Evil HR Lady gives excellent advice of the kind I wish I had when I was starting out in job seeker land.
In Job Interview or Bake-Off?, a prospective candidate wrote in with this quandry:
“I’m in the creative field, and recently been asked as part of a job interview to produce layouts for the prospective client. The work is not paid, and several applicants are competing with each other; a bake-off type of situation.”
The candidate went on to say that these layouts would involve 2 to 4 days of work, and wondered why the wealth of work history, recommendations, and portfolio wasn’t considered good enough.
This made me think of one of my own interview experiences that was so long ago I should have forgotten it.
As a clueless newbie, I had an interview for a creative marketing-type position at Company X. After the traditional question-and-answer format, I was then asked if I could show what I could do. Despite this not having come up when the interview was scheduled, I of course said, “Yes, sure! Lead me to it!”
I was taken to a conference room with several documents laid out on the long table. “Edit these,” I was told for some, and “Make creative changes,” for others.
Well, I did. For about an hour. Nobody came by to check on me during that hour, but I needed a job and these seemed to be awfully important documents, so I did my best and was finished when they did show up. They gathered up the documents and said they’d be in touch.
I never heard from them again. It only occurred to me later that they were very probably getting work out of me for nothing. Assuming I did a good job, of course!
Nowadays I know the value of asking the right questions and being proactive about following up. But if the bake-off is slowly becoming the norm in your field, find out what the deal is before it happens to you.