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    Your Future Job Awaits: How to Master the Take-Home Assignment

    CareerCareerSkills Development

    Great news, you’ve just passed the phone interview, the first step in landing your dream job! The most common next step in the hiring process is usually a take-home assignment. The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate your skills and abilities beyond the scope of your resume so that your prospective employer can see first-hand examples of your work and knowledge.

    Use the guide below to help you ace that home assignment, boost your time management skills, and have the best chances at landing that dream job!

    Table of Contents

    First Steps

    Once the hiring manager has informed you that you have passed the first step in the hiring process, you’ll usually receive an email with instructions for the take-home assignment. Once you receive this email, it’s important to send a reply within the same day if possible to solidify the communication as well as the relationship between you and the hiring manager. Even if you are not planning on starting the home assignment that same day, it is important to show the hiring manager that you are taking it seriously. On that note, it is preferable that you open the instructions that same day so that you’re able to ask questions right away. This will help in the long run, especially if it’s a timed assignment so that you’re not pressured for time and not sure about certain assignment elements. It won’t look very professional to send those the night before the due date!

    Asking Questions

    So you’ve opened the assignment and realized that you do have questions about the assignment- that’s great! Even if you don’t, it’s important to ask questions regardless to show your prospective employer that you’ve thoroughly read through the assignment and want to make sure that you are giving them everything that they are looking for. Even if it’s not directed at the assignment instructions, you may also condiser asking what the company will do with your work. Asking if this is a hypothetical assignment used to assess your abilities or if this is work that the company may use for their own benefit, may be important for your own ‘personal checklist.’ 

    At best, asking questions can benefit you because it gives you the chance to clarify any vague instructions to ensure that you are doing the best possible job on the assignment. At worst, you may end up making assumptions that may harm your qualification chances.

    Research + Planning

    Before you begin the assignment, make sure to do relevant research and planning. This means researching background information on the company so that your assignment is in line with their values and goals. It is also important to look at the assignment from the company’s perspective. Imagine that you were the hiring manager- what kind of work would you want to see from a candidate to prove to you that they can succeed at the job that you are hiring them for? This is the mindset you should keep throughout the completion of the whole assignment. 

    Imagine that you were the hiring manager- what kind of work would you want to see from a candidate to prove to you that they can succeed at the job that you are hiring them for?

    When planning your assignment, you should also try to be creative and think outside of the box to stand out from all the other candidates who are completing the assignment as well.

    Completing the Assignment

    You’ve taken the time to ask all your questions, complete your research, and plan your ideas. Now it’s time to start working! If you are finding the assignment extremely difficult or too time-consuming, this may be an indication that this is not the right job for you. Make sure you’ve taken a moment to ask the hiring manager how much time they estimate the assignment will require to complete. By doing this, you’ll have a reference for much time to give yourself in order to complete the work and avoid spending too much time on the assignment

    The purpose of the assignment is for the employer to evaluate your skills but also for you to get a feel for what the job entails. Take this opportunity to decide if this is the kind of work you would enjoy long-term. If the assignment itself is overly complicated or unreasonable, perhaps ask the company to consider completing a smaller or more reasonable version of the assignment. You can additionally offer to provide previous examples of your similar work to show your skills.

    Time to Submit … But Not Before You Review

    As good as you think your assignment is, there is always room for improvement. That is why it is important to get a second, or even a third, opinion. Ask a family member or a friend who knows the industry that you’re applying for and perhaps previous experience of their own. This way, they will have the background knowledge required to properly judge your assignment. 

    If the assignment is not in your native language, be sure to have someone who is a native speaker of the language that your assignment is written in to do your review. When reviewing an assignment, it is important to check for the following things:

    1. Spelling + Grammar
    2. Format
      • Font
      • Spacing
      • Layout
    3. Content
      • Did you follow all the instructions?
      • Is the assignment creative/unique?
      • Did you use enough detail? 

    Final Steps

    Finally, it’s time to submit! It’s crucial that you submit your assignment in a professional format. Do not copy and paste your assignment into an email. Submit it in the form of a PDF document, a Word Document, or any other relevant professional format. Also, try to make sure you submit the assignment as early as possible. The HR manager will give you a deadline, but they do expect you to submit it before the due date. This shows that you made the assignment your priority and took it seriously.

    Most interview candidates get nervous with face-to-face job interviews. This is your chance to show off your best work without the pressure of someone watching you. So go ahead and get started on the path to your future dream job. Good luck!

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