The Ultimate Guidelines to IBM Online Assessments

IBM's online assessments serve as gateways to career prospects within one of the world's leading technology firms. Candidates often encounter 3 different assessments tailored to test their skills, aptitude, and potential cultural fit within IBM's dynamic environment, including coding, video and English language assessments

This article not only provides insights into each type of IBM online assessments, but also guides you to prepare and excel in them.


Overview about IBM online assessments

This is the first challenge after the application step

IBM's online assessment is a crucial step in their recruitment process, following the initial screening of candidates' resumes and before an interview or an assessment center. 

While the specifics, like the order of stages and the inclusion of additional rounds, can in fact change based on the region or country, the general structure of IBM's recruitment process is largely global with assessment tests in the second round.  

Online assessments as the second round in the common three-round recruitment process of IBM

There are 3 main types of assessments: Coding, Video, and English language

These assessments aim to evaluate the skills and competencies needed for each role. While the specific tests may vary depending on the job, the three most common types are Coding, Video, and English Language assessments

The Coding assessment examines candidates' programming skills and problem-solving abilities, while the Video assessment allows candidates to showcase their communication skills and suitability for the role. Additionally, the English Language assessment evaluates candidates' proficiency in English. 

You will encounter different test types tailored to the position you are seeking, so don’t worry! You won’t need to complete all of them for any single role. 

Three main types of IBM online assessments


IBM coding assessment

This is a job-skill test for IT-related positions

The IBM coding assessment, conducted on HackerRank - a coding test and interview solution provider for hiring developers, evaluates candidates' coding skills, programming knowledge, and problem-solving abilities within a 60-minute timeframe

It's commonly used for IT positions such as data scientists, developers, and software engineers, as well as other roles requiring programming and coding expertise. 

Logical thinking and math skills are necessary to increase pass rate

The coding assessment is of medium to high difficulty, with a pass rate typically ranging from 40-60%, which also fluctuates depending on the initial candidate quality. Besides, in competitive environments like IBM with a high volume of applications, this rate may be a bit lower. About 30% of the applicants can have a chance to join the interview or assessment center.

To succeed, candidates are advised to employ logical thinking and mathematical skills extensively. These skills enable candidates to devise efficient algorithms, accurately analyze data, and debug and optimize code. Then, they can systematically approach complex problems, fostering creativity and innovation in technology solutions.

There is good news that the scoring system doesn't deduct marks for incorrect answers, allowing candidates to focus on accumulating points for correct responses. 

Multiple-choice and coding questions are included

Typically, each candidate has to complete 50 multiple-choice questions and/or 2 coding challenges through a coding interface, depending on the position you have applied for. Before the real test, candidates may encounter a sample test to familiarize themselves with the format. 

Multiple-choice questions cover topics such as Database Management System (DBMS), Data Structures, and Computer Networks. You can explore the interface and contents of this format in the real-time assessment video.

An example of a multiple-choice question in IBM coding assessment
(reconstructed interface)

Coding challenges involve using 4 programming languages like C, C++, JAVA, and Python, focusing on three main types of questions:

Pattern programming involves writing instructions or code to create specific designs, shapes, or sequences. It's like giving a computer a set of rules to follow in order to produce a particular pattern. 

For example, imagine you want the computer to print a pyramid made of stars. You would write instructions like "print one star on the first row, two stars on the second row, three stars on the third row," and so on until you have a pyramid shape.

If you encounter two coding questions during the online test, at least one of them will require you to create a pattern printing program

There are three possible coding pattern programs including star pattern printing programs (programs that prints patterns or shapes using asterisks (“*”) or stars), number pattern printing programs (programs that arrange numbers in specific shapes or sequences), and number star mix pattern programs, which indicates that you may encounter one of these programs in your exam.

Star-based and number-based pattern printing programs in C
(Source: GeeksforGeeks)

You can find practice questions in different programming languages here!

The Greatest Common Divisor (GCD) or Highest Common Factor (HCF) of two numbers is the largest number that divides both of them evenly. In simpler terms, it's the biggest number that you can divide both numbers by, and you'll get a whole number without any remainder.

