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Test for Hire

Recently, a friend of a friend, whose nephew’s cousin’s brother’s friend has a friend who is looking for a job as a web designer in New York sent me a possible topic for discussion.

In it, s/he explained that in looking for a job, s/he was asked — without any hints at anything else — to complete a test that involved some design “challenges”. S/he asked to remain anonymous since s/he’s still on the prowl for a job and wouldn’t want this to become a hindrance. When s/he first sent me the e-mail the name of the company who provided the test was missing. Out of my usual curiosity, and thinking that it would probably be some hack agency looking for free ideas, I asked who the agency was. To my surprise it was a rather sweet-looking website for a Swedish interactive agency, now with an office in New York. After debating whether the agency’s name should be “revealed” in this post — or made a big deal out of — I decided that it would be relevant to the discussion to do so. Following is the e-mail I received:

**

Having recently reentered the job market in NYC, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the usual eccentric HR folks and unusual demands that seem to be par for the course these days. This one really took the cake though. I had applied for the job online (a vague job posting, speaking of possible “opportunities” for interactive and flash designers), and received a response about a week later. There was no more clarification as to what positions were available, nor were they even requesting that I come in for an interview. What they did have, however, was…a TEST, in Microsft Word. Sight unseen, having never spoken to a human being at the company face to face, nor having any sense for what opportunities there might be, I was asked to complete the following:

Fantasy Interactive design test

This design test illustrates to Fantasy Interactive (FI) if an applicant can deliver basic elements to a very high quality, which is the essence of our work. Attention to detail, balance and pixel perfection are all factors which demonstrate your creativity, tool skills and quality thinking. Make sure that the design is Fantasy Interactive style. We would like to see that you can design to suit our clients.

For the test we would like you to design 4 things. If you can send in all 4 tasks we can better assess your talent and experience. However if you are short on time the layout test is the one you should do (but try and include some icons in it). Remember Quality over Quantity. If you show this in the test, you will have an opportunity to join one of the most famous interactive design & development companies in the world.

Layout:
- Please design a start page layout for a next generation Google application. This is a tough challenge but an imperative one in order for us to see the full extent of your skills.
- What we are looking for is balance, pixel perfection, the right use of colors, a corporate style, clean and not too cluttered.
- Good examples are attached (1, 2, 3, 4) but you can also look at the Road Runner site, the Ford site, the Fido site, all within FI’s portfolio.

Icon:
- Design 3 icons that are the same style, each icon must have a different function, eg, print, email, fax, but they should be of the same family.
- Reference examples are attached. The creativity and quality in these icons are what we think is high quality. If you can deliver icons to this standard and above, you have passed.
- All the icons on the FI site we regard as a standard.

Logo:
- We would like to see what skills you have in creating a logo. Design a logo for the FI team. Use whatever material you want or take from the FI site.

Swoosh:
- Take a look at the FI-site. You will see that on each page, at the top, we have designed white smooth “swooshes”.
- What we want you to do, is design a swoosh that fits in this family of swooshes. The design of it should be balanced. Try to make it look different from any we have there.

Thank you for your interest in Fantasy Interactive.

At first, being (like most job seekers) a little bit desperate, I said “yeah, I’ll do this!” But then, a couple things started to bother me:
1. That’s a hell of a lot of work to do, merely for the opportunity to get an interview!
2. They want everything designed in the Fantasy Interactive style. Presumably, most aspiring applicants will go to the site and make sure they’re not duplicating existing designs or icons or logos, which essentially means they’ll be getting a whole lot of design comps free of charge. Nowhere is it clarified who owns what, once you send them the designs which you — being in search of a job — have undoubtedly sweated over many a long night.
3. What, exactly, is a “next generation Google application”? Sure, I can answer the question technically speaking, but that’s an awfully broad request, at least from a design point of view. Kind of like asking you to “design something cool”.
4. Did they say “swoosh”?

Perhaps I’m overreacting. Perhaps this has become industry standard in the time I’ve been out of the job market. Maybe they’ve gotten burned by applicants misrepresenting themselves and thus feel the need to set up this extra level of filtering. Or maybe their motives are entirely nefarious and they’re just fishing for free creative work.

What do you think? Would you do the test?

**

Thank you to the friend of a friend, whose nephew’s cousin’s brother’s friend has a friend for sending this topic.

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ARCHIVE ID 2437 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Oct.10.2005 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Bill Kerr’s comment is:

Hell no!

On Oct.10.2005 at 12:29 PM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

I'm bothered most by the fact that "the next generation google" is not judged on usefulness of the design — only style. Who cares if I cant navigate it, as long as its clean? If i were to read that as an possible interviewee, I would probably walk out. This is obviously a style over substance firm, and if its not, then they need to reword their test.

as for tests in general, they seem fairly subjective in this instance. I think a trial period of actually working with the group is one thing, but this test only really shows how to pull things out of thin air and basing everything on a firm's style (which is a whole other discussion I dont want to get into here).

On Oct.10.2005 at 12:39 PM
Dani Nordin’s comment is:

Oh my lord. To be honest, this really just sounds like a company that thinks WAY too highly of itself. This is the thing: what they're asking for is spec work, which is something that no self-respecting designer should do to any significant degree, especially not if all the spec work means is that they'll "consider you for an interview." The wording of the test itself reeks of meaningless industry jargon (think of Dilbert's pointy-haired-boss), and really doesn't provide you with any kind of direction for your design, other than they want you to copycat this "FI Style" (which, to be honest, reminds me of tacky robot-centric children's cartoons—not even close to my aesthetic).

In my opinion, a potential client/boss should be able to look at your resumé and the work in your portfolio and be able to conclude from there whether you're worthy of an interview. Tests like these are a sure sign that the company is going to be insane to work for anyway—if this is what they make you go through just to land an interview, imagine what they'll be pulling once you actually WORK there!

Blech.

On Oct.10.2005 at 01:05 PM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

How can the design field possibly expect clients to refrain from asking for free speculative work (for all the problems inherent therein), when firms employing designers freely ask for it in the hiring process?

This practice undermines the value of what we do. Furthermore, it does not even adequately represent the complex interaction between a designer, the client, and the problem to be solved.

Engineers and health care practitioners are not expected to do free work to get hired. Neither should designers.

On Oct.10.2005 at 01:12 PM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:

First, to qualify myself: I am a job-seeker, and acutely aware of the current competitive environment. I would never take this kind of �test’ before being asked for an interview. A test as an interview component? I already have. It was a great opportunity to �test-drive’ the company, and pass.

It really does amount to spec work. It is ethically suspect, and doesn’t say much about an applicant, except that they are desperate and willing to give away the farm.

One more example of dropping the bottom out of the industry from the middle. It begs the oft asked question— “if we (graphic designers) can’t look out for our own intersts, who will?”

On Oct.10.2005 at 01:14 PM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

A test as an interview component? I already have. It was a great opportunity to �test-drive’ the company, and pass.

Absolutely, Mark. Run -- don't walk -- away from a situation like this. They've actually done the applicant the favor of showing their true colors...and they ain't pretty.

On Oct.10.2005 at 01:31 PM
Armin’s comment is:

There is an article today in The New York Times about The Blue Men Group recruiting, well, blue men, for their expanding network of cities with Blue Men performances. Towards the end there is a paragraph that reads, "All those chosen had to fulfill a height requirement of 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 1 inch. 'You have to have a common exoskeletal physicality'." Of course, the recruits have to paint their face blue and do what other Blue Men across the globe do, in the same way. It seems awfully close to what FI is trying to do: finding people that imitate what they already do.

The best design firms (web or print) look for designers that can add to the "house style" or expand it and take it in different places, rather than people who can mimick every single typeface choice, or, in this case, match every single shadow and highlight.

This test probably serves FI quite well, as they can surely find drones to execute swooshes and icons pixel-perfectly. It's no wonder everything they do looks exactly the same. It's good stuff (in that eye-candy kind of way), but it's all the same flavor all the time.

As a side note, in case any one is interested... In my last year in college, Procter & Gamble came looking for graduates who would like to join their In-house design department. A couple of teachers recommended me but I declined since I had to take a written test. To this day I have no idea what the test tested, but just the idea of having to do it completely turned me off. And, yeah, "Procter & Gamble"... *shivers*

On Oct.10.2005 at 01:32 PM
biennale’s comment is:

Honestly, FI's site is absolutely mediocre, definitely not worth the time wasted on a test like this.

On Oct.10.2005 at 01:37 PM
Benjamin Plitt’s comment is:

I thought this was pretty bad for the first 3 questions, but the last question just drove it into the realm of the absurd. They are going to pick a designer based on how good of a swoosh they can make? Is this a joke?

