Sounds like “interview assignments“ (case studies, presentations, work sessions…) are becoming more popular during the hiring process. Why is that?

In my recent round of interviews I’d say 4 companies wanted some sort of assignment.

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My best paying job was one of the only ones that didn’t require an assignment. The ones that did were the worst times of my life (expecting way too much, providing no resources, wearing multiple hats)

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I can confirm this as well. I briefly joined a startup that had an enormous audition assignment—a content strategy for the whole company. I assumed they were asking this much of finalists only. When I walked in the door, the company’s only marketer exclaimed that the company had learned so much from “all these” presentations. All these, I said. How many? He guessed 25. They had started with a pool of 300 vetted candidates. I was the “winner,” but it was a dubious distinction, because they expected about 3 years’ worth of wins in 5 months. We parted unhappily and now I’m wary of these assignments, which amount to a week’s worth (or more) of free consulting and usually signal more toxicity ahead.

A presentation is one thing but any company that can’t judge a candidate from their portfolio and requires a test is often a sign of the internal shitshow to be revealed once you’re hired.

If you do it, be sure to add a footnote on every page you submit that states that *the ideas presented in this document cannot be used without monetary compensation

likesmart

Hypothesis:
The Great Resignation and ensuing churn of applicants and hires makes employers nervous. They're feeling the importance of vetting candidates more thoroughly.

The era of remote work makes it harder to judge a worker's level of engagement and commitment. In the old days of in-person interviews, employers could assume your level of commitment based on you taking time off work, dressing up, and traveling to them.

Applicants can now fairly easily squeeze 4 Zoom interviews into a day without strong intentions of pursuing any of them. Employers are getting burned left and right by candidates accepting then rescinding, or even accepting and then no-call, no-showing.

The era of remote work is also what makes these assignments even possible. Pre-digital, the printing and delivery time and cost wouldn't have been feasible for candidates. In early digital days, email attachment limits would've prevented some of these asks. We've hit a tipping point of cloud-enabled tools and high bandwidth internet.

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I saw a wide range when interviewing earlier this year. The role I ultimately accepted required me to present in my final round, but it could be any work of my choosing so I didn’t have to make anything new. I backed out of a few interview cycles because they were basically asking for free work ( I work in analytics and will not build a model for free). I respect wanting to see how someone translates insights to stakeholders, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

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It’s total insecurity at a time when employees have more options than ever. I find it so strange. The only kind of assignment I see as fair and valuable is having a creative or planner take me work they’ve already done.

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