TeamBuilder Search, a professional staffing, team building and recruiting agency, delivers tips, advice and guidance to the career and job market search.
You are interviewing for a new job and you are excited about the next steps. You feel like you’ve made a good impression. You’ve covered your bases to prepare for the interviews. You have done your company research, you came to the interviews prepared and maybe you even shared a portfolio of your best work. Then you find out that the next step in the interview process is… an assignment.
An assignment?! You heard that right. You have been asked to complete an assignment as the next step of the interview process. What should you do?
It may not be traditional, but we fully support and recommend assignments during the interview process when appropriate. The job market is very competitive and anyone that has been in the role of a hiring manager knows that some people talk a good talk but they don’t (or can’t) walk the walk. We don’t limit assignments to just designers and similar creative roles. We have done them for PM, PPC, SEO, Analytics, Strategy, all the way up to C-Level roles. Assignments are a good opportunity for a candidate to demonstrate their skills and expertise. On the down side, in our experience, employers and recruiters don’t always do a great job of explaining why assignments are given and how they will be used. Unfortunately, there are also employers who have abused the use of assignments by using them to get some free work done.
Despite the unpopularity, here is why we support and recommend assignments during the interview process and why we believe all candidates should embrace them, too:
- Assignments provide the best possible way to get an understanding of the actual work you will be expected to as part of the role as well as well as the level at which the company expects it to be done. You want to enjoy the work you will be doing and be sure that you have the skills necessary to do so.
- This is your chance to ask the company specific questions about the assignment to get an understanding of how they work and how they think about things. You want to also make sure that you can have constructive and collaborative conversations with your potential manager and coworkers.
- This is an opportunity to demonstrate expertise and set yourself apart from any other candidates who may still be in consideration. Who doesn’t love to win a competition? In this case, winning the competition means you are the best possible choice and the prize is the job!
While we support and recommend assignments during the interview process, you should not be asked to do an assignment to demonstrate your abilities for a company before having done at least a phone interview or brief phone conversation. Assignments should only be used to assess your abilities and not to complete an actual work project that the company will use. There are unique instances in which a potential employer may pay you for your work if what they are asking you to do is a more in-depth project or even client work. It is up to you as a candidate and potential employee to determine if this is an opportunity for which you are willing to put in the extra work to demonstrate your abilities. If you are, your hard work might have a big pay-off!
Mark Whitman is the founder and CEO of TeamBuilder Search, a dynamic recruiting firm that specializes in digital marketing, digital transformation, and emerging technology. He is an energetic and fearless adventurer who loves working with other innovative, entrepreneurial-minded professionals. He also happens to be a Sport Jujitsu national champion who literally broke his face in competing for the gold medal in the world championship. To discuss your toughest hiring challenges with Mark, contact him here.
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.