Last week, I was scheduled for an interview at a mid-size company for a programmer position.

I believe I performed well on the verbal interview but not on the technical test which was a typical programmer "stress" exam, with questions ranging from design pattern definitions up to math brain-teasers, with a 30 mins time limit.

I have a feeling I didn't do well on it and mostly because I was in a serious crunch period for the delivery of a project at one of my current employers. ( I work 2 jobs)

My mind was split between the interview & trying to figure out how I was going to squeeze 2-weeks worth of dev time into 3 days.

I know I shouldn't have accepted an interview during crunch time but I didn't want to miss the opportunity.

So I'm wondering, would be a bad practice to ask for a 2nd chance on the technical exam if I get refused the position for the reason of a mediocre performance on the programming test?

I know I could have done way better, if I had presence of mind & less stress overhead.

I'm usually a very bi-polar test taker, I get top scores or I fail epically.

Also, give me the same problems & definitions to answer in a verbal or interactive context, I can answer & recall almost everything on the spot.

But put me in a room with a pen & paper with a timer...then it becomes a struggle of epic proportions ^_^

** As an update, I finally got a reply from the recruiter that referred me and she confirmed I was refused the position because of my poor performance on the exam and she didn't seem interested by my circumstances.

But ironically, I got an offer for a similar position by another company, almost the same day.

So you win some & you lose some!


5 Answers 5


Yes, you can ask. I've done this before - actually, in my case the reason was much worse than yours.

The electricity had gone out in the neighbourhood i was living in the night before, in the middle of summer. I didn't get much sleep before the interview.

I went in, went out, and knew, as you do, that I hadn't quite done as well as I should have.

The next day, when I was told I hadn't quite met expectations technically, I explained with pretty much the same story I just wrote, ridiculous as it seems.

She agreed, and rescheduled for the next week.

From this, I think you have an excellent chance of them rescheduling as long as you didn't draw pretty pretty pictures of dinosaurs all over the interview page. Take it from me, people don't like it when you do that.

Alternatively, you can just phone them up now and say "hey, blah blah stress work etc, can I re-take the interview, I don't feel I displayed my full aptitude and really want to work with you".

I don't see the harm in waiting or asking them now (before you know if you need to). On mulling over this, I think it sounds better if you ask before you find out how you went. If you ask after you get told you weren't what they wanted, then it looks like you're making excuses. If you ask before hand, it looks more proactive.

EDIT I don't know if they told me or I asked for a re-interview before I heard back - this story is from 7 years ago now. Were I in your shoes I'd contact them sooner than hearing back from them.

  • 3
    I had a slightly similar story, except the reason was purely about unfamiliarity with the test platform. What appeared to be the button for starting the test, was actually the button for submitting it! Luckily they allowed me to re-take the exam after explaining what happened. Nov 12, 2014 at 9:10
  • "as long as you didn't draw pretty pretty pictures of dinosaurs all over the interview page. Take it from me, people don't like it when you do that" - are you speaking from experience? Was this interview for a developer role, or management?
    – Mawg
    Dec 11, 2018 at 13:00


If you're turned down for the position, it's likely because some other candidate performed better. The company would be hesitant to make that other candidate wait and risk losing them.

Also, personally, I don't care if you're in crunch time in your other job. If anything, I need you to answer questions and solve problems better when we're nearing a release.

  • Sure, you might want better problem-solving skills and presence of mind when you're nearing a release, but that's not quite the same thing as external pressures, is it? Nov 12, 2014 at 1:00
  • 6
    Plus, the interviewing company would have to prepare a new technical exam... something they might not want to spend to time.
    – HorusKol
    Nov 12, 2014 at 1:49
  • 13
    The first part of your answer I agree with somewhat, but the second part is completely disingenuous. Of course we all want ourselves and our coworkers to be better problem solvers during crunch time, but that it's not the reality.
    – daaxix
    Nov 12, 2014 at 3:26
  • 9
    Re: "If anything, I need you to answer questions and solve problems better when we're nearing a release": O.K., but when you're nearing a release, do you need everyone to be better at unrelated tasks that distract from the release?
    – ruakh
    Nov 12, 2014 at 7:21
  • 7
    If you can perform better when a release is near, what is the excuse for not performing better all the other times?
    – user8365
    Nov 12, 2014 at 8:26

You may certainly ask, the chances are though that it will not matter. If you were upfront about your crunch time then you can point to what you have already told them whereas if you didn't tell them you were under a fair amount of stress walking in it will be harder as you will need to retroactively explain your performance. Honestly though, most of the time "why" does not matter, only results. The fact is, the expectation was that you knew the material well enough to simply have it on hand, stressed or not.

Now, hope is not lost, you may not have performed as poorly as you believed, or if you told them about your crunch time they may have taken your stress into account in judging your score. But, if you are denied the job it may or may not have the slightest thing to do with your technical interview, and in any case asking to retake it will probably not have any effect.

However, I personally would ask if the interview giver had any suggestions for me, I have found some useful information by doing that and it shows a willingness to improve.


It's certainly worth a try and I would explain it (if you get eliminated as a result of the test) just as you've done here.

It may turn out that you did well on the test even though you think you did poorly. In my current position I thought I absolutely bombed it but come to find out, I scored extremely well. I have no idea how that happened, but it did.

Regardless, it never hurts to ask and it is automatically "no" if you don't.


If you know that you did not do well then you should ask since if they have decided to reject you you are not losing anything. If you did manage to show some potential then unless they are looking for someone asap most likely they will accept but not on a high priority e.g. In a couple of months.
The interview process you described does not sound that good.Brain math teasers? Seriously?

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