The kind of job application process that makes me angry

Michael Crenshaw on April 30, 2019

I'm peeved I came across a job listing pointing to a basic coding challenge. Now, many people believe coding challenges shouldn't be pa... [Read Full]
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Now that I read this it made me think I should also share my thoughts about a coding interview I took for curiosity lately. About it, in a nutshell:
A company approached me, HR contacted me and told me all about how awesome the job is. I thought I'll give it a go even if I have a job, just to see what they think, how they interview. Then they sent me over to a coding challenge just as they did with you. I did the coding task, submitted my work, but a couple of days later their answer hit me with surprise.
They didn't even look at my code.
They said an automated test resulted in failure when running it. I felt devastated. I mean, code is so much more than just giving it 'a', so it can return 'b'. How it's built tells a lot about the developer who wrote it. Not even taking the time to look at it feels insulting. It's like putting a f*kin robot on the front desk of your interview process.

 

Jeez, that sounds terrible. What does that say about the company, really? They want you to put in the extra effort to apply for a job, but they don't want to put in the extra effort themselves. It sends a message that they don't really care.

 

Ah and another thing. It was a 4 hours long challenge. :D
4 hours

 

insults the applicant by implying their time is incredibly cheap

I agree. but only to some degree.
because this is the result of the assumption that if you are applying for a job - you are not working and you have a lot of time on your ends. The entire recruiting process it very time consuming.
it does not end with code challenges, because then you have still hours - many! - of interlocutory phone calls, then tech interviews, hr interviews, half or full probation days.
I am happy with my current job, still i try to give it a go at at least a couple of interviews each year - you never know you find something better, you stay uptodate with the recruiting processes and world and it's a good training anyway.

but really it is annoying me that i have to take vacation to join the company for full day. in order to do the interviews and then spend the afternoon with the team i might join to asses the Culture fit

 

After going through a job hunt while still employed, I don't think I would do so again. It sucked hard. Most companies with coding challenges wanted a solution within 48 hours. If I was unemployed, that wouldn't be an issue, but when I am trying to escape from having to work 50+ hour weeks, it's hard to set aside the time to do a lot of coding challenges at once. I had to choose between companies several times and exit one application process early so I would have the time to do another company's challenge.

I get that a lot of places want to see how you think on your feet, but giving me no guidance and not setting expectations is frustrating. "Just code like you normally do!" "Your code should speak for itself" I think a great compromise would be if the company supplied a basic solution setup to get applicants started...that way applicants don't have to waste time stitching together a basic enterprise-y solution, and the applicant gets a chance to see what the company's coding style and expectations are like.

I wish more companies would take the time to give feedback. But then again, maybe they have trouble giving feedback because they have no idea what they are looking for. At the very least, it takes a few minutes to set up an automatic "thanks but no thanks" message as opposed to abruptly stopping all contact with me the second I tell you I couldn't complete the challenge in time.

 

yep. agree. expecially the feedback part. if i give you my time for a coding challenge. or to go through the interview process it would be nice to receive a detailed feedback in what i did wrong or why i did not fit in the culture of your company. Did i seem unsure or arrogant, sloppy or fussy, was my code crap or overly complicated. It would be nice to know better the expectetions they had. Do you want an MVP with hacky shortcuts and without unittests or do you want to see the code at my best? ( normally i would do all by the book, but if the budget and time costraint are tight - what the heck do you expect?) I believe every interview should be a learning experience and these feedback would really help. but i understand also why they dont do that ( there are many legal reasons too..)

 

Also, many work 5/7 or 6/7.
From my personal story they have asked me to deliver from Friday night(right after my job) until Saturday night...needless to say that i reject everyone's proposal for a job who DOES NOT HAVE THE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE to understand that sb has two days per week to relax without coding all day. This can become worse if the assignment has logical and coding errors and you have to correct also their errors for 2 days and when you send the corrections for their mistakes they do not reply.(Actual fact).You spent 3 or 7 days and..."we found a candidate with 10 years more experience, thank you, follows us for future positions" while you lost your days, your woman's/kids/friends respect and your self respect.
"You are a replaceable tool like a lamp, a chair.", this is their attitude, a lower class of treatment. Unacceptable, but life does circles, they dig their own misfortune in the workplace or out of the workplace.

 

I agree that all applicants should be treated with respect by companies posting job offers. I too have a problem with the phrasing on the Alliance job listing, as it has a dismissive tone.

However, reasonable length coding challenges should be a part of the interview process. In my opinion, a reasonable length coding challenge should not take more than an fifteen minutes for a current employee in that role to complete.

  1. Coding challenges provide a valuable avenue for self-taught developers to prove that they now how to code in a professional way, despite perhaps not having a diploma in CS.
  2. Additionally, they help companies ignore applicants who don't have the required skill level, which helps the company spend more time on qualified applicants.
 

Oh yeah, for sure! I appreciated coding challenges while job-hunting because I did a lot of extra-curricular work in college that distracted me from portfolio-building. Code challenges let me show skills I'd developed without putting code on Github.

I just prefer challenges as a second step in an interview process, rather than a gateway to any human interaction.

 

I think we can solve this problem by requiring prospective companies to pay us for our time. It's not as farfetched as it sounds. Just get a premium Calendly account and now you can charge companies. If a majority of people in the industry have these requirements, it will force employers to to become more efficient with the hiring process.

 
 

When you have more experience things like this just serve as a filter to clear out noise. Some people like this kind of challenge; you like a chill interview process. There are so many jobs out there that sweating one is a waste of time and energy.