On Oct.10.2005 at 03:10 PM
Rob Bennett’s comment is:

Would never agree to a test of any sort without at least one, if not two, face to face interviews. Anything else should be considered a waste of time that could be spent looking elsewhere.

While I can see a need to 'test skills' this excercise goes way beyond that, and if anything shows the firms own limited thinking. And that in itself would turn me off from them completely. Should we as designers/design firms always be looking to build upon what we are now and not hire someone to be a clone of what our work has been? Just a thought.

On Oct.10.2005 at 04:56 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

It's called either a) spec work or b) idiot temp agency.

Add to that the fact that the questions are asinine and devoid of any context and you can easily pass on this one.

On Oct.10.2005 at 05:25 PM
Kevin Montgomery’s comment is:

Well, doing this "test" is one thing, submitting it to FI is another.

There's no harm in saving the specifications of the "job" and making your own project out of it to add to your portfolio as a concept piece, if you feel it's worth the time.

Under no circumstances would I submit it to FI.

On Oct.10.2005 at 05:36 PM
Jay’s comment is:

I had to do a test like this to get into undergrad, although it wasn't as pretentious. It was for Virginia Commonwealth University and it required:

1. A collage

2. A full figure drawing

3. a drawing of my room

4. a conceptual piece illustrating contrast

5. Some sort of type work

However, I knew what the school was like and that I wanted to go there. I'd toured the campus and had the catalogue.

This F.I. stuff is scary. Does a resume and portfolio not give a clear enough idea to weed out the garbage? They don't even give the courtesy of explaining the positions offered. I bet the "test" has a note that says "no phone calls".

They can't possibly expect to get anyone with any talent for this, because if you're good, your time is money.

Can someone explain to me what "pixel perfection" is?

On Oct.10.2005 at 05:59 PM
tre’s comment is:

am i mistaken -- but isn't this what portfolio reviews are for? i'm sure this test could be utilized for those that are just starting out and have very little in their portfolio.

but it seems to me that FI is taking a shortcut in hiring. however, perhaps as armin pointed out, they may simply be looking for individuals that can fit a house style, or are simply looking more for production folks as opposed to designers.

it probably isn't fair to assume that all agencys are in the business of problem solving -- production/execution is still a part of the creative process, and many agency's are certainly specializing nowadays.

on a personal level, i do like some of the work FI produces -- but the testing step makes the designer in me uncomfortable.

On Oct.10.2005 at 06:02 PM
Chris’s comment is:

I myself am a student who will be venturing into the realm of job-hunting soon. During the course of which I expect many design firms to put me through a competency test in which I will have to pull good design concepts from where the sun doesn't shine in 20 minutes. I would have to say that I would not be inclined to all of the work FI is asking for free. My reasoning for this stance is because I have designed websites as part of the interview process only to get a note in the mail 4 weeks later. I would like to think that if your portfolio "which should be the best representation of your work,"

Isn’t good enough to get you an interview, then its not worth your time. I like money. I may not be the only person here that feels this way, but money helps me eat ramen noodles, helps pay my rent, and helps pay my school fees which in turn goes toward the newest digital scoreboard for our terrible football team. So maybe if FI offered an incentive of 1 case of ramen noodles for your troubles...then and only then would it be worth considering, and that’s only if you like ramen.

On Oct.10.2005 at 06:32 PM
Ken (liquid)’s comment is:

AHEM....... I know some super geeks......that spend their lives through their monitors....but even they said to know all of these things is unreasonable...

Position: Web Developer

At 2Advanced Studios, we have made it our mission to consistently challenge the ordinary. We're seeking to grow our small team with the addition of an experienced Web Developer who, with superior technical training and comprehensive knowledge of multiple programming languages, will be primarily responsible for developing client solutions from conception to delivery.

Skillset Required:

We are seeking an individual with exceptional programming skills in Macromedia Flash MX (ActionScripting), Microsoft Visual Studio (C#, C++ and Visual Basic), PHP, Java, Javascript, Macromedia ColdFusion, Perl, and MivaScript. Experience with the following advanced web technologies is critical; JSP, EJB, JDBC, SOAP, WAP, SGML, XML, XSL/XSLT, CSS, DHTML and WML. Database design and normalization for the web with Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle 9i, MySQL, PostgreSQL and Borland InterBase is a must. Position also requires a minimum of a BS or BA in a related field or equivalent industry work experience. HTML, with Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe PhotoShop, Erain Swift3D, Macromedia Flash MX, Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand is a must. Candidate must meet ALL of the above criteria for consideration. Salary commensurate depending upon experience. Please submit your resume by e-mail ONLY to [email protected] NO CALLS PLEASE.

On Oct.10.2005 at 06:57 PM
Quadog’s comment is:

A profession that doesn't accredit itself is open to infiltration by hacks. If an employer gets burned by this enough times they will probably institute a test. We either filter out the hacks ourselves or employers will take it upon themselves to do so.

On Oct.10.2005 at 07:04 PM
Josh’s comment is:

Um....yeah! You know I was just reminiscing the other day about how worthless the amount of math I had to take was during high school, but now that I know I will have to have more knowledge than one person can hold in their brain I might just give up.

Aside from the fact that schools hardly uphold their lofty standards in collaboration with student initiative, when are the professional employers going to start getting involved with said students to make and farm better graduates?

Brief little connections here and there make the difference for many students. Who can honestly say they didn't feel like design was the best ever after you identified with someone you saw speak? It can make students work harder, when they know someone is actually listening. There is not much anyone does in a vacuum devoid of external contact.

There won't have to be test or worries if every person does there part once or twice a year to let young students know their profession exists and is a genuine beneficial community of open thought and collaboration, not a narcissistic regime of commerce development.

On Oct.10.2005 at 07:19 PM
G.S.’s comment is:

I am in the same place currently as the brother's nephew's friend's friend etc. (looking for a web design job in NY) and applied for the same thing. I think I had the same response too - at first I thought 'I'm not working right now, I can do that' and then I thought about it some more and it seemed to be one of a few things. Either they are so full of themselves that they think they can require more than average place and get away with it. Or, for similar reasons, they don't feel the need to actually look at resumes and portfolios. Or - in a worst case scenario - they are fishing for creative ideas for actual projects they have. (How do we know they don't have a new account from Google?)

On Oct.10.2005 at 07:30 PM
Ronal’s comment is:

Honestly speaking, if you start making conclusion as soon as you finish reading the FI Design Test you might think that they are the type of firm that will not allow you to be/express yourself creatively. I don't really know if thats how they are, but why would anyone want to work for a firm that clears that out from the start. In other words it feels like they are letting you know from the start that you will do what you're told, how you're told, and you will make it look like you're told.

Ok, if you're a freelance Designer that works under a Art Director often you that's how things are in many occasions, but thats not something you'd like to be told or be reminded of.

Way to go Fantasy.

On Oct.10.2005 at 08:16 PM
Ronal’s comment is:

Honestly speaking, if you start making conclusion as soon as you finish reading the FI Design Test you might think that they are the type of firm that will not allow you to be/express yourself creatively. I don't really know if thats how they are, but why would anyone want to work for a firm that clears that out from the start. In other words it feels like they are letting you know from the start that you will do what you're told, how you're told, and you will make it look like you're told.

Ok, if you're a freelance Designer that works under a Art Director often you that's how things are in many occasions, but thats not something you'd like to be told or be reminded of.

Way to go Fantasy.

On Oct.10.2005 at 08:16 PM
RC’s comment is:

Having been in and out of the same situation as others above (looking for a design job in NYC), I don't find this practice surprising. It's disturbing no less, and a real turnoff for anyone who is looking for a job where they can contribute ideas (especially at an interactive practice like FI) rather than mold their output to that of the firm ( ... and hope to measure up to strongly-asserted but often poorly-exemplified standards).

Sadly -- it seems -- employer cockiness in job-posts is par for the course, and must be tolerated by job-seekers.

On Oct.10.2005 at 08:36 PM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

I wasn't sure if I was going to post on this one, after going to the FI website I hcouldn't resist!

If you go to their Job Openings page and scroll down to the bottom you will see their "cool" three-dimensional figures of a superior with a megaphone standing behind its employee while it slaves away on the computer. But above it and to the left of this it explains how fun and great it is to work at FI. "Work hard, play hard" is their motto. It just seems a little odd to me...wouldn't you want to depict someone who is happy rather than a slaving designer? And why on earth do they call them a unit?! Sounds like a trekkie convention to me.

I did'nt even want to mention the flash playing at the top, a fun movie of (what I assume is)employess playing around on bouncy balls.

