I recently went in for an in-person interview with a tech company. This was after the phone screening with the manager. I met with 2 senior devs for about an hour. They said at the end I will receive a take home test if I was moving along in the process.

I was expecting something fairly small, maybe a day or two deadline. What I got was a 30 day deadline on what I figured complex assignment. Is this excessive to anyone else? Should I really spend a month coding in my free time when nothing is guaranteed? Has anyone had a deadline so long before? I am employed so there is no rush to land a job.

NOTE: while researching I found the problem and solution online so I don't think they are using me to write code for free.

Update: the job is for a security company in Houston. Here is a link to the question to get an idea of the length and complexity.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Masked Man, Snow, scaaahu, gnat, Chris E Aug 16 '17 at 16:32

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    It is not clear what exactly you want us to help you with. 30 day deadline for an interview coding task does sound excessive to me. I would have suspected they are trying to get you to work for free, but you already ruled that out. The only other possibility is the task doesn't actually take 30 days, but they are making allowances for the fact that you have a day job and you may have other personal commitments on some of the weekends. Whether you should actually spend time on it or not is ultimately a decision you will have to make, not sure how we can do that for you. – Masked Man Aug 15 '17 at 5:37
  • Since you haven't given any details about the job, or why it might require such a rigorous technical test as a part of the vetting process, only you can decide if the job might be worth the time. – colbin8r Aug 15 '17 at 7:10
  • Can you update your question to include the country and what part of the country? – colbin8r Aug 15 '17 at 7:14
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    Does a 30 day deadline mean there is work for 30 days, or is it work for one day and they are nice by not assuming you can just place that chunk of work at any given time in your life? – nvoigt Aug 15 '17 at 7:55
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    Based on the link you provided, the task does not look hard if you are familiar with regular expressions, PCRE, and C++. Presumably those are prerequisites for the job you are applying for. Since there are solutions online, maybe they are also implicitly testing you to see if you are going to turn in a copy-paste solution from the Net, or whether you are going to make your own. – Brandin Aug 15 '17 at 14:35

Well it sounds like you've already ruled out the usual worry with larger take-home tests (that of being conned into working for free) so at that point you really have to take the test at face value as being part of the hiring process.

Is this excessive to anyone else?

Different people will have different thresholds for what they consider excessive, I would lean towards it being unusually large but not excessive, but then none of the jobs I've ever applied for have had anything remotely that large but that could be purely a geographical location thing (I'm in the UK and these sorts of tests seem more common in the US)

Should I really spend a month coding in my free time when nothing is guaranteed?

Not something I or anyone else can answer for you really - you could just as easily ask exactly the same about any other requirement of a hiring process Should I really drive 30 miles each way when nothing is guaranteed? Should I really take a day off work to interview when nothing is guaranteed? etc etc. Really it comes down to a different question that you need to ask yourself - How much do you want the job? similarly to the "excessive" question everyone will have their own thresholds for this and that's fine. If the task is too onerous for you to consider it worth doing then don't do it. No-one is forcing you and the hiring process, like interviews is a two-way process. Sure they are trying to determing if they want to hire you for the job but you are also supposed to be determining if you want the job.

Has anyone had a deadline so long before?

Not me personally but I've heard of a few instances of similar length deadlines anecdotally so I'd say that it's unusual but not unheard of.

  • Valid points. I'll work on it when I can and see where it goes, and practice never hurts. – Houston_guy Aug 15 '17 at 14:12

What I got was a 30 day deadline on what I figured complex assignment. Is this excessive to anyone else? Should I really spend a month coding in my free time when nothing is guaranteed?

30 days as a deadline is not excessive at all, they're likely accounting for the fact you work at the moment full time and so won't have that long each day to spend on it. This should absolutely not take you the equivalent of a month's full time work.

If you feel this genuinely would take you close to 30 days of solid work, then yes - it's way too much, and you should be prepared to push back on this (but also expect the answer to be "ok, no thanks then" to the job.)


What I got was a 30 day deadline on what I figured complex assignment. Is this excessive to anyone else?

30 days is not really that long, they understand that you have a job and other commitments so they are wanting to give you ample time to finish it. I had an interview with a tech company once, and the recruiter gave me a coding task and he said just let me know when you're ready "whether it's 1 month of 6".

Should I really spend a month coding in my free time when nothing is guaranteed?

Have you started on the task? It could take you 1 hour or 30 full days. But until you actually start you don't know how long it'll take you. I seriously doubt this company would make their applicants spend 8 hours for 30 days coding something. I would give this a task a try and go from there. True, nothing is guaranteed, but it doesn't hurt to start it and maybe spend an hour a day on it. If it takes too long then you'll have to let them know. Chances are they want to see your thought process and they don't really care about the solution.

Has anyone had a deadline so long before?

Yes I have. As stated before, I interviewed for a tech company and the recruiter told me to take as long as I needed.

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