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I have recently applied for a job and they required me to take a test, lasting 5 hours.

Now, I have been rejected by them, and I asked them if I could at least get the test results, and they replied that they do not give out such information.

Now, I am really angry about this because IMO, I think it is a vital information to know for a job seeker, for two reasons:

  1. Knowing the test results would implicitly tell me how good I am in what I do as judged by external eyes: if I am unsuitable for them, I will most likely be unsuitable for another company.

  2. I have spent 5 hours of my time to take the test, I have dedicated a whole afternoon to take the test, and you know the saying, "time is money"; I could have had another job to do in that time, and loosing 5 hours of work at a 50$ per hour on a freelance job would mean around 250 euros of value.

Do I have any recourse to get the results? Is not revealing hiring test results or other feedback standard practice in the industry, or does it indicate a company to avoid?

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The reason many companies will not give out test/interview results is that they fear being sued for discrimination. –  Oded Dec 12 '12 at 11:20
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It is very likely their lawyers told them not to release anything. Which if true means you have slim to no chance of ever seeing such results. –  user1220 Dec 12 '12 at 14:17
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There are plenty of Javascript interview tests on the web if you are so obsessed of knowing how good you are at taking a test. This is not a site to discuss opinions. You have been given an answer - the employer is under no obligation to give you results as to avoid getting sued. And you keep arguing about how that is not fair. You claim to be a professional, but I don't see a lot of that right now. Study extra hard, and hopefully you will get the job next time. –  skynorth Dec 12 '12 at 14:55
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Being required to submit to a 5-hour programming test before even being allowed to interview with a person face to face should be enough to tell you whether you want to work for such a company in the first place. IMHO, it's just not worth it. Move on. –  alroc Dec 12 '12 at 20:12
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Your final question is too broad. Are you wondering perhaps if you have options to force them to give you the results? Are you wondering if you should work for a company that does this? Do you want to know how common this is? I know that you already accepted an answer but it would assist those of us voting and this question. –  Joshua Drake Dec 13 '12 at 13:45

10 Answers 10

up vote 17 down vote accepted

I think that although you were right to ask for the information, the employer is under no obligation (other than moral) to give the results to you.

Having attended quite a few 'assessment days' where you are being tested for up to 8 hours, it is unfortunately quite common practice for them to still not give you feedback upon rejection.

I would say that whenever you find yourself in these kinds of situations, try to make a mental note of the parts that are difficult and read around these afterwards, and take heart from the fact that not all employers want the same facets of a person (even for an 'identical' role) - and that soft aspects of an employee feature heavily in choice as well as the technical skillset.

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@johnsmith - what type of test was it? Any help will depend on whether it's a numeracy / literacy test or specific programming languages etc... –  Dibstar Dec 12 '12 at 11:18
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Why is there a moral obligation to give results? –  enderland Dec 19 '12 at 7:06
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@enderland, I agree with you, there is no moral reason to give results that I can see. –  HLGEM Dec 21 '12 at 21:51

I'm trying not to be flippant when I say that if you get angry this easily, I can think of other reasons they may not want to hire you.

This is the nature of the beast. If they give you test results, they have to give everyone test results. And if they give everyone test results, two people confer, and one with a higher test result didn't get the job, then the rejected candidate gets angry instead.

Best case: The rejected candidate comes back saying "So what else was wrong?" and you have to have an awkward conversation. Worst case: The rejected candidate is in a minority group and ends up suing.

The fact of the matter is that, when you're interviewing, you don't always even know why you're rejecting someone. It's just a gut feeling that they're going to be more hassle than they're worth. They might do well on all the tests and come up with text-book answers in an interview and still you can think "this isn't going to work out."

How do you explain that to someone? I tried once and it quickly turned heated -- which isn't easy, cause I had to be extremely careful what I said and he didn't. I learned from that experience that, no matter how much I want to help, I need to protect myself and the business I'm hiring for over the failed candidate.

From bitter experience, it is better to give no feedback to anyone.

This is horrible for the candidate, but it's the way it goes. Sometimes you don't even get a rejection, they just don't call you.

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But, given that you've asked a question here, got a response you didn't want to hear and responded angrily, I think they probably made the right decision. –  pdr Dec 12 '12 at 12:23
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@johnsmith They did not "make" you "waste your time"; you volunteer to apply for jobs and to go through an interview processes, part of that process was a 5 hour test. There is no reason to be angry about it. pdr is correct about giving feedback; there is absolutely no benefit to the company, but it opens up options for lawsuits from angry rejectees. If companies had the right to reject applicants for any reason without risk of lawsuits, they might be willing to offer feedback (because the cost would only be a small amount of the interviewer's time). –  Matt Dec 12 '12 at 14:49
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@johnsmith, no it is not common for people to be angry about this. –  HLGEM Dec 12 '12 at 14:57
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@johnsmith A company such as this is not responsible or obligated to help anyone understand their own capabilities just because that person applied for a job with them. It's your own responsibility to know what you're capable of and what your limitations are. The test was so that the company could get insight into your capabilities to help with their decisions in their hiring process. Keep in mind that they (and not just you) invested plenty of time (and money!) in going through this process. –  Jim Dec 12 '12 at 16:11
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Frankly in a programming test if you don't know if your results were not satisfactory, then they were not. People who know their profession know whether they answered a question correctly. I fail to see what getting a pass fail grade from them would tell you. Frankly you come across as childish, narcissitic and unprofessional. I would work on those things as well as anger management and your programming skills. Certainly from what I have seen here, I would not uinder any circumstances hire you for any job no matter how good your skills are. And get over thinking life should be fair. It isn't. –  HLGEM Dec 12 '12 at 16:26

I fail to see even one reason why an employer would give you the test results in this situation. There is no circumstance where it is their best interest. They don't care about your career because they are not hiring you. They do care about not being sued because they didn't hire you or someone else.