For example, let's say we have the numbers 12 and 18. The factors of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. The factors of 18 are 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 18. The largest number that appears in both lists is 6. So, 6 is the GCD of 12 and 18.

An example of finding GCD of two numbers in the IBM coding challenge
(Source: PrepBytes)

The Least Common Multiple (LCM) of three numbers is the smallest number that all three numbers can evenly divide into. In simpler terms, it's the smallest number that is a multiple of all three given numbers.

For example, let's say we have the numbers 4, 6, and 8. The multiples of 4 are 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and so on. The multiples of 6 are 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, and so on. And the multiples of 8 are 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, and so on. The smallest number that appears in all three lists is 24. So, 24 is the LCM of 4, 6, and 8.

An example of finding LCM of two numbers in the IBM coding challenge
(Source: PrepBytes)

A coding challenge with a coding interface in IBM coding assessment
(reconstructed interface)

For further insights into the IBM real-time coding challenge, watch this video!


Preparation guide for IBM coding assessment

Four important steps when preparing for IBM coding assessment

Learn technical concepts

Familiarize yourself with essential technical concepts such as Data Structures, Algorithms, Database Management Systems (DBMS), Operating Systems, Networking, and Object-Oriented Programming (OOPs). Understanding these fundamentals will provide a strong foundation for tackling coding challenges.

Gain proficiency in at least a programming language

Choose one programming language, such as C, C++, Java, or Python, that you are interested in. Practice coding in that language regularly to improve your problem-solving skills and efficiency in writing code.

Learn mathematics basics

While you don't need to be a math expert, understanding key mathematical concepts can greatly benefit your coding abilities. Focus on mastering basic topics like Binary Mathematics, Linear Algebra, Calculus, Discrete Mathematics, and Statistics, which are essential for working with algorithms.

Utilize learning resources

Take advantage of online platforms like freeCodeCamp, Codecademy, PrepInsta, and PrepBytes to learn and practice coding. Additionally, consider enrolling in online courses offered by reputable providers such as Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, and edX. These platforms offer a wide range of courses covering both mathematics and coding topics.


IBM video assessment

This is similar to fit interview

The IBM video assessment, conducted on Knockri - an asynchronous interview assessment tool, evaluates candidates' personality, skills, ambitions, and motivations for any hiring position. This provides candidates with an opportunity to express themselves, allowing recruiters to gain deeper insights into them.

Candidates need approximately 10 minutes for this assessment, with 1 minute for preparation after receiving each question and 3 minutes to answer each question.

This format is similar to a PEI or fit interview, and aims to check candidates' suitability for the role through recorded video responses. It assesses various facets such as communication skills and cultural fit. While of medium difficulty, preparation and authenticity are key to showcasing suitability for the position.

Candidates need to answer 2 random questions through video

There are two randomly selected questions from a larger pool of questions surrounding yourself, the role you have applied and IBM. We can group all questions into three types including: 

  • Behavioral/Personal experience questions: They assess your behavior in scenarios similar to the company's working environment.

Eg: Tell me a time you did something you regretted and how you overcame it?

  • Motivation questions: These questions ask you to explain why you want to work in a certain industry, company, or office.

Eg: Why are you applying for IBM?

  • Personality questions: This type of question enables the recruiter to understand you on a personal level. 

Eg: What kind of book do you often read?

Access this article to comprehend fit interview questions and the assessment criteria!

Candidates answer via video, with responses captured through their webcam and microphone. The short video here may help you better visualize the test interface.

IBM video assessment reconstructed interface


Four tips to have good answers in IBM video assessment

Four tips to impress recruiters in IBM video assessment

Understand IBM's technologies and culture

Research the technologies used at IBM and the role you're applying for. Explore IBM’s social media and the Life @ IBM section on their website to understand their culture. All official information about IBM products, services, and the description of hiring jobs are also updated there.

Grasp what HR expects from candidates

Align your skills and experiences with the characteristics of the hiring position. Highlight analytical thinking and problem-solving skills in your answers by analyzing your real examples in the past and showing your solutions to deal with them. These two criteria are essential for IT-related roles. 

