Design Project as part of Interview Process?

I recently applied for a new design position and was asked to provide two presentation quality renderings of new concepts without compensation. Is this a standard practice in the design field? My concern is that if I don’t get or accept the position that they will be able to take my concepts and produce them. Is there any way to protect your designs when presenting in an interview?

Are they their concepts or are you coming up with the concepts as well?

Did you meet with them in personal already or over the phone?

How long has the position been open?

It is not standard practice, but is also not uncommon, some companies want you to test your discovery skills, turn-around time, and presentation skills. Giving you a test project is a good way to feel you out as a candidate. Usually these kinds of projects are pretty simple and quick, something you should be able to knock out in a matter of hours. If it appears more involved and time consuming I would stay away.

I had to make some quick foamcor shapes for a model making internship, took about half a day, and they were judged on dimensions, finish, and workmanship, they kept me around :slight_smile:

Perhaps make them agree first in writing that you reserve and retain all rights to any work you do in this manner.

It could be a ploy to get free ideas in a cook off though.

I’ve never done any design work for free and tell them my portfolio should be enough for them to gauge my capabilities.

I think the chances they will steal your work is slim to none not to say it’s impossible. You have to look at all the variables and decide if they add up. Is this you’re first position after school or do you have a lot of experience? I have to think that if you’re work is good enough that they would use it, then they would probably want you on their team.

Most companies know they can get away with a lot right now. They know that if you don’t play their little render game there are probably 50 other people who will, so keep that in mind.

Also keep in mind that you might end up working for a company that kicks people when they are down. Maybe this is just one of many signs that they have little respect for employees and design work.

They might also just want to make sure you can do what you say they can and care quite a bit about their existing employees not having to do work you say you can do, who knows.

This is not standard practice, and a bad one at that, in my opinion. Showing what you can do is what your portfolio is for.

I’d pass. Seems not right any way you look at it.


I’d ask if they are concerned about your abilities or if the work you showed is not up to snuff in this area, or if this is a particular area of focus for them and are they just double checking you have the abilities they need Why else would they ask? I think people are too busy right now to make candidates jump through hoops just for fun… and the chances of you coming up with something they can put into production in 2 concepts without knowing their business and process seems pretty unlikely. Possible but not probable.

I would do the sketches, hands down. If you get the job it was a small investment on your part. If you don’t get the job, you have every right to put the work in your portfolio and now you have a mini project!

Show us the results! And good luck!

First of all, thanks to everyone for your responses. So far, I have only been speaking with the recruiter. I have been told that based off my portfolio and work experience that they are interested in moving forward in the hiring process. I was asked to submit the concepts via email and then they would decide whether or not they want to call me in for an interview. It is also my understanding that the hiring manager travels often and isn’t currently in the office. I politely declined but said I would do the design exercise (not to complex or time consuming) if I was able to present the concepts in person and retain all rights to my work. I think my portfolio can speak for itself but I figure this may be a way to compromise and also get an in person interview at the same time.

It is kind of gutsy move, since you are going against their requirements but I think you are playing it just right.
You are proud of your work and do not want to hand it off just like that.

Good luck to you and please let us know how it went.
I think it sounds like you’re in a good, confident position.

I think it’s a good idea to ask a potential employee who might be fresh out of school to do a project in a set amount of time. Yes, you’re portfolio may look great but how does the employer know you can do that quality of work in the amount of time they require? And if they are fresh out of school, who’s to say you didn’t get a lot of help from your teachers? If you have years of experience and a good set of references that should be enough along with a portfolio.

Best of luck