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Reblogged:Two Perspectives on a Hiring Practice

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Recently, I ran into a Suzanne Lucas column about an increasingly common job candidate screening tactic that I'd encountered a few times as an applicant before.

Expecting from the tongue-in-cheek title to read something pitched to job candidates, I was surprised to find that the piece was actually aimed at hiring managers.

In "Dear Job Candidate, Please Do a Week's Worth of Work to Apply," Suzanne Lucas explains how hiring managers who do this might be shooting themselves in the foot, even for less extreme requests:
Image by Magnet.me, via SOURCE, license.
The first problem is that many people who would do a great job working for your company won't take the time to do a project. But there are worse problems -- for instance, what do you do with the proposals candidates submit?

Many companies ask for such work and don't hire the candidate, but use their ideas. Legally that work doesn't belong to you unless the candidate assigns you the copyright. A candidate would be foolish to sign over rights to you, and if you use it without obtaining those rights, you can end up on the losing side of a court case. [bold added]
For companies that need work samples, Lucas offers several different ways to fill that need, such as by asking for portfolios of similar work.

For the job applicant's perspective on the same matter, we can get a good take from Alison Green's post, "Should you do free work as part of a job interview?"

Green doesn't categorically rule out doing so, but offers advice on how to determine if a requirement is reasonable, and how to push back if it isn't:
If an employer asks you to do something that you think is unreasonable or excessive, you're in an awkward position because pushing back may mean that they remove you from the running for the job. One option is to try offering a less time-intensive version of what they've requested, by saying something like, "Because of other commitments, I don't have time to do the full scope of what you're asking. I can't really spend more than an hour or two on this, but I could do (name a smaller piece of the work) to give you a feel for my work. Would that work for you?" You could also try saying, "I can't invest that much time pro bono, but I can send you examples of similar work that I've done in the past."
I think this is good advice, although if there are plenty of options, I'd submit that being ruled out by someone who makes unreasonable demands might be a thinly-disguised blessing.

It is easy to forget in different respects that a job interview is a two-way street. Yes, the candidate needs to show that he can bring value to the table, but an employer has to show that he is likely to meet that value satisfactorily. An unreasonable demand up front is a bad sign to a candidate in that latter respect -- on top of being an ineffective way to attract and screen talent for the employer.

-- CAV

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