For a recent job application - I was a assigned a not-in-person coding exercise, which involved creating a simple web application.

I spent about a day doing it. I'd solved the functional part of it in a couple of hours, and then got into a rabbit hole re: a smaller technical issue.

The next day they asked me to make it look more exactly like the mockup they'd given, and I did that - so about 8 hours total, and I opted not to include writing unit tests for it.

This is for a 6 month contract.

Question is - how much time is reasonable to spend on such an exercise? Does it count against you to spend more time doing it?

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    This might be a duplicate. Have a look at the questions here. Also give this blog a read. – Lilienthal Apr 13 '18 at 7:24
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    It depend upon the job market for me. If I am jobless and desperate for any job, I will do whatever needed. If I am getting enough interviews, I won't waste so much of my time on one company (esp if it is a temp contract job) – VarunAgw Apr 13 '18 at 7:27
  • Are you saying you spent two days on a pre-test and haven't been in a interview/selection process yet? While it's okay for a employer to question your competency, it's also in reverse to question if it is worth it. – Dan Apr 13 '18 at 13:48

Technical exercises like this can also be used to test your time management skills as well as coding, design etc. If this is not your first web development job application, you should have a good idea of how much time would be needed in normal circumstances to do this job. In past successful technical tests like this, before writing any code, I have given them an initial response such as 'I understand the task and in a familiar environment, this would take me about 4 hours. Adding a little time to understand the code already provided, I will aim to attempt this task in the same time-frame'. If they don't give you an estimate, feel free to make your own educated one and let them know about it.

If you have not been given a deadline or time estimate, it will be worthwhile to provide your time spent on the task upon submission. When submitting your 'solution', you could remark on what further additions you would have made if time permitted. If they still come back to you with feedback such as 'it's good, but can you make it look exactly like our mock-up', it may do you good to ask exactly what their assessment criteria are. This can better help with your time estimates as well.


It seems reasonable to assume that you should do it as quickly as reasonably possible.

If they've not given you a set deadline, that might be a test in itself - seeing how quickly you can work under your own steam.

It might be an idea to also submit some sort of test plan to prove that you've at least thought about testing the app that you've written.

  • I mean, I think your answer gets to the crux of what the issue is. They came back with 'It doesn't look exactly like the picture we gave you', whereas, I though the exercise was in generally making the thing work, and seeing that I could work with the technology. As it was, making it look exact didn't take a heap of time, but. – dwjohnston Apr 13 '18 at 7:34

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