Company paying for a take-home project. That's news to me

After applying for so many PM jobs, this is the first company I’ve seen paying applicants to complete a take-home project. More of this!

The ad read:

Our virtual interview process takes about two to three weeks, and it involves 9 hours of interviewing and paid project work.

  • Application (allow for 1-2 weeks response time)
  • Phone interview with our People & Culture Team (30 minutes)
  • Zoom Hiring Manager Interview with our Head of Digital Product Team (1 hour)
  • Zoom Peer interview with our Senior Product Managers (1 hour)
  • Zoom Homework Collaboration & Presentation with our Digital Product Growth, CX and Creative teams (1 hour collaborating, 1 hour presenting, plus 4 hours of paid project time over 1 week)
  • Zoom Executive meeting with our Senior Leadership (30 minutes)

Why you should work with us

Every minute you spend working with us, you are making a difference, the more we grow, the bigger our impact. Sell your soul no longer! We think that’s pretty great, but we don’t stop there… The job is amazingly flexible, something you are working hard to hold on to even as we grow quickly. Our benefits are designed to support and be responsible responsive to our healthy happy and driving team.

What is your say on this? Have anyone of you come across such a company? Would love to hear from you.

Thanks in advance.

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They may be underestimating the time commitment, which worries me. Though I don’t have anything against take-home homework, I do think the finest employers can push you during the interview while also being considerate of your time. I spent 20 hours getting ready for my current job interviews, but that was just general preparation (reviewing market sizing, product craft, finding stories for behavioral interviews etc.). Therefore, rather than being work necessary only for that post at that business, all the preparation would be important in subsequent interviews at different organizations.

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@YuriRoman, additionally, it eliminates qualified applicants who are currently working and don’t have time for BS. What on earth do they think they would learn from this that they couldn’t learn from a few 45-minute interviews?

If your business is successful and well-known, you can get away with it. Not really for 90% of businesses.

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I’ve had one of these interviews. At the end of roughly 10-12 1-hour interviews, I was given a presentation to prepare on a “hypothetical” business problem. I spent roughly a week preparing this presentation during which I found out this was an actual product they were building, and this was essentially free consulting work. Very frustrating and had I known beforehand I would have declined.

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I typically inform recruiters that I don’t provide consulting services and that any “take home” information cannot directly relate to their industry or product data. The recruiters typically say that it is not a problem and then stop communicating with me after that.

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Every interview procedure that required an assignment, I withdrew from it. I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to do that, but I absolutely disagree with the idea as a whole. I’m an actor with classical training. I’ve been turned down for auditions more than once. Don’t make me perform the task for your firm when I’m working for myself as an audition for joining.

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I never gave it much thought, but I’m having trouble understanding why having an assignment is a bad thing. I can see how that may be an issue if it takes several days, but is 4 hours too long?

Our hiring procedure includes a 4-hour assignment as well, which is a crucial stage. Additionally, we don’t view it as a way to obtain free labour, and I’d be astonished if anyone does. It seems like a terrible technique to complete work because most of the time it is useless and outsiders, especially those in PM jobs, lack the necessary context to produce something worthwhile in four hours faster than those inside. However, it’s a great approach to assess the attitude and abilities needed for the position.

If the project requires several days and is on a live project or problem, I believe it is acceptable to request payment. I’ve come across businesses that require applicants to work a free week of work as a condition of employment. But is four hours excessive? What then accomplishes the desired result without being unfair?

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There must be a way to weed out the sea of posers because there are so many applicants with ZERO PM experience. If you have trouble with the interviews, try hacking a PM’s actual day-to-day activities.

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@RichardsonEva, Or how about asking the right questions so that you can tell if the candidate knows their shit, WITHOUT making them do a 10-hour case study on top of their full time job and other commitments? If you can’t tell if a candidate is a good fit after 2 rounds of interviews, that’s on you, not them.

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@MarcoSIlva, You are mistaken. In all the personnel I’ve hired, PMs have proven to be the most challenging. People are incredibly skilled at giving stupid answers. It is challenging to determine the soft skills from a Q&A session unless you are aware of how they would perform in the abstract. PM are frequently contacted about executive openings. You must do it correctly. or submit a job application for an analyst position.

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I received a case study that I was told to finish in “no more than 8 hours.” I contacted the recruiter and backed out of the interview process, explaining that I couldn’t devote that much time to it at this time. The recruiter then got in touch with me again and invited me to present on a much more condensed version of the same case story instead, which was a really big red flag to me because of how well they responded.

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@RohitKumar, What kind of green flag is that? If anything, it highlights the randomness of their procedure. It’s unclear how they’ll contrast the entire versions of other candidates’ applications with your “concise” version. Consistency, in my opinion, should be the primary red flag.

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@Natalie, since it’s a new company, I believe they’re being accommodating to the process, and I appreciate that.

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Yes, I appreciate you sharing. I used to think, “What the hell is this sneaky manner of getting free work done?” I’m glad to see that they’ve begun making up for it.

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@CathrynCui, No Kidding! For precisely this reason, I’ve been respectfully requesting recruiting managers to switch take-home assignments to a subject that doesn’t immediately relate to their business. Success has been split 50/50 so far. For me, compensation completely solves the issue.

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Good. We need to keep holding companies to this. The more people who decline to perform these drawn-out, complicated, unpaid activities, the faster it will occur.

These procedures aren’t parent friendly. Actually, scratch that; they aren’t human friendly. I can’t justify working full-time, having kids while putting in nine hours (more like fifteen if you consider prep time, etc.). Like wow!

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@AmyWalker, The same thing occurred to me. I automatically reject a job if it mentions a project in any way. I have a life despite receiving compensation. I am unable to rationalize investing more time than a few hours in a job application. I thought the three-hour interview for my current position was excessive.

I am aware that hiring costs money, and people will do whatever to get it right, but until the new employee is settled in, you can’t really tell if it’s a good fit. (Not that you couldn’t already tell that it didn’t fit earlier.)

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“9 hours of interviewing and paid project work”, 9hrs feels excessive. I understand how projects can demonstrate skill, that is the point of showprowess…however if I have to sit through 9 hrs of interviews and you still need a project…you’re not asking the right question. Even more so if the candidate has a portfolio. Being paid for project time is the right move at least.

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Some companies have started to do this well but others still push people to do a project because they have enough people ready to work on a project for free.

I am comfortable with the following scenario:

  1. Employer clearly sets expectations at the start of the hiring process
  2. Employer pays me for every project and gives clear guidelines on the time I need to spend
  3. Employer gives me feedback on every project so that I know where I stand
  4. Employer uses these projects during interviews. Otherwise, why did I work on the project?
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Agree with @HimanshuSingh, but here the OP is talking of giving the project before hiring, moreover getting a project done or at least a part of it done from the interviewee even before he is hired. There is no harm in giving a take home project if the candidate is willingly ready to take it. The good thing is that this particular company is paying for the same. I think this is a good gesture on the part of the hiring company or the interviewer.