Test Projects

I’ve seen an increase in employers asking to do a “test project” as part of the hiring process. What’s your view on doing these? I have mixed feelings on it. Isn’t that what the portfolio is for?

Yes, they want to see your reaction to a challenge; a problem-solving exercise. Then they’ll call you back in and critique it while putting you on the spot to defend your design decisions. I’ve allowed myself to be subjected to this several times, and even though I handled it well, I felt like a chump afterwards. There were two subsequent occasions when I declined to participate. All I can say is that you have to try to read the personality of the person who presents this requirement; their motive may be earnest evaluation of you as a professional, but it’s just as likely they’re of a type that will enjoy treating you and the rest of the candidates like show dogs. Factor in how badly you want or need the position and decide from there whether it’s worth the trouble. And that’s the one guarantee; there will be some measure of trouble involved.

I’ve never had them call me back in for a critique session, but that’s interesting that you had that experience.

Odd. I’ve never had to do one. But I somewhat understand why they may ask you to do a “test”. A portfolio could be “doctored”, you may be claiming credit for work that is not yours or not fully yours. A portfolio may also not reveal sloppy work habits, or the inability to work efficiently and effectively.

Hiring someone is costly, especially if you hav to fire them fairly soon after. Its also a hassle, so in this day and age I can understand that an employer might want to better assess someone that they are wanting to offer a job to.

With all of that being said, I agree with @HotButton that you need to assess the evaluation and make the decision as to whether or not it seems “worth it” to you.

I’ve done a few test projects in my career… I’ve also administered test projects when hiring freelancers (paid of course).

We work with a lot of complex artwork files, so test projects really help me determine if the person can jump right in with us or not.

I have mixed feelings about them, and have sometimes asked the finalists we’ve interviewed to do a test project.

I hate asking people for free work when there’s no guarantee of them being hired, but sometimes it’s been needed to satisfy some of the concerns we’ve had.

For example, we recently interviewed applicants for a videographer position that would be mostly shooting and editing things that were rather specialized. We saw good talent in a few portfolios, but we needed to see if that talent would translate into what was required for the job before making an offer.

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