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I indicated interest to multiple job ads on stackoverflow's job postings and had interviews with some of them. One company reviewed my CV and replied that that they want to move forward with the interview process, and for initial step they needed me to complete a test project through hackerrank. The project takes 3 days to complete (once you open the project 72 hour timer starts ticking). I spent three full says to do it. Submitted it. It wasn't some kind of major high end paying job and the company perhaps didn't have a good chance to hire me: by the time they reviewed my submission I have already received multiple offers, I had successful on-site interviews at google/facebook/snapchat/amazon/uber and multiple other smaller startups. So, after they reviewed my submission I received a simple reply "Unfortunately, we have decided not to proceed with your candidacy for the C++ Developer role". It was pretty shocking considering that I spent more than 24 hours to work on that project and all I got was an automated reply. I was like, C'mon, I spent 3 full working days doing your project and you cannot even provide feedback? I contacted them and got some feedback: first major point was completely bogus, they said it was inefficient :) My solution was efficient for sure, the other two reasons that they provided were about coding style that weren't completely wrong, but weren't real reasons in the scope of the project. I replied and explained that the performance issues that they mentioned were absolutely wrong, I also asked if my solution provided expected results, but I haven't got any replies after that. I assume solution was correct, otherwise they would obviously state that.

So, here's my point of the question: Should I send them invoice for three days of work that I've done on the project? While interviewing with all above mentioned companies I haven't spent more time on any of the interview processes for any single company than for this company with their 72-hour long project. I don't think it's reasonable to give people 72-hour long projects and then completely discard days of work after glimpsing them for 2 minutes. By the way, I may upload my solution to get second opinion from others.

Any thoughts?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, Masked Man, Chris E Aug 1 '16 at 13:45

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    I have read about that exact same interview process before, I think I know which company you are talking about. You should google it and see the comments, I don't think it's worth even trying to contact them. – Banex Jul 30 '16 at 16:10
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    I'm having a hard time to understand what is your question. Can you edit it? Otherwise it may be closed. – Trickylastname Jul 30 '16 at 16:16
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    @TheWanderingDevManager that question has nothing to do with mine. – Pavel Jul 30 '16 at 17:40
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    @Pavel - you ask about "all I got was an automated reply" to their technical test, so are asking about non-specific feedback (which is common, no one gives feedback these days for worry of a lawsuit/argument). The invoice thing I won't even go into as you'd be laughed out the room by the accounts people unless you are doing the work under a signed off purchase order as in Pete's answer. – The Wandering Dev Manager Jul 30 '16 at 17:45
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    Write a scathing review on glassdoor about the company, post the parts of the question you can actually remember on careercup.com, and say how you were treated (do this at your own legal risk, I am not a lawyer). Other people who interview with this company will find your comments. The invoice route may make you feel better, but it's not going to work, and it's not going to warn other job-hunters to stay away from that company. – Stephan Branczyk Jul 30 '16 at 18:44
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I expect this question will be closed shortly because any answers are based on opinion.

Were they wrong in asking you to spend 72 hours on a piece of work for an interview? Yes.

Were you wrong for doing it? Absolutely YES!

You can send an invoice if you want, but any company that has a half-decent accounts department will reject it for not having a purchase order number.

Put this behind you and move on.

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    But learn from your mistakes. Don't embark on a "test" project that takes more than a couple of hours until after you have established serious mutual interest through at least phone interviews, if not face-to-face. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 30 '16 at 16:47
  • As I said, I wouldn't mind 3 day long project, to me it was kind of obvious that if they want others to spend 3 days on a project they should invest time on their end to review results appropriately. I saw negative comments from people complaining about that 3-day long project on glassdoor, but I didn't care for that, I was confident in my abilities and .. the end result I simply worked for them for three days for free! That's why I want to send them invoice and possibly file a claim eventually. IMO these scammers deserve that – Pavel Jul 30 '16 at 17:08
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    @pavel: You could have declined the request to do the test. By agreeing, with no promise of returns on hat investment of time, you have almost certainly given up any possibility of claiming recompense for that time. Waste money consulting a lawyer if you insist, but I strongly recommend you take this as a learning experience and move on. – keshlam Jul 30 '16 at 17:19
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    @Pavel You got suckered by an industry dirty trick, Learn from it and move on. Don't fight with them as it will not end well for you. – Retired Codger Jul 30 '16 at 19:25
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    Yea, if some other company finds out that you react that way, it also reduces chances of being hired. I understand that it hurts the way they acted, its really bad for them also, because now they missed a good programmer. So kind of they are even stupid. But I think we should not go to their low level. And its easy to say. I myself become very angry at somebody which hurts me. – Will_create_nick_later Jul 30 '16 at 20:19
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Should I send them invoice for three days of work that I've done on the project?

Once you realized that the completion of a 72-hour project was the price for admission to their interviewing process you had a choice.

  • You could have chosen to walk away at that point
  • You could have asked how much you would be paid for your time before deciding
  • You could complete the project

You chose the latter.

You didn't ask ahead of time how much feedback you would get on your project. You weren't guaranteed anything. You decided the possibility of working with the company was worth your efforts.

