What is with companies sending a “challenge” or “project” for creatives to complete when applying for a job? Something about it just gives me a weird feeling... like they’re about to just rip off my ideas. Maybe an overreaction but does anyone have insight into why they do this?

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They are giving you a test to see how you work/think. They are not trying to steal your ideas. If you don’t like the tests, I don’t either, then apply somewhere else.

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They do it to gauge how you work as a designer. Honestly, I think the concept is dated and doesn’t put much trust in the candidate.

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I do it for all my hires, from junior up to CD level. We always set a simple 2 hours test and offer to pay standard freelance rates for it. This is from Junior upto CD level. It's essential we see how people work under pressure and how they think quickly. Its saved is a few times both by letting us spot people who talk a good game but can't deliver and those who interview/talk badly about their work but are actually brilliant.

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I always give them out to younger creatives new to the field to test their actual capabilities and proficiencies. I want to see what you can actually do on your own without the lengthy art school timelines, or the support of someone else, or if you’re adept at what you say you are. Projects should never take more than a few hours is key.

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It’s done for a number of reasons based on the job. We hire creatives that need to be team players, collaborators and able to come up with conceptual solutions in a short amount of time. We want to know your personality, how u think under stress and if you’d be a good fit.
Any problem solving given is and should never be company related but I can pretty much guarantee that any solution you might come up with the company has already thought of it. It costs a lot of money to hire someone. This ensures both sides feel good about the opportunity and fit.

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I had the same reaction when applying for jobs. I understand why employers would want to do it, but it definitely threw some small red flags up in the back of my mind. Luckily the ones I was given were pretty quick and painless to complete - make three different simple business card designs, create a social media post to advertise this department of this store, etc - if they’re asking for something revolutionary and very time consuming I’d be nervous too.

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Wow that seems like a lot to ask! I think you may have dodged a bullet there.

Don’t do it.

🚩red flag: They don’t trust and respect you enough..

🚩 red flag: they aren’t visionaries. they can’t see the potential of what’s already in front of them.

IF you have to do it your signifying to then that:
a) you’re desperate / wiling to bow down to get the opportunity
b) you’re at a lower level and don’t value your time

ultimately it’s not a good look for you.. and it’s a big red flag as the employer. run! 🚩🏃‍♂️

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