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As a programmer, I'm often given sample projects or other homework when interviewing for jobs. Most of these projects are solutions to puzzles or other small coding assignments, but sometimes I spend a fair amount of time putting together a larger project (for example, a demo of a game, or a demo implementation of a particular third-party framework). Because I put real work into these projects, I want to be able to use them in my portfolio, as examples of source code I could share freely. I have a few questions regarding this:

First, can I get in any legal trouble with a company for doing this? I presume the answer is no, as I've never signed any sort of non-disclosure agreement for the companies I've been interviewing with.

Second, is this a bad idea for ethical/professional reasons? I could imagine future employers being wary about interviewing someone who has put previous interview questions (and answers) online.

Third, which I suppose is the heart of the issue here, do companies have a reasonable expectation that interview questions/technical challenges they use are private information?

  • I tend to feel that it's their responsibility to tell you if they don't want the question circulated ... though it would probably be polite not to say who assigned this particular homework problem. – keshlam Dec 26 '15 at 14:52
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Unless you have signed a non-disclosure agreement, or something similar like a temporary or conditional employment agreement (rare), work performed as part of your interview process is yours. You should not feel guilty for using your own work in your own portfolio.

At our company, we use a standard problem which is provided ahead of time and turned in prior to the interview. Some of the versions turned in have been really good, and certainly could be used to demonstrate their ability in other settings.

The only thing you might want to be careful about is posting/including any materials provided by the company. Those can reasonably be considered copyrighted in most countries, with or without a copyright notice. If they don't hire you, but you are interested in trying again in the future, you probably don't want to pick a fight with them over this.

To address your third point, a company who expects their interview questions to be private doesn't understand the Internet and the modern world we live in. Our HR department has been concerned that candidates might not be doing the work on their own, but we technical folks have been pretty good at figuring out who understands what they've given us and who doesn't. And if a candidate didn't know something before starting the process, but demonstrates to our satisfaction that they learned it somehow during the process, the end result is the same: they have at least a little bit of proficiency in a skill we desire.

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