Should you do Take Home Assignments?

Published: 2023-11-29

Written by: Jessica Wilkins

5 min read




For my first job interview, I was asked to do a short take-home assignment instead of the traditional DSA(Data Structure and Algorithms) type interview. Even though I liked the project and process, I have been thinking a lot about these types of interviews and questioning if they are any better than the DSA ones.

In this post, I will provide my thoughts on take-home assignments.

What are take-home assignments?

A take-home coding assignment is when a company presents a candidate with a prompt and set of requirements and asks the candidate to complete a project in a set amount of time. The project can be anything from a small project that takes a few hours to a larger project that takes a few days. This is a way to see how a candidate works on a project and how they think through problems.

An example for a front-end candidate might include building a product catalog page with a search bar and a list of products. The company might provide them with the API and design to work with as well as a list of requirements. The candidate would then have a set amount of time to complete the project and submit it to the company. The submission usually includes a deployed project link and a link to the GitHub repo.

Are take-home projects less stressful?

Some people enjoy take-home projects a little bit more because they find them to be less pressure. They feel like they can work alone and build something outside of the interview. They also feel like they can show off their skills better than in a traditional DSA-style interview.

When I first started in the industry, I always preferred take-home projects because I didn’t have a strong background in data structures and algorithms to tackle those types of interviews. I lucked up with my first job and was able to build a small app that I could talk about in the interview.

Even though my personal experience was a pleasant one, I have friends of mine who had bad experiences with take-home projects and found them to be more stressful.

Do take-home assignments favor candidates with more time?

In my current situation, I have more time to do side projects and take home assignments but I realize that is not everyone’s situation. One of the advantages of the DSA-style interviews is that they can be done in under an hour. But with take-home projects, you might be given a few hours or a few days to complete the project.

Asking someone to build a project outside of work for no pay when their schedule is already busy, might not be the most fair of situations. I think it is important to keep in mind that not everyone has the same amount of time to dedicate to a take-home project.

Are take-home projects predatory?

I think a take-home assignment should have a time limit of a few hours or a day or two at most. The times I have seen it take longer than that generally haven’t ended well for the candidate.

I had one friend who spent weeks building out this full-stack application for a job only to be ghosted by the company afterwards. I have heard of companies asking for way too much work and expecting people to pour 40+ hours into a project. The worst part about all of this is that a lot of junior candidates will jump through these extra hoops because they are trying hard to break into the industry.

I would strongly caution candidates from continuing an interview if the take-home project is going to take weeks of their time without pay. I realize that the market is tough out there but your time is really valuable and a company should be able to see your skills with a much smaller project.

What makes a good take-home assignment?

The best take-home assignments I have seen are the ones where the company has a clear prompt and set of requirements. They will be strict about having a shorter time limit and will be clear about what they are looking for. A smaller well-executed project is plenty for a company to evaluate a candidate’s skills instead of one with an ambiguous prompt with loose deadlines. I think companies that respect a candidate’s time are worth pursuing and working for.


Ultimately, it is up to you if you want to do a take-home assignment or prefer a more traditional DSA-style interview. Some people will be earlier on in their careers and won’t have the option to walk away from interviews. While others might have more job options and can be more selective about the companies they work for.

If you are going to do a take-home assignment, I would recommend looking for companies that have a clear prompt and set of requirements. I would also recommend looking for companies that have a shorter time limit for the project. If a company seems to be asking for too much work, I would recommend walking away from the interview.