So I got a large programming assignment (I was given a week for it) by a company I interviewed for. However, I had never used any of the technologies before and was unable to complete the assignment (or create anything even remotely close).

What is a good way that I can tell the hiring manager that I was unable to do this. I don't want to look too stupid but want to be honest (I have no hopes of getting this job and am okay with that).

The thing is that the person who introduced me does most of the interviews for the tech companies in the region (they are concentrated in this large accelerator for startups and he is the hiring manager). I don't want him to think that I am too stupid for other jobs which I am more famailiar with or that I don't have integrity.

What is the best way to navigate this situation? How should I word my email to him?


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    Was it clear to the recruiter you're unfamiliar with those technologies when they gave you the task? – rath Feb 21 '17 at 15:41
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    I personally think you got yourself out of a scam anyway - a technical assignment that takes more than a couple of hours is almost always a scam where the company gets something written for free, avoiding contracting fees etc. – Moo Feb 21 '17 at 15:41
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    The fact that the recruiter is for an accelerator for startups affirms my belief in my last comment - they are looking for stuff for free. – Moo Feb 21 '17 at 15:49
  • @Moo I agree. This is more common than people realize – Old_Lamplighter Feb 21 '17 at 16:03
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    Regardless of whether it was a scam or not, if you were not familiar with the technology, you could have realistically known within the first day (or within 2 days, at most) that you couldn't complete the task. You could have informed him right then rather than waiting until time ran out. – Masked Man Feb 21 '17 at 16:39

I would:

  • Withdraw from the interview process, as the job does not match your skills
  • Remind the recruiter what skills you have
  • End positively that you are still interested in suitable roles

For example:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for considering my application for the role of Web Designer. Unfortunately I would like to withdraw my application.

I am withdrawing my application because my skills as a Data Scientist, using R, SQL and SPSS, do not match those used within the Web Designer role.

I am still interested in finding a great new job in the Leeds area using my skill set. I'd be happy to discuss future opportunities.

Best regards,


  • This is great, I will be using this :) – user1778543 Feb 21 '17 at 20:49
  • @user1778543: no problem. If you are happy with the answer, please accept it using the tick and/or upvote using the up arrow. – user27483 Feb 21 '17 at 22:56

A week???? If this is part of the company's hiring process, and they gave you enough to encompass a week's time, then you and other applicants are probably being used for free work anyhow.

A generic technical test is reasonable. On the other hand, when you apply for a job, and you're given something as a prerequisite that actually benefits the company (i.e. the company stands to make some money, or materially improve some internal process), it's probably in your interest to decline and point out that you don't work for free.

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