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Recently I applied to a company that I was really excited to work for. They, like many other companies, gave me a simple take home code challenge. I made sure all my code was clean, had comments, and even included Java Documentation.

When they first sent the test, I noticed a few possible problems with the Challenge, which I immediately addressed with a polite email stating that I had reviewed the question and was about to begin, but had a few questions regarding the requirement... mainly that they were referring to an Int where it seemed more appropriate to use a float (as it was a currency exchange calculator). They didn't reply to those questions, so over the weekend I went ahead and completed the challenge making assumptions around my questions and documenting those assumptions and why I made them when submitting for review.

As soon as they received my submission they replied saying that my assumptions were correct and they were not sure why they referenced an int and in fact they were changing it to a float. They also stated that they received my submission and would contact me soon to set up a Question and Answer Review of my code.

A week later, I wrote a checking in email. And now another week later I have still heard nothing back.

Is it common to just not call a candidate back if you are not satisfied with the result of the test? It was so simple, i don't know how I could have flunked it.

In the past I have always received an email pass or fail from other companies.

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marked as duplicate by gnat, Garrison Neely, jcmeloni, Michael Grubey, ReallyTiredOfThisGame Aug 4 at 13:42

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"Flunking" is such a subjective term. There could be any number of reasons why they haven't returned your mails. You don't have representation in the form of a recruiter? –  Joel Etherton Jul 29 at 13:17
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Just as an aside, see Why not use Double or Float to represent currency? (It might still make sense for a conversion rate, though.) –  Joshua Taylor Jul 29 at 15:27
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that was my correction.. i actually used float and BigDecimal to half-round up to the nearest 2nd decimal position –  erik Jul 29 at 15:29
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but integers won't represent the decimal positions and the no exchange is going to come back as a whole number –  erik Jul 29 at 15:31
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@erik: You may still be having a point, but just to make sure, we're talking about using an int to represent the smallest unit of the currency in question. –  O. R. Mapper Jul 29 at 17:01

8 Answers 8

up vote 28 down vote accepted

It's really hard to say. They should have sent you some sort of reply. That's pretty common but I suppose they don't have to.

They may not be in any hurry to hire someone. They could be fielding a large volume of qualified people.

People can react very negatively to being corrected too, you can't control that.

There is a possibility that you're overqualified. Recently a group of my classmates all applied for the same software job. We've all taken the same classes together and I've worked with each of them over the years and in my assessment the least qualified one among them got the job. The top two didn't even get an interview. Sometimes these software jobs are companies looking for people who can put code into the computer, without having to pay for a 'developer', I make that statement very cautiously and wish not to sound pretentious.

You can keep politely following up but at some point you may have to face the music that you didn't get it and continue to look elsewhere.

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Yeah, i hope i didn't offend them with corrections to the test, i was careful to pose them as questions, not criticisms. –  erik Jul 29 at 13:15
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I make that statement very cautiously and wish not to sound pretentious I've been passed over, as a programmer with years of experience w/only AA's, for individuals with MBA's and no experience. It's not pretentious to face the real world with real expectations. Recruiters who care more about paper than experience, over/under qualified, over/under paid, etc... –  WernerCD Jul 29 at 15:13
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"Sometimes these software jobs are companies looking for people who can put code into the computer, without having to pay for a 'developer'..." - also known as the United States Air Force. –  Deryck Jul 30 at 7:24

Keep following up. You have a positive relationship with them. They know that they not just a good programmer but that you are a case where good help is hard to find. They almost certainly have other stuff on their plates. Give them the benefit of the doubt, keep following up but take no chances - keep floating your resume and going to interviews. No putting all your eggs in the same basket.

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well i am already currently employed and fairly happy where i am at, but felt it was time as an android dev to start shopping around for more exciting positions and salary. I have been at my current job for over 2 years and while my reviews are always "kick a$$" I am not getting more than 3% more every year –  erik Jul 29 at 12:35
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@erik over 2 years and … I am not getting more than 3% more every year So you mean you got ≤3% twice. (Just pointing out that two data points isn't all that much. It's fine to be dissatisfied with it, but it's not quite a "long term pattern of behavior" yet, either.) –  Joshua Taylor Jul 29 at 15:33

I have interviewed for hundreds of jobs, and been accepted for dozens, but not ever have I got a call back to let me know I was not chosen.

It sounds like they have not gotten back to you for a while. This means that they are not going to hire you. Odds are, as amazingly well as you did on your exam, someone else did better, or was a better fit over all.

The appropriate action to take at this time is nothing. Move on to the next interview.

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i have gotten many responses as to why i was not chosen before.. that said sure this is a possibility, but code test are generally put forth not as an ultimate decider but to raise a question and answer period –  erik Jul 29 at 17:01

This sounds like a very good start.

Management can be very busy though, and decisions are sometimes required to be chained between multiple layers of management.

There's HR, sometimes a manager over the team you'd be working in, a manager over that manager and other managers within the work space unit and then there can be a manager over that manager and so on, sometimes a permission from everyone, including some specialists, are required.

Also, let's face it, It's summer time, it's common that things take way longer than they usually do due to summer vacations.

It's happened to me that I've been having a good experience with a potential employer, but I didn't hear anything for weeks until suddenly I was offered a job in that company. I had already accepted another job offer but that's not the important point, the important point is that sometimes companies are not rushing to offer anything due to many reasons.

If you don't hear from them within another week try to give them a call, direct contact is usually the best way to go. Just don't give up.

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I've recruited several candidates before, and I think checking in once a week to say simply "we're still interested" or "management is reviewing your application" is acceptable, but to not send anything for a week or longer is not professional.

Companies will not necessarily provide constructive feedback, there are some good reasons for this and some silly HR reasons for this.

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I'm a software developer, too. The situation that you've described is, from my experience, very common. As someone else noted, it's very rare that you receive a response informing you that you were not selected for the position. And though you may have done well on the test, there are several factors at play in the hiring decision that a company makes-- technical skill, personality, availability of an established colleague, etc.

Your best defense is a good offense: Continue applying for more jobs, continue going to other interviews, and continue working on side projects that will boost your confidence. Ambiguity regarding a job application is easier to handle when you have several irons in the fire, so to speak.

Good luck!

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I made sure all my code was clean, had comments, and even included Java Documentation.

Maybe they were looking for someone who just codes and doesn't ask that many questions. You could post up your code on Code Review, maybe you did things like too many comments or extra classes where a function is enough, and so on.

But assuming there was more than one applicant it is just normal to not get accepted even if you did a good job. Maybe someone did equally good and they threw dice to decide. Just don't let that disappoint you.

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so over the weekend I went ahead and completed the challenge making assumptions around my questions and documenting those assumptions and why I made them when submitting for review.

And that's the problem right there. You didn't write to the listed specifications. You made assumptions about things you didn't have enough information about to make assumptions on.
And if you decided to use floating point numbers to store monetary data, you made a fundamental mistake.

So they threw out your submission because of that no doubt.

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this doesn't answer the question asked, "Is it common to just not call a candidate back if you are not satisfied with the result of the test?" –  gnat Jul 30 at 8:14
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its also inaccurate and an assumption. I wrote them as soon as i got the test, which i had agreed to complete by monday. they never wrote back answering my question, until i submitted the answer and they told me i was correct and they would fix the test to reflect that in the future. –  erik Jul 30 at 11:06

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