I'm a programmer and I am currently interviewing for a new position. One of the companies that I interviewed with gave me two assessments which required me to work through some code problems at home. The first required around 5 hours to complete and the second required around 15 hours. For the second assessment, the company said that I would be paid an hourly rate. I completed both assessments. A few days later, the company decided not to offer me the position. A week later, the company contacted me about the payment and asked me to sign and submit a contract and tax forms, and then they asked me to sign up for a payment app (either Zelle or Quickpay) on my phone. (note: I asked for a check instead and they agreed to send me a check.) I have a few questions regarding this situation:
1) Is it a normal practice for a company to pay applicants for part of an interview?
2) Why would a company want to pay me for something that I would probably do anyway?
2) Is there a benefit for the company to have me sign their contractor agreement?
3) Could there be adverse effect for me if I do sign up as a contractor for this short term "project"?
4) Should I be concerned about giving them my personal info, considering that I only met them once and I will not be working with them?
This is the first time that a company has offered to pay me for an assessment. I want to avoid scams and I also want to know if my work could be used as a part of their application, and if I could be assuming responsibility for something.
Edit: The company was located in Peachtree Corners, just north of Atlanta, Georgia. I visited the location for an on-site interview, however the address did not match the address on Google or on their web site. The company has fairly high reviews on Glassdoor and a good presence on LinkedIn. The number that I was called from did match the number on Glassdoor and on their website. At least one of the employees was recognizable from their LinkedIn profile. The web address used for their email addresses, company website, LinkedIn, Google and Glassdoor was the same.