I was verbally offered a job and the manager insisted that I start the day after the following day from the interview; so two days after the interview. I left the interview unsure of the offer the manager called me later that day and I agreed to take the position. At this point, I was told that I would get an offer letter the following day and would start the day after that. Later that evening I was asked for a code sample. I have yet to receive the offer letter.

I've been mostly contracting and usually answer technical questions or show samples at the beginning of the process and find this situation somewhat odd. Is this a common practice?

  • 9
    You are right, this is odd. I would tread carefully if I were you.
    – Bernard
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:03
  • 2
    Sounds sure fishy. Your prospective employer should've asked for code samples or given you programming tests. Not after the offer has been made. I'd be careful about that guy's business if I were you.
    – Spoike
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:05
  • 3
    That's like asking to put on a condom after sex.
    – Job
    Jun 29, 2011 at 3:25
  • Well, I heard from them today. They said the forgot to send me the offer and will tomorrow... A bit disheartening...
    – mdominick
    Jun 29, 2011 at 3:27
  • 1
    @mcfinnigan Turns you were right. I ended up leaving after they were 30+ days late on pay and had to threaten legal action to get paid.
    – mdominick
    Jan 30, 2012 at 19:54

7 Answers 7


I would say yes, give the manager a call and ask for more detail about the code sample. Were there any specifics, or is this more of a "show us your portfolio" question?

In my opinion it's rather unprofessional to give a verbal offer with the demand that you start in two days without a written copy of your offer. For this reason I don't see a problem calling up and getting clarification. It sounds like someone else at the company has said "are you sure about this guy?" and the manager just wants to get you in.

Hope that helps!

  • 1
    Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking. I showed him what code I could; can't show client code etc, so hopefully the "are you sure" guy has been appeased.
    – mdominick
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:09
  • 1
    I've been in a similar situation, usually it's just a miscommunication internally. Best of luck!
    – Rob Dyson
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:11
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    +1 >It sounds like someone else at the company has said "are you sure about this guy?" and the manager just wants to get you in. Jun 28, 2011 at 20:14

Well yes, obviously if they're asking your for a code sample after agreeing to hire you, then there is some form of confusion somewhere. That ain't normal.
The person who verbally hired you could have overstepped himself.
The person asking for the code sample could have not been informed.
Or it could be someone is simply curious to see what you've got.
Who knows, could be a lot of things. If you have something on hand, send it. If not, call up the manager, explain why you don't have anything on hand and work something out. Maybe you could hand something in tomorrow. Be sure to explain who asked for what so if there is any confusion, you don't add to it.

  • 1
    Well, the manager is the company's founder, so I doubt he doesn't have the authority, however, I get your main point that he may have stepped on someone's toes and that person is now asserting himself.
    – mdominick
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:11

The whole episode sounds a bit strange given the person who hired you is the company's founder. Remember how they treat you during the interview and recruitment process is basically the best they are ever going to treat you.

From my perspective, the best interpretation is that the company is somewhat disorganised and unprofessional. The worst is that they really have no idea what they are doing.

How desperate are you for the job?

  • Not terribly desperate, but they are offering a good deal of money....
    – mdominick
    Jun 29, 2011 at 3:28
  • The founder doing the hiring just means it's a small shop. Which, yeah, has a strong correlation with being disorganized and unprofessional. If they have no process, or are missing things like a CVS, bug tracker, or coding standards, you could suggest them after 6 months or so. Or just run them for yourself and show them off. Remember, the new guy doesn't run the place.
    – Philip
    Jun 29, 2011 at 19:59

I would suggest that the manager probably made the offer, told other people and they said "so how was his code sample?" When the manager replied "I didn't ask for one," this same person gave him a lecture about not hiring someone without seeing a code sample.

Could be his boss or it could as easily be people you are going to work with. Either way, he now has to provide one to somebody, and he's almost certainly hoping like hell that you don't either say no or provide something poor.

So the question for you now becomes: is it worth causing him problems? That's not a great way to start a working relationship and if you have a code sample that you have faith in then there isn't really a problem. If, on the other hand, you don't have anything handy then tell him that.

Remember though that in most countries, you don't have any rights even in the preset probation period. You certainly don't have any before you even have an offer. You're not going to be able to say that you've been given an offer and hold them to it.

So I guess another question you have to ask yourself is: Does this put me off the company? I can't help you with that but I can tell you that I've seen similar (though not quite so serious) clerical errors in perfectly good places to work. It is a sign of some disorganisation, but it's not the worst red flag.

  • No, it doesn't put me off on the company I understand the desire to keep bad coders out. To be honest, the thing that bothers me is just the silence.
    – mdominick
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:32

Maybe they are just trying to confirm that your code is readable and ordered.

Send a code fragment of one of your projects, it doesn't even have to compile or run. Maybe add some code where you cleverly resolved a programming problem, with a little explanation on how it works.


It sounds like there must have been some sort of miscommunication over the offer. For some reason, perhaps the manager forgot that he offered the position, the manager seems to not be on the same page as you. I would have a code sample ready, but also call just to ask why the sample is being requested.


I'm not sure of your jurisdiction, but in many places in the US you don't have an offer until you have a written offer. That means that someone on the HR side has to approve/sign-off on your hire and the compensation you are to get in return. Say you start in two days, work for three weeks, and never get paid. What were you to be paid? Says who? You really have little or nothing to stand on, perhaps you would be lucky to get anything more than minimum wage in litigation.

Do you have any other "sixth sense" reservations about this job? Perhaps it is just a miscommunication as other answers have suggested; proceed with caution.

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