I sent my cv to this company for a web developer position and they sent me a huge test with a note says: "Don't spend more than 8 hours".

The test said I can use any language or technology I want.

Technology: Please feel free to pick whatever technologies you think solve the problem best. But please keep in mind that this story is part of our business critical application.

I did the test and it took me more than 8 hours. I sent it to the company and after two days I didn't get anything! I sent them an email to confirm if they receive my first email or not, and I got this reply:

Dear ****,

Thank you for taking the time to do the coding exercise.

As expected, we have received a number of resumes and spoken to a number of candidates for this position. However, while we were impressed with your qualifications, we have decided to move forward with other applicants whose skills and experience better meet our needs at this time. The position is heavily about Javascript, .NET or Ruby, not necessarily about PHP.

We thank you for your interest in ****** and wish you the best in your job search.


I want to send them this email, is it good or bad idea ?

Dear ****,

I'm really surprised after I read your reply ! you even didn't take the effort to see my work, my time, my effort !! Does this mean anything to you ???

I'm really annoyed from your behavior !! if you have enough candidates WHY you sent me that huge test !?!? and if you want "Javascript, .NET or Ruby" WHY you sent me the test !?!??! Did you take the time before you send me the test to read my CV ?

Does the time of people mean anything to you ???? you gave me a very bad picture about your company.


I'm really angry and disappointed. and this is not the first time this has happen here in Germany. This is the first time I got such a huge test with such disrespect to my effort. It's not fair. My CV is full of PHP and there's no Ruby at all, and I worked with C# in university.

Update: After reading all of your comments and answers I decided to move on and not to send anything.

For the future, I will ask for a interview before doing a test for a company, ask about the language I want to use before I start solving the test, and sure read more about the company before applying.

  • 27
    What do you hope to achieve with your feedback? Jun 16, 2015 at 20:57
  • 7
    No, don't send that email. Instead, write out the email, call a friend or family member that you're comfortable complaining with, and vent it out with that person. Then delete the email and put that company out of your mind. By the way, if you did spend 8 hours on the test - try to think of it as practice time, not as "wasted time" or anything.
    – Brandin
    Jun 17, 2015 at 5:12
  • 6
    Ok, they said pick a language and you picked PHP. They said they wanted .NET/JS/Ruby instead of PHP. That would appear to me that they did actually look at your solution. In the future, if given carte blanche to pick a solution, you should make an effort to understand the company you're applying to -- what do they currently use? If they're a Java shop, you're not going to win any awards for demoing your Haskell skills, for example.
    – Kent A.
    Jun 18, 2015 at 14:42
  • 14
    Regardless of this specific situation, more than one question mark or exclamation mark per sentence should never be used. I interpret this as extremely aggressive and don't even read the content.
    – Simon
    Jun 18, 2015 at 15:29
  • 8
    While I understand your frustration, your letter is written very poorly. If you want to be successful I suggest working on this. I suggest starting with punctuation and capitalisation.
    – tmaj
    Sep 6, 2016 at 22:05

4 Answers 4


Your understandably angry letter asks a number of questions of the company. I wonder what you would do with the answers. Do you actually want to know whether they value the time of applicants or not? There's a good chance they honestly do not - how will it help you to know that?

If you don't want answers to your questions, perhaps you should figure out what you do want, and reword your letter or adjust your plan accordingly. It sure sounds like you want an apology, but you don't ask for one. A calmer version of this letter might get you an apology - but what good would that do you? Would that pay your rent, to show your landlord the apology letter from the people who wasted your time with their programming test?

Might I suggest that an even better return on this process than an answer to rhetorical questions or an apology would be a lesson for yourself: a little more wisdom, a little more knowledge about the application process. One sentence jumps out at me from their letter:

The position is heavily about Javascript, .NET or Ruby, not necessarily about PHP.