On Oct.10.2005 at 08:47 PM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

Aw shoot, now I viewed their movie about the company and it's history and now I feel bad. Oh well, a first impression is a first impression.

On Oct.10.2005 at 08:57 PM
Tan’s comment is:

As much as we all may bitch and moan about it —�which we should —�the sad fact is that you know there will be hundreds of applicants who will take that test in a heartbeat.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Another reason why interactive design is perceived the way it is.

On Oct.10.2005 at 08:59 PM
Danny’s comment is:

Is there any chance that this is a tongue-in-cheek test they send to applicants? How could any agency require a swoosh proficiency test? I think this is one sunburst short of an obvious prank.

Maybe to pass this test, you call them and politely tell them you don't have time to take their skill test, and they ditch the hundreds that are sent in ...

On Oct.11.2005 at 09:01 AM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Danny

I (hope? think?) you're on the right path.

If not, FI sucks.

On Oct.11.2005 at 09:14 AM
Louis’s comment is:

You said it..."fishing" for free work. A good portfolio speaks for itself. No need and no time for tests. A good artistic director recognize creative and talented designers.

Also, I guess it's another company that thinks it takes 30 minutes to create a logo...and don't get me started on "Swooshs"!!!

On Oct.11.2005 at 09:29 AM
Tom Michlig’s comment is:

...you will have an opportunity to join one of the most famous interactive design & development companies in the world.

Good lord.

I thought this might be a parody as well, but after viewing the site, I fear that they are actually being serious.

Any interactive firm that would bury it's main navigation menu should remain a "fantasy" and not a reality :)

On Oct.11.2005 at 09:45 AM
agrayspace’s comment is:

OOOOOOH!!! this company would have my utmost respect if the test was a prank and you only pass if you write them a refusal. I WOULD FUCKING LOVE THAT.

What other rational explanation could there be? if you watch the video of Our Story, you get the sense that they are earnest in wanting to be the most creative and forward thinking agency on the web, and any person with half a brain knows you don't get those people with this kind of BS test, one that focuses on mimickry and style mongering.

IT HAS TO BE A JOKE. IT HAS TOO!!

On Oct.11.2005 at 09:46 AM
art chantry’s comment is:

this is a sad situation. we've undermined what we do to the point that the general public thinks what we do is lttle tougher than typing. by consistantly allowing our skills and knowledge to be imitated and promoted to anyone as a simple program, we've simply sold ourselves down the river. now that a few of us seem to be drowning, we still can't do much more than cluck our tongues and attack the messenger (the 'evil' hr person). the truth is uglier than that. we've demeaned our own profession into a mere computer activity. our entire profession is dying and nobody seems to even see it.

On Oct.11.2005 at 09:53 AM
Theo’s comment is:

agrayspace’s comment is:

OOOOOOH!!! this company would have my utmost respect if the test was a prank and you only pass if you write them a refusal. I WOULD FUCKING LOVE THAT.

If it is a joke, I wouldnt have much more respect for them, frankly. You're taking people who are already in a weak position (job applicants), and making them jump through hoops simply for your own amusement, and the ones who are lucky enough to see through the joke (and not spend 2-3 days toiling over designs) get a job interview? Morally, its not much better than those people who pay the homeless to fight each other. A joke isnt funny when the butt of the joke submits not out of ignorance but out of desperation, and unfortunately, many who are unemployed are somewhat desperate, or at the very least, anxious not to miss a potential opportunity.

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:11 AM
Zoelle’s comment is:

This request sounds like the designer equivalent of joining a frat. If you pull your pants down and let Stephen here spank you with his cricket bat, then you may have a chance at becoming friends with us — but only after you do one more �secret’ thing that can never be revealed as long as you live. (maybe to a shrink when you’re 40 and still wet the bed)

I think that some of these excessive interview tests act to put fences and barbed wire up in front of the company. They seem to be inflating the value of there company to potential clients by demonstrating to them the level of skill and commitment that is needed just to get in the door. How do you make a night club more attractive? — Don’t let people in!

While in college a few of my classmates had aspirations of working for Disney. It was instilled in them by Disney and the media that only the best illustrators can become a part of this elite group. It wasn’t until our illustration department invited Peter de S�ve to come speak to us that the truth came out. Peter is one of the guys they call in for character designs. I think many people have dreams of doing the same kind of work that Peter does, but the harsh reality is that there are (were) far more jobs tracing Peter’s work.

If you like tests, there’s always this infamous test.

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:20 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Candidate must meet ALL of the above criteria for consideration.

Ahahahahaha!

Another reason why interactive design is perceived the way it is.

How is it perceived?

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:20 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

We're here because we're the best of the best of the best.

I'm waiting for Tommy Lee Jones to pop out with his flashing memory erasing stick

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:21 AM
Tom Michlig’s comment is:

I see it dying every day, Art.

We have effectively drowned. People are more tied to Adobe CS2 and the newest Macromedia release than they are to the proliferation of new ideas and good communication. For both print and web.

It's depressing, really. In no fewer than 31 comments, we've gone from ripping one of the most ridiculous job postings I've ever seen to discussing the imminent "death" of our profession. There are a lot of bad feelings lurking just below the surface of many designers, myself included.

Out of this death will come life, we just haven't found a way to get there yet.

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:25 AM
Anees’s comment is:

That is such a con; That is a cheap and nasty way of building an exclusive archive of material for future use by FI.

Man, they suck!

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:38 AM
gregor’s comment is:

This type of testing has become more and more common place in both interactive and print - and is usually (at least here) in-house positions that make the request. Once, when I was in the market for a new job, I was about half way through a test and thought. "Why am I doin this?" I left before the test was done with the knowledge that such testing is representative of that companies management style.

In other cases around that same time, I would go through an interview process and would be asked to take with me a "homework" assignment to complete the application. In a couple cases this involved two days worth of real world work. When I asked how much they would pay me to do this assignment (as it is a form of spec work IMHO) they said nothing, of course. My response was to drop out of the process.

I think to a certain degree, with so many designers in the market, looking for jobs, inexperienced HR departments or hiring managers are looking for ways to weed out those who can misrepresent their skills. However, this type of testing is point blank unacceptable.

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:45 AM
Ken’s comment is:

Not much to add to what's been said already except this:

If FI claim to be one of the best Interactive agencies on earth, then why don't they have the ability to vet potential employees in the traditional way (interview and portfolio assessment)?

Either this is one big joke or FI really hadn't thought this through. If they're looking for seasoned industry professionals, then this is the wrong way to go about it. I would piss myself laughing if I was asked to create Actionscript prototypes or code a Web app as part of a job application - unless it was paid of course ;)

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:48 AM
T.J.’s comment is:

I’ve come across FI’s website milion times browsing designer’s favorite news and inspirational portals, like designiskinky, newstoday, favouritewebsiteawards, netdiver etc. Also their interview was featured in Computer Arts and some other websites like lounge72, so it seems almost impossible to me that you never heard about this agency. Their portfolio looks impressive too (Volvo, Xbox, Ford), I mean what have you done so far?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like their work or you think you are so good they don’t deserve a chance, but please use common sense and don’t talk about how some crap company wants to take your ideas and working files.

Most of you are just finishing college, probably don’t have portfolios to show, don’t you think this is a perfect opportunity for everyone? Their criteria is high, so what, it should be. They are looking for someone to be part of their team for long time, someone with their stile in mind, what is wrong with that? Few simple designs people, compare that to what 2advaced are looking for when hiring.

I say don’t miss opportunities like this, unless you are to lazy to deal with a hard working environments like this.

On Oct.11.2005 at 10:54 AM
beto’s comment is:

Ken: That 2Advanced job posting above is just downright laughable. I have a BA degree in Graphic Design and about 10 years of experience doing design for web applications, and even as I'd like to know I 've learned a lot in the programming field through all these years out of personal interest, there's no way in hell I could gather all these requirements. That kind of sounds like the typical clueless web shop who doesn't know jack what they're talking about but has no problem with plastering techie acronyms all over their job postings just because that sounds "cool".

Oh, and if you can do all that for four bucks an hour, all the better.

At this time and age, I wish to think I know better than falling for these schemes, even if that means living on ramen for months.

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:03 AM
Hugo<$MTCommentPreviewAuthor encode_html=’s comment is:

That's got to be a big joke.. come on.

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:03 AM
Tom Michlig’s comment is:

Their portfolio looks impressive too (Volvo, Xbox, Ford), I mean what have you done so far?

Anyone want to take this one? He served up a meatball, who wants to knock it out of the park? :)

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:18 AM
jpea’s comment is:

The point is that FI isn't going to get any seasoned designers by having this test. They will not forward their design aesthetic. They will not get well thought out ideas. They will get out-of-school students, and people who are able and willing to churn out their style without a thought as to whether it's successful or not for the client.

