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I just interviewed with a company via the phone. It is for UX position. The president of the company has explained current product and design flaws with it. She has then asked me following: I will send you an email requesting to see a sample design of how you would approach a problem and see if our design visions align and perhaps also design a promo piece for an upcoming event... I have been asked that before, and I understand in certain situation it is an important part of the hiring process to see. However, I have presented my work beforehand so my "design sense" should easily be gathered from my portfolio and usually when asked to do a project it is usually a mock up project not an actual existing product redesign. She told me I would be compensated for the work and she is not expecting it for free.....so I should give her a quote before I begin....my concerns are: 1. why would you pay me for a mock up if it's part of the interview? 2. does it seem like potentially she can end up using those designs in her actual products....3. should i be weary of the notion that she is just trying to find a solution for her immediate issues with the product and has no actual intention of hiring me, if so, how can I proceed without offending her with my "unjust feelings" and thus losing a potential job?

FOLLOW UP: I got paid and landed a freelance gig with them instead.

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    Sounds like they're trying to get free or near free services from you in the guise of a job interview. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Mar 1 '16 at 20:53
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    Many people feel like they've been asked to do work during the interview for free, so consider yourself lucky they want to pay you. Feel free to do it for nothing. They could have searched for a contractor much easier than going through the job posting route. – user8365 Mar 1 '16 at 21:10
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    @JeffO do you think asking them to sign something to the effect of them not being able to use work publicly is too much...although I know a lot of ppl do work for nothing. I am not down with doing work for free and I think she gathered it from my tone. and i would gladly do it for free if it wasnt for the fact of her asking to do a mock up AND a promo piece for upcoming event...that feels like a squeeze to me. – Stanley VM Mar 1 '16 at 21:38
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    Isn't proper layout and formatting a significant part of UX? Please fix that wall of text. – Lilienthal Mar 1 '16 at 23:16
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Treat it as any freelance job and charge accordingly. This is unusual in an interview, but fine if they intend to pay you for it.

Make sure you get paid though, because if they have ten people doing this an only intend to pay one, then that's not going to be good. And I've seen more underhand tricks than that over the years.

  • how can I make sure that I get paid, besides the traditional route of signing some contract.... – Stanley VM Mar 1 '16 at 23:00
  • get the task in writing and invoice it. Don't do it on a verbal say so and you're pretty much covered. They can still dispute, but that tends to be more trouble than it's worth. – Kilisi Mar 2 '16 at 6:11
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This is quite common with graphic artists, so your potential employer might not know it's not as common with UX.

Normally a firm will quote you a price, basically saying "how much can you get down for $xK?". I have known firms that leave it opened ended, and wind up with a fairly hefty bill afterward (from the interviewee), with no real way to negotiate terms after the fact.

It's normal to do 2 things--

1) Do the work and charge your short-term rate (what you would charge for a small pick-up job, usually a 20-40% mark-up from your daily rate, depending on your level). There's no need to discuss charges up front, that's at their peril. 2) Explain, without doing (much) work how the piece you are doing would fit into a larger brand or bigger project, if you were pulled on full time.

As you've probably seen, UX is often not given proper respect, and is placed too late in the development cycle. This may be the case here, and the employer may not be expecting a large bill. If you're concerned, simply and unabashedly reply in email that your fee will be $x, and that you'll get started right away.

  • same question: do you think asking them to sign something to the effect of them not being able to use work publicly is too much... i would gladly do it for free if it wasnt for the fact of her asking to do a mock up AND a promo piece for upcoming event...that feels like a squeeze to me – Stanley VM Mar 1 '16 at 21:39
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    A contract is as good as your ability to enforce it, which means you'll spend far more time and money than it's worth. If you can't do an above-board negotiation of a stipend, then they fail the interview. Do you want to work for someone that tries to get free work through fake interviews? Or who doesn't have the money to support the necessary effort? If you can't discuss a reasonable fee, then you have to explain why you feel comfortable working there. – jimm101 Mar 1 '16 at 21:47

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