spec vs. samples?

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  • MrAbominable

    i've sort of always supported the don't do spec work thing. makes sense.

    my question then is... i went in for a ft job interview and the company owner wanted to know if i was opposed to mocking up a couple of samples with regard to their product. i know this happens. does it happen a lot? how do you feel about it? it essentially the same as rushing for a contest or something right? with the prize being the job. or am i over-thinking it?

  • Amicus0

    I've only ever done this for recruiting agencies when it's just a standard test of program capabilities. I would refuse to do it for a potential employer unless they were happy to pay for my time.

  • webazoot0

    If you have a folio I think that should stand for your work and talent. Getting everyone they interview to mock up samples seems like a way of getting free ideas to me.

  • MrAbominable0

    ^it does seem to defeat the whole "portfolio" part of the interview.

  • doesnotexist0

    it may mean your portfolio isn't strong enough

    but usually you shouldn't be working unless you're getting paid

  • MrAbominable0

    cheers to that.

    i should add on a side note that A: i think i was the first interview, and B: it's a start-up and dude is a micromanaging MBA. So he offered up front that he knew little about design but knew what he liked. Except the not knowing whether or not he wanted to hire me based on my existing portfolio :)

    • Sounds like a nightmare boss to start with.Amicus
    • that sounds like you should run for your life.zarkonite
  • whhipp0

    Pay to play. Never do spec no matter the circumstances. Keep the industry respectable and profitable. We have a tallent, skill and education that others do not possess, just like every other professional - dont allow the degradation.

  • vaxorcist0

    it might mean they are wondering:

    1. how fast you work
    2. how much of the stuff in your folio was yours and how much was collaborative with somebody else

    maybe you can answer these questions without doing a spec job?

  • crillix0

    If they don't hire you, you are out time/effort and they got something they should of paid for... even if its just an idea or concept. The whole purpose of you applying for the job there is because you want them to pay you to do that.

  • vaxorcist0

    Maybe make it clear to them that you're willing to work on a trial bases... like a week-to-week basis at first, they can always fire you if you don't get along or expectations are different on your side vs their side,etc....

    My guess is they may have no idea what to expect, does a logo take 15 minutes or 3 days, nothing to say of 3 months and the endless meetings and revisions we may have experienced....

    In a startup, the advantage is the lack of endless levels of beaurcracy, but the disadvantage is the lack of understanding of what goes into things.. they may expect things to simply sprout from your head without them having to give you anything like, say business objectives, target market research,etc....

  • Peter0

    I've done it - once.

    I suppose out of desperation at the time. And transfer possibilities.

    Got hired, and was happy to hear straight from the CEO that what I did, my designs, was exactly what they were looking for.

    Fastforward half a year: company turns out to be awful, 1/2 miserable and 1/3rd of the employees ready to jump ship in an instant.

    I know better than to judge a company from one experience,
    but I would be cautious of any company that starts a relationship by assuming people should/would work for free.

  • MrAbominable0

    here are the parameters i just got via email...

    [nice warm up note that leads into:]

    ·         Two page side-by-side print ad:
    o   One page graphic ad showing a partnership/collaboration between [them] and [us]. Should have the logos, some photography, maybe a new catchy slogan. Attached are some lockup files I found.
    o   Second page (symmetrical) is 2 typed paragraphs on a separate page describing how the [our] technology and process compliments [their] product and company and is going to be fully integrated into their operations. Should be inspiring, consumer friendly. Type treatment and color should be carefully chosen.
    ·         Hangtag – an digital mockup model of a hangtag that you would envision on [our product]. It should indicate [our product] in an environmentally friendly way (you can add some metrics about the specific savings mentioned on the website and/or other unique qualities) – should be very consumer friendly and appealing (not just the logo plastered onto a tag). You can mail this to me and email a PDF of the design.
    ·         Marketing campaign – no more than 3 paragraphs outlining a new creative way to campaign our [product] and send it viral all over the world. Should identify the target market, the method of communication, possible cost, and some specifics about the campaign.


    biting my tongue. that's like... crazy excessive, right?

