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Discussion on: A tech interview that doesn't suck

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Jacob Paris Author

I can definitely see that argument. Too many companies just throw out take-home projects as a way of filtering candidates, and then choose which ones they want to interview from the result pool.

I don't believe in giving such assignments until we're at the yes-if stage of the interview process. Yes, we'll hire you, if it turns out you can perform at the level you've been claiming to perform. If there's any question about their experience, education, or culture-fit, we should be screening for that before asking them to do any work.

Interviews can be quite a stressful experience, especially for anyone whose livelihood depends on it, and being able to demonstrate what you know outside of interviewer scrutiny (which reflects performance on the job much more realistically) can be a major asset to the otherwise nervous. Not everyone feels this way, as you don't, but I don't think there's ever going to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

And it's different again when hiring seniors, whose reputation often precedes them and doesn't need to be verified with technical challenges. I haven't had to hire any, so I can't speak to best practices there.

I'm also not a fan of unpaid exercises in general, but I've never been empowered by the folks who run the budget to pay for them. I think paying for 3 hours of effort creates strong incentives on both sides: to the candidate, who knows their work is valued, and to the business, who knows that these are not free and should only be given to qualified candidates.