So the current hiring process goes like this:

  1. filter by candidates' CVs / resumes / portfolios / sample work
  2. send assignment to filtered candidate / filter by that assignment
  3. do interview(s) on the filtered candidates

However, there's one case in which one candidate who uploaded assignment as sample work on step 1, when we didn't even send the assignment to the candidate. (the candidates receive the assignment on step 2. Maybe the candidate has a very good luck?)

Now, my team is arguing on 2 choices:

  1. send email to the said candidate: "is it ok to use your sample work as your assignment, or do you want to edit your assignment?"
  2. proceed with the uploaded assignment, and tell the candidate that we're going to do so.

I'm actually on choice 2, because:

  1. choice 1 can give a hint to the candidate: "your assignment needs more work".
  2. the candidate is already willing to be judged by the sample work. it's meaningless to ask for it again.
  3. asking for again may hint that the assignment isn't good enough. But that gives this candidate one more chance for the assignment, while other candidates don't get this chance.

But some people are going for choice 1 because:

  1. the person didn't know about the assignment
  2. the person didn't know that the sample work will be used as the assignment.

Currently, we're looking for a QA position, and the assignment is about how detailed the candidate is / can the candidate organize cleanly on the matters.

What do you think will be the fairest thing to do?

  • 7
    I'm confused. How did your applicant complete an assignment before they received the instructions?
    – Stun Brick
    Jul 26, 2019 at 12:17
  • @StunBrick that's the biggest mystery to us too... btw, can this be seen as cheating? or should we give some benefit of doubt? Jul 26, 2019 at 15:52
  • 1
    @StunBrick also, if someone else gave the assignment (probably from other candidates who got the assignment but were turned down), should that be considered cheating? Or should we see that as "eager to work at our company"? Jul 26, 2019 at 15:56
  • Perhaps the assignment should be changed every so often. Once a month perhaps with records kept to show which month or time period that assignment came from. Just a thought.
    – Underverse
    Jul 27, 2019 at 5:28
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    @need_for_hire You should listen to his explanation to determine if it was an attempt at "cheating". It seems to me that if he wanted to cheat (get an unfair advantage by completing an assignment ahead of time), then he should have waited until getting the assignment, and then pretended that he never saw it before, and then turned in the completed one very quickly afterwards. Turning it in ahead of time sort of gives away his hand, so it makes me doubt it was an attempt to gain an unfair advantage.
    – Brandin
    Jul 28, 2019 at 11:45

4 Answers 4


Follow your own process.

Step 2 is to "send assignment to filtered candidate / filter by that assignment".

This is the process your organization created for managing this process. Use it. This is what you will be doing for all other candidates.

  • 1
    I would add that there is no need to acknowledge that they already sent anything. So there can be no hidden message about whether their previously sent assignment is up to scratch or not.
    – Spaig87
    Jul 27, 2019 at 1:29
  • this is what we're going for now... But the assignment he handled will be considered for step 1 because he sent it at step 1 :) Jul 29, 2019 at 1:51

First, check the documentation/website that the candidates use to submit their work and make sure that the instructions are clear and unambiguous. The fact that someone made a mistake might be an indication that the instructions are not clear and need to be adjusted.

Depending on the standard of work, I would contact the candidate and let them know that you're either going to accept that work as the assignment or let them correct their mistake if it's clearly not up to standard.

It only seems fair to give them the best chance. Things can be addressed in the actual interview should the candidate get that far.

  • 2
    @need_for_hire How is that possible then? Did someone already sent it to them previously?
    – Underverse
    Jul 26, 2019 at 8:20
  • 1
    @SolarMike well /u/Snow got the question wrong because I wrote it badly... edited the question now. (it's not about ambiguity) Jul 26, 2019 at 8:21
  • 1
    @Underverse um we thought it's maybe it's a 1 in 1000000 chance? wasn't viewing this problem in "isn't that candidate cheating?" view point until now. But please assume that this person has extremely good luck. (for more for/ against reasons) Jul 26, 2019 at 8:23
  • 1
    @need_for_hire we answered what you wrote, so we were not wrong... You should phrase your question clearly and succinctly...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 26, 2019 at 8:26
  • 1
    @SolarMike yes sorry about that. I noticed my question's ambiguity by looking at this anwser :( Jul 26, 2019 at 8:28

proceed with the uploaded assignment, and tell the candidate that we're going to do so.

You can only go this route if you know that the requirements used to make the sample that was already submitted were exactly equal to the requirements you are about to send them.

One of the concerns you have about sending them the requirements for the assignment is:

asking for again may hint that the assignment isn't good enough. But that gives this candidate one more chance for the assignment, while other candidates don't get this chance.

The reason that it might not be good enough is that the requirements were only similar. So they used those colors because that was part of the other assignment; or they used that type of loop because that was part of the other assignment, or they limited the size of the program because that was part of the other assignment.

Punishing them because they has a sample similar to your assignment but missed a few of your requirements isn't fair.

  • Sorry but this wasn't a coding assignment, so we didn't have any limits for others too. The assignment was "write a sample QA doc for some_specific_part_of_a_webservice_anyone_can_access". And the candidate gave us the doc as if he got the assignment. (same requirements) Jul 26, 2019 at 15:54

No, it wouldn't be fair and IMHO you should be looking at disqualifying the candidate as to me it seems they're trying to take a short cut in the hiring process.
Somehow they've gotten hold of an assessment sent to another candidate and sent it in.
Who's to say they actually did the work themselves or if they just sent in someone else's work as they're own?

You have to ask yourself if someone is willing to cheat/take short cuts to get hired isn't it also likely they'll do that when working for you?
Now sometimes a short cut isn't all bad but most of the times it won't be the best or most stable way to do things and often times could have serious (legal) consequences.

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