Ever have a potential employer give you a TEST

ever have a potential full time employer give you a test in redesigning one of their products? is this more common?

It’s been discussed before somewhere here. Not cool. Don’t do it. It’s spec work. Your portfolio should show what you are capable of. If it doesn’t, that’s your problem. If it does, then the company just wants free work.

At best tell them you’ll do the “test” for standard consulting rates or direct them to similar projects in your portfolio that prove your skills.


if you don’t get the job, u think one could go back and submit an invoice for work done, see what happens?

Do you think this indicates a disregard for designers or a warning sign in how they regard designers? Especially them asking this after two interviews where they saw your work? thx.

Ha good luck with that invoice. If you don’t agree to a price up front it isn’t gonna happen and you look like an idiot.

It may a lack of understanding of designers, or it may be them seeing weak work but thinking there is potential. Dunno. Show your portfolio and we can better comment.


How long of a “test” is it? Do they want to you to do a month long ground up rework of a product? Or do they want to see how many sketches you can crank out in a few hours?

We discussed doing something like this with several candidates recently - not because we actually need them to do work, but because several of them showed a wide variety of skill sets but poorly communicated their ability to solve problems. Since we need to hire someone quickly the solution was to give them a problem, an afternoon and a whiteboard to come up with some solutions.

This is actually something common at some companies, such as Microsoft (I have heard stories of MS employees actually coming in and taking pictures of someones solutions in the past because they thought it was a good idea though, but they got the job).

So I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out immediately - especially if you are desperate for work. To Richards point - I think some companies do this because many portfolios and candidates don’t show the act of problem solving the way they need to, they jump from some research slides, to some form sketches to a final idea without much of a connection between the three.

But if it does seem like they just want free labor then F them.

During the interview process for my first job out of Uni. I was asked to spend an hour working on a brief the consultancy in question had been set.

Believe it or not, of the 6 people who were asked back for a second interview I was the only person who drew anything. I got the job! Yay. :smiley:

I did this once. They said it was to gauge the speed at which I worked, since student portfolios are re-worked all the time as skill level rises. I thought that was a fair reason. They only had me do a 30 minute sketch session with a general brief.

That’s fair, esp. if it’s on site under pressure… Anything else I think has the same problems (do 30 min, and get back to us in a week and you send 10 hours a day for a week working on it). Asking for more detailed work I think is suspect.


I once did an onsite test when I was right out of school. It was a 6 hour day. Great experience because both the employer and I realized it was not a good fit in a matter of hours.

I made this mistake ONCE. I was called up on my second interview and asked to help build a test track for their products. Of course, I did it because I really wanted the job. I never got the job and was told to bill them for the labor.

I never got paid.

happened to me twice for two different jobs… they call it ‘contract work’ or work they want you to work on to get a head start on the project before you relocate there… it’s more or less a test like some of you have mentioned… i even had to do a few sketches during the interview process while the hiring manager was talking to me… IMO it’s a good test to see how you’ll do in the real world since for a portfolio you have lots of time to polish the renderings and sketches…

It happens a lot, at least for my junior/intern positions I’ve been interviewing for. Brainstorm sessions with the company/other candidates, present ideas, the classic “What do you think of our product now/what could be better?” from companies like Facebook, Google, etc… Startups have asked me to do sketches before meeting with them for a whole day brainstorm/interview. It’s always to see how you think/process on the spot, without any doctoring that many people do in their portfolio.

yes, i have been asked to sketch for 30 minutes after an interview. it was a jr position, and they wanted to make sure i could sketch quickly… it was clearly hypothetical and i don’t blame them one bit

I had to do this for the job I have now. In all, I interviewed for a total of 6 hours, and did a 20 hour project. Just for some perspective on those numbers, it was two hours for each interview (meeting with multiple people), with a 20 hour project between the second and third. During the third interview I presented my work to the product development team and the owner of the firm.

Before I started working on the project, they sent me a product brief and asked me to quote them a price and estimate a time frame of completion. I quoted 20 hours at a per hour rate, to which they agreed. A week after I presented my work, I was offered the job.

Like R said, your portfolio should show what you’re capable of. But if you’re looking to get into an industry in which you lack experience, a test is perfectly acceptable. After working here I realized that the selection process is one of the best aspects of the company. Like the difference between getting into Art Center vs The Art Institutes.

I had an interview during the crises, with a well-known organisation that wanted me to become their graphic and creative marketer. They did not ask for the portfolio at all, when they called they asked me to bring them an idea about their image for 2012. At that time I didn’t mind the fact that I should be tested with ideas. They loved the ideas. For the next meeting they wanted not only sketches but over all look. This was for an interview. At that time I backed down because of rumours I had heard about the company and found out that no one was hired in the end. So I guess they got the ideas they wanted from the applicants.

Our students get Solidworks and Pro/E tests all the time. Usually we prep them for almost anything they can throw at ya.

We have people do a test project and it has zero to do with wanting free work. Portfolios get them in the door to interview and do a test but I have seen really nice portfolios and really bad test work. This is specifically for jr. design positions. You have no idea how long someone spent on their portfolio, or how many teachers may have helped them. The test should take no more then a few hours and we don’t give them “real” projects (which is why we would never use them). Also, if someone did a test for me, and their work was good enough that I used it on the first try, I want them working for me.

That’s a fair view of it. I guess it just has to do with the scope of the test, the position and morals of the employer. I can only say I’ve encountered a few “test” in my life as a consultant that were for sure looking for free work, and nothing as honest and open as you have described. I can see how in looking for a Jr. position a portfolio view on it’s own may not be a true representation of a person’s skills.


Run!! Far far away! I have only been asked to do a test once. I decide to decline the offer and stay where I was. Two months later the consulting firm shut down. They were know for this and I think others caught on.

I have seen, like mentioned by R, test for vendors and consultants. Small project sometime related and sometimes not. I still don’t really agree with this. I alway ask a vendor to come in and present some case studies, capabilities, and what they have done. If I think they may be a good fit I will give them a small project to work on that is business relevant and they get paid whatever we agreed on. If we decide that everything went well and want to start that partnership then we move forward with more projects. I feel this is the fair way to do things.


I had an interview couple of months ago. They wanted a AutoCaD pro to do control dwgs for their furnitures. As it has been a long time since I used Autocad, I was given a short test to recreate an existing drawing. It was also to test if I can read scales. Although I took more time to make the dwg than ususal, I was offered the job. I think maybe the willingness to work, the effort and improvement in work due time got me the job.

Also, some company may have trial period to evaluate your fit. I had similar trial and evaluate experiences.