T.J., it's not about laziness, it's about knowing the value in what you do. Spec work, whether for a client or potential employer, is bogus. You're a pro. Make it look like it.

good luck to FI in their hiring process... they'll really need it.

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:19 AM
j patrick’s comment is:

As some of you folks pointed out an online portfolio should adequately showcase a designer's work. At least, enough so that the employer can determine whether or not to bring him/her in for an interview.

With my current employer, we may bring in potential designer for an initial interview and still not be sure of his/her qualifications with respect to the open position. At that time, we may ask that the designer to complete a fairly simple design task - something routine the open position. In most cases, this process is a much more friendly and appropriate. It also gives us a chance to interact with the designer. You can't truly know how a person handles him/herself without meeting face to face.

~ j

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:20 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Most of you are just finishing college, probably don’t have portfolios to show

If that's the case, they went to a really bad college.

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:33 AM
T.J.’s comment is:

T.J., it's not about laziness, it's about knowing the value in what you do. Spec work, whether for a client or potential employer, is bogus. You're a pro. Make it look like it.

Jpea, so I’m pro, I’lll make sure my mom and dad know it, screw FI, I’m staying home

If that's the case, they went to a really bad college.

Darrel, we are talking about specific style they are asking for, I’m sure shinny 3D icons are not required for finishing college

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:44 AM
jenny’s comment is:

My husband employs designers. When he's hiring, the portfolio gets you in the door, but what he's really interested in are things like the new hire's problem solving abilities, their approach/philosophy, and how well they'll work with the rest of his team. He calls references, conducts extensive interviews, as do some of the senior members of his team, and when hired, new employees have a probationary period.

Quite frankly, tests (such as the one described for FI) wouldn't tell him what he really wanted to know.

On Oct.11.2005 at 11:54 AM
fatknuckle’s comment is:

Shheeesh. So I just checked out that movie that you found. I was especially drawn to the Business managers explanation of the agency. "Half jackass and half mommas boys (or girls.)" Then she goes on to spout about "responsible and professional" well duh.

Also the TD's comment about the existence of interactive sites being "slow" and you have "to click around alot." Took me 10 minutes to even find the video. Practice what you preach.

A note to FI, lose the aluminum skin Maya plug-in.

Art & Armin bring up a good points about hiring situations nowadays. I'd much prefer to hire someone that has the ability to design to fit the client rather than design to fit my studios style. Each member on staff needs to contribute something unique to mix.

And what ever happened to learning on the job? None of us came out of school knowing everything. We learned through what was an apprenticeship, learning from those who we worked under and alongside, hopefully picking up a mentor to guide and coax the designer out of us. That level of expectation is absolutely ridiculous.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:07 PM
bill ’s comment is:

As someone who just when 50/50 on new hires, (one great one bad) I have few objections to the test. It does seem a bit long, but its point is to find out who can really do the work and who can't.

We recieved a fairly competant portfolio from an individual, whom i had some doubts about in the interview. About the 3rd day I realized exactly how full of it he really was, and how screwed I was going to be for the next few months. (HR won't let you just toss a person.) I'm not sure if someone else did the work in his portfolio, if he was art directed to the point of the AD doing it for him or flat lied about his work. But it became very obvious he had no design skills and later, very little development skills.

A test involving some elements of design/scripting we use daily would have sent the kid packing, and made my life that much easier.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:16 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>How is it perceived?

By in large, interactive agencies are perceived as technology production houses, where design is just window dressing.

>this company would have my utmost respect if the test was a prank and you only pass if you write them a refusal.

Hmmm...what interactive company do we both know who has repeatedly committed to spec work? And worse, was joined by others who were perfectly willing to do the same.

Is it such a huge surprise that an interactive agency would dare to ask for spec work from applicants?

I'm not trying to make this a interactive vs. print issue, but the fact is — it's highly unlikely that a legit, traditional design firm/agency would ever employ such stupid hiring practices.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:19 PM
bkperspectives’s comment is:

I am not sure if this was mentioned but, I have family that does HR work in the high tech field and my understanding is this kind of request actually is out-right illegal. Almost any testing on the whole is considered to be biased from many different angles. From a coding perspective, during an interview test you can't a perspective employee cannot truly prove what s/he can do while on the job, from finding resources and have the quick ability to learn on the fly due to your background. This design test is even worse from so many levels, all mentioned here in the responses.

What is also illegal in the States, is asking a perspective employee in they plan to have children or if they are pregnant (obviously questions as to a woman). I have a friend who worked in Sweden and she got asked these questions…obviously they don’t have the same laws. Companies in the US do get away with testing, especially the small firms, it is just too hard to regulate. I assume this is a policy FI has had from the beginning they have brought over to the States.

The design industry seems to have horrible “contest” phenomenon where you have to prove yourself without getting paid typically to get a client, where your portfolio seems to have no leverage, and now FI has taken it another step further for basic employment.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:35 PM
feelicks sockwl jr’s comment is:

who do we send it to once we're finished?

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:38 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

By in large, interactive agencies are perceived as technology production houses, where design is just window dressing.

I tend to group them into 3 camps:

1 - all tech firms. Can whip out e-commerce sites and toss on some clip art and stock photos

2 - design/ad agencies. Can whip out really pretty mockups and Flash sites that have music and animated navigation. Can't get the e-commerce thing working right

3 - interactive firms. Understand design from the holistic standpoint.

Unfortunately, the #3s are few and far between. ;o)

I'm not trying to make this a interactive vs. print issue, but the fact is — it's highly unlikely that a legit, traditional design firm/agency would ever employ such stupid hiring practices.

There are idiot firms in both 'camps' that have ridiculous hiring practices. In fact, a lot of these 'interactive' firms are 'traditional design firm/agencies'.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:38 PM
Trevor Elliott’s comment is:

Looking at FI's site - awesome client roster but standard fare overdone "candy" UI design - I have to wonder if they think a bit too highly of themselves. Actually I don't wonder, I know. They are self-impressed with the gravity of their clients - but the work itself, though hyper clean, is just not that super duper.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:38 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

The design industry seems to have horrible “contest” phenomenon

Ha! Well put. Architecture suffers from the same.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:40 PM
trevor elliott’s comment is:

Looking at FI's site - awesome client roster but standard fare overdone "candy" UI design - I have to wonder if they think a bit too highly of themselves. Actually I don't wonder, I know. They are self-impressed with the gravity of their clients - but the work itself, though hyper clean, is just not that super duper.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:43 PM
Christine’s comment is:

I know that these kinds of tests are common in the video game industry, particularly in certain cities. Depending on the type of position, they might have you rendering characters or textures as part of a competency test. On the engineering side, they send out tests of programming skills that are also timed (they have to be faxed back to the employer within hours). However, in this case the house style makes a little more sense - and for programming, there is a concrete right or wrong answer to the questions.

When is a test okay? When is it not okay?

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:55 PM
Theo’s comment is:

bill ’s comment is:

As someone who just when 50/50 on new hires, (one great one bad) I have few objections to the test. It does seem a bit long, but its point is to find out who can really do the work and who can't.

A test involving some elements of design/scripting we use daily would have sent the kid packing, and made my life that much easier.

I dont have a problem with a test per se. But in your case, Bill, when would the test be given? Would you assign it to all applicants before even scheduling an interview or telling what positions might be available? I fully understand the test along the lines of "we like you, we think we want to hire you, but we just want to make sure you have the skills needed for the position". But to hit them with a test just so they can even walk into your office and shake your hand for an interview seems highly excessive. If I understand the story of the "friends nephews cousins best friend..." and Fantasy Interactive, he/she didnt even know what position he/she might be applying for when they hit em with the test. Might have been Senior Designer, might have been pixel slave, who knows. He/she wasnt going to find out until he/she had slaved over these designs for days.

In addition, there is the legal angle. If you must give a test such as this, please, for everyone's sake, make explicit who owns the work and that you promise not to repurpose any test materials for your own projects if the applicant isnt hired.

On Oct.11.2005 at 12:57 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

and for programming, there is a concrete right or wrong answer to the questions.

There is?

And as for the gaming industry, that's a bad sign for us. The gaming industry is pretty much sweat shop conditions for professionals. Low pay, massively long hours, etc.

A test involving some elements of design/scripting we use daily would have sent the kid packing, and made my life that much easier.

Isn't this what 'trial/training periods' are designed for?

On Oct.11.2005 at 01:18 PM
Ben Weeks’s comment is:

I once fell on some slow freelance times and visited one of those employment agencies an email acquaintance suggested I apply to.

