I recently came across a discussion on Reddit concerning take-home tests as part of an interview process. Is it was acceptable for companies to ask candidates to work on a problem in their own time, so that their submitted solution helps decide whether to move forwards to an on-site interview?

The level of antipathy towards take-home tests in that discussion was an enormous surprise. The majority of commenters were not just against the idea, but virulently so, railing against it as another example of unreasonable demands made on candidates. Most people viewed these tests as a waste of time, rude, disrespectful, or a combination of all three. I think there was only one person whose opinion wasn’t negative, and even that was ambivalent at best.

I have been asked to do take-home tests in the past, and did see that if poorly conceived and executed they can be a bad experience for the candidate. However, if they’re approached in a thoughtful and careful way, they’re one of the best tools for effective interviewing. Here’s what I think does—and doesn’t—work.

James Brady

I’m a software engineer by trade and an woodworker for fun. I like hard problems and learning new things with which solve them. I’m learning to speak Catalan. I like hiking in, up, and around vertiginous scenery. I play the trumpet poorly. That is all.

Oristà: a teeny tiny village in Catalunya