Prepare a business strategy for the next five years. Calculate how many times the train arrived from point A…. Companies prepare various types of tasks for candidates – starting with logical thinking tests and ending with the elaboration of complex concepts. What does such a process look like from the applicant’s point of view and the company’s point of view? And how do you do your job to succeed in the selection process?
Congratulations! You advance to the second round. In the meantime, please complete the following assignment. Anyone looking for work will sooner or later encounter a similar reaction. The company wants to test the candidates’ abilities, so it assigns them a task. The higher the position to be filled, the greater the number of tasks.
Recruitment assignments can take various forms. Sometimes companies want to fill in tests during the first round, for example, based on which they determine the level of the applicant’s knowledge of a foreign language or, for example, logical thinking. In the latter case, candidates complete numerical or pictorial series, but may also count examples such as: “A train that started from point A…” The employer can think of what he wants.
Candidates usually understand that the company wants to “knock them out” in advance. After all, the nature of the task often tells them a lot about what their work would look like in the future. At the same time, they can learn what is emphasized in the company or how its people can evaluate the completed assignment. But the latter is sometimes a problem.
“I completed about ten rounds during one recruitment. It was a strategic managerial position in an international company, “explains our expert. During the mentioned “selection” he elaborated about eight tasks, including detailed strategies. In total, he described more than thirty pages. To do this, he participated in the so-called assessment center, where he solved other models together with other candidates and underwent psychotests.
TIP: See how the assessment center works and how to manage it well.
“It all took several weeks and it was very intense. And then I submitted the last case study and no one called me for 14 days, “says the expert. So he picked up the phone and called the company himself. “The staff was obviously taken aback. He informed me that I had not won the position because I did not fit into the company’s culture. Not a word was said about how I did in the individual tasks, “adds Disappointed. Although he sought more detailed feedback, he did not receive any from the company.
He adds that this tender was extreme in its complexity. Although he later applied for a management position in another company, he did not have to develop eight strategies. “I received only one assignment, prepared it in advance, and presented the result during the next round. After that, an interesting discussion arose, during which I also received feedback. Everything was very open. At the same time, the company was interested in what I thought about them. The evaluation was therefore mutual, “praises the recruitment manager, in which he finally succeeded and which he considers reasonably long and structured.
TIP: You’ll probably have an online interview before you get your first assignment. How to prepare for it?
Once, twice and enough
Zuzana Krajca, who takes care of, among other things, recruiting new colleagues for Sodexo Benefity, does not support long, “multi-tasking” recruits. “I think that candidates should work on at most one task at home and then complete one more part during the interview,” says HR partner at Sodexo Benefity. He usually assigns tasks to candidates after the first round.
If they have to do a case study, for example, it gives them about a week to complete. They send the result to the company, in some cases presenting it during the next selection round. “IT experts receive tasks according to their specialization, or we ask them for examples of their previous work. People from marketing are again invited to create, for example, a campaign proposal, “explains Zuzana Krajča. Directly during interviews, candidates are then asked to try to work with the information entered, such as the data in the table, from which they have to read certain trends. Such a task is often common when filling positions in the financial sector.
What about feedback? Zuzana Krajca solves it by calling each candidate who sent the completed task but did not advance to the next round. “I will offer a brief explanation and leave it up to everyone to ask for a more detailed justification,” explains Zuzana Krajca. It is said that some people do not care about a more detailed evaluation and are glad that they have done it. However, if someone shows interest, they will receive an answer. “I think it’s important. I haven’t received any feedback myself a few times in my life and I know how unpleasant it is, “adds the HR specialist.
What does it look like from the other side?
If candidates with tasks during the selection process have both positive and negative experiences, the same is true from the point of view of companies. Candidates also approach the performance of tasks differently, and not always exactly one. Zuzana Krajca cites recruitment as an example when filling business positions. Candidates for these positions are given the task in advance of thinking about how they would proceed in a particular situation during communication with the customer. “The vast majority of candidates do not prepare any presentations or notes and claim that they have everything in their head,” the HR specialist describes her experience. “We admit this and if the candidate can provide an acceptable solution to the problem we have outlined without even thorough preparation, we do not mind that he did not bring the documents,” continues Zuzana Krajca. He adds, however, that a situation where the candidate can come up with a good solution from the floor occurs only in really rare cases.
An experiment was also a lesson for the HR specialist, during which she asked the candidates, in agreement with the manager, to shoot a short medallion about themselves in the form of a video. “Out of ten people, only about three sent him, others did not respond at all and did not respond even later to the email sent asking if he would participate in the tender. By the way, it showed who is really interested in the offered position,“ Zuzana recalls. However, she did not repeat a similar attempt later.
What if you get a task during recruitment?
Read the input
Find out what the client wants from you, and if you don’t understand something or aren’t sure, don’t hesitate to ask. “We draw the attention of applicants to this possibility and they always have contact with me, or even a manager who will answer a more professional question,” explains Zuzana Krajca. According to her, such an initiative certainly does not harm the candidate in the eyes of the future employer, and questioning candidates is a common practice.
Don’t leave it to the last minute
At the beginning of the deadline for delivering the result, clarify how you will proceed to complete the task. For example, it’s a good idea to determine how deep you will deal with it, how much time it will take you, and what you will need for it – what data, for example. Spread the time to complete the task so that you can do everything comfortably and not, for example, print a presentation just before the meeting with the employer. Errors that you may not have noticed before may not be fixed at the last minute.
If you have decided to continue the selection process and complete the task, do so properly. This does not mean that you have to spend ten hours a day on the assignment and at the end submit a folder as thick as a diploma thesis. However, try to come up with a result that has a head and a heel and that you will be able to justify and defend. Don’t rely on judges getting drunk on a croissant. “The level of elaboration of case studies, for example, tends to be different, however, if someone distracts it, it is immediately recognizable,” recalls Zuzana Krajca.
Announce your resignation
If you decide not to complete the assignment, let your employer know. Not only will candidates appreciate knowing what they are up to. So do companies. It is therefore polite to tell the employer not to expect you to complete the task. You may one day apply for another position in the same company, and the fact that you withdrew from the competition without an apology may not benefit you.
Ask for feedback
Did you send an assignment to the company, but only thought they had selected another candidate? Not even a mention of what you did right or wrong? Pick up the phone and ask for feedback politely. The company should ideally provide it to you, especially after the larger task that is usually given in the last rounds of the tender.
If you find the task inappropriate, decline
It is up to each candidate to decide whether to take part in the competition, which includes tasks. If he finds the task from the employer disproportionate in terms of time spent or even suspects that the company could misuse the submitted work to his advantage, it is appropriate to reject it. After all, companies that abuse the work of candidates in this way act at least unethically. Their approach will probably sooner or later work for them, simply because their reputation will suffer. Besides them, however, there are honest companies that assign tasks to candidates only and only to select the best candidate. The tasks of such companies were discussed in this article.