4 Ways to Deal With (Unpaid) Assignments in the Interview Process

Today’s job seekers often have to complete lengthy sample assignments. Is it ever okay to say no?

Quinisha Jackson-Wright
Forge
Published in
5 min readDec 4, 2019

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A female job candidate shakes her interviewer’s hand.
Photo: laflor/E+/Getty Images

InIn today’s job market, interviewing for a new position can feel like a job in itself, from the initial phone screening and first in-person interviews through the second and even third rounds (or more). And in case that process, which can drag out over several months, wasn’t already taxing enough, some employers also require candidates to complete a sample assignment.

Of course, it’s a good idea for employers to make sure they’re hiring someone who actually knows what they’re doing and to see firsthand that a candidate has the skills necessary to succeed in the role. From the perspective of the interviewee, however, this process isn’t just an extra burden—it can also be highly fraught.

What if you already have a full-time job, and now you have the task of completing “homework” in addition to your current work obligations? What if the company decides to use your sample for real-life purposes without crediting you? What if you do all that work only to find out you didn’t get the job?

Like it or not, sample assignments are quickly becoming the new normal, and it’s best to be prepared. Here are some…

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Quinisha Jackson-Wright
Forge
Writer for

Bylines in The New York Times, Business Insider, and The Muse. I talk about $$ on http://moneythewrightway.com and Twitter: https://twitter.com/KWright0702