This past Friday, the heating in my house did not come on at night, and my whole family got sick. I was halfway through a technical test for a job interview.

I did the phone screening on Wednesday, and they issued the test later that evening. I started it on Thursday. Then I got sick and don't have the energy to finish it. The test is due on Monday.

I realize this is going to look suspicious. The recruiter would think that I'm just trying to get more time to complete the test. What should I tell the recruiter?

3 Answers 3


You should just be honest and tell what happened. Don't make too much excuses, and ask for a new test.

You should do it before they send you results to their client. Do it ASAP.

  • 4
    I'd also just keep to saying you were sick and not go into details because I'd be a bit suspect that just not having the heating on made you sick.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 15:05
  • 2
    @HorusKol I agree. That seems like something that might raise red flags, whereas people getting sick happens all the time. OP should probably have informed the recruiter as soon as they felt sick, but they probably thought it would pass quickly. So yes to informing them asap.
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 17:40
  • 2
    Getting sick at an inconvenient time is a perfectly normal thing, just tell your contact what happened. If they're a jerk about it, now you know not to work for that company.
    – Mel Reams
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 0:11
  • @MelReams So what would you, as an employer, think of an applicants health if their entire family including the applicant got sick over a heating that didn't work for 1 evening? Sounds kinda unhealthy to me, and it's likely such a person calls in sick (way) more often than others. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 13:19

I'm sorry to tell you this, but if a company gives you a test with five days (including weekend) to complete it, without offering you any payment, then this is a company that should be avoided at all cost.

Asking you to spend five days on a test at home is ridiculous. Any test where you spend time, and a well-paid company employee spends the same test, that's Ok. Five days at your own expense is ridiculous. They ask you to spend five days, just to get a step further in an interview, without any guarantee that anyone even looks at your work, that means they value your interests as absolutely nothing.

That attitude will surely be present not only during interviews, but also when you are working there. Don't go there.

  • 2
    While this might be true, it's also possible the test doesn't actually take that long and they merely extend the time to after the week-end to ensure that someone currently employed elsewhere will find the time to do it.
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 17:36
  • The test is a fully functional website to be put up on a CI/CD server. While the website is small, it will still take an experienced developer 4 hours to a couple of days to complete to the best of their ability (UI design, deciding on technology, implementation). Is that a red-flag? Just to get someone to the next interview? Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 16:02
  • The suggestions in this post are false. At least in Europe it is standard practice for companies to assign programming challenges as part of their recruitment process.
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 18:58
  • @AudraQuinn this "test" seems excessive to me just to get to the next interview. A "programming challenge" is one thing. Expecting a "fully functional website to be put up on a server" sounds like they want you to bootstrap their next project for them.
    – alroc
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 11:47
  • @m.t. standard ? A tests that take some days to do ? Well not in France luckily ...
    – Walfrat
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 14:46

This situation is very normal, just that you have been through a real problem.

Alright as @Student_T has already mention do that. In addition, do try to provide medical-leave so that it has proof to your point.

And remember HR is human too, they will understand your point. And remember the HR person might come back in your life. So dont try to leave any un-closed loops. [Bit superfical, its real]

  • 1
    Yup! HR people get sick too. A norovirus is almost pandemic at this time; I just spent the afternoon on ham radio, and it was just amazing to hear so many long-time friends --from California to Massachusetts-- that were all very sick in the past week or so. AND as others here have said, don't tell them it was the cold house that did it. Enough said. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 1:47

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