We are strong advocates for interview assignments. But, no assignment is better than a poorly planned one. Fifteen plus years of experience have shown us the good, the bad and the ugly of interview assignments. Today, we are sharing our top do’s and don’ts to help you design interview assignments that are sure to identify the right candidates while keeping folks engaged throughout the interview process.
Do let candidates know at the beginning of the interview process what to expect. Let them know how many phone interviews, in person interviews, etc. should be expected as well as the timeframe/length of process (i.e. 1 phone interview, 1- in-person interview and an assignment and presentation over the course of the next 2-3 weeks.).
Do not surprise a top candidate at the end of the interview process by asking them to do an assignment. They should know before interviewing starts that you intend to give top candidates an assignment.
Do give assignments that are well-planned with a specific purpose in mind. Just as you would approach any project for a client, you need to determine the goals of your assignment and then match the assignment to those goals.
Do not give an assignment that is work for an current client. We understand it may be easier and take less time to create an assignment based on work that is for a current client. But, resist the urge. Plan it out and be intentional about the assignment given.
Do make the assignment short and sweet. The assignment can be a take home assignment that requires them to email it back or even return for an in-person presentation. It can also be one that is simply discussed through the course of an interview. A technical interview for IT folks is a great example of how this can be done.
Do not have unrealistic expectations about the time a top candidate can give to complete an assignment. This assignment is unpaid and is extra work outside of already busy schedules. Assignments should take no longer than 3-5 hours at the most and have clear expectations. And in many cases, they can be much shorter.
Do get candidates excited about the job and company before you ask them to complete an assignment. A candidate that is excited about the job and really wants the job is going to put in a much higher level of effort than if they aren’t certain about the company and/or job.
Do not give an assignment as the first step of an interview process. If you aren’t willing to give a candidate some of your time, don’t expect them to give you their time. Some employers and/or hiring managers have the mindset that potential employees should have to impress them and not vice versa. That is outdated, pretentious and a big red flag.
If you follow these do’s and don’ts, you are on your way to creating great assignments that candidates can get behind! In the end, it becomes a win-win situation for both candidates and employers when properly done.
If you need help designing the best interview processes to vet the top candidates, we can help. Contact us and we can discuss the ways we can help.
If you missed our post on the 3 Reasons We Recommend Assignments During the Interview Process, check it out.