Developing Take-Home Projects

Updated: August 18, 2023

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Take-home projects can be a valuable way to assess a candidate’s technical skills in a real-world context. However, they must be carefully designed to be fair, useful, and respectful of the candidate’s time.

Define Clear Goals

The project should have a clear objective that aligns with the skills you’re assessing. If you’re hiring a data scientist, the project might involve cleaning a dataset and training a predictive model. If you’re hiring a web developer, you might ask them to implement a specific feature in a web application. Whatever the task, make sure it directly relates to the work they’d be doing on the job.

Set Realistic Expectations

The project should be designed to be completed in a reasonable amount of time – no more than a few hours. Remember, candidates are likely doing this in their spare time, and they may be interviewing elsewhere as well. Clearly communicate how long you expect the project to take, and be as flexible with deadlines as possible.

Provide All Necessary Information

Ensure you provide all the necessary details for the candidate to complete the project. This includes the project requirements, any data they need to use, and how their output will be evaluated. The instructions should be detailed enough that the candidate knows what to do, but not so prescriptive that they don’t have the chance to show their problem-solving skills and creativity.

Evaluate Holistically

When reviewing the completed project, look at both the end result and the process the candidate used. Did they meet the project requirements? Is their code clean, well-commented, and efficient? Did they document their work and explain their decisions? But also, did they approach the problem creatively? Did they go beyond the minimum requirements? Consider developing a standardized evaluation rubric to ensure fair and consistent assessments.

Respect the Candidate’s Work

Provide detailed feedback on their work, regardless of whether you decide to move forward with their application. Also, never use the work they produce, unless you’ve come to an agreement (which might involve compensation).

Updated: August 18, 2023

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