    • if you were to charge a client for that amount of work what numbers pop in your head?e-pill
    • because as of now, you are only getting zippidy zip zip!!e-pill
    • in a 3 day turn around? it would be astronomical.MrAbominable
    • submit a contract that you will do the work "For Hire" and that you will be paid for it.e-pill
    • The time that could go into thought and planning alone, outside "pen to paper".ETM
    • ?ETM? ?...
      e-pill, i love the idea of sending him an invoice. lol.
    • This is fucking crazy.Josev
    • Run from this prospective jobJosev
    • nutty.whhipp
  • vaxorcist0


    • i'm entering the pride=eviction realm. but yeah. thanks for the fb.MrAbominable
  • ETM0

    That's BS. That could be anything from a day to a week or more work depending on numerous factors.
    Labour laws vary, but in any job around here, when you sign an employment contract there is almost always a 90 day probation period where you can be evaluated. No benefits, can be released without warning etc.

    They can have you do that 'project' as your first week's work. They see no promise, they can show you the door. Making you do anything that big for free is a con and I would be suspect of any place requiring this is you have a solid portfolio and references.

    I've seen interviews where they may take 15 mins of your time to solve a problem, ask you to do something in software or even write some code by hand. Fair enough, but that above is cray, IMO.

  • ETM0

    If you tell them to beat it, maybe you can consider letting us know what place this is... assuming if wouldn't harm you.

  • MrAbominable0

    i see the sense of what you guys are writing. my desperation is clouding my judgement A LOT. another version of me would tell me to run too. just wanted to make sure i wasn't overreacting.

    you're giving me good ideas about how to respond to this though.

    • do you need a contract?e-pill
    • you helped me with paperwork a long time ago. for which, i've been eternally grateful. thanks again btw!!!!MrAbominable
  • bulletfactory0

    For developers, we give them a code test which our engineers then evaluate and decide if we want to move forward. Is the code semantic? succinct? will it work? etc.

    For designers, I usually examine their portfolio, have them talk through their processes, discuss timelines, etc. One time I did have a designer lay out a webpage; however, I provided all images and content, and explained that I'd never use their work. I just wanted to see how fast they ideated (which I'm not convinced really showed me anything in the end - I wouldn't handle it that way again... I guess I was young when hiring my first team).

    In NYC, all jobs are "at will" meaning you can be fired or leave at any time, for any reason, without notice. The fact they are asking for so much work, being so specific and want this so fast raises a shit-ton of red flags.


  • MrAbominable0

    i didn't say upstream but it is for a job in NYC.

    the sample of their product co-branded with a big label screamed to me of their wanting to use it in a pitch; in opposition to just vetting me.

    thanks for shoring me up, all. i sent my nice "i don't do spec work" letter and doubled-down on the e-pill front with coming around and telling him that he could hire me in a couple of different ways to approach those interesting problems.

  • whatthefunk0

    I did this for a job once and the process was horrible - no direction, no copy, no campaign to go off of, no images, and no chance to discuss with the team. I made the designs and then they had the balls to ask for revisions while making comments that the designs "weren't what they were looking for". I responded by stating that I was no longer interested in the opportunity because if the team was this disorganized and bad at communicating a project like this I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to do it full time. I also reminded them that this test is a two way street, I got to see how they work and to be honest I'm glad that I did. It was for a 6 figure job and the company has since dissolved into the great void...

  • orrinward20

    With interviews for jobs that involve code I've usually had to do an example as part of the process. More than half the time it'd be directly for a part of their business. The times where I've been given a throwaway task I've actually felt like it's a waste of my time.

    The trouble with a portfolio is it doesn't show how you worked to a timeframe and whether you prioritise/organise well. I expect this is less of an issue with a long career in the industry but when I was jobhunting I was fresh out of Uni with only a year's placement under my belt. Everything in my folio outside of my placement work could have been awesome but taken me a year to produce.

    A 'code exam' helps show your efficiency and organisation skills. I usually enjoy them, unless I happen to be forced to work in some nonsense Visual Studio-esque application on a 'test machine' with 512MB RAM and an unresponsive keyboard.

  • ETM0

    However seeing your work process and how efficient you are can be best examined in the review/probationary period. Once sample test is not a true measure. You are not fully embedded in the work environment or process, or with your co-workers/team. Every project is different. Sometimes you struggle, sometimes it's lightning in a bottle. Only time within the actual environment can tell you anything about a person.

    • +1Glitterati_Duane
    • The high-pressure test doesn't so much show your skill but it shows how well you know something. I imagine the tests I've had are only really for entry-level positions, where portfolios can be very deceptive.orrinward2
    • ...the tests I've had are only really for entry-level positions, where portfolios can be very deceptive.orrinward2
    • Regardless, a test, and starting a marketing campaign for them are two VERY different things.ETM