You’ve made it past the interview phase and you’re feeling good about your chances of landing the role! Before you can make it any further in the process, however, the hiring manager wants you to complete an interview assignment. This may come as a big surprise, and you may be wondering why taking this extra step is even necessary.
Job interviews help the employer get to know you and assess whether you would be a good fit, but an interview assignment can give them a more tangible idea of your skills, how you think, and your work ethic. They can vary from a writing assignment, a technical assessment, or a presentation, and typically come toward the end of the hiring process when the employer is closer to making a decision.
Whether you decide to move forward on an interview assignment is entirely up to you and how good you feel about the employer and their hiring process. If this is something you are considering, here are five ways to handle interview assignments.
Make sure you clearly understand the employer’s expectations for the interview assignment. Before you get started, you should be able to answer these questions:
- What is the deadline to complete the interview assignment?
- How much time should you spend working on the assignment?
- What exactly should you be including in the final piece? A high-level overview or specific details or ideas?
- How will this be evaluated?
Ensure you have enough time to complete the task
Make sure you are able to complete the assignment (and do a good job) within the deadline you are given. At the same time, it’s important to consider how much time the assignment will actually take. If it’s simply too much work or you have been given an unreasonable deadline, you’re within your rights to reconsider. If the employer is not being respectful of your time, you may want to ask yourself if the opportunity would ultimately be the right one for you.
Ask for more information
If you feel like your interview assignment would be improved with more context about the company or specific departmental processes and goals, don’t be afraid to ask for more information or data. This can help demonstrate your interest in the role, as well as help you work on a more custom project, proposal, or presentation. If this additional information is not available, don’t stress about it! Do your best to work with the information you were given or have found through your research. The hiring manager will understand.
Don’t go overboard
While interview assignments can be a great way to prove yourself, avoid going overboard. If you feel like you are starting to go above and beyond, it’s important to take a pause. Remember, you are not an employee just yet. It is not your job to do actual work for the company. While you want to demonstrate that you are a strategic thinker and that you have good ideas that can be valuable to the organization, you need to walk a fine line. It should raise some red flags if the employer has unrealistic expectations about what you can and should accomplish.
Review your work
Make sure you take the time to review your work before you submit, and if applicable, practice your presentation or proposal. During this stage in the process, it may also be helpful to enlist the help of a friend. They may be able to catch any issues in the written assignment, and give you tips for perfecting your body language and presentation skills—helping you boost your confidence for the big day.