You have decided to move onto a new job. You spend a few hours looking for openings and decide to apply for something that look interesting to you. A few days later the company replies to you with an email "Thank you for applying, please answer these take home questions and send us back your solutions in any format".
Your team is looking to hire someone new, how exciting! You have been asked by the hiring manager to write a take home interview that should take between
y hours to complete. It shouldn't be too easy, but shouldn't be too hard.
During my career I have experienced both of these, and to me, both sides suck. On one hand you need to find time to sit down and solve the question, and on the other you are trying to determine whether someone is qualified to bring in for an interview based on a single solution.
I have heard an incredible range of "how long this should take". In talking to a staff level engineer, I was told a take home interview should be a maximum of 3 hours. I have also heard from others that they've been asked to solve problems with an expected maximum time of 12 hours!
When we ask for 3-12 hours of someones free time, are we really being inclusive?
For me, a privileged male with no children and financial stability, 3 hours of time is not that hard to come by. However, that isn't the case for everyone. What if I was a single parent? Or worked a second job to support my family? Is it fair to still ask me for the same amount of time (and quality) to do a take home interview question?
Are we losing out on good candidates by asking for to much of their free time?
Just solving the problem isn't enough.
If you aren't supplying test cases, documentation, super clean code you can be given the axe pretty quickly. I was once told that someone didn't qualify for an interview because they sent their answer in a zip file, instead of a GitHub repo.
Before my last job I had never written an automated test. Matter of fact, I didn't even know what they were. I was hired and went on to be quite successful in the company, and at the same time learned the importance of testing.
Should I have been hired?
To me, part of hiring a developer should involve nurturing them into a better developer. Filling their weaknesses, teaching them (your companies) best practices and allowing them to bring their own style and skills into the role.
I know that there are lots benefits of the take home interview question, I won't argue that. I wonder where the balance is? Are we asking for too much by asking people to do a take home interview question?
Are we losing good candidates due to time restraints, or maybe even our own judgement of what the "correct way" to do something is?
Do take home interview questions just suck in general?
I recently was talking to a co-worker who was hired after doing a take home question that I wrote. We were discussing it as we wanted to make modifications and send it out to possible candidates. Our conversation went something like this:
Them: I found it a little to easy, I knew you were looking for
Me: Actually we were looking for