I show them 3 books designed in Indesign. Then they make me fill out a 5 page questionairre (trying to pigeonhole me) and take a 1 hour indesign test.

The funniest thing about the test was that the instructions contradicted each other. By following one, you were misaligning something else.

Then they ask me to make spec layouts copying the style of a certain women's wedding magazine. All for what amounts to laying out yellow pages in one of these magazines.

They gave me lots of advice fro how to "be more creative" with my portfolio. The examples they showed were bad copies of awards annual gimmicks you've seen so often.

That was such a depressing day. I pretty much ignore them now.

On Oct.11.2005 at 01:20 PM
MakeItSmall’s comment is:

This test says two things to me "We don't know your name from a friend already." and "Are you a workaholic like us and the money is bullshit as compared to make in insanely cool stuff?"

On Oct.11.2005 at 02:03 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>There are idiot firms in both 'camps' that have ridiculous hiring practices.

I agree, but it's far easier to ask for interactive web/flash design than it is in any other medium. And the proliferation of interactive agencies out there hustling for work seems to be growing faster than the usual idiot print agencies. As a result, questionable practices like this are much more likely and prevalent in the interactive side.

>these kinds of tests are common in the video game industry

Sorry, but the video game industry is a terrible example of work practice in general, let alone hiring practices. It's not design, it's a volatile, hedonist marriage of two abusive industries — media entertainment and technology developers. Both have atrocious labor practices, so it's no wonder that the billion dollar world of video gaming entertainment is such a pit of hell. But it is a very lucrative hell.

>Isn't this what 'trial/training periods' are designed for?

Exactly. The best practice for testing a job candidate is to pay them to freelance for you on a trial basis for evaluation.

The only exception for any sort of employment testing that I can see as being valid (in our industry) is for temp/placement agencies. But of course, most of those jobs are production positions, not design.

On Oct.11.2005 at 02:10 PM
mandy’s comment is:

The biggest mistake this test makes is to demonstrate complete disrespect to the person they may be hiring. Trust and respect for the people you work with are paramount to producing good work. How can any company accomplish that when the first step to get in the door is to lick the boss' shoes?

On Oct.11.2005 at 02:30 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

What if they have really nice shoes?

Seriously, tests aren't out of the question. But these Q&A&D (question and answer and design) scenarios ring of spec work. Blech. Please kill me now with a blunt USB cord.

I've had to take technical tests at agencies, where they school you on Quark and PhotoShop knowledge. After passing those tests, and being on the other end, I was amazed to see what those tests could tell the hiring parties. In a place driven by time and money, those technical tests told our art directors and production gurus how fast or slow a new hire would work; and if they knew their way around the computer.

I don't see these tests as something we should take seriously, but for those junior designers who are starting out, my advice is be prepared. But ask yourself if tests like those at Fantasy Interactive are indicative of "working for free." Will you stand up for yourself, or lick those shoes? If it means getting some experience so you can move on and own your own fancy shoes, what the hell.

On Oct.11.2005 at 02:39 PM
ballatore’s comment is:

Hell no! Needs to be said again. They obviously have no more ideas of how to interview people, so they pick the most cruel of ways. Make an unemployed person do work for no money!! Here slave now tell me how great we are and maybe just maybe you'll get some cheese.

On Oct.11.2005 at 02:40 PM
jenny’s comment is:

Sorry, but the video game industry is a terrible example of work practice in general

Tan is absolutely right - the gaming industry is hellish; I've known a couple of people in that industry... Its not unkown for large companies to set up small companies - which exist for a single game. At the end of the game, the company goes away. They may well rehire the better part of a team for the next "company" - they may well sit at the same desk in the same office - but for those people its back to square one for things like retirement benefits, etc. Its an ugly place, and the people I've known who've worked in games have all left.

Ballatore is right- good interviewing (followed up with reference checks) can weed out a lot of problems. A job candidate should be able to tell an interviewer how they got from A to Z on any given project they've worked on (and in the mean time, find out if they want to work there). If the employeer is still iffy, they need to figure out why they feel that way or go with a probation period or a freelance contract. If the employer's interviewing process isn't working, maybe they need to work on that. These kinds of tests aren't the answer.

On Oct.11.2005 at 03:05 PM
Stephen Corsello’s comment is:

Don't know if this adds to the discussion or not, but I thought I'd let you all know that my company is looking to hire at least one, possibly two designers in January. No spec work required. We have no particular corporate look (at least not yet). We are looking to continue to elevate the caliber of work in our department. Well-rounded skills, willingness to perform crap tasks on occasion, ability to take a kernel of an idea and run with it, and outgoing personality are the requirements. Don't care if you have 1 year or 10 years of experience. Killer portfolio and ability to communicate are what's important. Send me an email if you're interested. Please remember that position will not start until January. We are flat out and have very little time to review portfolios or conduct interviews, so we're getting started early. Thanks!

On Oct.11.2005 at 03:11 PM
Jay’s comment is:

The video is hilarious. It's in "About Us/Our Story".

The HR woman says how employees need to be "part Jackass, part Momma's Boy". Now, I'm a little rusty on my Freud but isn't a Momma's Boy someone who can't take care of themselves and is totally dependent on their Momma? And Momma is all powerful? Think Stephen King's Carrie and you get the picture.

Then she says how hard it is to find the right people. Of course it is! You have video on your website of a creative meeting in which the principle of the company yells through a bullhorn at a pleeb who is cowering in distress behind his laptop!! Gee, I'd love to go into a salary negotiation with that guy.

On Oct.11.2005 at 04:40 PM
Michael McWatters’s comment is:

I think that FI's clients should be notified, immediately, of this practice. They are paying good money for what should be deep, thoughtful, considerate work, and their agency is basically farming out the work under the pretense that it's part of a hiring test.

Early in my career, I had to take software tests. Mostly these were in the early days of graphics software (did I know how to use Photoshop? Could I actually animate in Flash?).

This, however, goes beyond the bounds of reason. More importantly, any design applicant should ask herself or himself, "Do I really want to work for a firm that assumes I can create meaningful, useful, on-strategy work without any kind of brief, background or insights?"

Very poor form.

On Oct.11.2005 at 05:04 PM
amy’s comment is:

heh- i applied and got the same email!!!! i didnt do it.

On Oct.11.2005 at 06:01 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

This is what we commonly call "bullshit." What a bunch of charlatans. Sorry. This is lame and more than a little creepy.

On Oct.11.2005 at 06:20 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>I think that FI's clients should be notified, immediately, of this practice.

I understand what you're trying to say, Michael. But I bet that if you did, FI's clients wouldn't care one bit. In fact, their clients would probably just insist on lower invoices and faster turnarounds.

>what should be deep, thoughtful, considerate work

You're kidding, right? If this is how they solicit employees, why would you think that FI sells and value their own work any differently?

Ah, the joys of interactive work...

On Oct.11.2005 at 07:05 PM
Patrick’s comment is:

I came accross this kind of job test before. I also thought it through and realized that you're basically possibly creating an entire and complete corporate identity... from logo, site, and print collateral. Even if it were real, it's too slave driven to be worth the effort...unless you like to be on a leather leash and whipped.

On Oct.11.2005 at 07:24 PM
Christine’s comment is:

Oh my goodness, I didn't bring up the video game industry as something to measure good business practice against. My partner is in the industry, so don't even get me started on that one. Nor was it meant to justify this (as already stated) abhorrent practice.

I brought it up more to broaden the discussion a bit to hiring practices in other creative fields. Video game artists (for the most part) accept the tests - designers (for the most part) don't. Is that simply a matter of ranging on the scale from slavery to true creativity, or is there more to it? What similarities could be drawn between a particular kind of interactive agency (because there are swaths of different kinds), and a video game company? Is there an overarching business model to both, and how does it affect the final product?

The hiring process of an organization can reflect it's creative process. Discuss.

On Oct.12.2005 at 12:03 AM
ian’s comment is:

okay, i'll admit it. i'm a print guy and know little about web programing, but what the [email protected]#k is pixel perfect?

is that even a web designer term?

On Oct.12.2005 at 02:05 AM
Andy Cat’s comment is:

I was presented with a design test for my current job doing interactive design. But this was only after I'd been interviewed. The CD said don't spend too much time on it, as it was only to ascertain whether or not I was indeed skilled enough for the job, and to see whether I could keep to spec. He emphasised that. It was a simple banner animation. Nothing heavy. It didn't bother me.

But reading FI's test I immediately became suspicious. That is a hell of a lot of work to do for just the chance to get an interview. As many other respondents stated, what's to stop them from selling some poor interview hopeful's designs to their clients?