Besides, ensure your experiences, certifications and learning process relate to the job requirements. It would be hard to prove that you are good at coding while you only worked in a sales position and did not join any coding-related courses.

Showcase your achievements

Use storytelling techniques to demonstrate your accomplishments. Structure your answers with 3 parts: (A) the work you did, (B) an explanation of your work, and (C) the outcomes achieved

Eg: Managed consulting engagement (A) with P&L responsibilities (B) generating $630K in 2023, exceeded profitability goal by 10% (C).

This is a standard structure that consultants use in interviews and writing their resumes. Up to now, this has become a universal method applied in diverse jobs and companies, which helps increase the clarity and relevance in candidates’ answers.

In addition, always remember to provide data to support your answer and avoid relying on just one story.

Practice fit interview and ask for feedback from others

Search fit/PEI interview questions and practice with a partner or enroll in courses. Having a coach guiding you and suggesting a personal action plan for you is also an effective way. Feedback from others can help you refine your responses and presentation skills. This preparation will enhance your performance in the assessment.


IBM English language assessment

Candidates need to solve 3 sections in 10 minutes

The IBM English language assessment, published by Aon, evaluates candidates' proficiency in English. It's applicable to any hiring positions, especially in regions or offices where English isn't the native language, or jobs requiring a specific level of English language to work efficiently.

The test typically has a time limit of 10 minutes with three sections, each with different time limits and question types. Typically, the first section focuses on fluency and lasts for 4 minutes, followed by a 4-minute section on vocabulary and a 2-minute section on spelling

Example questions precede each section. The content covers various topics like active/passive voice, fill in the blanks, spotting errors, synonyms, antonyms, and more.

Click here to see how the test looks!

An example of IBM English language assessment (reconstructed interface)

People at intermediate level can pass this English test 

The IBM English language assessment is set at a medium difficulty level, approximately equivalent to B2 on the CEFR scale. It evaluates fluency, advanced vocabulary, and daily English language knowledge, not technical English.

This proficiency level ensures smooth communication without language barriers in the workplace, especially collaborating in a global work environment. However, candidates below this level may struggle with both the test and job tasks. 

Careful preparation and consideration are necessary 

There is only one correct answer for each question. The scoring system awards points for correct answers, deducts points for incorrect ones, and remains unchanged if a question is skipped by selecting the "?" option. So, you can choose “?” If you don't know the answer without worrying about points being deducted. It's important to answer accurately and strategically to maximize scores while ensuring comprehension and fluency in English communication. 

While it's not mandatory to activate the microphone and camera during the test, it's advisable to prepare all devices beforehand. 

Additionally, candidates cannot revisit previous questions during the test, emphasizing the importance of careful consideration and thorough preparation before starting the assessment.


Recommendations when practice IBM English language assessment

Three recommended ways to practice IBM English language assessment

To effectively prepare for the IBM English language assessment, it's essential to engage in comprehensive practice activities. 

  • Consider using resources such as the "Destination B2" book, which provides exercises tailored to improve grammar and expand vocabulary at the intermediate level. 

  • Supplement your study with mobile language-learning apps like Duolingo, offering interactive lessons to reinforce language skills in a convenient format.

  • Seek out practice materials with a similar format to IBM such as PrepInsta to simulate the test environment and become acquainted with the types of questions you may encounter. 


Frequently asked questions

How long do I have to wait for the assessment results?

The time it takes to receive results after IBM assessments varies, but candidates typically know within 1-2 weeks. It's advisable to monitor your email for updates and reach out to the recruitment contact if necessary.

How long does it take to get hired by IBM?

Generally, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete the entire hiring process, from submitting an application to receiving an offer. Candidates should stay patient and proactive during the process, as IBM strives to provide timely updates to candidates at each stage.

What score do you need to pass the tests?

IBM typically doesn't disclose specific passing scores, as they evaluate candidates based on a range of factors beyond just test scores. It's essential to aim for the highest possible score and focus on demonstrating your capabilities effectively in all aspects of the assessments.

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