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I recently was subject to a take home assignment(a web project) as developer, it took a good 4 days to finish the working prototype of the coding challenge. With respect to the core features tests, aspect oriented logging and a polished Frontend and swagger API documentation.

The project was working well platform independent and the core functionality was working without any error. That said there were a few edge cases that I missed.

Recently I got a very plain rejection email which in the first place didn't even mention that the rejection was based on missing edge cases. Only after chasing them down again they got back to me with a rather indifferent email mentioning that Some edge cases were missed in functionality and tests.

To be honest after working passionately for 4 days for the assignment I felt hard done as they failed to recognize the passion I had in building the project from ground zero and were rather focused more on a 100% accurate solution.

My question is:

Is judging based on few missing edge cases in take home project the right way to screen candidates in the first round itself? If you are, say as an employer sending candidates take home projects that last about 2-4 days would judging their results based on few edge cases lead you to the right candidates? What would be the general thumb rules for assessment of the take home projects in an interview process?

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  • Any method of sifting candidates may be challenged - usually by those who don't like the results...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 11 '20 at 7:42
  • @TymoteuszPaul Well I have moved on. No question about that, doesn't matter what kind of assignment it is that you are doing there must be some ethics that should be followed. Like paying candidates for the time invested and not sending plain indifferent feedbacks!
    – Anirudh
    Jul 11 '20 at 7:56
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    Re they failed to recognize the passion I had in building the project from ground zero and were rather focused more on a 100% accurate solution. Welcome to work passion does not matter the end result is the thing how you get there is much less important unless it takes too long
    – mmmmmm
    Jul 11 '20 at 8:55
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    Well if delegating your need on the candidate directly in the interview process is not an unfair expectation in the world for you then I wish you would live in a better world someday. I insulted nobody in my comment. Unnecessary exaggeration weakens your point rather.
    – Anirudh
    Jul 11 '20 at 10:35
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    Clarifying requirements and validating assumptions are important parts of any technical assignment. If you'd asked whether edge cases had to be handled for the purposes of this assignment or ignored you would've gotten a clear answer. Otherwise, a system that only supports the happy path and breaks if something goes wrong is not a good system, in my opinion, so they definitely had grounds to reject you.
    – Egor
    Jul 11 '20 at 14:27
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To be honest after working passionately for 4 days for the assignment...

If you are, say as an employer sending candidates take home projects that last about 2-4 days would judging their results based on few edge cases lead you to the right candidates?

Let me be frank. Unpaid "4 days" take-home projects are a super lazy way for employers to assess potential employees. As software developers, we should refuse such requests in the first place, or at least, put severe restrictions on the time we're willing to put in for free.

Only after chasing them down again they got back to me with a rather indifferent email mentioning that Some edge cases were missed in functionality and tests.

Consider yourself lucky. Many times, you don't get any feedback at all, even though you've asked and even though you've invested four days to a week of your time into the project.

Is judging based on few missing edge cases in take home project the right way to screen candidates in the first round itself? What would be the general thumb rules for assessment of the take home projects in an interview process?

There are no rules. Assuming they even told you the truth, it should depend on your competition and how they dealt with edge cases.

If all your competitors find all the edge cases and you don't. That's not good for you. And if no one thinks of the edge cases, then obviously, you're still in the running.

If you really want to gauge your competition, I'd suggest you do mock interviews on http://pramp.com On Pramp, you interview other job-hunters and they interview you. Pramp supplies a shared code editor, the technical questions, and a video conference platform.

The questions on Pramp are not easy, but if you do find yourself confronting a seemingly very easy question, it's only because they expect you to give a very thorough answer with all the possible edge cases. So it's very possible that you fall into the same trap, even if it's only during a 30 minutes interview.

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    "Let me be frank. Unpaid take-home projects are a super lazy way for employers to assess potential employees. As software developers, we should refuse such requests in the first place, or at least, put severe restrictions on the time we're willing to put in for free." So you would rather be forced into a room for 2 hours, without your gear/ide/whatever and have to do the test under someone elses spying eyes? Would that somehow made it better? Or do you just think that testing devs to to code is a lazy thing? Jul 11 '20 at 7:46
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    @TymoteuszPaul, Actually, even if you complete the project successfully. The employer has no idea if you completed the project by yourself. So a take-home project doesn't obviate the need for further testing under supervision (unless you're interviewing for a remote contractor position). In any case, the interview doesn't have to be in the same room. It could be done over video conferencing and with an IDE. Or you could still do a 4 day project, but ask that the employer to pay you a nominal fee or make a donation in your name to your favorite charity. Jul 11 '20 at 7:52
  • @StephanBranczyk They did mention in the start that I was the lone candidate they were interviewing.
    – Anirudh
    Jul 11 '20 at 7:53
  • Now if your issue is with 4 days testing no one will disagree with that, but you've made a point of picking on take home projects. If someone has to watch over the guy, now that's a very expensive recruitment process instead of sieve, and that's all it is. You are free to dislike it, but saying that "they are super lazy" is unsubstantiated opinion and you should not be following it "as software developers" as if you speak behalf of others unless you have something to back it up. Jul 11 '20 at 7:55
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    @Anirudh, If you're the sole candidate, at least, that's good and I don't fault you for accepting the challenge. But even then, they could be comparing your work to the work of others who took the take-home project before you did, or they might be comparing it to their own abilities themselves, or they might be thinking about the developers they might want to invite to interview next week. My point is, it's all super subjective. It will also depend on local market conditions for developers and on the local geographical area you're in. Jul 11 '20 at 8:23
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they got back to me with a rather indifferent email mentioning that Some edge cases were missed in functionality and tests.

You have no way of knowing if that's the actual reason and it probably isn't. Very few employers will give a reason for rejection since it doesn't serve any purpose AND it is potentially a legal risk.

You bugged them for an answer and they gave you one, probably to make you go away. They most likely gave you an answer that's least likely to result in getting sued and in any follow up discussion/arguing.

There are 100s of reasons why people don't get hired, not the least of one is "someone else was a better fit". Move on. There is nothing to learn or conclude here.

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