I'm through to the final round of an interview which is a coding challenge. It appears to be a very simple build of a static site with a design provided along with assets. I’m sure I could complete the work in around half a day max. They have set a deadline and also mentioned during the first round that they had a lot of static sites that needed building. I can’t help but feel that they’re just getting free labour out of me.

I know that doing a good job will lead to a job offer and so I should probably just get on with it. But I have to wonder: should I ask them for payment for completing this work regardless of whether I’m offered the job? i.e. before starting the test?

I’m certain I will do a good job, this is a junior level challenge. I expected to be tested on something like React which is another reason I suspect I’m just completing client work.

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    You can ask and see how it goes. But I imagine you have an idea of how asking a potential employer to compensate you for your time doing a technical coding challenge will turn out... – dfundako Jan 19 '18 at 2:40
  • yeah not a great idea I know :) that's pretty much my thinking but can't help feeling a little exploited, I guess in the long run the small payment I'd get for this work is far outweighed by the potential earnings from a full time position – Pixelomo Jan 19 '18 at 2:41
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    An interview, along with anything else in life that you agree to, can be viewed as a contract or a transaction. Both sides should gain something beneficial. In this case, they get to see your skills and see if you will be a good fit in the role and you get to showcase them and might land a position that is more fufilling with better compensation and benefits . If you don't feel that this transaction is fair as it sits, ask for compensation. However, if the other party then feels it is not beneficial for them, they are free to pass on you. – dfundako Jan 19 '18 at 2:43
  • What is the size of the company? Is it a startup? How many other devs do they have working there? The smaller the company, firstly, the more likely they are to try to get something for nothing, and secondly, the easier it is for them to be flexible regarding making a payment. – Joe Stevens Jan 19 '18 at 3:06
  • they're under 25 people, 8 devs, not a startup – Pixelomo Jan 19 '18 at 3:09

Testing is pretty common in the coding world. Asking potential interviewees to do a simple coding task weeds most of them out and is a great way to set yourself apart from the pack. I think that if you asked them for compensation, I wouldn't expect a call back from this firm. If they're really asking you to do work that they have been asked to do, then they must have someone implementing it on the back end, so I would be extra careful to follow good coding procedure. If I were in your shoes though, I would just take their request at face value, make sure it's good, then return it.

My main principle with jobs is that you're sniffing them out as much as they're sniffing you out. "As goes the interview, so goes the job," is what I try and keep in mind. If you truly believe that they're trying to save on labor this way or showing off their client's databases for just anyone with a degree and a resume to see, this would be a great time to consider other options and cut ties with this company. I can't imagine how many problems this would cause if they were truly getting interviewees to do their work for them.

  • yep I'm very much used to doing tests as part of the interview process, this one just seems a little unusual. I am considering other options though they seem pretty good in most other respects. – Pixelomo Jan 19 '18 at 3:08
  • @AlanSutherland I made some changes, I meant consider other options as in don't work for this company. If that's what they're doing, I would not want to be party to these practices. I don't know from your question how this one is unusual, unfortunately, but if you think it is, definitely trust your instincts. – JFA Jan 19 '18 at 4:28
  • @AlanSutherland it makes sense if they have a lot of static stuff to implement that they just throw you part of one of their gigs. It is exactly what you'll be doing for the forseeable future :) And like you said it's only a couple of hours work max, well within an acceptable technical test – BirdLawExpert Jan 19 '18 at 16:42
  • but still they will most likely profit from my work which I'm doing on a Saturday so i feel exploited – Pixelomo Jan 20 '18 at 4:24

Tests taking a day or longer are very unusual and often used to get work for free. If that’s what you suspect is happening, you don’t want to work for that company anyway. At least advice them that you are the copyright owner of anything you create without pay.

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