I don't believe that I've seen this addressed elsewhere on MT, so I'll go ahead and ask. It might be irrelevant for a lot of countries, but maybe some of you can give me some reactions.
In the past two years, I've interviewed for a number of positions, in order to make a lateral move from the non-profit to the for-profit sector. I have 5 years of management experience, and I've worked in a large international organization, managing PR budgets comparable to those of mid-sized to large companies.
In a number of processes, after the interview with the HR and before the interview with the ED or GM (senior PR jobs like the ones I seek usually report directly to this position) and sometimes after the ED interview, I was asked to present samples of my work. I have no opposition to this, although in a field such as public relations all you can really claim as your own are texts you wrote and ideas you had, since a lot of people are involved in implementation, and perhaps strategies you have devised, which you can't share because strategies are normally confidential.
However, in a number of situations (4 up to now) and, according to reports from others in the same or related profession, across the Romanian market, a new practice has sprouted: that of asking the candidate to do original work for the hiring company.
I have been asked up to now to:
- devise an internal communication strategy
- create a powerpoint of my one-year communication plan and budget should I be hired by the company
- draft a company profile for inclusion in an annual report
- analyze a corporate website
I have two problems with this approach which, as I said, is becoming more and more common in Romania:
- It is completely contrary to the principles of the profession (i.e. you would never draft a strategy on your own, without doing preliminary research, and audit of communication etc.) and without grounding it in real data and insight it would not give the true measure of a candidate - and I'm afraid that they do judge it on content. in fact, after I submitted the draft internal communication strategy, I was told that it was too theoretical. I may add that the company refused to give me any information whatsoever about its int'l comm to date, any upcoming major changes or anything, so I had to rely on their website and what I had gleaned from the three interviews I'd had with them till then.
- It seems a little bit like stealing from the candidate. He or she wants to do his best in order to get the job, and so will put extra work and creativity in the work, and may even do some serious research to back it up. I know I analyzed every traffic data I can think of, and had different people visit the website with different aims etc. So basically, a lot of work is ready to use or adapt. I charged for work like that when I did consultancy. Is it fair for companies to require it for free as part of the hiring process? and how do I protect myself from having my work used without compensation if I am not the one hired? Or how do I protect myself from having to implement the idea that I suggested in the initial document, that once inside the company seems will not have enough ROI to justify it?
And overall, what do you people think of the practice and do you have any advice on how to refuse to do it without jeopardizing chances for the job?
Sorry for the long post, but this just really bugs me. And it seems poor management.