At that point I would question their professionalism. But then I read "swoosh". Please. Look elsewhere....these guys aren't even worth a look. They're just posers.

I think for a junior designer starting out (as I was) a test should be....at least prepared for (not expected necessarily) but for a mid-weight, then a test like FI's is intolerable.

On Oct.12.2005 at 02:27 AM
Joseph’s comment is:

Ian, pixel perfect is generally a way of describing a tightly designed interface where everything is aligned by pixel, use of consistent pixel widths or size relationships, and could also refer to a sharp pixel look & feel. This term may have become more pervasive in Flash work, where elements can be placed on partial pixels, rendering elements to become blurry.. which, at the end of the day are the bane of all good web/interface designers.

On Oct.12.2005 at 03:32 AM
ian’s comment is:

i just watched the about us movie. pathetic.

here are the "danger will robinson, danger!" clues i found to what fi is really about:

1) david hugh martin's opening statement: "so back in the late 1990's, when i first started using the web i was overwhelmed by how ugly and how saturated and polluted it really was. however, i already had a vision implanted in my head long before i even started using the web. it should be very functional. very user friendly, visually stunning."

he atcually strung these words together. he had a vision that was implanted in his head long before he ever encountered the web of what the web should be. he is the true inventor of the internets� not al gore. if it's implanted, then is it a vision?

2) bullhorn in meeting = not good

3) dell monitors (sorry pc guys and gals but they suck)

4) guy sleeping on his, again, pc laptop. did he save before he collapsed in exhaustion? if not, resting his head on the keyboard was definitely very unproductive, leading to i imagine more bull horn. well, let's face it, that is what design is lacking after all...more bull horn.

5) from the technical director (don't care to remeber his name): so many things now i see that that just the wrong [incomprehensible] slow and you click around a lot. it shouldn't be like that." like what? like your site?

6)"fi is a company with a burning passion" if your passion is burning you need to go see your doctor before you pass along that burning passion. in the infamous words of vrontikis: "practice safe design, use a concept." passion is great, but we don't need any more of the burning variety.

7) from the art director: "what i enjoy most here at fi is the non-heirarchical (?) structure that we have. everybody is at the same level and i think that really encourages people to be more creative" that is why they do not advertise the position you test for, because we're all equal...yeah right. that is why the six people talking in the video all have different titles. i'm sure the guy screaming in the bull horn is equal to the guy he is screaming at. of course.

8) martin's closing statement: "it is imperative that the [start over exagerated hand motions] quality over quantity mentality is at the [move hands over egg shaped head] top of everybody's mind because that's key to the fi brand." f-ing please! that is the most cliche design studio statement ever, if not a close runner-up.

i don't even have the energy to talk about the test.

don't respond. don't work your ass of for the opportunity to get an interview (that is what your portfolio represents: you working your ass off). don't give these people one bit of your energy. let them continue to live in the little word they had a vision of before they ever knew a world existed.

fantasy interactive [pssht]

the fantasy part is right.

On Oct.12.2005 at 04:03 AM
ian’s comment is:

thanks Joseph.

sounded like bs terminology to me. if you didn't know it. you weren't cool enough to work there kinda thing. which i'm not.

ads for web development positions have more acronyms than the military. it cracks me up and very much reminds me i will never have a chance at that position.

On Oct.12.2005 at 04:10 AM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

I would be content to take a pass on this test, go home and eat my cats before I'd give these indulgent babies solutions and effort for free. And then just to have the next opportunity to be interviewed for a possible job which I would hate anyway. What has become of this profession when cruelty is a job skill?

I am now starting over in a new city - Atlanta, which means I have to get a job, find some socks. I just hope I meet kinder people.

On Oct.12.2005 at 08:42 AM
Theo’s comment is:

david hugh martin's comment is:

1) david hugh martin's opening statement: "so back in the late 1990's, when i first started using the web

back in the LATE 1990's? That's when he FIRST started using the web? And he's supposed to be a web visionary? rofl!

On Oct.12.2005 at 09:38 AM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

If this isn't a prank, I have an icon for them:

On Oct.12.2005 at 09:48 AM
ian’s comment is:

bravo andrew, bravo!

just do some original swooshes and a next generation google website and you're a almost guaranteed to get an interview...

On Oct.12.2005 at 10:08 AM
theo’s comment is:

ian’s comment is:

bravo andrew, bravo! just do some original swooshes and a next generation google website and you're a almost guaranteed to get an interview...

Well, not quite. Don't forget to design a logo too... ;)

On Oct.12.2005 at 10:11 AM
ian’s comment is:

dammit! i knew i wasn't good enough for these guys.

oh well, six tears in a bucket.

On Oct.12.2005 at 10:12 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Ah, the joys of interactive work...

Or, rather the joys of interactive work at an ad agency that doesn't get it.

but what the [email protected]#k is pixel perfect?

is that even a web designer term?

No, that's a print designer thinking they are a web designer term.

On Oct.12.2005 at 10:28 AM
margot ’s comment is:

ian: "burning passion"

Wow...Just. Um. WOW. Seriously. They actually say that?!

Cause those two words should never EVER be paired together when describing a business. Ew. Gross.

Sounds like copy that would be in a trashy romance novel!

On Oct.12.2005 at 10:34 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> No, that's a print designer thinking they are a web designer term.

Huh? Why in the world would a print designer come up with that? I have never heard a print designer say "I want this layout to be pica-perfect". S/he would get the shit beat out of her/him for saying something like that.

In fact, I have heard quite a few times the term pixel-perfect in a few different contexts. One that stands out is in regards to icons, where the position and color of every pixel counts, specially when dealing with icons that are 8 x 8, 16 x 16 or even 32 x 32 pixels in dimension, and if you consider file size or color limitations it is important that every pixel is, well, perfect. So, no, it's not a print designer term, it's very much a web designer term. And one that actually makes sense.

On Oct.12.2005 at 11:06 AM
Mr.Frankie L’s comment is:

Out of curiousity, I thought

the studio named, 2advanced did work for Ford

regularly? If so, why did they go with

FI for a project?

On Oct.12.2005 at 01:04 PM
T.J.’s comment is:

www.pixelranger.com does all the ford websites for 2advanced, check portfolio

On Oct.12.2005 at 02:56 PM
Pete Ankelein’s comment is:

Like most folks have said, it's a bit ridiculous to ask that much of a candidate without having even being interviewed. Even still, I don't think I would do it....ridiculous amount of work for a "test." Interestingly enough, after the whole dot.com fallout, I got the chance to sample all the various testing methods by companies. One interactive agency that specialized in pharmaceutical presentations had me in for a couple of days freelancing to see if I matched what they needed. I didn't apparently but they still paid out. That's a good way to do it if a client is trying to gauge a particular skillset.

Other folks do the temp agency thing where they interview, then have you test on specific skills. I think this works better for actual companies than temp agencies, though....the temp agencies all use similar, very general, testing software and it's easy to memorize when you visit several different agencies. How can you not pass when half of the questions are related to saving and opening documents? -_-

At my company, the software engineers write tests for prospective C#/.net programmers and usually throw in trick questions to make sure the candidates really know what they're doing. This is the way to do it. Want to give a photoshop/Illustrator test? Give some design situations one might encounter in the daily grind and have the person solve the problem. Asking someone to design a full layout and anything like that...well, that's just too ridiculous. That's what the portfolio is for. The test should just be enough to show that the person actually knows what he/she's doing so you have an idea the person isn't a BS artist. If he/she passes the little problem solving session, then put him/her on the 1-3 month trial run.

Someone mentioned the idea of "learning on the job" earlier. This is a little off-topic (actually, I believe this was discussed a bit in some other threads) and forgive me if this is a loaded question but for those of you who are in hiring positions at large agencies: Would you ever consider hiring a person who has experience in interactive design/development but is looking to get more into graphic design/print and is self-taught? What kind of test would you give? Would you're choice be primarily portfolio-based? Would you give them a chance if they had a good attitude?

On Oct.12.2005 at 03:58 PM
will’s comment is:

i am from the photography world, and used to represent designers in a small agency. from a design perspective, no way would i do the test.

from a photography perspective, this is akin to a photographer up for a job at an ad agency, and the agency asking the photographer to complete some spec work based on layouts in order to get the real job.

any decent rep would NEVER let that happen. there is a thing called usage, and being paid for their time and services. the time you spend on this test is time that could be spent working on other money making projects. never sell yourself short

they should hire you based on your, you know, portfolio.

On Oct.12.2005 at 06:40 PM
Pixel Perfect’s comment is:

On Oct.12.2005 at 07:07 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>Or, rather the joys of interactive work at an ad agency that doesn't get it.

