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Are Projects the New Job Interviews?

We've heard pundits proclaim the death of the resume for years; in a new piece for Harvard Business Review, MIT research fellow Michael Schrage declares that job interviews have been replaced by projects. Companies are increasingly asking job applicants to perform actual work, often in the form of a one-of-a-kind project, to land the position. Is this exploitative or inevitable?

We’ve heard pundits proclaim the death of the resume for years; in a new piece for Harvard Business Review, MIT research fellow Michael Schrage declares that job interviews have been replaced by projects. Companies are increasingly asking job applicants to perform actual work, often in the form of a one-of-a-kind project, to land the position. Is this exploitative or inevitable?

Perhaps. Proponents of this practice advocate, however, that this method is far more effective than traditional interviewing and reference-checking for uncovering the best candidate for a specific position. “These organizations treat hiring as part of their on-boarding process,” writes Schrage. “Hiring becomes more holistic rather than ‘over the wall.’ More importantly, everyone in the enterprise now ‘gets’ that people only get hired if and only if they deliver something above and beyond a decent track record and social graph.”

The project-as-job-interview differs from, say, internships in that these organizations are paying candidates for their work, albeit at below-market rates. This model naturally weeds out less-than-serious candidates and gives both company and candidate an excellent sense of what their working relationship would be like.

Would you ever work on a project for a prospective company in lieu of a traditional job interview?

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(Photo credit: Victor1558/Flickr)

Marissa Brassfield
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