It really doesn't matter how efficient your code was, if it had performance issues, nor if it produced the correct results or not. You can't argue someone into continuing an interview.

Certainly others took the same screening test. And one or more did better than you did and continued down the interview process. You didn't for some reason.

It hurts to be rejected during interviews. But it's time to walk away and move on to one of those companies where you had successful interviews, rather than venting by sending a meaningless invoice.

Sending them an invoice wouldn't accomplish anything positive for you. It would just make you look foolish. And of course there is no way a company would pay your invoice anyway.

  • Perhaps it doesn't matter, but for some reason all people make wrong assumption that "it hurts to be rejected during interviews". Maybe for some, not for me. I already got multiple offers (and accepted one) and and this company took biggest effort on my part compared to others and in return they didn't even bother to match 3 days of my work with 5 minutes of their time. I don't try to turn their decision in any way, it won't change anything anyways. – Pavel Jul 31 '16 at 18:21
  • The point is that some idiot in that company decided to give people 3-day long projects (perhaps with tasks that they need to do themselves) and on their end they treat it as if it was some one-hour long test. This is unacceptable IMO. I actually saw similar complains on glassdoor before taking the test, but I thought that unqualified people will always complain... :) – Pavel Jul 31 '16 at 18:23
  • no, it's ok to be rejected, I've done many interviews and had that experience as well. But I got surprised big time but these scumbags for that exact reason they give 3 day long projects and don't evaluate results properly. I didn't mention if it matters, but the offer that I accepted elsewhere (before I've hear results from this company) is on the range of CTO salary in that company (according to glasdoor). So, I wouldn't care if they say yes or no, the point is that they didn't even bother to evaluate 3 days of work appropriately and I'm not the only one who had that exact experience – Pavel Jul 31 '16 at 19:14
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You're not going to do anything but burn potential bridges by trying to charge these people for time spent conducting an interview. It does sound like it was a bit too involved, but as has been stated it was your choice to finish it or not and you in the end are the one who chose to finish it. If this was doing work under the guise of testing that would be one thing but this does not sound like it was the case.

Otherwise, I'm always slightly amazed when people take criticism as poorly as you seem to have taken it. If someone offers you criticism, particularly when stating why you didn't get a job, don't argue with it, just take in the criticism and move on. At that point in the process they are doing nothing but being nice to you: they don't want you for the job, and they have zero reason to tell you why that is. There is zero to gain by disputing the criticism and quite a bit to lose: you demonstrated to them that you are not the kind of person they can approach easily, and so if they had another position they were thinking about filling, there's a good chance your name got taken out of that as well. At most what you want to do in those situations is ask clarifying questions so that you can learn from the criticism better.

I would chalk this up as a learning experience and hopefully not carry this attitude into the next interview that you get.

  • As I said I got offers somewhere else and I don't care to keep the bridges with them. Regarding their criticism. I've been interviewing myself people at previous my job for many years. Usually you have to provide correct solution with asymptotically optimal selection of algorithms and data structures. That's how you are supposed to rate a solution. – Pavel Jul 30 '16 at 17:35
  • Specific place where they mention that it wasn't blazing fast it was in fact blazing fast: there was possibility to provide non-portable "blazing fast" solution and solution that works everywhere and I implemented both approaches and select blazing fast one at compile time based on target architecture. I also documented that along with my solution. – Pavel Jul 30 '16 at 17:37
  • The point is that even if there wasn't blazing fast solution it wouldn't be ok to discard solution as not correct or not acceptable, that's the point. – Pavel Jul 30 '16 at 17:37
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    I think NotVonKaiser is right about if they have another position, they might not want you. I understand you are good programmer and now you do not care. But I think its good that even those companies you do not like want you. They might start giving offers of better benefits and you do not necesarrily accept them, but you then have better argument when negotiating those benefits in the job you like - because that company offers, why cannot you offer also? – Will_create_nick_later Jul 30 '16 at 20:15
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    @Pavel, writing client software, I haven't had many situations in the last twenty years where "blazing fast" was needed. A few where a braindead stupid solution had to be replaced with something adequate, that's all. – gnasher729 Jul 31 '16 at 12:20
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There seem to be companies around that try to use the interview process to get actual work done for them which they are going to use in their products (I dread encountering the software that is created that way). They are scammers, so good luck trying to get an invoice paid.

There seem to be other companies around that think nothing of asking you to do three days of unpaid work for them. If they are that thoughtless at the hiring stage, guess what they would be like when you are actually working for them. The only way a three day programming task would be acceptable is if they had interviews that reduced their choices to two or three candidates, and then they pay these candidates for three days work and hire the best one.

Anything where the effort for the prospective employee is significantly higher than the effort for the prospective employer is unacceptable. There will be companies going through two days of eight hour interviews, but that's different, it means you spend two days, and some company employee or employees spends two days as well. They won't do that with everyone, only with the most promising candidate(s). But in your case, you worked three days and they might have just thrown it in the bin because they didn't like your name.

What can you do? Nothing that promises anything positive for you. You'll never manage to make them pay anything, nor will your lawyer. I wouldn't worry about burning bridges, any decent employee will fully agree that a three day test project is just ridiculous, but you just have no chance to get any money out of them.

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