Actually, has anyone ever heard of these types of "tests" at a non-interactive agency? And temp/placement agencies don't count — they serve interactive clients.

I've never known or heard of this type of practice at any ad, print, or other type of agency other than interactive.

I'm not hammering on this to win a point against Darrel, but the fact may be that this is an interactive industry problem.

On Oct.12.2005 at 07:11 PM
Son’s comment is:

Can somebody explain to me what pixel perfection is?

On Oct.12.2005 at 08:11 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Pixel perfect is when pixies get plastic surgery, yes?

On Oct.12.2005 at 09:14 PM
ian’s comment is:

sorry tan, but i just went through a similar "test" for a small print based design studio. but it was set up slightly different and made sense to a point it didn't bother me.

first of all the studio is very small: owner, designer, account manager, and an intern. i was interviewing to become a second designer due to growth of the company.

i sent a resume package with samples. was contacted and had a phone interview which led to an in-person interview and portfolio review with all four people at the studio. this led to a second phone interview where they asked if i would be willing to concept a project for an existing client on a project that was completed and currently on press. i was told i was the only one they were asking to do this out of those they had interviewed (not sure that was the case, but flattering none the less).

their biggest concern was because the studio was so small that they needed to make sure the person was a great fit with the existing vibe and harmony of the current employees. they felt like the last person they had was not a good fit and wanted to avoid repeating the same mistake. fair enough? i think the test failed in the sense i had a download meeting, went home and never talked to them again until i presented my designs. it gave them no sense of what it is like to actually work with me and develop ideas with me, just what my work is like. it did give them a controlled problem solving test of me on one of their current clients so it didn't completely fail.

the "test" was to present 2 concepts for a brochure cover and one spread, as well as a logo for the event.

i presented my 1st option in tight digital comp form printed out. my second option was multiple (15 or so?) pencil sketches all based on variations of the same theme (yes, i still do it on every project) and my logo option was in the form a tight pencil drawing.

after i presented the results of the "test" i was informed the next step would be to give me a real project to concept and pay me to complete it as a freelancer.

i found something else and it never made it to that point. after the fact i was talking to a freelancer who was working for me and he described doing the exact same thing for them recently only he was paid as a freelancer to complete the "test." so now i'm slightly pissed about the situation i was a willing participant in. i alway fall into believing people have the best of intentions.

i also took an hour long test for a design position at a newspaper. this was part of a 4 hour interview process i was not informed would be a 4 hour interview process. i don't think that counts, but it was a "do a test to see if your a good designer" situation.

so there you go...i think my situation was nothing like this fi bull shit in that the test came after a good solid interview process, not to get the interview, but when you boil it down it's pretty damn similar.

On Oct.12.2005 at 09:37 PM
rurry’s comment is:

WTF!?!! Obviously, your not kidding me....but you gotta be kidding me!!??

At first, I thought to myself....Hmmm....How badly would I like to work for this firm? Then, I thought to myself...It would be a sweet gig to work for 'one of the Best Interactive Agencies in the world'!!! Wow...me, a designer at Fantasy Interfaces!!! My DREAM COME true!!! I'll get a nice, big, shiny new desk and probably my own G5 w/Dual 30" monitors, my own FI biz cards too! Sweet!!! Now all I have to do is pass this little, simple test they dropped me! No sweat! A layout, an icon family, pixel perfect perfection (say that fast 10 times) Sure, I'll get right on it!

Then, I thought to myself.....FUCK OFF, EH!! I'm like, sooo better than that! I'm a damn good designer and my time is money! (As prevoiusly stated somewhere else up top) Peep my portfolio FI - do I fit your fucking glove or not!!! I've got this sick, sweet portfolio full of 2A and FI "stylin' profile'n 'pixel perfect' shizzle swoosh dizzle pixel pumpin' graphics . . . yo!" And you want me to take your stupid little test - BEEEEEFORE an interview or even a MEET N GREET at your place of business! Shhhhhaaaa, and monkey's might fly out of my butt!!!

As this month we'd say ... BLAH! BLAH! FUCKIN' BLAH!!!

Plus, I'd much rather work for a company that's able to provide me the freedom to express my OWN creativity, direction, thoughts and style! Instead of pushin' pixels to perfection - just so your all mighty client on the top of the bloody food chain can come back and request for your stupid little glossy swoosh to be .2 pixel to the right, 1 pixel up and 5% brighter!

BLAH!

So, did s/he ever take the test?

ps - while we're on the topic....I was just thinking to myself today how old 2A and the whole FI style/look/theme has gotten for me. It seems sooooo, pre-K, meaning, when I first got out of school I was impressed by eye candy and inspired by anything WOW! Factor in Flash! I've since, thank GOD, graduated to a much more minimlistic approach to flash websites and userbility has become the single, most important factor in any site design these days. I could give 2 shits about super cool WOW! factor, Flash Eye Candy and transitions and robotic arms and gadgets flying out from this corner and that! It just all seems sooo....LAME!!!

Again...BLAH!!!

.............

On Oct.13.2005 at 12:23 AM
Tan’s comment is:

No need to apologize, ian — that's why I asked. I'd really never heard of a print firm doing that. Guess I was mistaken.

It sounds like you did get taken for a ride — especially if they paid another freelancer to complete the same evaluation test.

Tough lesson.

On Oct.13.2005 at 01:24 AM
ian’s comment is:

it's the tough ones you learn the most from.

i didn't mind doing it when they told me i was a uniqe and beautiful snowflake and i was the only one.

i would not have minded if they had told me it was a part of the interview process. it makes sense for such a small studio and the concept project was for something they had just completed (i was able to look at their stuff after) and because of the nature of the client and the project i didn't feel like they could take my ideas and use them later.

but the fact that they made me think this was a one time only, "we've never done this before" situation, when in fact it is part of the interview process and i was the sucker that did it for free, that is what burns me up.

no worries, i learned a lesson and found a better opportunity.

win win.

On Oct.13.2005 at 08:27 AM
Marc Luzietti’s comment is:

In 2000, I worked with a woman who had been asked by a company with which she had interviewed to create a business proposal for a "client." She knocked it out, didn't get the job, and went on with her life. Later she discovered that her interviwing company took her ideas and used them. When I last knew her, she was in the process of suing them.

I've catagorically refused to do free work since then. I won't even discuss it, and if any company requests one from me, I walk away.

On Oct.13.2005 at 10:42 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

So, no, it's not a print designer term, it's very much a web designer term. And one that actually makes sense.

I typically hear it in reference to 'why doesn't that web site match my 99-layers photoshop mockup file pixel for pixel'?

There's no such thing as pixel-perfect on the web.

Actually, has anyone ever heard of these types of "tests" at a non-interactive agency? And temp/placement agencies don't count — they serve interactive clients.

I've never heard of them period outside of places like MacTemps/Aquent.

I have seen incredibly silly requirements for jobs at both interactive and print firms. Candidate must have 3 awards in print annuals, candidate must know 18 programming languages, etc.

On Oct.13.2005 at 11:25 AM
Jason’s comment is:

Maybe this is not an actual design test, but instead is a test to see how you respond?!?

If it were I that received this email, I'd evaluate the requests and send back a laundry list of questions that related to what they asked for, showing them that I have sense of mind enough to ask thoughtful questions before jumping in to a project that I know very little about. Maybe that thought provoking email back is what they are looking for, instead of someone that would willingly jump into a project that, at best, is sketchy.

On Oct.13.2005 at 12:23 PM
DC1974’s comment is:

To add to Christine's thinking, I've found home tests in publication design / production, especially in the newspaper and weekly fields. Basically, they want to make sure you can think quickly and on deadline.

Something, some polished designers aren't necessarily good at a necessity in a daily or a weekly.

As for this whole discussion, I've been thinking about the nature of misrepresentation. I've found it's equally awful from the other side of the table. About a year ago, I moved all the way across the country to take a Production Manager/Designer position at a non-profit in DC. It turned out the company was on their third person in that position since the beginning of the year. They had a 40% turnover rate (with a staff of 18!). And the Executive Director was an arse. Also the people that I interviewed with were not the people I reported to or reported to me.

I lasted 2 months. I was nice enough to tell them that the problem was the job and that they needed to restructure the reporting and the job functions or they would never fill this position. They proceeded to do just that. I should have billed them for consulting.

Since that time, I've heard horror stories like that all over DC of misrepresentation by employers about the job, the work environment, the benefits, etc. I'm not the only local or Californian that got suckered into moving here only to lose my job shortly thereafter. Or be otherwise royally screwed.

On Oct.13.2005 at 01:28 PM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

Sadly, I’ve encounted this twice: one was 20 years ago for an entry-level print design position (which I refused to participate in), and then another occurred later in my career.

