I'm torn on this. As a junior, unemployed, I liked take-home assignments. I had the time, and it was an opportunity to show my skills. However, when I was applying while working, I had exactly the problem you described. Three coding challenges in a month, on top of my regular responsibilities and other job hunting tasks, nearly burned me out.
I still prefer coding challenges to timed tests or algorithm problems (especially for a front-end role - it makes me question the company's judgment when their test has so little relation to the work). But it was hard enough for me to make time, and many people have a lot more hurdles than me.
No single solution works for everyone, so I think the only good answer is for a company to offer an option. Those with more experience or a great portfolio shouldn't have to build yet another to-do list app when they already can demonstrate their value in other ways. But that's harder to quantify into metrics, and opens the process up to more unconscious bias. It's hard to do it well!
Totally agree, it's all about balance. However, I still believe that nobody should receive a take-home assignment at the beginning of the process.
This is not a fair initial filter, but it might be ok when both sides are ready to invest extra time.
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