VBA test exercise

I have just been offered the opportunity to do a VBA test (“should take no more than 3 hours”!) for the chance to get an interview… for a 3 month contract!

I didn’t find out how many had been selected for the ‘opportunity’. I could have been 1 of 2 or 3, or 1 of 2-3,000. I would guess 10-20? that’s a lot of people wasting 3+ hours

I told them to do one obviously, but I couldn’t help taking a peek at the exercise and scoping it out (wasting a ton of time which I am annoyed at myself for doing, but there you go).

I could do a pretty half arsed job of it in 3 hours, but to do it properly and considering some of the ‘peripheral’ elements (date integrity, error handling etc) there is no way I could do it to what I would consider an acceptable standard in 3 hours. Add the fact that some of the specs were wrong (do I do as per spec or what I think is correct?) and it was at least a full days work.

Bearing in mind this is a test, that will be reviewed so needs to look the part not just functional.

Perhaps if I had ready to go VBA libraries and components I could cobble them together within the timescales. But who has loads of libraries they actually have the right to use? I have a lots of stuff from all the codematic and xlanalyst stuff, but the bulk of the code I have written belongs to clients. (and some of the more useful stuff appears to only be in C, C++ or C#)

The other red flag was advice to do it in a object oriented way. IN A NON OO LANGUAGE FFS!

This may be contentious, but Object Oriented in Excel VBA is utterly retarded. Fact!

(There may be some exceptions but if you are combining data and operations in VBA ‘objects’, what are you using the Excel grid for? Or are you duplicating all that data?)

So I have a few problems with this company’s recruitment process:

  1. Its unduly burdensome on the potential candidates
  2. The timescales are for an amateur standard hack
  3. pre-built components may not be owned by candidates
  4. OO approach smacks of boys playing at being men.
  5. Spec was vague and incorrect
  6. Required effort will put off many candidates
  7. Some of whom might be ideal but too busy to risk 3+ hours
  8. 3+ hours for a chance of an interview for a 3 month contract is a very poor risk return compared to the rest of the job market.
  9. 3+ hours feels more like they want hobbyists rather than professionals.
  10. lack of respect for candidates time doesn’t bode well for the future role

I mentioned it to one of my contractor mates: “for free? fuck that”.



7 Responses to “VBA test exercise”

  1. Joe Serdakowski Says:

    Well written article. Keep up the good work.

    Joe Serdakowski, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A. 2 Round Hill Court East Greenwich, RI, USA 02818 401.996.3631 autosoft@aol.com http://www.AutoSoftSystems.com http://www.ComplyWell.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/serdakowski/ Decision Ready Information

  2. Hitesh Madani Says:

    Sounds like the exact same test I was given for a role. However, I did do the test and had exactly the same thoughts as you about the whole thing. Clearly your experience alerted you that this is a total waste of time and a scam. I spent 9 hours on it! But I could have spent much more to add more and more bells and whistles. I will never do this again. Total BS!

    On a very separate note, does anyone have experience with Excel DNA? I’m looking for paid, or otherwise, training on creating UDFs, Ribbons, Panels, WinForms in C#. I want something beyond “MyFirstFunction” tutorials. Happy to be coached by someone in London.

    • Simon Says:

      Yeah, once bitten twice shy…

      I did do one once (for an xll role, different end client) (probs similar to you 9 hrs ish), they were very happy with it, offered me the role, on condition I accepted 100 quid a day less than previously agreed. Twats (polite version).

      Was yours to do with a loans portfolio?

      I’ve done a fair bit of ExcelDNA, but just UDFs and winforms, and I’m not in London, but apart from that… :-)

  3. jeffrey Weir Says:

    I steer clear of any jobs where they want you to work for nothing before you’ve even got the damn thing. These guys are idiots, plain and simple. Don’t they realize they are putting up unnecessary barriers to entry to potentially better candidates than they end up with? I’d tell them “Sure, I’ll do your test. But in exchange, can you come to my place at 8:30 am Saturday and do the hoovering for free?”

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