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Case:

Second step of the interview process at company X was to do a coding task at home. I was given an existing project in a rather bad state (from a good programming and/or design and/or architectural perspective), but a working one - it was compiling and it was getting the job done.

My job was to implement a new feature using company's APIs, some network calls and some native UI.

It was specifically mentioned in the task that no refactoring or clean up of the existing code is needed for this task and if I wanted to, I could give a suggestion with the submission on how I would improve the project.

So then I went ahead, finished my task (in full as per the assignment), wrote a rather long email explaining how I would enhance the project, what would I do different had I refactored the project etc. Then I submitted.

Problem: Few days later I received a negative feedback consisting of three points and a rejection to go forward with the interview process. The first one is 100% related to the existing code, none of which I have written myself. The second one is 50/50 - while I can agree with it, I can also justify my stance and why I did it this way, but let's assume they are correct on it. The third one is a concrete, direct lie - that I have used a deprecated library. This is very easy to check, which I have done - the library I have used is absolutely up-to-date and very much in use today.

The company itself seems to be a nice one, the job in general would have satisfied all my requirements and since this all falls in the positive side now I am wondering is it worth trying to dispute said negative feedback?

Edit 1: I haven't received an offer, I received a rejection based on the bad feedback, that I believe is wrong. My general goal from here is to improve my situation, if possible, and overturn the decision in my favour.

  • If I'm reading this correctly, you got the job? If so, why do you care so much? It's irrelevant now. – user1666620 Apr 1 at 18:09
  • @user1666620 I would argue that it's even more important to fix the interview process if OP takes the offer. – Chris Apr 1 at 18:18
  • @Chris There's a big difference between "disputing the negative feedback" (which at least sounds like just spoiling for a fight) and a good faith effort to improve the interview process for future applicants. Phantomazi, what result are you attempting to obtain here? – Philip Kendall Apr 1 at 18:26
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    What exactly is that you want to achieve OP? – Tymoteusz Paul Apr 1 at 18:50
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I haven't received an offer, I received a rejection based on the bad feedback, that I believe is wrong. My general goal from here is to improve my situation, if possible, and overturn the decision in my favour.

Broadly speaking that's not going to happen. Once a candidate goes to the binned pile, I can count on fingers of one hand the times when he said/did something to climb out of it. It especially is not going to happen if your email will be in form of saying that they've lied, where a more likely explanation is a mistake (and as likely that you are wrong in a way that you do not understand). Not an attitude that will help you get out of the rejection pile.

If you want to spend the time and try to argue the rejection, go for it, you generally got nothing to lose as long as you will remain courteous, factual and rational, then the worst that can possibly happen is that you will hear nothing (or another "No") back.

Though if you are not sure that can do it, you are best to just move on and not burn a possible future bridge. Rejection is hard, we all know it, and sometimes it's best to just accept it and move on rather than kicking and screaming. You can always apply to future jobs, but if you will offend someone on the other end, that will likely linger for the future.

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    of course I'd be courteous, definitely no intentions to burn bridges or be rude. While there might be cases where I cannot understand I am wrong, one of the examples at hand here are like this: a point in the feedback suggests that I am using a "deprecated library for making network calls". This sounded absurd, so I triple checked - the version was updated recently, it is commonly in use and no else, but Google's developer's website is actually recommending the use of it. That's the spirit of the whole rejection. And that's why I want to rectify with them. – Phantomazi Apr 1 at 19:17
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It sounds like you got scammed.

You should never do a homework project that entails doing real company work unless they pay you for your time.

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    I saw an ad for a programming job once that required the applicant to build an entire system, consisting of about 15 screens and 10 reports and a database, and to produce complete documentation. I seriously wondered if this was a ploy to get someone to build this system they wanted for free. Even if it was an honest job offer, no way was I going to do weeks worth of work on a cold application for one job. In that same time I could research and apply to dozens of other jobs. – Jay Apr 1 at 20:55
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Remind yourself that the interview process is a two-way street, and their feedback to your coding test submission is an indicator of how they will probably react to your work if you were to get the job.