 

That's fair, I'm sure time will lend me some perspective. And thankfully I'm in a good position right now to identify a bad application process when I see it and move on. Hopefully my comments will help (even) newer devs do the same.

 

Sadly it's not only a tech industry problem. I guess the thing is detect in time if it's worth your time or It doesn't to apply at some company.

 

That’s horrible 😞 Coding tasks should only help the company learn how you think and approach problems. Treating them as anything more than just one factor among many is not fair to both sides.

 

While I'm not so sure about the racist and sexist part, I think the Dev Test from Alliance is downright rude. I would never want to work for a company that treats potential employees like this.

 

Yeah, I didn't justify that well. I thought of racism because someone who speaks English as a second language and wants clarification of the challenge's parameters might be discouraged by the brisk tone of the challenge page. I thought of sexism because the "most people don't pass" comment reminds me of the persona too often perpetuated of the presumably-male "elite hacker" which is invoked in tech industry gate-keeping.

These can seem like a stretch, and it's wise to be wary of too easily-hurled accusations of bigotry. But people in power (even HR reps who probably don't think of themselves as "powerful") should be careful of the disproportionate effects of their actions on certain groups, even if they're not intentional, blatant, or (and here's where a dangerous assumption could be made) significant.

 

Some hire based on résumé, and some don't.
Some hire based on open-source contributions, and some don't.
Some hire based on reviewing code from a past project, and some don't.
Some hire based on fizz-buzz, comp-sci algorithm challenge, and some don't.
Some hire based on take-home practical assignment, and some don't.
Some hire based on pair-programming session, and some don't.
Some hire based on grabbing lunch and getting to know you and some don't.
Some hire based on punctuality and , and some don't.
Some hire based on a personal referral, and some don't.
Some provide you feedback, and some don't.

The qualifiers you want are the ones I don't want. Good or bad? Who's to say? To infer they are sexist or racist because they don't meet your preferred combo of qualifiers? 🚩 That doesn't sound right.

I am an experienced dev, I saw the challenge, and it asks to write a class and provide some tests. That is at most ~10 minutes of my time. 👍 It's fun, practical and applicable to the job. I like that.

Company doesn't call you back? Great! Mentally free 🏹 to continue the hunt. Called to tell me I didn't get the job? 😠 What an insult, I'd rather no followup unless its a job offer.

Last time I wanted a job, I applied to 7, had 5 offers the same day and the first offer within 30 minutes after leaving the interview. I refused to provide a résumé in all cases before a formal job offer was made. I only submitted a résumé as a formality to seal the deal. I didn't even have a LinkedIn until recently. I have an excellent résumé with 15 years in the industry only to ever hold CTO positions so why would I not use my résumé to my advantage? I have the mentality you are only as good as your last job that résumés do not matter.

How do you get the job you want? You give them something that makes it hard for them to say no.

I will identify a few places I want to work for and think about their stack, their pain points, their company culture and I will put together something they never thought to ask for and give it to them for free.

  • I have handed complete MVPs to companies for free with the codebase and all for them to use.
  • I will write an entire developer's handbook based on their stack and hand it to them.
  • I will shoot video tutorials on the technology they have an interest in adopting and give them the videos.

I will do all this work and message these companies all on the same day. I set a time limit something like 2-3 hours per and then ship it.

Don't have the time or are you not making the time? Did you have time to watch GoT Season 8 Episode 3? Did you find time to read about or watch Marvel's Avengers End Game? There is your time.

Good or bad hiring process? Who's to say?

 

The qualifiers you want are the ones I don't want. Good or bad? Who's to say?

I am, for the reasons above.

To infer they are sexist or racist because they don't meet your preferred combo of qualifiers? 🚩 That doesn't sound right.

Why not?

Company doesn't call you back? Great! Mentally free

But the time/energy is gone, and this could be discouraging for some applicants.

Called to tell me I didn't get the job? 😠 What an insult, I'd rather no followup unless its a job offer.

Fair enough! That's a preference I hadn't accounted for. Maybe it's more common than I'd assume at first glance.

You give them something that makes it hard for them to say no.

The examples you give are impressive, and I applaud you! Not everyone can make that kind of commitment during a job hunt.

Don't have the time or are you not making the time? Did you have time to watch GoT Season 8 Episode 3? Did you find time to read about or watch Marvel's Avengers End Game? There is your time.

To say "find the time" assumes the job hunter is doing an inadequate job of balancing their needs. I think that's dangerously presumptuous. (Though, to be fair, probably at least sometimes accurate.)

Your job hunting style is one I hadn't considered heavily. I've used the "shotgun approach," based on the assumption that I'd receive many rejections and no-responses (which I did).

Someone like you with more experience quite possibly should adopt a slower, more methodical approach. I still think the flippant tone of the application is a problem, but the actual process less so, given applicants with your level of experience.

 

will identify a few places I want to work for and think about their stack, their pain points, their company culture and I will put together something they never thought to ask for and give it to them for free.

That’s awesome, how do you manage not to spend a lot of time though for the MVPs?

 

I have built 40+ web-apps for paid. I dont know the real number of how many apps I've actually built.

Between 2005-2009 I entered a lot of 48 hour hackatons. Once you can get something out in 48 hours than it becomes 24 hours than 12 hours than 4 hours. You learn how to write just the code you need and also can leverage code from past projects. You just start to see patterns.

Rails is great because you can write your own generators, and so I just kept improving my own generators until I could generate out both backend and frontend 80% of an entire application based on writing a yaml file. This is just like how you can use CloudFormation to provision multiple AWS services.

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

You sound like a complete dickhead.

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Just apply for a different job and stop moaning ?

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