You’ve got an interview and you’ve found out an exam will be given to you. All that you’ve been told is that, at some point of your choosing in the next few weeks, you’ll be given 4 hours to ingest and operate on a sizable data set using your programming language of choice.
This is scary. You’re worried your background isn’t terribly extensive. Since you’re moving into the data science field, you aren’t sure what they’ll ask. And when you do the actual work, you’re worried you’ll do the wrong thing or at best code something inefficiently. So you decide to study, but you’re not sure what to actually study and you don’t want this studying to overshadow all of the other pre-interview preparation you are doing.
What if you didn’t have to worry about the data science project exam?
You wouldn’t worry about the data science project exam if you were already expecting and were excited to do it because it would be a great chance to show off your awesome skills. You’d look forward to taking the exam because it would set you apart form everyone else interviewing. And having studied the job ad, the company, and the industry, you would know with almost certainty what it would cover so you would walk into it with a plan of ideas that you want to try.
By having the system in place, knowing the industry, and knowing the potential questions they’ll ask – you’ll know exactly what to study and practice. And because you’ve put together a data science portfolio, you’ll already have been practicing for this type of examination ahead of time. This will leave plenty of other time to prepare for other parts of the interview because all of the work you’ve done ahead of time. Which means you’re perfectly prepared for the interview.
Instead of being worried about what the exam will entail, relax and follow this system
To nail the Data Science Project Exam part of the interview, do these four steps:
The three kinds of data science project exams
The three kinds of data science project exams that show up in a data science interview are as follows:
The exploratory kind of exam will be more concerned with your ability to get the data, load it, and explore it. You’ll be expected to do some basic data manipulations and simpler statistical measures. Additionally, you may be asked to create some visualizations and come up with interesting thoughts about the data, what is missing from it, what other aspects you would care about, and what you found.
The exploratory kind of exam will be more concerned with your ability to model some process found within the data. This will be heavy on modeling and statistics and you’ll be expected to complete an end-to-end walk-through of how to prepare, plan, perform, test, and deliver the model based on the data. Additionally, you may be asked to use differently modeling techniques and give a pros vs cons of one technique versus the other.
The combined kind of exam will be concerned with your ability to do exploratory work as well as modeling work. Since it is a combination of both kinds, you’ll be expected to provide more work which shows your thought process and critical thinking behind the decisions that you make. This type of text, is basically asking you do to the full data science process. From the munging of the data, to the modeling, and then to the presenting of the data.
How to figure out if the project exam will be exploratory, modeling, or combined
The easiest way is to ask for more information. After all, this is part of being a data scientist – you ask the customer / your boss / your teammate / your colleague for more information to make sure you understand what they want.