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I've gotten a take home test that took all Saturday. I finally finished it happy with myself and with my work and emailed it in. The response was "thanks, are you ready for the next exercise?" i was like.. um.. I really need to get on with my weekend. This was deferred to the big boss who said "It's ok just do it whenever you have time next" .. ook so that was my next Saturday. Worst part is that after turning that in, and I am fairly certain both were done really well, I never heard a word back from them. I was frustrated as hell but you know, that's all part of the job. Sometimes you waste a little time while you look for work. Look at other industries such as acting, actors could easily spend a day going to auditions waiting in lines preparing for characters and never getting a callback. My dad is in construction and for him to make an appraisal he has to study the house and waste a ton of time doing crazy calculus mapping out exactly how much area it takes and how much siding it will need considering the weird shapes around the chimney and how many hours it will take to cover it. You want to give yourself some padding but then he most likely won't get the job because the owner will go against other "free" appraisals and take the lowest bidder. If he goes too low he's risking working extra days for free or earning very little on the job. So doing all that free work is pretty much part of his job. As I hiring manager I try to waste as little time as possible, but at the same time I feel like a lot of programmers are spoiled and quick to complain about their time and pretty much expect to just get hired after 2 hr interview. This is someone you're hiring potentially for years (and any mistakes are hard to fix later) so yes, time will be wasted on both sides to try to ensure a good fit.

As somebody who regularly employs developers, and being a developer myself, may I suggest you put your Saturdays' effort into an open source github repo or something similar? Sure, this takes time too, but afterwards you can just point your prospective employer to your superbly styled and documented code on github. Both parties win: you don't have to spend time on stupid exercises anymore, they can get a very decent impression of your coding skills.

[Edit: corrected typo]

I was thinking about posting some of the solutions to past problems on github. The problem is that new employer has no way of knowing it was me alone that provided the solution and how long it took, so I couldn't blame them for not just accepting my public repo as proof of my ability.

For example I had one interview where I struggled to complete a WPF test project simply because it was coded in a way i've never done before using controls I've never used and the test was estimated to take 10 min. Meanwhile in my bag on my laptop I had a complex WPF solution i've been working on in my free time for months as a possible product to market and sell which more than showed my competence in the platform. People in my interview didn't even want to see it on pretext that they have no way of knowing it's my code.

It's just that with the programming tasks that you bring home, the hiring manager isn't wasting the that time with you. With programming tasks that you do during the interview, they are at least wasting the time with you.

Or, like when I interviewed once at a very large broadcasting org, they put you in a meeting room with a laptop (windows 7 which I never used before, bad keyboard, bad editor, no internet or reference), give you some half arsed questions and piss off for 30 minutes without you being able to ask what they actually want. Then 10 minutes later someone else comes in and asks you what the hell you're doing in that meeting room, you have no way to contact your interview partner, no idea where he went, they hassle you for about 10 minutes about it, and when your interviewer comes back you haven't been able to even get into the task, let alone write some code ...

Waste of time also, especially if you factor in a 2 hour commute each way.

+this ... it's exactly why, when I do "favors" for people, my requirement is that they're in the chair next to me... even if they aren't doing anything and are bored as sin... so they understand the time/effort that it takes.

It's generally inappropriate for someone to ask you to do more than a day of work for a take-home hiring exercise.

Simply because it is quite difficult to explain the concept in writing.

They might have a different point of view as to the quality of your work. Or they may have taken other factors in consideration (your portfolio, communication style, etc).

But not contacting you with any kind of a status afterward is definitely shabby, on their part.

And asking you to do a second assignment without taking a moment to evaluate your first (and apparently without bothering to tell you in advance that not one, but two or more "quick" assignments would need to be done), all the more so.

Add them to your portfolio and showcase them. Not a waste.

You can also recycle components of coding exercises. For instance in a project with a front end visual component, it is no longer just the bare bones functionality, as you've implemented fonts, networking layers and data models, and co-opted some design patterns from one company's UX person (but changed the assets) during that interview.

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