Do not get angry about things like this. Businesses act in their own best interests not yours and that is just something that you need to learn to accept. Being angry over something that is so ordinary is a waste of your time and energy.

As far as a programming test, you know what they asked and you know what you answered. If you want to see what you should have answered then take the time yourself to look up techniques related to the kinds of questions they asked. It is up to you to invest in improving your skills, it is not up to companies who have decided not to hire you to do so.

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(Emphasis mine)

I have spent 5 hours of my time to do the test, I have dedicated a whole afternoon to do the test, and you know the say, "time is money": I could have had another job to do in that time, and loosing 5 hours of work at a 50$ per hour would mean around 250 euros on a freelance job.

Unless you took the test under duress, the decision to spend that time was entirely yours:

  • If you knew ahead of time that the test was going to take five hours and thought doing freelance work was a more profitable use of your time, you had the option of declining to take it and spending your afternoon earning money.

  • If you had no idea how long the test was going to take (i.e., they put you in a room and said "work until you finish"), you had the option of deciding that n hours was as much of your time as you were willing to put into it and leaving after that.

The proposition behind the interview process is that the people on both sides of the table spend their time to get to know each other and decide whether or not they'd like to do business together. If the entire affair doesn't end in an accepted offer, the time spent by both sides is what economists call a "sunk cost." Companies may interview multiple candidates while searching for someone to fill a position. Once they've hired someone, the cost of that hire includes the time spent on the candidates they didn't hire. The same applies to the time you spend interviewing with multiple companies. The value of the job you take should cover the sunk costs of interviewing for the positions you weren't offered or didn't accept.

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Not to mention that they also spent assessing the candidate. They aren't asking for reimbursement for that. –  Nathan Long Dec 12 '12 at 19:51

Look on the bright side

I totally understand why this is frustrating:

I have spent 5 hours of my time to do the test, I have dedicated a whole afternoon to do the test

However, consider that:

  • Being asked to interview is feedback: it tells you that your resume is good enough to get that far.
  • Their test questions are implicitly feedback; unless the questions are vague, you should walk away with an idea of which things stumped you and what you can study.
  • Interviewing is a skill, and you just got some practice - assuming you think through the experience and learn something.

I have known people to interview for jobs they didn't even want, just to get practice. I think that's unethical, but you should still learn from a real one.

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Mostly good ... although the OP said in a comment that he took the test before interviewing, and my understanding is that he didn't get an interview. –  GreenMatt Dec 12 '12 at 20:07

Knowing the test results would implicitly tell me how good I am in what I do with external eyes: if I am unsuitable for them, I will most likely be unsuitable for another company.

No, the test result of X% doesn't necessarily tell you much without more context. Was the test designed to be the basics of a skill that most people should get at least Y%? Was the test looking for things beyond just the code of the final answer? For example, is there coding styles, test cases, and other factors that are wanted here but you may have missed? In these cases, what may make you unsuitable in one environment doesn't transfer to other environments. Some places may have a very formalized style of development and other places may have more of a "cowboy" mentality. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. I wonder how well have you really considered how useful or useless this can be.

I have spent 5 hours of my time to do the test, I have dedicated a whole afternoon to do the test, and you know the say, "time is money": I could have had another job to do in that time, and loosing 5 hours of work at a 50$ per hour would mean around 250 euros on a freelance job.

I'd be careful here. There are more than a few times where people will give something for free with the thought that initial goodwill can be rewarded. I can think of more than a few professionals where I'd have a free consultation before deciding to work together. Interviews are a two-way street though I can wonder if you understand that point here in this case.

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There is a critical difference between evaluation and interviews. The latter is just concerned about what they need awhile the first is concerned about what is good for you.

Most of the times, interviewers only look for what they need to see if you fit. so its common for them to not even write up or note enough details about what went wrong. They are interested only in what the organization expected from role. If it matches they just note that these things matched - otherwise they simply would say nothing matched.

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+1 for pointing out that a candidate is often not really judged based on general criteria, but on what is relevant for this position - so the result may not even help you much for a different position. –  sleske Dec 13 '12 at 13:21

One thing that is worth mentioning is that they may not have marked it in the most trandtional sense of having a percentage score at the end.

I know that at work I've been peripherally involved in interview processes and there is a programming test but there aren't right/wrong answers, there is indications of how somebody approaches a problem and what it shows of their knowledge or their ability to deal with problems that they maybe don't have direct answers for.

Its quite possible that the test result is qualitative and not quantitative and thus they coudln't just give out a result.

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No, you have no rights here. Next time, ask more questions before taking tests or any other lengthy commitments.

Test Security - maybe this is proprietary or they don't want answers floating around the internet.

No Pass/Fail - you may have done well on the test, but just one person did better. That's all it takes.

Know What You Don't Know - for a specific programming language test (where you claim extensive understanding), you should know right away if you know it or not. You can't think of one question or term that you don't know?

I doubt the test was the only thing they used in the selection process. They may have found people who did about as well as you did on the test, but have more experience. Stackoverflow.com would be a better measure of your knowledge or a way to find specific areas of weakness than a written test.

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Having recently joined an organisation where it was necessary to pass such a test, I have two observations to add:

Firstly, the test was very specific in announcing that the detailed results were not and would never be available and that starting the test indicated acceptance of this fact.

Secondly, having passed the test and started to get involved in further recruiting, even the hiring company don't have access to any information other than "passed well", "passed", "only just failed, allow retest" or "failed" for each candidate.

Chances are that one of the reasons for refusing to hand out your detailed results is that they don't have access to it themselves.

Passing tests such as this one are like the fuel you put into your car: all they do is get you to the interview.

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