Picture this: you’ve had an interview or two with a company you really want to work for. Things are going great. You’ve done your research, clicked with the hiring panel, dazzled them with your interview skills, and suddenly, they give you a homework assignment. What’s that supposed to mean?

Trust me, the hiring process might be the only time homework is a good thing. It’s not a part of every hiring process, but often times when a company produces creative work or operates in a niche industry like we do, it’s important for them to understand what your work for the company might look like. It means you’ve made it far, and they’re giving you the opportunity to show them what you’ve got.

As an Outreach Coordinator at Gorilla, a big part of my job is pitching content to publications to build links and thought leadership for our clients. During my interview process, I was asked to write a sample pitch. I’ll walk you through how it all went down, as well as my tips for success for any hiring assignment.

The assignment

It all started with an ominous email subject line that read “Question…” Our hiring manager, Jon, reached out to see if I was open to doing a short assignment. He gave me a due date and a rough time estimate, 30 to 60 minutes. Here was my official assignment:

Tip #1: Watch your email

For Gorilla 76, my assignment was short and the hiring team was looking for a quick turnaround. Watch your email closely to give yourself the maximum amount of time to complete test projects.

My first go

I had never pitched content before, so my first step was to thoroughly understand all the important parts of the assignment. I made myself familiar with the publisher and the content I’d be pitching and I looked into some best practices for a pitch. 

Tip #2: Consider all aspects of the assignment

When I submitted my draft of a pitch, I also included how I would improve it or approach it differently if I were hired. This was my response:

Showing this attention to detail and proactive thinking will stand out to employers, and show them not only can you complete tasks, but you are trainable and receptive to feedback.

Feedback

After I sent over my pitch, a strategist at Gorilla left comments and recommended an article with some tips for improvement. Here’s what he said: 

Tip #3: Take all feedback as constructive

Feedback is not a sign that you’ve done anything wrong, especially at this point, when you haven’t been hired or trained yet. Act on it promptly and show them you value their opinions and recommendations.

Tip #4: Follow up

If the employer does not provide feedback, follow up and ask for it. It’s best to do this in your original submission of the assignment, but if you aren’t hearing back from them it’s a good excuse to check in.

The result

After I edited my pitch and sent it over, I got a call from Jon later that day with my job offer. It may not happen that quickly for you and completing a sample project does not guarantee an offer, but it makes a big impact on hiring decisions. So take them seriously, complete them promptly, and respond to their feedback, because a great sample project can be the difference between an impressive candidate and a hired one.

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