You don't say if they told you what language to use in the test. If they told you to use PHP and then said "actually, we don't want PHP developers" then you were really wronged. If they told you to use whatever language you want, you chose PHP, and they rejected you for that, then you were not wronged. What matters here is what the position needs, not what your CV contains. If you applied for a job that needed a lot of A, B, and C and sent in a resume that had almost none of those, but plenty of D, it's up to you to show them you can work in A, B, and C as the job requires. You can't assume that they will immediately reject you for a resume full of PHP - oh the questions we have here from people irate that they weren't even considered for certain jobs just because they don't have certain buzzwords on their resume. This job gave you a chance to show what you could do. The fact they gave you that chance when your resume suggested you were a bad fit is not a mean trick that they played on your or proof that they don't care about your time.

Your wisdom for next time is this: understand what the job requires. Before investing your time in tests and screens, weed out the jobs you know you could never get. Don't assume the places you're applying to will value your time as much as you do. Own your job search and your time.

As for the letter, write it out by hand on paper with a pen. Use big large capital letters for the parts where you're angry. Underline things. Draw arrows to things. Pour your emotions onto the paper. Really dig the pen into the paper hard when underlining some parts, or when writing WHY?? in giant letters. Then burn it. You'll feel better.

  • Thank you for your wisdom. Actually they didn't specify any language or any thing in the test, it said that I can choose whatever I want and my CV is full of PHP (2.5 years experience) No Ruby at all, C# just in college. That's why I was angry. after reading your words " especially the last section I'm more calm now :)
    – user181452
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:29
  • 7
    If I say to you "I want to hire someone who is proficient in C++ and Haskell. Here's a task, code it in whatever language you like" then coding it in anything other than C++ or Haskell is a poor choice - it doesn't show you that I'm proficient in the things I need you to be proficient in. It's a rare employer who will evaluate your skill in something they don't need to try to work out if you're likely to be a quick study in the skill they do need. I might do it for a new language that few people know, but C#, Ruby, and JavaScript are not exactly obscure or new. Jun 17, 2015 at 20:18
  • 2
    Did you even read his post? They told him to use whatever language he wants, they didn't even specify a language. THEN after wasting his time they tell him their requirements. You don't see anything wrong with that?
    – Jack
    Jun 18, 2015 at 5:58
  • 5
    None of us other than the OP know what the job posting said, do we Jack? Not you, not Kate, not I. If I post a job advert saying that we develop in .net (whether outright or in a more subtle manner) then tell candidates to tackle a code test in whatever language they choose then I could very well be testing their ability to communicate - to understand and follow hints and make the right choice. I'm not saying that I would personally do that, just that it might be part of the thinking here.
    – Rob Moir
    Jun 18, 2015 at 8:17
  • 2
    If a company invests time in screening resumes before asking applicants to write a test, they do so for their own benefit, to have less tests to evaluate, not for yours. The person who looks out for your interests and ensures your time is not wasted is you. You need to know what the job requires and whether you think you can do it or not. Employers are not your friends, mentors, teachers, or cheerleaders and it is not their role to make sure your time isn't wasted or you don't get rejected or hurt. That's your role. Embrace it and be good at it, better then they ever would be anyway. Jun 18, 2015 at 14:49

So I'm going to be blunt: odds are pretty high they did not get back to you precisely because they did look at your code sample, and they were not impressed. Look carefully at the rejection letter:

However, while we were impressed with your qualifications

Translation: "Your CV looked alright..."

other applicants whose skills and experience better meet our needs at this time.

"...but there were other applicants who actually knew how to code, and in the languages that we asked for."

For context, I've been the person reviewing those pre-interview code samples, although we didn't ask for 8 hours of work! While we also said "use whatever technologies you feel comfortable with", the job position also clearly stated the languages you would be working on, and it's not a good idea to pick one that's not listed there.

Also, you win major points with the reviewer for returning a clean and elegant solution to the problem. If you went well over the recommended eight hours, I have a sneaky suspicion you ended up writing way too much code. When I'm expecting 100 lines of code to review, and somebody submits 1000, that goes straight into the "Nope" bin.

