Would You Do Homework as Part of Your Interview?

John Krautzel
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Tech companies mastered the art of the whiteboard interview as a way to let candidates show off their skills. A new trend, as of mid-2018, is for tech firms to encourage top talent to do homework as part of a job interview. There is a fine line between doing a simple homework assignment and working for free. Discover what to do about homework assignments as part of your job search process.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework

When candidates do homework for a job interview, they allow hiring managers to gain valuable insights about them. Coding and computer programming jobs offer a great example as to why this method is effective. Interviewees receive their assignment and have a specific time frame in which to complete the task. What happens next helps the employer determine if the candidate possesses the proper skills and has the ability to meet deadlines.

Disadvantages stem from the exclusionary practice of sending someone home with work to do. Not everyone has access to the same tools or computer programs at home. Some people have children and family obligations, and that puts them at a competitive disadvantage in terms of time and distractions.

Three Options for Alternatives

Rather than take work home with you, here are three alternative options.

1. Complete the Assignment at the Office

There is no harm in asking the hiring manager if you can complete the assignment at the office. Request to use the company's computer and resources. Working at the office itself gives the hiring manager a chance to monitor your progress as you complete the task. If you complete the task quickly and do a great job, you'll make a great impression.

2. Refuse the Assignment

Opting out of a homework assignment is perfectly fine if you feel the work takes too much of your time and the company is not willing to pay for your efforts. If the employer does not feel like accommodating your requests, perhaps it's a sign that the job simply isn't for you.

There is a caveat to turning down a lengthy homework assignment. If an employer offers you an assignment, this may indicate that he's interested in your skills and services. Also, completing a homework assignment might give you a taste of what it's really like to complete work for the organization. If you refuse to do the homework, you might not hear from the company again after your job interview.

3. Measure Your Time Commitment

One or two hours of a time commitment should not offer much of a time constraint, especially if the hiring manager gives you notice that the job interview should take a few hours. Half a day becomes a bit of a hassle, and at this point, you might say that you have an hourly consulting fee. It's never a good idea to create an entire app or complete a full day's work for an employer if you're not on payroll.

Homework as part of a job interview may become standard practice for employers looking to gauge your skills. It's up to you to figure out whether or not this type of interview is worth your time and effort. Would you complete a homework assignment as part of a job interview? Please share your thoughts below.

Photo courtesy of Olle Svensson at Flickr.com


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  • barbara c.
    barbara c.

    It depends

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