The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten
359: How to Create a Great Take-Home Assignment for New Job Applicants
Nov 6, 2018
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In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about take-home assignments for job applicants.

This topic was chosen as a result of mistakes that were made at recent hirings at Close.io and as take-home assignments is an integral part of the hiring process.

In this week’s episode, Steli and Hiten share their thoughts on what take-home assignments are, how to approach them, mistakes to avoid when handing them out and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:39 Why this topic was chosen.

01:34 A take-home assignment for a recent job posting at Close.

02:17 Hiten’s view on take-home assignments.

02:37 The only way to understand what a person can do.

02:49 An example of a contract to hire approach.

03:10 Why it’s a good idea to have every candidate carry out the same.

04:01 Why you don’t want to give them work that relates too close to your company.

05:10 How to give out take-home assignments.

05:34 Why you should give assignments that are limited in scope.

3 Key Points:

I’m a huge fan of understanding what a person can do.
Typically, I like every candidate having the same assignment.
If it’s an unpaid job, you don’t want to give them work that relates too close to your company.

[0:00:01] 

Steli Efti: Hey everybody. This is Steli Efti.

 

[0:00:03]

Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.

 

[0:00:04]

Steli Efti: In today's episode of the Startup Chat, we want to talk about take-home assignments for job applicants. Here's the setting. Here's why I wanted to talk to you about this, and I thought it would be very valuable to people, Hiten. We are hiring tons of people at Close. If you're looking for an awesome remote company to work for, a little plug here, check out Close.io/jobs. All of our jobs ... There's not a single position that is open that we would not have a take-home assignment as part of the interviewing process, right? Typically, you have to fill out an application. It goes through some internal reviews. If you check off on all of the main marks, we'll have somebody on the team have a first conversation with you. If that goes well, typically the very next step in almost all positions will be us giving you a little "homework assignment," a take-home, so that you can show us how you work. You can create something for us, and we can give you feedback and critique, and you can see ... Where both sides can see how we work together versus just talking about working together. These take-homes have always been a kind of key part of our interviewing process, and recently, there's been a role that we hired for where ... It's just been interesting where ... The way we designed the take-home was not very thoughtful, so it created all kinds of weird take-home assignments that then made us realize, oh, we've never talked about how to design the take-home. This hiring manager thought about it very differently from how we used to think about it, and he created all these kind of like aha moments that I thought might be useful to people, might save them a lot of time. Before I go into some of my tips, I'm just curious. Is that part of how you've been hiring people as well? Have you always been doing take-homes? Are you doing them sometimes for certain positions but wouldn't use them for others? What's your kind of overall take on take-homes?

 

[0:02:12]

Hiten Shah: Yeah, it's either a take-home or some form of assignment. Sometimes we'll even go as far as making it a paid assignment and putting some constraints around it. Yeah. I'm a huge fan of understanding what the person can do, and the only way to do that is by making them do it. A take-home assignment is definitely one key way. Another one would be, like, spend some time with us and do something with us.

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