You thought you were done with school. But then the hiring manager handed out a homework assignment at the end of the job interview. Homework, really? “What gives?,” you’re probably wondering.

As one of the leading Sacramento employment agencies, Pacific Staffing knows that more and more employers out there are requiring their top pick candidates to complete a project before a hiring decision is made. So if you’re given an assignment, count yourself lucky. You’ve made it to the final round.

Why do employers hand out these assignments? There are several reasons, including:

#1. It forces a candidate to prove their worth. Even a bad candidate can create a great resume and ace a job interview. But a bad candidate can’t fake it through a real assignment.

#2. It enables them to better compare candidates. And not only will the employer be comparing your projects, but they’ll also be looking at things like your attitude toward the project (were you eager or annoyed) and how long it took you to get it done.

So if you’ve interviewed and know you’d like to land the job, what can you do to ace your pre-hire homework assignment?

Ask lots of questions.

Make sure you understand what the employer expects from you. Ask about deadlines and how they’d like you to submit your work (e.g. via email or in a formal presentation). Ask for background information and data that will serve as the foundation of your project. It’s better to elicit as much information as possible about the project than to try and guess about something while you’re doing the work. And don’t forget to ask whom to direct questions to if you have some after you leave the interview.

Also, if the assignment will take you a substantial amount of time, then suggest the company hire you on a contract basis. That way, you’ll get paid for the investment of your time, with no commitment on either side at the end of it.

So are there times when you should just say “no” to a homework assignment?

If the company expects you to a complete an assignment that will take days and you’ve haven’t even interviewed with them yet, then that’s a red flag. The employer may simply be trying to get work done for free. In this kind of situation, simply turn down the request politely.

Are You a Highly Qualified Professional Looking for a Great Job?

If you are, we want to know! As one of the leading Sacramento employment agencies, we can connect you with top jobs in the area that are a great fit for you. Contact us today to get started!