Why I decided to decline coding challenges.

So just to give a brief background. I have been working with ruby on rails for 12 years but I would not make any 'rockstar' claim. Yes,

I have solid experience, but I'm also an EVERYDAY GUY just like most people here, once work is done I have hobbies and other passions that doesn't include ruby on rails (thoug I love ror).

Once the pandemic hit, my company went to the chopping blocks and I went along with it, 8 years of employment just poof. Now I found myself looking for a job which I didn't even anticipate I'd be doing anytime soon since I was really contented where I was at. I built the application from scratch so it was my baby and I had an affinity plus I was happy where I really was.

So on to the topic, after sending out a couple of applications to my surprise I got these 'code challenges', yes I was employed by the same company for 9 years so when unemployment hit me it was really new to me.

But to summarize, I found myself doing tests that don't really reflect my skills, I've had one where I told HR interviewing me that my strength lies in back end coding, apis, rdbms architecture etc and my front end is minimal with jquery at most and I am currently looking to focus on back end. HR said that's fine, so I gladly accepted the next phase

only to find out my coding challenge was all javascript. I didn't finish it, I said it doesnt fit me and thanked hr for givine me the opportunity none the less. Other code challenges require 5-7 days and afterwards just pure ghosting. And on two occasions I got the typical 'competition is high so we had to choose someone else'. I basically spent almost 1 month of doing unpaid coding challenges with nothing but ghosting afterwards and on top of that being unemployed unexpectedly with covid19 takes such a toll mentally, these ghostings don't help they just lead to more negative talk and lower self esteem.

After a month of being depressed not getting a job, I pulled myself up and told myself I'm gonna try but this time NO to code challenges.

I would rather not get the job on my own terms than waste another month of my life with ghosting recruiters/employers and just spiral down to more self esteem issues.

I currently finished a 3 week project, I was referred by a friend and I had a quick interview with the CTO, he said under normal circumstances they give out code challenges and if I pass they would hire me, but their project is already delayed for a month and they are given a 3 week extension by the client so he's taking a chance with just my resume and his short interview with me. On day 1 I was suprised, how the code was all over the place, the architecture was off and lots of unecessary bloated code. Don't get me wrong Im not shitting on the devs, but to my point, where did all their coding challenge go and they ended up with such a mess? On top of that they slowly started shifting heavy backend tasks they were stuck with since I had more experience in it. After delivering the project the CEO told, if I want more job he will gladly give me more projects but I respectfully declined as I told him I am looking for something long term and not

project based. I'm glad I took that project though, I was able to reclaim a part of me, instead of spiraling down in depression self negativity I was able to tell myself 'no this is proof you can still do it'.

But yeah, as for code challenges? I will be declining them in the foreseeable future. You do you, I do me. To everyone else who lost their job to this pandemic, stay strong and I wish the best for all of us, may we find our next dream job.

5 thoughts on “Why I decided to decline coding challenges.”

  1. I do not do coding challenges either. It’s kind of ridiculous to make a dev with 20 YOE do a coding challenge, basically putting him (or her) on the same level as a fresh graduate. If you do not want to pay a premium for a seasoned dev then just say so.

    What about my fricking \*experience\* that I have tried hard to keep up to date (and succeeded at it) and that a fresh graduate cannot possibly have?

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  2. The fact that code challenges (or even worse, whiteboard challenges) are a part of the hiring process says a lot about the company culture. Seems like a good idea to avoid them.

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  3. I’m not a fan of “code challenges” (e.g. solve stupid puzzle) for weeding out candidates. I’d much rather have a informal chat with them, stalk their GitHub profile, then quickly pair on something fairly real life to see how they work.

    > On day 1 I was suprised, how the code was all over the place, the architecture was off and lots of unecessary bloated code.
    > but to my point, where did all their coding challenge go and they ended up with such a mess?

    I’ve seen this a few times with tech projects. I’d probably guess the kind of company who uses code challenges to hire, is probably not doing much pairing or code reviews.

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  4. > On day 1 I was suprised, how the code was all over the place, the architecture was off and lots of unecessary bloated code. Don’t get me wrong Im not shitting on the devs, but to my point, where did all their coding challenge go and they ended up with such a mess?

    Based on interviewing with the CTO, sounds like this is a startup.

    This is pretty common at startups. I work with some great devs, but we’re also aware that we work in an environment with a lot of uncertainty and need to ship. This means we favor code that gets the job done now, rather than code that will be robust for the long term. Chance are, business needs will change before the “robustness” of code ever becomes a factor.

    If you’re looking for a place where you need to write robust code, look for a big, established company.

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