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Take-home Coding Challenges

I recently went through part of a job interview. It was interesting.

I had a few calls with different folks within the organization and those were generally good. Work history, ambitions, etc. This was all fairly typical stuff.

Ultimately I wound up simply not responding to the company.

So what happened?

At this point you’ve read the title, so you know the answer: they gave me a take-home coding challenge.

Now, I’m not ideologically opposed to take-home challenges but this particular example raised a large red flag for me. Here are a couple of guidelines in case you think you want to use a take-home coding challenge at your organization:

I’ve got over 11 years experience and have a decently sized code repository housing several side projects I’ve worked on. This is completely public and explicitly linked from my personal website which itself is explicitly listed on my CV. If you are trying to gauge whether I can program or not, well, you have a large reference in front of you already. If you need to talk to peers and managers to get a better picture of how I operate in a professional settings, then that’s simple enough to do. A take-home coding challenge accomplishes neither of these goals well.

Around a year ago I went through the entire interview process at another company. That company made similar mistakes and several other, far worse ones along the way. I might get into that in a later post.

If you liked reading this, you might enjoy “On whiteboard coding interviews.” 1


1On whiteboard coding interviews