The Questionable Hiring Practice Catching Marketers Unaware

Avoid falling victim to creativity theft

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You’ve aced the interview process and made the final shortlist. But there’s one more step: Write a comprehensive test assignment (entirely for free) and hope you get the role.

It requires days of work with no guarantee—and often, the job isn’t even available. Employment scams vary, and there are times when companies seek your ideas without paying the cost.

Donating some time to showcase your skills is a customary part of the recruitment process, but these tips can help job seekers set their limits and avoid falling victim to creativity theft.

Clarify the company’s intentions

Before investing too much time and effort into developing, for example, a marketing strategy, clarify what the company intends to do with your work. Question the hiring manager on how they will use your ideas, the specific aspects they intend to evaluate, and whether this is a real project they plan to implement.

If it is, this isn’t a trial brief to judge your abilities; it’s unpaid work with no guarantee of a job offer.

Negotiate payment for test assignments

An hour or two spent on a mock task designed to test you is one thing, but if the company insists on a detailed strategy that would require multiple calls and days of productivity, they should be willing to negotiate fair compensation for your time and effort.

Often, hiring managers with unreasonable requests hope to catch you off guard. Come prepared, know your worth, and don’t be afraid to walk away.

Confirm the position exists

Before diving into the assignment, inquire about the current team structure and scour LinkedIn to determine whether the role you’re applying for is open.

You can also search for the job title and company name on Google to check whether the company has a history of opening and closing the same position, which may indicate a pattern of exploiting candidates rather than hiring them. Likewise, check the position’s list date: If it’s been up for an eternity without attracting a suitable candidate, chances are the company has no desire to fill the role.

Seek feedback from industry peers

Reach out to your professional network, particularly those with similar experience who might have recently applied for a role with the company, to get their thoughts. An early warning about unreasonable requests will stop you from wasting more time than you already have on a hiring process that will ultimately lead nowhere. If it’s bad news, cut your losses and spend that time applying elsewhere.

Consider the company’s reputation

Evaluate the company’s reputation by checking employee reviews on platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Don’t let one person’s bad experience put you off if there are plenty of positives, but a pattern of exploitative and unethical practices is a major red flag.

A job might await you at the end of the process after all. But is it really a company you want to work for?