This isn't a duplication of Submit code during interview, it's more a specific case.

Let me tell how the situation developed.

I was contacted by a small company(<50) in Europe. I am located in South America. I spoke with the HR person, and they requested some code samples, so I linked them to some samples from my GitHub account.

The CTO liked my profile and I had a lengthy video call with him. Everything went smooth, he told me the salary, the conditions, he send them by mail, etc. Then he said that he would send me a test project in the following days, and if I pass the test I would go there for a trial period before being a full time employee.

This is expected, companies usually review possible future employees, and like to see their way of working before hiring them.

But when the test arrived, the specs requested it to be reusable to several projects and to use the Unlicense.

The project itself is a generic module that could be used in all the projects the company has, requesting it to be reusable raises some flags, but, requesting such a specific license, raised even more flags of this being a typical case of free work.

I had emailed the CTO with my doubts, and saying that I want to use a different license (MPL 2.0), having no problem in changing it in the case the I get accepted. I refuse to use such a license with no guarantees.

This isn't a normal practice in Europe, right? Am I right to be careful?

I have a lot of experience with interviews and scams, and I didn't notice any trace of malice in the video call, so I kind of assume that the employer maybe isn't aware of the flags he triggered, at the same time I had the whole normal interview process and spoke with him for two hours. The scams that I have been sent, were more of an automated process, with minimal interaction from the employer. This is why I give them the benefit of the doubt.

For now I'm waiting for a reply, but, as asked above, I'm okay to be cautious?

  • 1
    It does "sound" like a free coding job...Why specify several projects and a specific license just for an interview...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 16:04
  • 1
    I would like to add, the CTO answered my question and allowed me to use any Open Source license I wish to use.
    – Jallrich
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 16:59
  • 1
    How generous of him. What if you give him permission to read the code, and nothing else. There is no legitimate reason why the company should have any license to your code.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 17:20
  • Yeah, that's why he agreed to the OSL that I suggested. But it wasn't a scam. The offer was real and I was brought to the country and now I'm currently working with him.
    – Jallrich
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 9:10

2 Answers 2


Yes, be cautious.
They don't need the license to code written on your time.
In order to use the code, they would just need surrender language in your employment offer.

It isn't a traditional scam - as you said, scammers don't spend two hours with a mark.

But it does sound like they intended to use your code whether they hire you or not.
I wouldn't be comfortable with that.

  • Wouldn't surrender language in my employment offer be a win for me? That mean I would have an employment offer. In a sense, I would be getting the job and they could use my code, so that's a win from me, they'll need me to maintain such code.
    – Jallrich
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 17:01
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    @JavierBullrich Yes, it would be a win because the surrender language would be in the job offer. It would be sketchy for them to use your "interview code" if they don't hire you - that's just my opinion. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 20:03

If I write code without getting paid, it's my code. I have the copyright. I may let you look at the code if you ask nicely, but you have no right to use it, and I won't give you any right to use it without payment.

If you want me to make you presents during an interview, then you can keep your job.

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