5 interview assignment mistakes you can easily fix

Susanna Kahr

Your resume stood out from the crowd and you aced your interview – now it is time to showcase your skills for your prospective employer. Interview assignments are increasingly common, and allow you to provide the hiring brand with real evidence of your qualifications, work ethic and ability to follow directions. Learning more about interview assignments allows you to avoid some of the most common errors – and to make sure your submission truly makes an impact.

About Interview Assignments

Interview assignments are optional; not all employers have them. Since these types of requests require you to invest your time and effort, you should be sure you are truly interested in the job and that it is a legitimate possibility.

The request for an assignment should come later in the interview process – not at the beginning. A typical scam that takes advantage of job seekers could ask for work up front – before any interviews are completed at all. You should regard this as a red flag and proceed with caution. The first step of working on an assignment is to ensure you are truly interested in the position and that it is a legitimate possibility. Once you’ve determined the authenticity, you can proceed; the following common errors will help you avoid mistakes and present your abilities in the best possible light.

5 Common Interview Assignment Mistakes

Failing to follow directions

It’s been a while since you were in school, but it is still essential to follow the directions for this assignment to the letter. If you skirt the rules, just skim the details or miss some key factors, your final product won’t be very impressive.

Your assignment matters – it would not have been created if the employer didn’t want to see what you could do. An amazing candidate that fails to follow directions could find themselves out of contention – while someone who was running in second or third place could secure the offer, simply by presenting clean, complete work. A well thought out submission that checks every box and follows every direction can help you secure a position, even if others look better on paper.

You made assumptions

If something doesn’t make sense, ask. In some cases, the vague directions could actually be a ploy to see how you will react. Will you charge ahead and make your best guess, or thoughtfully consider and ask for clarification.

Whether directions are deliberately vague or you simply need some additional context, asking for clarification can only help you. Make sure you know exactly what you need to do – and highlight your great communication skills by asking for assistance when it is needed.

“He will regular give vague directions and later deny his conversation in order to lay blame on his subordinates.” – anonymous employer review at TOMSKing Service

You forgot to research the company

Completing an assignment by following directions is just the start; your submission may be judged against others. If you know what the company values most, who its primary competitors are and what image they want to convey, you can tailor your submission to reflect those values.

If you don’t research, you could end up referring to a competitor in a favorable way, making statements that are the opposite of the company’s actual approach or recommending steps that would render their product or service useless for consumers.

A few minutes of research can go a long way, and ensure you don’t write a piece raving about Starbucks coffee and management policies – at your interview with Dunkin Donuts. A good way to start the research about your desired employer is to check out kununu. With more than 3,5 billion employer reviews it is one of the biggest employer rating platforms of the world and offers you authentic information about more than 900.000 companies!

Check out your future employer on kununu!

You forgot to spell check

Following directions is just the start; any work you hand in needs to be flawless, particularly if it is in writing. A simple run through editing software is a good start – and reading the piece aloud will help as well.

Common errors like confusion about “your” and “you’re” or “affect” and “effect” will stand out, as will issues with punctuation or spelling. Unless you are an actual copywriter, more advanced issues like comma splices or Oxford comma choice won’t matter, but spelling and context errors could derail your application and make your work look sloppy.

“I had great results on reviews but lost my job because I mispelled a word before using spell check.” – anonymous applicant review at Med Communications

You did the bare minimum, and it shows

While you need to follow the directions, you also need to showcase the care and attention you take in your work. Handing in a piece that is too shallow or that lacks real insight only shows an employer you’ll cut corners. After all, if you take shortcuts during this assignment that is designed to impress, what will you do when you actually have the job?

Making sure you fully understand the task, turning in your best work and ensuring that all directions are followed can turn the interview assignment into a powerful selling tool and make you stand out in a crowded field of applicants. Invest the time into doing this process properly, and you’ll be more likely to succeed — and snag the job offer you want.

 

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