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Job seeker takes a stand after interviewer asks him to create company's $30K marketing plan for free

The job applicant was ready to present the market plan. But the only issue was that the company was planning to use it without giving him credit.

Job seeker takes a stand after interviewer asks him to create company's $30K marketing plan for free
Representative Cover Image Source: (L) Pexels | cottonbro studio; (R) Reddit | u/Vegetable-Floor-3379

In the world of job interviews and recruitment, candidates often find themselves navigating a maze of uncertainty. Will they land the job they have been eyeing? What kind of company culture can they expect? But sometimes, these uncertainties take a bizarre turn, as u/Vegetable-Floor-3379 shared a disconcerting experience, where they encountered an unusual and unsettling demand from a potential employer but handled it really well. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Edmond Dantès
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Edmond Dantès

The job interview began with an immediate twist that set the tone for the entire experience. The candidate, who had eight years of digital marketing experience, was asked what they would do to solve the company's marketing issues on the first day of their hypothetical employment. It's common for interviewers to pose hypothetical scenarios to gauge a candidate's problem-solving skills, but this scenario felt different.

When the candidate asked for more specific information to provide a well-informed response, they were met with condescension and a declaration that they weren't "real marketers" if they couldn't think on their feet. This initial encounter raised red flags. An experienced marketer, the candidate was taken aback by the interviewer's dismissive tone, making them question whether this was the right company for them.

However, the tide seemed to turn when the candidate quickly devised an innovative marketing strategy that piqued the CEO's interest. This strategy was not only novel but also budget-friendly for the company. It demonstrated the candidate's prowess and potential value to the organization. At this point, it seemed like the interview might be back on track. But this flicker of hope was quickly extinguished. Toward the end of the interview, the same interviewer who had criticized the candidate's ability to think on their feet now advised them that they didn't need to answer questions immediately.

The candidate was encouraged to ask questions and gather more information. However, when the candidate followed this advice, they were met with criticism and rebuke. This contradiction created confusion and further highlighted the lack of consistency in the interviewer's approach. Constructive criticism can be valuable, but how it was delivered here raised doubts about the company's professionalism.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Anna Shvets
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Anna Shvets

The shocking moment of the interview came when the interviewer asked the candidate to prepare a $30,000 marketing plan to present the following week. The candidate expressed concerns that the company could potentially utilize their ideas without offering a job. In response, the interviewer said, "If we like your ideas, we won't steal them. We will just hire you." To demonstrate their skills and dedication, the candidate worked diligently to create the marketing plan, investing their time and effort into this project. The night before the presentation, they put together the plan, dedicating an hour the following day to revisions.

The moment of reckoning arrived on a Monday when the candidate was prepared to present the marketing plan in person. However, instead of the expected in-person presentation, they received an email from the company, which read, "We don't want you to have to come all the way back out here. You can just email us your marketing plan instead." Also, the company sent a detailed four-page template that required extensive work, going far beyond what should be expected for a free task.

Image Source: Reddit | u/Okaysolikethisnow
Image Source: Reddit | u/Okaysolikethisnow

This sudden shift in preference from an in-person presentation to an email submission left the candidate perplexed. To top off this bewildering series of events, the interviewer said, "It's not a 'no.' It's almost a 'maybe.'" This cryptic statement served as the final nail in the coffin of this already bizarre interview process. The candidate concluded the post by saying that the company was not interested in hiring them but wanted their marketing ideas. Image Source: Reddit | u/ericporing

Image Source: Reddit | u/ericporing

People on the platform supported the Reddit user and offered their advice in the comment section. u/BC122177 shared, "Send them an NDA. The fact that they didn't want you to come in and make the presentation already is a big red flag. They wanted you to email it to them so they could have a copy of it instead of trying to write all of that stuff down if it does end up being a good plan." 


Image Source: Reddit | u/mfmeitbual
Image Source: Reddit | u/mfmeitbual

u/ClubeXo shared their experience with a similar situation and said, "Had a similar thing, but in IT, I gave such a vague roundabouts way to solve their problem, but they wanted specifics. I could see the one 'lead tech' grabbing notes in hopes he could salvage his own plan to fix it. Once I picked up on this, I played dumb and saw my way out of there. And yup, after I turned the job down, they called me to consult."

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