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The Tired Marketer Talks: Pointless Tasks

In my last post I talked about the effort that goes into preparing presentations and sample work for interviews, and how it can sometimes feel like we are being taken advantage of.

Now I want to talk about another experience I had recently, that was frustrating for a whole different reason. 

At the end of my first interview for a really exciting position, I asked if they had any doubts about my suitability for the role. I always like to ask this, as it gives me a chance to address their concerns.

They raised a couple of issues, which I agreed with completely. All I could do was reassure them that I’d be more than willing to undertake training, while highlighting occasions in the past when I’ve proven myself to be adaptable and a quick study.

To my delight, I was offered a second interview and asked to prepare a presentation analysing the strengths and weaknesses of a competitor’s marketing activities. I was told that they didn’t have a projector, so I would need to “get creative” with how I presented my ideas.

No problem, I thought. It was a craft company, so I set to work. First I created the PowerPoint then, using poster boards and craft materials, I recreated the whole thing on 21 handmade slides that I presented on an easel I borrowed from a friend. It took me about three days to make, and I spent around £60 on printing and supplies.

After all that, I didn’t get the job. They gave their initial concerns about my lack of experience in certain areas as the reason. 

Did I think they took advantage of me? No. Did I think they were wrong to ask me to prepare a presentation? Definitely not. 
My issue was that the presentation they asked me to put together wasn’t even a chance to explore those areas of weakness they’d highlighted. My ability to conduct competitor analysis wasn’t what they were worried about, so why was it what they tested me on? No matter how “creative” I got with the task, it would never have magically increased my experience in the areas they were concerned about. 

Employers, if you want to test your candidates please think really hard about why you’re doing it. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time otherwise.

Oh, and please really think twice about whether what you’re asking them to do is going to cost them money. In today’s difficult climate, many of your candidates have likely been made redundant and are facing financial worries. Don’t add to that. 

Mental health and lifestyle blogger. Originally from Sussex, now living in sunny Bournemouth. Always up for a good chat.

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