I’ve been browsing open design positions on and off for about a month. Nothing super serious, mostly watching to see if anything pops out. I applied to a really interesting publishing company with a fantastic aesthetic and got a preliminary interview via email. He sent a couple of standard interview questions along with an assignment (which is normal for this field).
Client: Nice to meet you! We send applicants an assignment to get the conversation started. Could you design 1 header image and 3 exit modal images for our “How to publish a book” post?
For the modals, here are 3 tests we would be running:
Version A: Sign up to our “How to self-publish a book” learning course
Version B: Sign up to hire a professional editor.
Version C: Free Book Launch Checklist
Feel free to be as creative as you like but please follow a similar style to what we currently have across the site. The key objective of the modals is to convert visitors into users.
I spent a decent amount of time crafting really thought out answers to the questionnaire but gently turned down the assignment.
Me: While I absolutely love having prompts that allow me to showcase my abilities unfortunately I don’t feel comfortable creating work that would be applicable to the company. In order to protect my IP, I must decline this specific ask however I would be more than happy to provide work for a non-applicable prompt. Alternatively, you can also view examples of my work via my portfolio.
He responded 20 minutes later with zero acknowledgment toward the rest of the questionnaire.
Company: Thanks for getting back to me. It’s impossible for us to review applications without the design assignment so I’ll leave it up to you whether you’d like to do it or not.
It took me an hour and a conversational rant or two to figure out how to respond.
Me: I must apologize as I cannot complete the given assignment as it is currently stated. In my professional experience, it is standard practice to be given assignments during the interview process however the goal is to provide the company and team members an accurate assessment of the interviewee. In order to protect the IP of the interviewee, the company provides an assignment that is similar in style but unrelated directly to the company. For example, a UX position at a software company provided a brief for a research outline on a grocery store redesign. A Web Design position at a candle company asked for a mock landing page for a wedding invitation. In both of these instances. That way the company can’t just use the “trial” work directly without paying the applicant.
I’ve had no response since. I’m wondering how many of the supposed “30 applicants per day” they claim to be getting from their job listings are providing them essentially free work.
The listing has been live for three weeks and is still going strong.