How Companies Use “Interviews” for Free Labor

Job seekers are wising up to an insidious new tactic companies use to get free labor. In the old days, companies would have hour-long interviews designed to flesh out a candidate’s qualifications, expertise, and cultural fit, but now they expand the interview process in attempts to get free labor from desperate job seekers. 

Working Interviews

Companies use the pretense of an “interview” to get free labor from job candidates who may or may not even get an offer after putting in hours to complete these projects. 

Occasionally, these tasks are fundamental technical skills, like asking an IT person to troubleshoot basic server problems. These tests are typically legitimate and specifically designed to ensure the applicant has the skills to complete the work. 

However, companies are getting brazen in asking potential employees to do unpaid work under the guise of an interview. 

Tasking a Candidate with Full Work Projects

Some companies ask candidates to complete full, large-scale projects without a paycheck. After impressing the hiring managers during a second interview, one man came to Reddit to share his experience with this ridiculous ask. 


The Original Poster (OP) shared that he’s well qualified for the role and has a lot of experience in the field. He completed both a phone interview and a Zoom interview, after which the company ghosted for a week. 

He assumed he didn’t get the job, but they magically reappeared, not with a job offer but with a giant project. 

Hiding a Massive Project as an Interview

The company said they wanted to “test” his ability to perform the job, so they gave him a massive project. However, the project wasn’t a test or a hypothetical; it was a real-world struggle the company faced. 

They tried to trick someone who doesn’t work for the company into doing their work for them without a paycheck. 

Here are some of the ridiculous things they tasked him with:

  1. Providing recommendations for improving engagement
  2. Creating a new social media campaign for the busy season
  3. Providing feedback on a real analysis showcasing the company’s failings

They requested their interviewee create a 30-minute presentation detailing this and more, including his sources, the resources he’d use, and every other detail imaginable – all without earning a cent. 

No Thanks

OP declined the “generous” offer and even asked the hiring manager if they were serious about this ask. They could use all this work for their business without hiring OP or paying him for it. 

And it’s not just one company. OP said he’s encountered this repeatedly during the job hunt. It feels like a scammy way for companies to get essential work done without paying for it. 

OP came to Reddit, wondering what’s the deal with this new “interview” style. 

Becoming More Common

Redditors from a variety of industries said similar things happened to them. People in industries like graphic design and marketing see it a lot, but it’s even happening in customer service positions like bartending. 

I’ve had companies ask me to do a sort of “test” shift where they expected me to come in for 2-4 hours to work to see how I sell and how I’d fit,” said one user. 

These “shift tests” showcase a lack of coverage and allow hiring managers to get free labor from desperate job seekers. 

There’s a Way To Do It

Some companies need to test potential employees to see if they have the skills they claim they have. However, asking them to do work the company can use is not the way. 

Companies can use various other methods to determine the candidate’s skills, from mock databases to having them outline how they’d handle a previous launch. 

They should not have candidates performing work that leads to profit. 

Don’t Let Companies Steal Your Labor

Businesses will do everything they can to steal labor from employees and potential employees. Savvy job seekers must be on the lookout for these shady practices. 

The less candidates give in to these unhinged demands, the less companies will try to pull a fast one on unsuspecting job seekers. 

Source: Reddit

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.