For the second example, I had applied to an open Creative Director position with a firm in my area. After sending in my resume and cover letter, I received a packet of information. I had been short-listed. But they weren’t offering me a portfolio review or interview. To continue in the process, I was supposed to create an advertisement for an outdoor medium, using an incomplete brief. Realizing full well that I might be taking myself out of the running, I wrote a detailed, two page letter analyzing possible conceptual approaches, pointing out key pieces of information and overall context that weren’t included in the brief, explaining the need for some client interface on some key points, as well as explaining the inherent problems with speculative work, and -- finally -- politely declining to do the spec ad for all the above reasons. (Honestly, just knocking out a hack ad with a superficial understanding of the problem would have been a lot easier.) I recall thinking that maybe, just maybe, a light would go on and they would call to say “Hey, that's just the type of problem-solving response we’re looking for.” But, no. Not meant to be. I never heard from them again. I didn’t even receive a stock “thanks for your interest, blah, blah” letter.

Honestly, I’m grateful that I found out ahead of time how much this firm valued creative professionals. If that’s how they treated the CD position, I can only imagine what the conditions were like for everyone else.

You can usually tell a lot about a company culture by how they select new employees.

On Oct.13.2005 at 01:30 PM
Milla’s comment is:

LOL Jason you are funny man. Thank you for the good joke

On Oct.13.2005 at 01:32 PM
Michael Kahan’s comment is:

Fantasy Interactive used to be so groundbreaking when they started out. It shocks me to see them attempting to pull off such an obvious design "no,no". Their site used to be respectable, but after looking around, they've lost it.

On Oct.13.2005 at 03:11 PM
Gigi’s comment is:

Amoeba corp's employment test seems much more relevant to actually finding someone with opinions, creative ability and cultural understanding rather than FI's ridiculous process.

The 'test' is fun and indicative of the studio environment and culture. It mixes some relevant questions about design/branding/typography and some crazy left fielders that bring out the personality of each test-taker.

What are your thoughts on this method of candidate selection? Would someone's personality portrayed on paper (through this test) be different than in person?

On Oct.13.2005 at 03:31 PM
Lila’s comment is:

Is it just me, or does this test sound like an excuse to get designers/coders to do brainstorming/work for free?

Being a visual communicator fresh out of college, taking a test doesn't bother me. It's the fact that I am spending my precious time doing all of this work that another company might be willing to pay me for. There's other ways to test creativity without spending unnecessary amounts of time.

When I was in school, one of my professors gave us a paper clip, and a piece of paper. We had an hour to draw 60+ ways to use this paper clip other than to keep paper together.

Is Fantasy Interactive really looking for fresh talent? Or did they just run out of good ideas, and are not willing to pay for new ones?

On Oct.14.2005 at 01:24 AM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:

This is tangental, but still about looking for cheap ideas/concepts:

I might be sick, but I actually enjoy participating in focus groups. I have done my share. I like those crisp bills they hand out, plus some kind of meal, and I honestly like to feel sweatshirts or sample TV commercials for an hour and talk to people I would almost certainly never normally interact with...

Anyway.

I participated in a focus group (sort of) the other night that was unusual for me. Instead of looking at/talking about existing products, we actually developed new products and created mood boards and worked on branding concepts.

It seems we were doing the work of the creative/strategy team. Is this a typical practice?

On Oct.14.2005 at 04:00 AM
Collette’s comment is:

I know people often administer design tests to make sure folks know how to use programs before being hired...but this sems like a little too much...

Just the same...has your firm ever answered a state issued RFP? they plainly come out and ask for not just design elements, but entire communications campaigns to be submitted...and developed...in about two weeks...and they state in the fine print that they can use your ideas whether they hire you or not...Just for a lark, I just calculated what an RFP we are working on has "cost" us in client billable hours...we are not done yet and the total so far is.....$10,000+...God I hope we get it. That is alot of $$ and time to not "get hired." Yet they have been doing this forever...

On Oct.14.2005 at 12:55 PM
jo’s comment is:

Having such an extensive test seems like a waste, because what if the hiree just doesn't fit the culture, or doesn't have the right kind of work ethic or personality?

I'm in-house for a small nonprofit, and I can tell you, it's more than critical that you hire not just a qualified person, but someone who can work well with others. Things get derailed and squashed when people won't be team players, or are dishonest, or are just plain abrasive.

I don't want to play into the cult of personality tests or charisma, but in many ways who you are shapes more of your ability than your technical skills. You can easily teach someone how to use Photoshop, but how easily can you teach them how to be dedicated, driven, and conscientious?

On Oct.14.2005 at 02:06 PM
David E.’s comment is:

I'd give this company the benefit of the doubt as far as this test being a scam to get designers to brainstorm for free, so I dont think the test equates to doing spec work. I can sympathize with a company that wants to know if a potential employee can actually do the work before they hire them. However, to put up a test on their website with an open invitation for all designers to try out is arrogant and disrespectful. At the very least, for any test that amounts to more than a brief skills test conducted at the time of a job interview, the applicant should recieve at least some compensation for his/her time as a show of good faith.

A good rule of thumb is that if a company isn't willing to invest something in you (either time or money), it's not worth it to invest in them.

On Oct.14.2005 at 02:44 PM
mik3’s comment is:

speaking of design employment tests... try this sucker.

www.amoebacorp.com/careers

sorry not smart enough to code this link.

On Oct.17.2005 at 10:19 PM
mik3’s comment is:

ahh, me smart now.

AmoebaCorp Employment Test

On Oct.17.2005 at 10:23 PM
Big Bambu’s comment is:

My good friend just got a job as an in-house graphic designer at a krunk recording studio. Knowing him pretty well I had to ask if there was a drug test. He said "yeah, they wanted to see if I knew how to roll a blunt."

El Producto anyone?

On Oct.18.2005 at 12:55 PM
CFB’s comment is:

The examples they give are from template monster... http://www.templatemonster.com/website-templates/7774.html

that's their idea of "pixel perfection"? Interesting....

On Oct.21.2005 at 12:34 PM
Dan’s comment is:

I a lot of my friends have undertaken far more arduous tasks to achieve positions in other industries (for example law & accounting), the recruitment, interviewing and TESTING is ruthless for some firms. Why should design not have stringent and intensive testing of applicant’s skills? If all design related firms held such rigorous employment methods maybe the level of design would improve and we wouldn’t be talking about design drowning and desktop publishers doing our work…?? Can we not realise that testing designers design skills could be essential and maybe a step in a new direction of achieving higher standards?

NB: I don’t think this fantasy outfit has a good test, but if you look past that, the idea of testing I believe is very important.

Maybe if they had sent out a more theory-orientated test this discussion would be entirely different...? There are also several good comments above that support the fact a portfolio can be a misleading barometer for successful designers. Bring on the testing I say!

On Oct.23.2005 at 04:50 AM
gregor’s comment is:

Bring on the testing I says

Dan you've entirely missed the point about why this practice of unpaid work - and it is work - is unethical. If you want testing see threads here there and everywhere regarding certification.

On Oct.23.2005 at 10:55 AM
Bo Maupin’s comment is:

Test or no test, if they write their creative briefs like they write their test questions, you will never do anything other than what the client wants. You'll argue 2-300 times with your account services person why you "just can't make the logo bigger?" before you finally give in. Who can't resist a big(ger) swoosh?

On Oct.25.2005 at 11:18 AM
Kessler’s comment is:

If you are willing to take this test you are willing to accept the possibility that all of the work you did was done for nothing. It is certainly not uncommon for a design company to give its potential employees tests, but it is generally done as part of the interview process. This pre test is an easy way for companies to take advantages of designers; however in this case Fantasy Interactive is looking for a specific style, and I can see a reason to choose this type of application process. Looking at the company’s high profile clients gives you the impression that FI is a reputable company; though it would be na�ve to think that they are going to burn all the samples of rejected applicants.

On Oct.26.2005 at 04:52 PM
Theo’s comment is:

Kessler’s comment is:

Looking at the company’s high profile clients gives you the impression that FI is a reputable company; though it would be na�ve to think that they are going to burn all the samples of rejected applicants.

The ability to please high-profile clients does not necessarily correlate to honest or reputable behaviour.

On Oct.27.2005 at 05:08 PM
Leigh ’s comment is:

apply via snail mail.. chicken scratch of sorts...throw in a freebee - an FI coupon good for "one free designer"

On Oct.28.2005 at 12:51 PM
Sue’s comment is:

Would I be able to interview any one here for a class research project? It will only take a second...

On Nov.15.2006 at 08:56 PM