Now, ask yourself why you want to challenge this feedback? Is it because you still want the job (knowing how they've reacted to your code submission), or because you want to be right (don't we all?)?

In either case, it's probably wasted effort - they will likely double down as they will want to be right, too. Others have also pointed out the unlikelihood of them changing their mind. Even if you were able to change their mind, you will likely end up in a position you resent and be looking to move again in short time.

Better to spend your effort looking for a rule that's a better fit for you.

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Realistically, complaining to the company that the interview was flawed or unfair is very unlikely to get you reconsidered. You would almost surely be wasting your time, and possibly ruining your chances for a future opening at this company.

Of course I don't know anything about this programming exercise you were given beyond what you say here, so I have no way to know if your appraisal is accurate or not. "The third one is a concrete, direct lie." Possible, I guess, but I really doubt it. Unless there's some reason why the interviewer took a personal dislike to you, it's hard to see why they would lie. It's much more likely that the interviewer made an honest mistake. Or that you have made a mistake. You say you "triple checked" but as I say, I have no way to know.

Any company I've worked for, people chosen to interview applicants are usually well-respected members of the team. So if you complain this person was unfair to you -- even if you tone it down and don't say "he made a concrete, direct lie" but something more diplomatic, like "I believe there was a misunderstanding" -- it's going to be, on the one side, a long time employee that we know and trust, and on the other side, some random stranger who applied for a job. They're not likely to take your word over his. Even if you're 100% correct, they're unlikely to spend the time to investigate. They will see you as a rejected applicant who can't accept that he didn't get the job and now is going to whine and complain.

If you really want to try, sure, you could write a polite email saying, "I believe the review of my work on this assignment was flawed because ..." I'd say 90+% chance you don't get any reply, or if you do get a reply that it will be along the lines of "Thank you for your continued interest. While you have many impressive qualifications, we regret to inform you that you are no longer being considered for this position at this time."

You could spend hours carefully crafting your rebuttal to the review. Or you could spend those hours searching for other job openings and sending off other applications. I think (b) is the far more productive use of your time.

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  • I do understand you position and I will consider what you said in full :) just to clarify, with an easy example, since I can see you're also active on SO and would understand: the lie point is: "a deprecated library for networking used". The library used is this one: developer.android.com/training/volley Google themselves recommend using it and, of course, if this is right or wrong is a whole other topic, but saying that this is deprecated is.. I believe, a lie. – Phantomazi Apr 1 at 21:01
  • @Phantomazi The word "lie" means a deliberate attempt to deceive. A statement can be blatantly false and not be a "lie". In this case, assuming that you are right, it's far more likely that the interviewer made a mistake or is misinformed that that he is trying to deceive anyone. (I don't program for Android (I'm a web and desktop guy) so I'm not familiar with the library, and sorry but I probably won't research it just to discuss this post. :-) – Jay Apr 1 at 21:29
  • Agreed. Using the word "lie" here is not necessary and will likely raise the defenses of the person on the other end. – jcmack Apr 2 at 7:51
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I don't agree with what this company did to you ... maybe they just feel that "they're a'bustin with available candidates who are all just dying to work for them(!!)" ...

But I suggest: "Nothing to see here. Move along."

After all, "if this company is being such a jackass(!) in its interview process, do you really want to work for them?" I sure wouldn't! The world is full of companies who need good computer programmers – you just need to find the next one.

Not exactly applicable but maybe close:

"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. "

And may I also suggest: "the companies who are most likely to abuse their candidates are those which are 'the obvious, low-hanging fruit.'" The companies which are maybe "household names." But, no matter where on earth you live, there is undoubtedly someone, very close by, who would be delighted to have you in their employ ... They might be working with a local employment agency that isn't willing to pay the tens of thousands of dollars a year(!!) that is required to be able to tap into the "major" employment web sites. If you still have an actual phone-book with an actual Yellow Pages®, make a few "cold call" phone calls tomorrow ...(!)

"Go ahead ... be a salesman."

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