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During taking interviews for developer positions, it is common to ask to provide snippets of code that fulfill specific requirements.

Therefore, recently I was asked to create an entire application that included a setlist of features. When I was explaining this to my husband, he immediately became doubtful and accused the company of making interviews a means to steal codes from developers by asking to provide a complete working model.

I am so used to coding online, whether while testing for personal improvement or in an interview, that I had not even considered who had access to my code, if it is being used for any other purpose, or whether it is even valuable.

Is it a common theory that developer interview answers are stolen? What kind of protection is available or are there any assurances developers should look for while interviewing?

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Recently I was asked to create an entire application that included a set list of features. When I was explaining this to my husband, he immediately became incredulous and accused the company of using interviews so steal code from developers, especially when asked to provide a complete working program.

To put it in one word: nonsense. The code provided by job applicants universally lands in the same place as does the CV after the hiring process is over, and that's either some archive for future reference or a trash bin.

The amount of work it would require to include testing-code into production product is, almost always, is magnitudes higher than it would take to add/write said feature within the existing ecosystem. And that's based on the assumption that your solution on its own is production-ready and only needs integrating, which is rarely true for interview code.

The reason why more and more companies finally wake up and use real-life problems for their coding challenges, instead of abstract stuff like codility, is very simple - this way you are testing how you will handle something similar to their day-to-day solutions, instead of very abstract and work un-related (most of the time) issues offered at automated-testers.

This is something I've been championing myself for years, and it's a fantastic way to weed out all sorts of copy/paste applicants, allowing you to focus more effort and time on those who truly care about the job.

I am so used to coding online, whether while testing for personal improvement or in an interview, that I had not even considered who had access to my code, if it is being used for any other purpose, or whether it is even valuable.

It's virtually worthless and for every job ad they will receive dozens of solutions (the actual number varies on many factors, but the point is they will get multiples of them).

Is it a common theory that developer interview answers are stolen? What kind of protection is available or are there any assurances developers should look for while interviewing?

Never heard of a single instance of that happening, 1st or 2nd hand. And I worked with about ~15 IT companies/software houses in a span of almost two decades now. Never even heard it suggested for the previously explained reasons.

If something that you've created for an interview is, in your mind, of such profound value to you then I would suggest that you open up a GitHub repository and publish it there. Make sure to rework the task it relates to and put the modified version in the readme, so some future candidates won't find it by googling the task. Then even if you won't get the job, you have a new, and sexy, entry into your portfolio out of it.

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This was one out of five questions that had a time limit of 45 minutes.

With all due respect, your husband has just watched too many unrealistic Hollywood movies.

The fact that you could code something really valuable from scratch for an employer under interview conditions in less than 45 minutes is supremely silly. I don't care if you're the best damn programmer in the world. What's he thinking is just not possible for anyone.

Now let's say that you're not just anyone, you're David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails. David Hansson could generate a pretty good full-featured (CRUD) skeleton of a web application in under two minutes. That wouldn't be a problem for him.

But so anyone else with a web connection, his code generator is online, you can just download it, or load it as a ruby gem. That's it. You run it. Bang and you've gotten yourself a fully working skeleton Ruby on Rails application. But if your husband thinks that the work ends there, that's where he's mistaken.

Using a code generator, or downloading a ready-made template, can only take you so far. Hundreds of hours, if not thousands of hours, will go into actually customizing, tweaking, scaling, and testing, such an application.

And watching someone do that in 45 minutes can give you a pretty good indication of their speed, but it gives you little else. Github is choke-full of millions of half-started half-baked projects. That doesn't make those projects valuable to an employer. Plus, it's not like those projects can't already be downloaded for free.

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    This danger is outright dangerous and anyone thinking of following it should take a deep breath first. Homework is about the best way to asses someone's coding ability before hiring, and blanket refusal of doing so is going to close many doors to many great companies. It's a chance for people with less-than-stellar-CVs to shine through the pile of candidates. Please keep in mind that the homework then has to be checked, which often doesn't take much less time than it takes to create it by the candidate, together with a review of CV and candidate profile online. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 28 '19 at 8:32
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    Homework is about as useful as homework for students. You never know how much time was spent and by whom. All I know is that the person is good at finding someone to do their job for them. – nvoigt Dec 28 '19 at 8:48
  • @TymoteuszPaul, I disagree with you, but it looks like we'll have to debate this some other time. More information was added to the question. And my original assumption about the question was wrong, so I had to rewrite my answer from scratch. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 28 '19 at 10:09
  • You disagree with what exactly? That blanket refusal to write code as part of interview process will close doors to many companies? Or that it takes substantial effort to review the submissions? – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 28 '19 at 11:38
  • Oh I see that you dumped that and very much rest of original answer. Carry on then. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 28 '19 at 11:42

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