If a recruiter writes you this email after an assignment, beside the fact that it went quite bad, what should you do/expect from a phone call?

The recruiter is an internal recruiter for the company I applied.

What we thought of you (after call + interview) didn’t match at all.

In short we think that the results of the assignment were beneath what we expected from a senior like yourself. And I want to figure out how that is possible.

Can we have a call tomorrow afternoon maybe?

What is this call for? What should I expect and how should I deal with it professionally?

  • "What is this call for? " Have you reached out to the recruiter and asked them?
    – sf02
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:19
  • Is the assignment in this case a take home code test or similar or paid work you delivered?
    – Absurdly
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:20
  • @Absurdly it's a take home code test
    – aneuryzm
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:24
  • 2
    @emory Did you read his email in the question?
    – aneuryzm
    Oct 16, 2019 at 21:24
  • 1
    He perhaps wants to know whether you were unlucky in the test, your CV is systematically wrong or where else this mismatch comes from. For you, this may be a last chance of clarifying what went wrong. Normally, if an interview goes well and the performance is bad it might be a bad day or someone who is really good at creating a big shining halo without anything behind them. This is a possibility that the recruiter tries to distinguish. Oct 16, 2019 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


What is this call for?

The recruiter most likely feels that you were a good fit for the senior position based on your resume and interviews, but that the coding test assignment wasn't completed up to the standards they expected.

The recruiter would like to talk to you about this to see if perhaps you didn't understand the assignment, or if there is some good reason why you did so poorly, other than lack of ability.

I suspect they wouldn't even bother calling you about this if they weren't hoping to still be able to hire you.

What should I expect and how should I deal with it professionally?

Expect to talk about the results of the assignment.

Don't make excuses. Answer any questions they may have to the best of your ability.

And hope for the best.


I can think of a few reasons why the recruiter is doing this.

  1. To find out if he should bother connecting you to other clients at all, or forget about you.
  2. To find out if his ways of estimating a candidate based on resume are wrong and need to be improved. He needs this in order to not present unsuitable candidates to his clients, which at best just wastes everyone's time; at worst, clients could decide to not work with him any more.

From your side, the first question you need to answer (to yourself, before talking to him) is what's the reason why the interview failed. Was it you (as in, lack of skill and knowledge)? Was it on interviewer/potential employer side (as in, unrealistic expectations)? Or a communication breakdown somewhere?

If you aren't sure, you could ask a third party - some other senior in your profession - who could give you his (hopefully, unbiased) opinion.

Whatever it is, once you find it, it will form the basis of your side of the conversation.

Should you talk to him at all? Well, if you don't, chances are, he will not work with you any more. This may or may not be bad. If you do, if you think you were right, explain why. If you think you were wrong, come out clear.

Sometimes both sides are wrong - a candidate thinks that with some basic knowledge to start with, within a few months from his start on the new job he can and will pick up anything he needs; while on the other side, the potential employer is under impression that the candidate they're about to interview already has highly specific and detailed experience.

Also, use this conversation as a learning opportunity. Find out what worked and why, and also what didn't work and why. Find out what were the expectations, and how you can ensure, in the future, that the expectations are realistic.

  • 1
    I forgot to mention this is the recruiter from the company. Not a third party recruiter. I guess only the second point is valid then.
    – aneuryzm
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:36
  • 1
    THe interview didn't fail, the interview went well. The assignment went bad.
    – aneuryzm
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:44

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