Working on projects during job interview process

With a very competitive job market, prospective employers are getting much more demanding in their interviews. Basically, they don’t want to just talk to you. They want to see what you can do. So job applicants end up doing work for free as they work through projects developed by the prospective employer to test actual skills.

In today’s competitive job market, employers are increasingly asking candidates to show — not just tell — what they can do. Top candidates are asked to solve problems on the spot, give feedback on products, and research new markets. “Companies ask for whatever they want, and people do it,” says Cynthia Shapiro, an L.A.-based career strategist. One of Shapiro’s clients created 10 greeting cards in 24 hours to win a graphic design job, while another client did market research and made a formal presentation to top executives — only to hear that the company was no longer filling the position.

These case study-style interviews, also known as situational, scenario, or behavioral interviews, have been common among i-banking and consulting firms but are now permeating all sectors. Career experts say the techniques are relevant to even the upper echelons of executives — those used to being wooed with box seats. SHL, the world’s largest employment assessment provider, saw a 65% jump last year in employers using such techniques to vet candidates.

This is new in many industries, even if it’s been commonplace in the tech world for years. Software jobs in particular involve hacking sessions as part of the interview process. That said, it’s a new trend that you have to be prepared for.


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