Design Challenges - when to say thanks, but no thanks

Hello all,

This week, I passed an initial interview stage with an established online retailer in the UK - I suspect competition is usually high for this business, even prior to COVID. I expected the design challenge would be tough, but not in this sense.

The design challenge was sent over, and the recruiter asked for it to be complete within 3 days.

The design challenge in short: design an entire application, including the checkout and payment process, for their partner dining company. I did a Google search, and the company isn’t hypothetical.

A few things came to mind when reading this:

  1. If I landed the role, would they always give me unrealistic deadlines?
  2. Is creating an entire application for an existing company, ethical?
  3. Are they serious about this role? Or are they looking for free labour?
  4. Do I want to work for a UX lead who sanctions such challenges?

Would love to hear your thoughts. Even if you tell me to stop moaning and just get it done :sweat_smile:

Definitely a red flag. Asking to do work for an existing company is a big no no. And that much work. Also, that time frame for that kind of work is ridiculous.

You could either say you wanted to be paid for the work since it’s an existing company. You could refuse to do it and ask for another challenge because it’s unethical.

No matter what, I would definitely push back. There are a ton of design challenge prompts online. Makes me think they want free unethical labor.

Thanks for your input. I did just that.

They reassured me that it’s the same design challenge they’ve asked other candidates for the past 3 years. That it wasn’t something they were going to implement. And I Also didn’t have to design the entire app.

I’m still deciding whether to just do it, or leave it. Probably the latter, as I feel it’s just a sign of things to come if I was successful.

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It sounds like they’re lazy or ignorant of hiring best practices. Neither is a good sign. :grinning:

My ¢2.

When asked unrealistic or unethical work, I ask for as much info as possible and then sometimes do a completely different task. Regardless of what they ask, but based on real data and research. Showing them that they may need something else, then what they ask for.

It’s a gutsy approach and not often successful. But I refuse to do what they ask if it doesn’t make sense. If they can’t give me enough data to understand their business need, they probably won’t be able to do that with real tasks either.

It’s alright if I’m already employed and can see months of work on it. Or if they frame it as an expert opinion or just ideation. Those work best on interviews.