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Discussion on: A tech interview that doesn't suck

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rodelta profile image
Ro De la Rivera

Just to add a viewpoint, I would reject this from the get go.

For any recuitment process, I feel non-paid 'take home' assignements are unfair and I would reject doing it if I estimate it will take more than 30m. There's too many juniors using too many hours of their time to get rejected.

I understand that this comes from a place of privilege, but I want companies to lose opportunities to that, so there's pressure to change.
If you want to test me at lenght, then you need to use the time too. Show that you care instead of just wasting people's time.
Want to see what I can do in 3 hours? Then you'll need someone with me, pairing for those 3 hours.
If you don't want to invest that time, then it means the process is not important for you and you shouldn't be wasting other people's time.

This is a position that I've developed after practical experience with the industry and the recruiting practices. This might very well be a golden standard, but I feel the push-back to bad practices is more important to the industry as a whole, and I feel one initial step for it is to make the time cost of any test the same for both parties.

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jacobmparis profile image
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.