Hack Reactor Mail Bag!

Hello, reader! 

I've gotten a variety of questions about Hack Reactor, and am batching them here since they are often repeat questions. My goal is to help prospective students without undermining Hack Reactor's admissions or assessment processes (I'm not going to repeat what questions were asked, and how I answered them, for example). 

Keep in mind that Hack Reactor updates their processes regularly, so my experience may not be relevant to whatever is in place by the time you are reading this. 

With all caveats declared, on to the questions! 

About that Hiring Day Assessment...

Question: In "Day 41 of Hack Reactor: Hiring Assessment and Solo Week", you mentioned the repercussions of not passing the assessment. If you don't pass it, is there an opportunity to take it again? Does anything else happen if you don't pass? Have you heard if you have passed yet and do you know the pass rate?


If you don't pass, there is not a second chance to take the exam. The point of the assessment is to do just that -- assess where you are, at that point in time -- not to pass the exam, itself. What matters is that you and the teaching team at Hack Reactor have a solid understanding of where you are, relative to the bar they set for hirable engineers, and if you aren't where you need to be, then you have a good basis for planning how to get there. 

I cleared the bar, but I found that the assessment was a legitimate challenge. I don't feel comfortable disclosing the pass rate because it's going to vary per cohort, and cohorts are relatively small (40 students in mine), so even one person not passing will have a non-trivial impact (on an absolute scale) on the pass rate. I can say a very small number of students did not pass the assessment. If you don't pass, then Hack Reactor cannot recommend you to their network of companies, BUT they will still help you strengthen all the skills you need in order to get a job as an engineer (technical skills, professional skills, interview prep, etc). 

Just to be clear, passing or not passing the Hiring Assessment (or ANY test), says nothing about your potential. It says nothing about how hard you've worked, or how hard you will continue to work to reach your goals. It says nothing about you as a person. All it reveals is where you are, on some pre-set scale, at some arbitrary moment in time.

Had I not passed, I would continue to make the most of every opportunity to learn and grow, which is what I've done my whole life, and what has gotten me so far in the first place. I would continue to have the same, positive attitude about learning and finding solutions to novel problems, and I'd continue to seek out help and feedback in areas where I need to improve.

Most importantly, I would be just as proud of how far I've come, whether I had passed the test or not. No test could ever change that.  

Admissions: If you get asked to submit a project...

Question: How did you decide on what project to create? More specifically, how did you decide on something that might show the growth you've had since your last interview, without picking something too ambitious? 


I took the Udacity Javascript basics course (all content/projects free) and did the resume project. I also made a TODO list after taking a Treehouse course (paid). I submitted both, and am not sure if one or the other was more responsible for getting me a second interview.

If I had to do it again, I would pick ONE project that involves taking a user action (i.e. a click), and having that action render something to the DOM (i.e. display a photo) on the screen. I would not focus on style, just on pure functionality.

The "Cat Clicker" project in JS Design Patterns (free) is a fantastic model.

Don't feel like you need to rush to complete the project just so you can say that you did it. What's important is that you actually understand what is going on in your program, so you could explain it to someone if asked.

You should be able to explain your app logic, for example: What happens when a user clicks on the button? What is communicated to your program? How does your program handle the click action, and what does it do as a result? 

If you take the time to build and fully understand a project like the Cat Clicker (or anything else that involves a user interacting with the DOM, and something happening to the DOM as a result), you will be in a really, really good place entering Hack Reactor, and should have no problem with the interview because you'll learn so much through building the project. 

The callback struggle...

Question: I am having the same issues with understanding callbacks as it look like you were when applying. I applied to MakerSquare and got the same " you're so close" email as you and am supposed to interview again in two weeks. Would you be willing to or know someone who could talk to me about callbacks at some point? I'd really appreciate it!!!


If you are struggling with callbacks, you are not alone. This is one of the most common questions I get. I recommend looking for JavaScript meetups (Google "javascript meetups") in your area to find other developers who you can talk to. Keep looking until you find just at least one actual, living, breathing human being who has an interest in teaching (or just likes helping aspiring engineers). Buy that person food and/or coffee and ask for an hour of their time. 

If you live in the middle of nowhere and/or are not physically able to go to events like this, then it's going to be harder for you unless you're willing to commit to self-directed learning and don't give up easily. If you aren't getting anywhere after a few weeks and you've done the related section in Eloquent JavaScript and JavaScriptisSexy, then you could try hiring an online tutor through a service like eLance.

And if you can't hire anybody, my best advice is to get to know the Google Developer Tools console because it is every JS developer's BFF. Practice writing and calling simple callback functions, and track what happens at every step of the program using Dev Tools. I find that making callbacks explicit (i.e. actually seeing what value is getting passed to what function at what time) can really help demystify the concepts. And, bonus, Google Dev Tools is something you will use throughout your time at Hack Reactor (and as an engineer), so your time familiarizing yourself with it is going to pay off no matter what.