Compensating candidates for take-home projects

Improve your candidate experience, increase completion rates, and hire software developers faster

Daniel Borowski
Apr 29 · 3 min read

I’ve written before about the tech interview process being broken. Too often, coding assessments are irrelevant, tedious, and biased. I know because I’ve been a part of them as an interviewer and candidate at the most well-known tech companies like Google, Facebook, MongoDB, and dozens of others.

I built Coderbyte to improve the recruiting process with code assessments that are realistic, unbiased, and respectful of the candidate’s time. That’s why 1,600+ organizations use our platform to screen 25,000+ candidates per month.

One of the trends I’m most excited about is the shift toward compensating candidates for completing take-home coding projects.

→ Example: Basecamp pays developers and designers for take-home projects

Why is compensating candidates often a great idea?

Companies sometimes legitimately need to administer lengthier “real-world” coding projects (2+ hours) to identify the right candidate with the right qualifications for a specific role. A brief white-boarding exercise or coding challenge simply isn’t enough.

The problem is that the best candidates can get multiple offers without completing any assessments, so they have no incentive to invest time into tedious recruiting processes.

Compensating candidates for doing a lengthier take-home coding project can increase your completion rates, especially amongst top candidates.

Further, it can help your employer brand avoid the negative sentiment generated by essentially asking candidates to do “unpaid labor.” You really don’t want a review like this one on Glassdoor:

How much compensation is right?

Since this is such a new trend, there’s no industry standard. It depends on a variety of factors, including the length and complexity of the project, the seniority of the candidate and role, and whether the project is generic or specific to your product.

We’re excited to introduce the world’s first ever candidate compensation feature on Coderbyte. We want to remove the friction from creating awesome recruiting experiences. With just one click, you can compensate candidates who submit take-home coding projects.

They’ll receive a link where they can get a gift card, Visa card, or cash deposited right into their bank account. Learn more about the feature.

In terms of compensation, we’ll update the below over time based on feedback and completion rates, but our initial recommendations are:

2–3 hour projects

  • $25 USD – Junior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is < $70,000
  • $50 USD – Senior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is < $70,000
  • $150 USD – Junior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is > $70,000
  • $250 USD – Senior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is > $70,000

4–6 hour projects

  • $50 USD — Junior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is < $70,000; assessments should
  • $100 USD — Senior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is < $70,000
  • $300 USD — Junior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is > $70,000
  • $500 USD — Senior candidates in countries where the average developer salary is > $70,000

There are few situations where it is necessary to give take-home projects that require more than one day of coding. But if you require a multi-day project, consider just negotiating with the candidate directly as though it were a freelance gig.

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