Should developers be paid for technical interview tasks?
Today’s market is extremely competitive for companies trying to secure talented developers – to the point that it could almost be called a bidding war. Every company has their own hiring process, but it seems like there’s been an incredible increase in mandatory “technical tests”.
For those of you who don’t know, this is where a developer must spend (potentially) 3+ hours working on a project in their own time (often at home) to, in most cases, even secure an interview.
This really isn’t beneficial for anyone involved in the hiring process. These technical tests are often either home assignments or bringing them in for one to two days to work on real-world tickets.
"It seems that the hoops which developers must go through to secure a job have never been more prominent"
What’s clear across the board, however, is that nowadays it seems to be the complete norm for them to do these tasks for free despite taking hours of careful work and research to finish to a high standard.
There are (usually) two types of candidates which this test affects:
1. The passive candidate who’s not actively looking for a new job.
This type of candidate is being asked to complete a 3+ hour test after work hours (6pm+) and sacrifice time to him/herself or with their families.
2. The candidate who’s actively looking for a new job.
Despite being two distinct types of candidates, they share the same trait – their lack of time. This type of candidate will be drowning in tests/interviews and will need to prioritise certain tests as there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
As someone who’s been in both situations, I think it’s time that companies should pay market rates for any technical tasks that you give to developers to prove their worth.
To bring me to my original point, here it is...
5 reasons developers should be paid for technical interview tasks
by Nikos Katsikanis
1. Everybody wins
Not only will it benefit both parties as your recruiting tasks will be more fruitful but the candidates will also have more money in the pocket.
2. Your company will be favourable
It will motivate them to choose your task over other companies not willing to supply funds for this.
3. Impress the candidate
You will impress the candidate with your goodwill and make your company an attractive one to join.
4. More likely to re-interview
The candidate will not see their work as a waste of their time if they don’t get the job, leaving them more willing to re-interview should the need arise for their skills at a later date.
5. Word of mouth
The candidate will probably tell other developers about your goodwill, allowing you to recruit others faster, as virtually no other companies will be doing the same.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that companies should pay for any type of technical test given to a candidate.
It is not uncommon for companies to test candidates on various skills, every potential hire must have their technical ability screened and that’s something that only a fool wouldn’t understand.
However, do this carefully and this doesn’t just apply to developers in the hiring process. Questionable tasks are surely asked of candidates across the board.
For example, a Marketing candidate was asked to propose a redesign of their current website as part of an interview process to which she completed, only to be told she was not selected. A few weeks later, she saw the design she submitted during the interview process was now being used by this business.
You can’t ask people to do real work that you’ll then use in your business and if you do, pay them. It’s that simple.
HOW WILL THIS WORK?
There’s no factual answer, but here are two ideas
1. More than three hours of work? Cough it up!
When it’s taking up a sizeable portion of time, then (in my opinion) there needs to be compensation. If the task takes 3 hours to complete at home, give them half of a day’s wages/rate at what the job is potentially offering. Adjust accordingly. Remember time researching the task should be included in the total time.
2. Test and pay for real-world tickets
Alternatively, if you wish to bring the candidate in the office to test him with real-world tickets, give them a full day’s wages (assuming that it’s a full day’s work).
There’s no easy answer to this situation, but from my personal experience in the London Market, the question of whether developers should be paid or not just simply isn’t being asked.
So, what do you think?
He particularly also enjoys teaching and mentoring his peers on cutting edge technology. In his spare time, Nikos also runs his own YouTube channel and contributes to open source.