Mar 21

When Job Interview Crosses Over Into Free Consulting

.  Despite the recent surge in employment openings, there are still more job applicants than positions.  Employers have implemented more hoops for candidates to jump through and are requesting the candidate to provide valuable benefit to the employer during the interview to prove they are the ‘perfect’ candidate.

.  Some employers are even resorting to posting ‘fake’ job openings.   I am aware of at least a few human resource agents who post fake job advertisements on a regular basis.  They do this in an effort to justify their existence, appear busy, gain free consulting, and avoid having their name on the company’s pink slip list when funding is low.  If you ever see the same job advertisement posted every 90 days, that position has to be ‘the job from hell’ to have that type of revolving door, or the HR director is trying to look busy.  Either way, don’t waste your time.

.  Employers have begun turning the interview process into a deceptive method of obtaining new ideas, a fresh outside perspective and brand strategies.  The applicant has no guarantee of being selected.  Yet, he is being asked during the interview to provide valuable information for free in the hopes of being picked. The majority of job openings today require several rounds.  After multiple rounds, the top two candidates will be asked to demonstrate their abilities.  In my opinion, I find that at this stage many employers can cross the fine line between job interview and attempting to seek free consultant work.  Job candidates are not automobiles.  It becomes exploitation if you try to take them for a work product test drive.

.  If you are asking to see samples of what the candidate has created in the past, this would be an appropriate method of reviewing the candidates portfolio.  If on the other hand, you are asking the candidate to create a new work product item that is specific to your company, that is where it slips into exploitation.

  • Does this assignment require more than 1 hour of preparation/performance time?  If so, this is leaning more toward free consulting.  This is a job applicant, asking them to ‘donate’ more than 1 hour of work effort without any guarantee of a job is unfair and not right.
  • Are you planning on implementing this work product that was created by the job applicant?  If so, that is an outright and blatant act to obtain free consulting and work product.  To require your job applicants to ‘donate’ their time to create you valuable work product is unethical.

.  Recently, colleague of mine has experienced this.  After four rounds of vigorous interviews, she was informed that she was a top-two candidate and was now being ask to craft a specific donor solicitation letter specific to the organization.  When she inquired as to why a sample of her prior work was insufficient, they stated that they wanted to ensure that she understood their core mission and how to articulate it to a donor.  Two months after not being selected, you can imagine her reaction when she received a donation request letter in the mail from this same non-profit.  Moreover, the letter she received was actually her ‘sample’.  

.  I would like to note that this non-profit also violated my earlier blog article about not informing her that she was not selected.  She had to read their Facebook page announcement that they had selected an internal candidate.  Not only was she already disgusted with their treatment of her during the interview process, their act of using her work product without her consent was a slap in the face.  As you can imagine, this unethical non-profit will never be on her donation list.  She is actually thankful not to be employed by them.

.  Nevertheless, hearing about her experience taught me a valuable lesson.  If an employer seeks a work sample specific to their organization, put the following copyright type language on your sample.  Not only does it place them on direct notice that they are not entitled to use your work product, it makes it easier to take steps to stop them if they do. 

©(your name).(year), any use or duplication of this file, which is the work product of the author, in any manner or form is strictly prohibited without the written authorization of the author, (your name).

.  Good luck out there and protect your work product.  If you don’t value your brand enough to protect it, no one will find it worth paying for.

© Reina Ashley Canale, Esq., My Advice Blog, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Reina Ashley Canale, Esq. with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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