Surviving the Interview Assignment

Protecting your sanity and your work

 If you work in the realm of content, sales, or even consulting, you have probably encountered the “unpaid” assignment request during an interview. This concept has quickly become the norm, with companies requesting real-life proof of a candidate’s skills. But, how much is too much, and how can you protect your intellectual property and sanity in the process?

For the most part, interview assignments are worthwhile and given with good intention. But, there have been incidents that were not so well-meaning. Tales range from employers who ghost their candidates after submitting week-long projects and even employers stealing creative content after rejecting the candidate. 

Here are a few items to help bring peace of mind when beginning an interview assignment:

  1.  Legitimacy: Does this request seem like a reasonable task? Consider if the assignment reflects the job you are seeking. If you are unsure, pull in an expert; ask a friend or peer within the profession their opinion on the request. 
  2. Effort – Will this be something you can handle? Most of us can pull something together in a given time frame, but the effort we put in will vary. Determine if the task will require outside help or is it something you can handle with the experience and know-how you currently have. If it requires you to phone a friend or mentor to complete, you may want to reconsider. 
  3. Protect– Nothing is worse than being taken advantage of. To protect your work, asking upfront how the company plans to use the assignment will build that hedge of protection. 
  4. Remember– Employers are using the interview assignment to eliminate those who may have exaggerated their abilities during the initial resume submission. It is a chance for you to highlight your talents and set yourself ahead of the competition. 

The bottom line is if the position is worth it, then the assignment is worth it too. It’s on you as the job seeker to weigh the role and the request and your willingness to accept the challenge.