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Some (possibly biased - decide for yourself) opinions on this:

  • The Perl test by Brainbench does as well as one can do with a 40 question, web-based test. The test uses an adaptive scoring technique, so you will get harder questions if you answer the first ones correctly, and easier questions, if you don't. I doubt that you can build a web-based multiple choice test that can do much better.
  • Obviously, a multiple-choice test is not able to test a complex skillset like programming adequately. Neither is an interview, nor a resume. Put bluntly, there are no known methods to test complex skillsets like programming in an adequate, efficient and economical way. Proven track records, customer references, assessment centers, extensive structured interviews, examples of former work, and trial periods are probably the most effective means of evaluating the skill of a programmer.
  • A web-based, free service like Brainbench is a Good Thing for people without a formal education or similar documentable achievements to provide some indication on their abilities.
  • Tests like the one at Brainbench are good screening tools, IMHO. If somebody is not able to pass this test (privately, on his own, I mean, not as part of an interview procedure), this is a strong indication that this person has not a deep knowledge of Perl, or has no motivation to show his knowledge in this test. Thus, this test can save a lot of time in evaluating possible candidates, at a minimum cost.

I think the main line of critique against web-based certification services like Brainbench is in essence a critique of formalized testing procedures (like multiple-choice tests) as such. This may have some merit, but in the end anybody arguing against formalized testing procedures will have to provide some alternatives when facing the decision on how to evaluate candidates for a given job. Usually these alternatives will be more subjective (face-to-face or even telephone interview, recommendations, etc.) and/or more expensive (assessment center, trial periods, etc.).

Christian Lemburg
Brainbench MVP for Perl
http://www.brainbench.com


In reply to Re: Web-based certification services by clemburg
in thread Web-based certification services by brother ab

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