Free Pre-Employment Task Project: Agree or Disagree?

Sometimes during a job interview it happens that the employer offers you to carry out some task as a condition for further progress in the employment stages (i.e. getting to the next job interview). It is one thing if the passing of some tests is concerned, but it is something quite different if you are supposed to do some serious work. So, what should you undertake in such a situation?

While recruiting, employers may make this kind of offers to different kinds of professionals: promotion and advertising specialists, marketing managers, designers, programmers, etc.

The employer says: “Well, at first glance, you have the necessary experience for this position, but I need to be 100% sure that you can handle this job”. Whereupon they propose to carry out a test project: to develop a plan to promote a new brand on the market, come up with an advertising slogan, design promotional products, come up with several options for the logo, etc.

This work is supposed to be unpaid and at your own risk. At the same time, drawing the “mountains of gold”, the employer says that if you complete the task project successfully you will definitely get the job.

Should you believe these promises and carry out the test project or not?

Indeed, in case you don’t get a job you will be sorry for the time lost. And it will be even more disappointing if the results of your efforts will be misappropriated by a rogue employer. Moreover, such rogue employers may give test tasks to MANY candidates getting for NOTHING good ideas and works performed.

Personally I don’t like the idea of being tied to the chariot of such “smart” employers. It is up to you to decide, but here is what I would recommend.

First, make inquiries about this company. Try to find out about the manager that offered you to carry out a free pre-employment test project. In case you couldn’t gather the information prior to the job interview, you can ask for some time for consideration.

Secondly, it is important how labor-consuming this project is. If you can complete the task in a few hours you may take the risk. But if the test task is so serious that requires a lot of time, efforts, resources, then you should weigh the pros and cons thoroughly.

By the way, in my work experience different situations occurred. There were times when I was offered to carry out serious pre-employment task projects for free and I refused. But there were times when I agreed to. And there was the case when I was paid for the test task even more money than my salary was at that moment, and after that I was offered a job. To be honest, I like the third case. :)

So, if you have been offered to carry out a free test project you need to weigh all pros and cons: the company’s reputation, the value of the job for you, the actual cost of the test project. And after that make a decision.

And do not miss the opportunity to BARGAIN: as a result the potential employer might agree to pay you some money, or you can manage to push them into some other concessions. If you do agree to carry out a free test project, show the employer the results of you work, but KEEP them with yourself. As long as you are not invited for a job (or, what is better, until you sign an employment contract).

I hope you get a good job and make a successful career!