As a final note, if the company is asking you to put in 8 hours of work (which is definitely on the high side), it's reasonable for you to ask if they will pay you a fee for your time. Quite a few companies will agree, and if they don't, it's a sign that you might not want to work there anyway.

  • are we talking about the same test, same company !? :D
    – user181452
    Jun 18, 2015 at 14:26

Let me say that I understand your anger. However, consider this: they didn't take the time to look at your 8+ hour work, do you really think they would take the time to read your multi paragraph response? I highly doubt it and I also think the HR point of contact would just discard the letter before even giving it to the hiring manager in question.

Overall this is a good lesson. I been in the same situation as you with several potential jobs though I never had an assignment that took 8 hours. I would have soon thrown that away as soon as I got it. The thing is, if they DIDN'T interview you, then don't do any assignment that lands you a potential interview. A lot of tech companies are trying to filter out people and unfortunately looking for very specific individual with very specific skill that they don't outright advertise because they know they would cut their potential applications down by a lot. So they rather take as many people, look for this potential skill, then toss out the others without even caring the amount of time and effort they put in it. This is why it is important to get an interview FIRST so you know what they are looking for and you can show that in whatever test assignment they might give.

Bottom line: never do assignments to get a potential interview. Instead, show them a portfolio of things you did such as on a github account or personal site/blog. If I were you, I'd just use this 8 hour assignment and put it in my own portfolio and continue with another search. This company sounds BAD and judging by how they just ripped you off for 8 hours assignment to just get a potential interview tells me they are not a good place.

  • yeah, you are right :) I put it on github and I'm showing it now as a project from my work.
    – user181452
    Jun 17, 2015 at 12:35

Sending the complaint is unlikely to change their process, and may cost you the opportunity to interview there in the future. No matter how justified you feel and how much you think they need to hear it, don't. (Unless you are interviewing for a position in which you'd be defining their process; then, a calm discussion of how they might do better might be a good display of your skills. Or might not. Probably not.)

As you said, taking more than 8 hours on the "homework" was your decision, not theirs, so you really can't complain about that. In fact, not being able to complete it to your satisfaction in 8 hours could have been a hint that you might not have the specific skills they were looking for.

As far as why they sent you the test: would you really prefer that they hadn't given you a chance to convince them to bring you on board even if you weren't exactly what they were looking for?

If you interview at all, there is always a risk that the time you have invested in a company does not pay off. In fact, most interviews will not result in your being offered, and taking, that particular job. This is an unavoidable part of the process. The company could complain about all the time they spend interviewing people to find the one(s) they're looking... but they don't, because that too is an unavoidable part of the process.

It's frustrating for everyone. But until someone finds a better way to match job seekers with jobs, this is just going to happen and we have to learn not to take it personally. It isn't disrespect. It's giving you every possible opportunity to convince them to hire you.

  • They wanted to build "Online Bid System with Items" so you can imagine if 8 hours is enough or not, the point is " they didn't see my code at all !". I'm with you in other parts about the effort they also spend to find the best candidates. All what I wanted is a fair judgment and at least they can see my application and send me feedback bout it. not like this. just a stupid sorry "Opps! we don't want php, Opps! we have others" That's all . Thanks for your opinion
    – user181452
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:35
  • 1
    You will never get a code review response on this sort of take-home evaluation. And there's never a guarantee they will look at it, if they decide they've already found the perfect candidate. But the only alternative is not to apply for the job. The process is imperfect but it's not unreasonable
    – keshlam
    Jun 16, 2015 at 22:05
  • 2
    @user181452 Did they tell you that you should complete the test? Maybe they just wanted to know how much you can produce in a 8h sprint, how you prioritize features, etc?
    – T. Verron
    Jun 18, 2015 at 9:48
  • And there are folks who'd come up with a reasonable basic prototype in that time, by leveraging existing tools and writing stun implementations for some functions.
    – keshlam
    Jun 18, 2015 at 20:35

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