Hiring is a game of give and take. There needs to be trust on both the employer and candidate sides. Understandably, this can be a challenge when an employer and candidate have never worked together before. And this is also why work assignments in a hiring process can be questioned by candidates.
Asking a potential employee to complete an assignment as part of the hiring process is not unusual, but there is a stigma around it. Some candidates equate it to “free work.” Others, depending on the scope and criteria of the assignment, feel it’s unfair to ask.
If a work assignment is part of your hiring process, make sure everyone understands why. As a hiring company, you’ll want to identify why an assignment is helpful to your process. Perhaps you want to better understand the value a candidate could bring to your company’s specific needs. Or bring to life skills that don’t come through on a resume or portfolio alone.
We advise our candidates to approach work assignments as a chance to showcase expertise and stand out from the competition. For the hiring companies we work with, free work is never the intention. However, if an assignment doesn’t sit well with a candidate (it could be too time-consuming, require too much proprietary information, etc.), they always have the option to withdraw.
As a recruiting firm and liaison between hiring companies and candidates, our role is to help establish the trust and clear communication needed to make work assignments a fruitful piece of the hiring process.