why design companies do this?

No, I just don’t believe in spec work, that’s all. When the post sounded like spec work, I immediately got suspicious and voiced my concerns. I can understand a test of software skills to prove your technical knowledge, as long as the end-product is not anything that could be used by the potential employer. I’m hearing from my graphic designer friends that they’re sometimes asked to produce sample work for a potential employer, and that sounds like spec work to me. It’s not that my ideas are that precious. It’s simply that I don’t want to see my field go in an unethical direction. Given our current economy, that seems possible. In the case of some people I know, I think it’s already happening.

When companies are in the drivers seat and have a glut of candidates applying for the same positions, you can generally expect to be treated poorly. My own experience in tech is a classic example: when the market was hot for tech people, companies would roll out the red carpet and it was the candidates that were bagging out of the interviews, not showing up, leaving for higher wages weeks into a new job, etc… Now that the tide has changed, prospective employers have no incentive to treat you well - and generally don’t… It’s just an unfortunate reality of a purely bottom-line focused business climate, and it generally rolls both ways.

In terms of doing “spec” work for companies versus taking employment competency tests, there’s a fine line that experience and common sense dictate. If a company requests that you do a full blown project requiring a large portion of your time and you suspect they are “spec’ing” or trying to get something for nothing, nicely ask them for another project that meets more with your timeframe but that still hits all of the skills highlights. A lot of issues can be resolved through simple communication and a fair organization will understand your willingness to comply along with your restrictions. It completely fair for a perspective employer to test your skills in an interview, within the bounds of reason. I’ve got a dozen stories of competency tests that were over the top, but most are fair.

In any case, don’t give up - just be prepared to work hard to get the job you want, but not so hard that you get taken advantage of - remember that the same face that greets you as a perspective employee is likely just a glimpse of the function or dysfunction that lay beneath.

Good luck,

Seems fair enough. A few years back was was doing some engineering design work on contract. After a short interview, I was given a machined component, some vernier calipers and sat in front if a CAD tube. “Model it and do a detailed drawing in 1 hour”

Certainly sorts out those that can and those that can’t…

Have you ever considered that Design Firms (Consultancies) do not have open positions, but are using the process and your portfolio(s) for inspiration!
Highly unethical, but based on all of the posts, something to think about

Thats exactly what we do.