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Last year a recruiter from a multinational company (3000 people worldwide, couple of hundred in the local office) found me on LinkedIn. We started to talk and I applied for that position. The first test was a HackerRank test, 3 tasks in 60 minutes. I solved one, spent too much time (in vain) on task 2 so I lacked a minute or two to finish task 3. In spite of this I got invited into the next round of interviews, I visited the local office, had a chat with the prospective team leader, etc. In the end they decided to hire an other applicant - fair enough.

Six months later I got an other message from a recruiter from the same multinational company. I again got the HackerRank test which was the very same test I got previously (I don't know if this was accidental or not). Although I didn't remember the solutions, I remembered to leave task 2 last and this time I managed to solve all 3 tasks with a few minutes to spare. However, after the test I didn't get any feedback from the recruiter for weeks and when I asked politely what's the status, I got "you're not selected".

I find it strange that when I failed the test, I advanced to the next round of interviews, but when I passed the test, I didn't. Why?

Then I remembered that at a previous (much smaller, 10 people at the local office) employer the management had an OKR to always have more job applicants than the number of actual job openings. Which makes some sense, they want to have people "in the queue" in case someone decides to leave - but makes me wonder: is it possible that the recruiter had some kind of goal to "have N number of people apply for the job" even if they didn't want to actually hire anybody? At such a large company (when there's always someone in house available, "between projects") it doesn't make that much sense to "have people in the queue"...

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    Some companies like to have an active and robust candidate pipeline "just in case". Some companies have individuals just trying to fulfill an OKR (as you mention). Some folks might be receiving bonuses based on the metrics gathered from the pipeline they generate rather than the candidates they make offers to. Lots of reasons. Sometimes these objectives have nothing to do with what the company needs or what its goals are as much as they are geared toward a department or individual achieving some tangential goal. – Joel Etherton Aug 28 '20 at 18:08
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You're missing one important detail between the two tests:

I visited the local office, had a chat with the prospective team leader, etc.

It's entirely possible that you weren't a match, for whatever reason, based on what happened during the in-person visit.

If they remembered you from the first time and didn't hire you, it could be that they weren't going to hire you no matter what you scored on the second test.

is it possible that the recruiter had some kind of goal to "have N number of people apply for the job" even if they didn't want to actually hire anybody?

Yes, that is entirely possible. Recruiters would rather have more people to get in touch with, even if there is no immediate position available.

At such a large company (when there's always someone in house available, "between projects") it doesn't make that much sense to "have people in the queue"...

There may always be someone between projects, but that person may not have the skill set required, so the company may need a new person immediately. So it is in the company's interest to have a recruiting "pipeline" working at all times. Recruiters often serve that purpose.

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  • But if they remembered me, why did they made me fill that HackerRank test? Why did the recruiter approached me in the first place? – István Kovács Aug 28 '20 at 20:17
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    The recruiter might have not looked too closely until you passed the first bar. Easy to send the test as a first bar. Once you passed and it was worth looking closer, then they realised they had already interviewed you. Recruiters contact a really large number of people to get a small number of applicants. No point looking closer until you've thinned the field somewhat – EmandM Aug 28 '20 at 20:34
  • @IstvánKovács I edited to hopefully answer your question. – mcknz Aug 28 '20 at 20:45
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Simplest explanation: there are lots of job applicants. HackerRank is just one way to filter the group. You passed that one, but so did many people, so they used another filter, which excluded you.

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  • At that point the only thing they knew about me was my CV and the HackerRank test (if they didn't remember me from the previous application - and based on that they sent the very same test, I guess they didn't remember me). My CV probably passed the filter so they sent me that test. I passed the test also. What kind of other filter could they have? – István Kovács Aug 28 '20 at 20:27
  • Code quality is always a solid filter. The first time they could have had much fewer applicants and so it was worth moving on to an in-person interview. The second time they might have a higher number of applicants and so can afford to be pickier. Just passing the tests is never a guarantee that you will get through to the next round, quality is often looked at. – EmandM Aug 28 '20 at 20:37
  • @IstvánKovács, then they look once again at your CV and the CVs of the other candidates who passed the HackerRank test, and further bin them into the best and the rest. – Michael McFarlane Aug 28 '20 at 21:27

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