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There is a similar question here How can I delay an interview? but my case is different. The OP there, wanted to delay an interview for 2 weeks. My case is quite different:

I am a programmer (relatively new graduate) and since I graduated a year ago I work for a Bank as an analyst. Therefore, for the past one year, I didn't code much. I also work very long hours ~11-12 per day, leaving no much free time for me.

A friend of mine who works at a top 5 tech company, just referred me to his company and I want to leave the bank for that company. The interview process is extremely demanding and exhausting. During a very hard assessment an applicant has to show great coding and problem solving skills.

While I do have the skills, I want to refresh my knowledge. As I will have at max 1-2 hours per day, considering how many hours I work for the bank, I estimated that I will be fully prepared in three months from now.

A recruiter from the company sent me an email saying that she wants us to have a talk. What should I tell her? Three months is a lot. However, if I try to do the full day assessment/interview process while not prepared that much, I will fail terribly.

How should I tell her that I need that much time? Shouldn't this have negative impact on the interview process?

Should I also inform her about that by responding on her email, or when we will have a talk?

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Your first course of action is to talk to the recruiter - the last thing you want is to spend 3 months preparing and then find that they don't really want you (for whatever reason).

The other factor is, if you say you need 3 months of prep for their technical interviews, they are not going to think of you as someone who currently has the technical skills required and are asking them for the delay in order to obtain them. 3 months delay for an interview for personal reasons is one thing, 3 months so you can be a better coder would be a red flag to me.

If you told them you have deadlines, long hours and you don't want to leave your current employer at such a busy time makes you sound more dedicated. but then expect them to push to get you to interview sooner anyway - you're the kind of guy they want!

It might even be worth going to the interview straight away, as a junior with little experience, it gives you more experience. It also allows you to get to know them a little so that even if you fail the technical interview, you can ask to be kept on file until you've gained more experience and skills. I know for a fact that there are so many different technical tools used that nobody can be expected to know everything a company uses - startups are different though, and they expect you to be perfect right from the start. Going to interview would let you find out exactly what they want.

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    I hire for a company you've heard of, which is famous for having an intense interview process. I actively encourage candidates to spend several weeks preparing before their on-site interviews, and taking your time and going in prepared is far preferable to bombing your first attempt and then begging for another chance. Three months is a bit much though, mostly because the job openings will likely be filled by then... – jpatokal Nov 2 '15 at 12:08
  • @jpatokal fair enough, but I hired for more "normal" companies that preferred candidates who knew things, not necessarily being the perfect employee with all the exact knowledge right from day one. IMHO prep is good, but so much prep to teach yourself what the company wants without the experience backing it is almost worthless. Maybe cookie-cutter programmers are good enough for you though :-) Agree 3 months is way too much. – gbjbaanb Nov 2 '15 at 13:13
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    I don't expect perfection (and I don't hire pure developers), but if you can't demonstrate at least a basic level of competence in the broad areas I'm looking for, you're not going to get far. You'd be surprised how often I get people who claim N years of networking experience, but spent it all configuring Cisco routers and can't explain how a TCP handshake works. – jpatokal Nov 2 '15 at 21:40
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It depends on how fast they're trying to fill the position. If they need someone ASAP, they will just hire someone else in 3 months. Remember that at the end of the day it's about your competitiveness compared to other applicants.

I would say that a top-5 tech company would be cool with an interview delay, since they usually hire on recurring basis. Though I would personally ask for 2 months, maybe not 3. In my experience, 2 months should be enough to prepare for a tech interview, and you will not be delaying process by too much. You could honestly tell them about your working hours/projects/deadlines at work, and cite that as a reason for asking a 2-month delay for interview.

And definitely talk to the recruiter - in top 5 tech companies recruiters are usually on your side, trying to get you hired.

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