which can be useful for proving your skills. Brainbench.com offers certifications in a whole range of programming languages, operating systems and technologies. Some of the certifications are free, others cost money – but there are regular discounts and special promotions, so you can build up an impressive collection of certifications over time.
The National Computer Science Academy also offers certifications in a range of programming languages, including Visual C++, Cold Fusion and Javascript as well as basic certifications in HTML, Windows, Mahento extentions and Microsoft office. There are also premium tests that focus on more specialised areas.
W3Schools.com offers a certification program, for a fee. You can earn W3Schools diplomas in HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQery, ASP, PHP and some other web technologies. If the actual certification itself is not important to you, but you would like to test your knowledge, you can study free classes online and then take quizzes to test your skills.
Free certifications can be a good way to boost your confidence. They may be free, but to some employers they prove that you are a self-starter and that you were willing to take the initiative to learn on your own time and take a test. Even if they are not well respected qualifications, you lose nothing by taking them ether you develop Magento extensions, educational software, working for web design company or for hosting company. If you are thinking of spending money on a certification, however, you should search the web to find out what the general sentiment towards that certification is before paying for it. Not all certifications (even paid ones) carry weight with employers.

Are Programming Tests a Good Idea for Job Applicants?

According to some hiring managers, more than 90% of programming applicants cannot solve even the simplest coding problems. These managers aren’t referring to people who let interview nerves get the best of them and forget how to solve complex mathematical problems because of the difficulty of performing under pressure. Rather, they are talking about applicants who cannot even write a program that uses a loop to print the numbers one through ten on the screen.

The Case Against Tests

Opponents to programming tests believe that tests are a bad idea for several reasons:
• It’s easy to “revise” for the most popular tests such as Fizzbuzz and Check Prime.
• Tests performed online are easy to cheat on.
• Testing basic knowledge at a face to face interview wastes valuable interview time, but many professional programmers are unwilling to take more complex tests because they feel it is like working for free.

Alternatives to Testing

Computing is becoming an almost glamorous field, so there are many people who apply for computing jobs without having even basic knowledge. If testing is not a sensible way to weed those people out, what is?
One of the best ways to assess a job applicants abilities is to look at their existing body of work. Most web and Magento programmers have a fairly strong online presence. Look at their blogs, Twitter pages, gitHub portfolio, Stack Overflow contributions and other popular programmer communities to see what level their contributions are at. If a programmer has little or no online presence, that could be a bad sign – or it may simply mean that they value their privacy. Ask for code samples or a link to their portfolio to get an idea of their skill level.
You will never truly know how good a programmer is until you work with them, but looking at their existing body of work is a good start, and will tell you more than a simple cookie-cutter test with limited parameters.