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I'm working as a programmer at a software company. I'm generally satisfied with my current position, but I keep passively looking and don't skip chances to look what's else there.

We're having tight deadlines at my current company and I have sometimes to work overtimes. I have, however, some spare time, anyway.

I was recently contacted via LinkedIn by a recruiter of a small game development company. They asked whether I would be interested in one of their positions. I said that I would, and they sent me a test task.

The test task happened to be more challenging than I thought, and is quite time consuming.

I now think that I don't want to spend the time on the test task. But I don't want them to think of me as a man who doesn't hold to his words. I don't want to silently drop it, either.

I thought I would like to have some conversation with the company to know what it does, what's the atmosphere, etc. I'm actually interested in game development and am passively considering change of the my work area.

What's the most professional and friendly way to say that I don't want to invest my time into the test task? I want rather to just "make an acquaintance".

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What's the most professional and friendly way to say that I don't want to invest my time into the test task? I want rather to just "make an acquaintance".

You simply tell the truth. Basically, you don't think it's worth your time and effort right now.

Say something along the lines of "After looking into your Test Task, I realize that it is more challenging and more time consuming than I anticipated. Unfortunately, at the moment I don't have that kind of time to spare. Thank you for your consideration, but I respectfully withdraw my application."

As far as "make an acquaintance", it might be possible to do so by just asking if they have an interest in that sort of conversation. But it seems unlikely. If you aren't interested enough to complete their "Test", it's not likely that they will want to extend themselves for your benefit.

But you'll never know until you ask.

1

This sounds like it might be the company trying to get free work out of you (see ask the head hunter). You can always simply say you've decided your not interested in the position.

Alternatively, you could offer to do the work as a contractor for a nominal fee (if you have the time). Realize this is likely going to have the same effect as refusing to do it at all, but does offer the game company a chance to prove its serious about hiring you.

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You should really complete the test task to the best of your abilities, or consider a job with a different company. However, you should feel free to ask the recruiter for more time to complete it.

The test task, similar to a technical interview, is to illustrate to the potential employer your competency for the position you're applying for. If you do not complete the task (or complete the task poorly), then the employer will likely not see you as a competent candidate for the position. However, no two test tasks are the same; some may be much larger than others. Thus, you should be able to at least ask for more time to complete the task, saying that your current position doesn't allow for too much time to complete the task. They may say yes, and they may say no, but if you don't have the task done in a reasonable time, then you should at least ask.

All in all, you likely won't be able to "make an acquaintance" without completing the test first. The test, at least for this company, seems to be what will get you in the door.

  • 2
    This doesn't address the question, which is how to professionally decline to do the task – sevensevens Aug 24 '14 at 3:33

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