As I’m looking for my next awesome workplace, I’ve been applying for quite a few jobs. Most need some form of assignment completed. If you don’t end up getting these jobs, as I didn’t, you might feel like you got gypped and wasted a bunch of your time. What can make this so much better for the unsuccessful candidate is some proper feedback as to what could be improved on or what was lacking. This is crucial for anyone trying to improve how they develop software or trying to get better at anything.

Lots of times as a candidate you get something vague like:

you were not successful.

One company I asked feedback from said:

The feedback from the technical team was that your solution wasn’t up to speed for what we’d expect from an experienced developer.

Ouch! Talk about unnecessarily harsh and vague. Not really the feedback I expected from “experienced” developers.

We are all busy. If you ask potential candidates to complete a take-home assignment then you should be prepared to spend a little time reviewing the assignments. I spent roughly five hours in the assignment where my solution was not what they expected. They gave me exactly zero minutes in return. Just a glib reply and they are off to the next candidate. This type of one-sided interview processes are totally broken.

Don’t expect everyone to fall into some cookie-cutter box with the exact same solution. There are always many ways to solve any problem. Ideally this feedback should be somewhat like a code review where you try to understand what was done and give some feedback. Maybe this is asking for too much from the IT industry.

If a company has a mature interviewing process, they know what they are looking for and can articulate it fairly clearly. In addition how a company behaves after you are unsuccessful says a lot about their culture and how they treat their employees. People are constantly interviewing and are being interviewed for jobs so it pays to have some empathy on both sides of the fence.

I feel like companies never seem to understand that having a candidate spend hours of unpaid work on an assignment is a huge ask. With that in mind some human decency when a candidate doesn’t meet the company’s expectations, would go a long way.