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I applied to a company for an position which offered interesting work, seems like an interesting place, and I feel like I can learn a lot there.

They wanted to speak to me. As a screening, they sent me a questionnaire. I am much better at speaking then writing, but I took a full day and filled it out. The questions were not unusual:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Pick one of our projects from the web-site and please tell us what you like about it.
  • Describe a project you worked on including planning budgeting etc etc...

I don't mind sending code samples or answering standard questions. I filled it out fully and well. I the company responded with an email saying "are you still interested because this is barely filled out"

What do I say in these questionnaires? Are there certain things they are looking for? I know I am qualified for the job, but asking me on paper to come up with a project that is relevant to what they are doing it and then saying "this is barely enough".

TL;DR:

What are they looking in these kind of questionnaires?

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    I once got rejected for a job after completing the interview process successfully because I was flagged as not detail oriented on their personality test. I wouldn't sweat it. I took the same viewpoint of it being laziness. Oct 24 '13 at 16:25
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    You're not going to find any hard and fast rules on hiring practices. Every company has their own take on it. That said, a questionnaire like that is strange. I've had to do skills tests ahead of time and bring them with me to a verbal interview to discuss. The questions you describe are normally saved for the in-person part of the interview in my experience. Of course, if the position requires lots of written communication, it could also be their way of seeing how you communicate in that form. I don't think anyone will be able to tell you what they were looking for though.
    – Phr3d
    Oct 24 '13 at 17:06
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    @AndrewBartel, I got eliminated one teime because the personality test said I wasn't as obsessively neat as the owner wanted. He literally would not hire anyone who would allow a piece of paper to be on his or her desk. Always been grateful I didn't get that job!
    – HLGEM
    Oct 24 '13 at 17:25
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    @TooTiredToDrink - Did you check the sent folder and make sure that the version you sent was filled out? Gmail has some funky things where I will fill out an office document and send it on but despite it saving on my computer and forwarding that version sometimes it still sends out an empty version. Oct 24 '13 at 21:52
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    Then you might ask for clarification on the "barely filled out" comment. Perhaps there was a mistake or misunderstanding. Oct 24 '13 at 22:59
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There are a couple of different scenarios to consider here:

  1. Recruiter Matrices - There are times where I've seen recruiters e-mail me a list of questions for me to answer about what kind of job I want, what are my skill levels, etc. that would be quite similar to the questionnaire you describe here that I have no issue filling out as part of being in their system.

  2. Company introduction essays - I've had less than a handful of times where I have been e-mailed a questionnaire to fill out various questions that a company wanted to know about me. Generally, I'd see this as providing food for the in-person interview as well as verifying my written skills to some degree.

For recruiting companies, they may do in-person interviews to build up that matrix list or it could be done via e-mail. Rarely would it be done over the phone though I suppose it is possible. The key here is to know your skills and so if you plan on using these kinds of companies be prepared to have these things.

They are looking to see what kind of initial basis do you provide. How well do you answer the question, what assumptions do you make, what kind of length do you aim. For example, if there is a, "Why do you think you're a good fit for this position?" then some people may well launch into a chunk of a cover letter about their background. The key here is how much of an answer will you give. A sentence, a paragraph, or a few pages? If the questionnaire is a Word document, the length of answer isn't necessarily given within the document and thus there can be that open question.

Do you want to enforce any company you work to have a "call to screen" policy? I wouldn't though part of this is that different sizes of companies may run things differently and having some flexibility can be useful. A start-up may do things much differently than some big consulting firm.

You felt like that because you likely had some assumptions about what the company wanted to see. They wanted to see what would you do in this situation. You supplied what they see as minimal answers and you view as full answers. Each can have their legitimacy here, though consider what kind of message are you sending with your attitude at times since short answers could be seen as someone that put little effort into things whereas longer answers may be better initially, there could be people that dig into the answers there too.

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