A company has asked me to come prepared to an interview with a strategic business proposal. Is it right for them to ask me for this without paying me for my time? Feels a bit like I\’m giving them free consulting work without the guarantee of even getting the job offer. What if they steal my idea after choosing to not move forward with me? How is this an ethical practice for companies?
As a recruiter with 20 yrs experience, I’ve seen similar situations many times. A candidate would say "it seemed as if they were picking my brains as to how my compliance team handles certain issues, or how my firm covers the required surveillance regulations". Asking someone to come to an interview with a prepared business proposal seems to be pushing the ethical envelope, especially if the firm winds up stealing your idea. While I’m not an attorney, it seems unlikely you’d have any legal recourse without documented proof. It’s always your choice to not go on the interview, and look for alternative opportunities. It’s a sad fact that many firms continue to operate in a cutthroat business culture, and will proceed with unethical practices if they can get away with it.
This seems to be a trend these days. I’ve heard the same question in a number of online jobseeking groups, lately. I don’t LIKE it, but can understand the motives of the hiring organizations, having been on that side of the equation in previous roles.
A candidate has to set themselves apart and this is a great opportunity to do so. Sad to say, but if you’re lucky enough to be asked (and you want the job), I think you should show them what you’re made of!
Later, in negotiations, let them know what work of that caliber is going to cost!
I think it depends on the role, the seniority level, and company culture (do you like it or not?). In a senior level position, I feel experience and knowledge should speak for itself but for a more junior role – especially in dev ops or product mgmt or similar, I can see it. Don’t like the trend but I can see it.
In my first career as a professional actress on Broadway (I know, how lucky am I that I get to say that!), we would go to auditions where we would be able to show our skills and talents. Sometimes those auditions would last 8-10 hours. And now in the business world, I welcome the opportunity to be able to share my thoughts and strategies. I think it is a good practice for hiring managers to be able to validate skillsets in advance through this practice.
Never give free advice, because its value to management is what they paid for it. Same for exit interviews. If a company wants to do an exit interview, don’t give them a free management consultation. Whatever you say will go in one ear and out the other. If they pay you $50K, then you can bet they’ll act on what you say. I can see a possible exception for a top leadership position like CEO. A board might want to know what strategic direction you would take, but withold key ideas and only be one of no more than 3 finalists. Take this as a red flag about the firm’s questionable ethical ethics. Ad agencies run into this conundrum all the time with prospective clients wanting fully produced campaigns to freely steal you rideas.
I highly doubt any legitimate company’s strategy is to bring in potential hires and then use whatever plan the interviewee provides in thier company. If that were that case I would not want to work for that company anyway. If they ask me what I would do and I have been asked many times, I answer thoughtfully and completely. No one is fooled by the old, "wait until you hire me and then I’ll show what I can do" strategy. The company and/or hiring manager is seeking to pick up on your thought process, not necessarily your results. How do you tackle problems, are you analytical, a big picture person or mired in details. You can’t get that kind of information by asking if you were animal. which one would you be?
Now I will say that issue is a bit tickish when interviewing for a consulting gig. I am less forthcoming with a solid result than with the process.